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Politics of Japan

There is still a dispute if Japan is a constitutional monarchy or a republic nation. It has a parliamentary government, which consists of three branches:, the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judgmental branch. Sovereignty is vested in the Japanese nationals and all the offices in the branches are elected by them with universal adult suffrage with a fair, reliable, secret ballot. Given the historical reason, the system is akin to that in the United Kingdom.

National Diet building in Tokyo

According to the Constitution, the Diet is the most powerful branch and consists of two houses, the House of Representatives[?] and the House of Councillors[?]. The Diet has the power of advising the Emperor to appoint the chiefs of the executive branch and the judicial branch and of removing them.

The executive branch is responsible to the Diet, and the chief of the executive branch, the prime minister is appointed by the Emperor regarding the advice from the Diet and organizes the Cabinet. He must be a member of the House of Representatives[?] and he and his members in the Cabinet must be civilians. He has the power to appoint and remove ministers. In cases when the Liberal Democratic Party (the LDP) has been in power, it has been convention that the President of the LDP serves as prime minister.

The judicial branch is independent. Its chiefs, judges are appointed by the Emperor regarding the advice from the Diet.

The seven major political parties represented in the National Diet are the LDP, the Democratic Party of Japan[?] (DPJ), the New Clean Government Party (Komeito), the Liberal Party (LP), the Japan Communist Party[?] (JCP), the Social Democratic Party[?] (SDP), and the New Conservative party[?] (CP). The LDP has been the dominant party for most of the post-war period since 1955, and is composed of a several factions which are oriented along personalistic rather than ideological lines.

Japan's judicial system, drawn from customary law, civil law, and Anglo-American common law, consists of several levels of courts, with the Supreme Court as the final judicial authority. The Japanese constitution includes a bill of rights similar to the United States Bill of Rights, and the Supreme Court has the right of judicial review. Japanese courts do not use a jury system, and there are no administrative courts or claims courts. Because of the judicial system's basis, court decisions are made in accordance with legal statutes. Only Supreme Court decisions have any direct effect on later interpretation of the law.

Japan no longer officially have traditional federal system[?], and its 47 prefectures depend on the central government for subsidies. Governors of prefectures[?], mayors[?] of municipalities, and prefectural and municipal assembly members are popularly elected to 4-year terms.

Sovereignty, which was previously embodied in the Emperor, is now the domain of the people. The Emperor is defined as the symbol of the state.

Recent political developments

The post-World War II years saw tremendous economic growth in Japan especially with the Korean War, with the political system dominated by the LDP. That total domination lasted until the Diet Lower House elections on July 18, 1993, in which the LDP, in power since the mid-1950s, failed to win a majority and saw the end of its four-decade rule. A coalition of new parties and existing opposition parties formed a governing majority and elected a new prime minister, Morihiro Hosokawa, in August 1993. His government's major legislative objective was political reform, consisting of a package of new political financing restrictions and major changes in the electoral system. The coalition succeeded in passing landmark political reform legislation in January 1994.

In April 1994, Prime Minister Hosokawa resigned. Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata formed the successor coalition government, Japan's first minority government in almost 40 years. Prime Minister Hata resigned less than 2 months later. Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama formed the next government in June 1994, a coalition of his Japan Socialist Party (JSP), the LDP, and the small Sakigake Party. The advent of a coalition containing the JSP and LDP shocked many observers because of their previously fierce rivalry. Prime Minister Murayama served from June 1994 to January 1996. He was succeeded by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, who served from January 1996 to July 1998. Prime Minister Hashimoto headed a loose coalition of three parties until the July 1998 Upper House election, when the two smaller parties cut ties with the LDP. Hashimoto resigned due to a poor electoral showing by the LDP in those Upper House elections. He was succeeded as party president of the LDP and prime minister by Keizo Obuchi, who took office on July 30, 1998.

The LDP formed a governing coalition with the Liberal Party in January 1999, and Keizo Obuchi remained prime minister. The LDP-Liberal coalition expanded to include the New Komeito Party in October 1999. Prime Minister Obuchi suffered a stroke in April 2000 and was replaced by Yoshiro Mori. After the Liberal Party left the coalition in April 2000, Prime Minister Mori welcomed a Liberal Party splinter group, the New Conservative Party, into the ruling coalition. The three-party coalition made up of the LDP, New Komeito, and the Conservative Party maintained its majority in the Diet following the June 2000 Lower House elections. After a turbulent year in office in which he saw his approval ratings plummet to the single digits, Prime Minister Mori agreed to hold early elections for the LDP presidency in order to improve his party's chances in crucial July 2001 Upper House elections. Riding a wave of grassroots desire for change, maverick politician Junichiro Koizumi won an upset victory on April 24, 2001, over former Prime Minister Hashimoto and other party stalwarts on a platform of economic and political reform. Koizumi was elected as Japan's 87th Prime Minister on April 26, 2001.

Basic facts

Country name: conventional long form: none conventional short form: Japan

Data code: JA

Government type: constitutional monarchy (see also: Japan Constitution)

Capital: Tokyo

Administrative divisions: 47 prefectures; Aichi, Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Ehime, Fukui, Fukuoka, Fukushima, Gifu, Gunma, Hiroshima, Hokkaido, Hyogo, Ibaraki, Ishikawa, Iwate, Kagawa, Kagoshima, Kanagawa, Kochi, Kumamoto, Kyoto, Mie, Miyagi, Miyazaki, Nagano, Nagasaki, Nara, Niigata, Oita, Okayama, Okinawa, Osaka, Saga, Saitama, Shiga, Shimane, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Tokushima, Tokyo, Tottori, Toyama, Wakayama, Yamagata, Yamaguchi, Yamanashi.

Independence: 660 BC (traditional founding by Emperor Jimmu)

Constitution: May 3, 1947

Legal system: modeled after European civil law system with English-American influence; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

Suffrage: 20 years of age; universal

chief of state: Emperor Akihito (since January 7, 1989)

Executive branch: head of government: Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro (since April 2001) cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister

elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; the Diet designates the prime minister; the constitution requires that the prime minister must command a parliamentary majority, therefore, following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or leader of a majority coalition in the House of Representatives usua

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