Districts of Japan
The district is today a geographical and statistical unit comprising one or several rural municipalities in Japan. It was used as an administrative unit in Japan in antiquity and between 1878 and 1921 and was equivalent to the county of the United States, ranking at the level below prefecture and above town or village, same as city; the district was called kōri and has ancient roots in Japan. Although the Nihon Shoki says they were established during the Taika Reforms, kōri was written 評, it was not until the Taihō Code that kōri came to be written as 郡. Under the Taihō Code, the administrative unit of province was above district, the village was below; as the power of the central government decayed over the centuries, the provinces and districts, although never formally abolished and still connected to administrative positions handed out by the Imperial court lost their relevance as administrative units and were superseded by a hierarchy of feudal holdings. In the Edo period, the primary subdivisions were the shogunate cities, governed by urban administrators, the shogunate domain, major holdings, there was a number of minor territories such as spiritual holdings.
For this reason alone, they were impractical as geographical units, in addition, Edo period feudalism was tied to the nominal income of a territory, not the territory itself, so the shogunate could and did redistribute territories between domains, their borders were subject to change if in some places holdings remained unchanged for centuries. Provinces and districts remained the most important geographical frame of reference throughout the middle and early modern ages up to the restoration and beyond – the prefectures were created in direct succession to the shogunate era feudal divisions and their borders kept shifting through mergers and territorial transfers until they reached their present state in the 1890s. Cities, since their introduction in 1889, have always belonged directly to prefectures and are independent from districts. Before 1878, districts had subdivided the whole country with only few exceptions. In 1878, the districts were reactivated as administrative units, but the major cities were separated from the districts.
All prefectures were – except for some remote islands – contiguously subdivided into districts/counties and urban districts/cites, the precursors to the 1889 shi. Geographically, the rural districts were based on the ancient districts, but in many places they were merged, split up or renamed, in some areas, prefectural borders went through ancient districts and the districts were reorganized to match. District administrations were set up in 1878, but district assemblies were only created in 1890 with the introduction of the district code as part of the Prussian-influenced local government reforms of 1888-90. From the 1890s, district governments were run by a collective executive council, headed by the appointed district chief and consisting of 3 additional members elected by the district assembly and one appointed by the prefectural governor – similar to cities and prefectures. In 1921, Hara Takashi, the first non-oligarchic prime minister, managed to get his long-sought abolition of the districts passed – unlike the municipal and prefectural assemblies, an early platform for the Freedom and People's Rights Movement before the Imperial Diet was established and became bases of party power, the district governments were considered to be a stronghold of anti-liberal Yamagata Aritomo's followers and the centralist-bureaucratic Home Ministry tradition.
The district assemblies and governments were abolished a few years later. As of today and villages belong directly to prefectures. However, for geographical and statistical purposes, districts continue to be used and are updated for municipal mergers or status changes: i
Imperial House of Japan
The Imperial House of Japan referred to as the Imperial Family or the Yamato Dynasty, comprises those members of the extended family of the reigning Emperor of Japan who undertake official and public duties. Under the present Constitution of Japan, the Emperor is "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people". Other members of the Imperial Family perform ceremonial and social duties, but have no role in the affairs of government; the duties as an Emperor are passed so on. The Japanese monarchy is claimed to be the oldest continuous hereditary monarchy in the world; the Imperial House recognizes 125 monarchs beginning with the legendary Emperor Jimmu and continuing up to the current emperor, Akihito. Historical evidence for the first 29 Emperors is marginal by modern standards, but there is firm evidence for the hereditary line since Emperor Kinmei ascended the throne 1,500 years ago. Article 5 of the Imperial Household Law defines the Imperial Family as the Empress. In English, shinnō and ō are both translated as "prince" as well as shinnōhi, naishinnō, ōhi and joō as "princess".
After the removal of 11 collateral branches from the Imperial House in October 1947, the official membership of the Imperial Family has been limited to the male line descendants of the Emperor Taishō, excluding females who married outside the Imperial Family and their descendants. There are 18 members of the Imperial Family: The Emperor was born at Tokyo Imperial Palace on 23 December 1933, the elder son and fifth child of the Emperor Shōwa and Empress Kōjun, he was married on 10 April 1959 to Michiko Shōda. Emperor Akihito succeeded his father as emperor on 7 January 1989; the Empress Michiko Shōda, was born in Tokyo on 20 October 1934, the eldest daughter of Hidesaburo Shōda, president and honorary chairman of Nisshin Flour Milling Inc.. The Crown Prince, the eldest son of the Emperor and the Empress, was born in the Hospital of the Imperial Household in Tokyo on 23 February 1960, he became heir apparent upon his father's accession to the throne. Crown Prince Naruhito was married on 9 June 1993 to Masako Owada.
The Crown Princess was born on 9 December 1963, the daughter of Hisashi Owada, a former vice minister of foreign affairs and former permanent representative of Japan to the United Nations. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess have one daughter: The Princess Toshi The Prince Akishino, the Emperor's second son, second on the succession line, was born on 30 November 1965 in the Hospital of the Imperial Household in Tokyo, his childhood title was Prince Aya. He received the title Prince Akishino and permission to start a new branch of the Imperial Family upon his marriage to Kiko Kawashima on 29 June 1990; the Princess Akishino was born on 11 September 1966, the daughter of Tatsuhiko Kawashima, professor of economics at Gakushuin University. Prince and Princess Akishino have two daughters and a son: Princess Mako of Akishino Princess Kako of Akishino Prince Hisahito of Akishino The Prince Hitachi was born on 28 November 1935, the second son and sixth child of the Emperor Shōwa and Empress Kojun.
His childhood title was Prince Yoshi. He received the title Prince Hitachi and permission to set up a new branch of the Imperial Family on 1 October 1964, the day after his wedding; the Princess Hitachi was born on the daughter of former Count Yoshitaka Tsugaru. Prince and Princess Hitachi have no children; the Princess Mikasa is the widow of the Prince Mikasa, the fourth son of Emperor Taishō and Empress Teimei and an uncle of Emperor Akihito. The Princess was born on 4 June 1923, the second daughter of Viscount Masanori Takagi. Princess Mikasa has three sons with the late Prince Mikasa. Princess Tomohito of Mikasa is the widow of Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, the eldest son of the Prince and Princess Mikasa and a first cousin of Emperor Akihito; the Princess was born on 9 April 1955, the daughter of Takakichi Asō, chairman of Asō Cement Co. and his wife, Kazuko, a daughter of former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida. She has two daughters with the late Prince Tomohito of Mikasa: Princess Akiko of Mikasa Princess Yōko of Mikasa The Princess Takamado is the widow of the Prince Takamado, the third son of the Prince and Princess Mikasa and a first cousin of Emperor Akihito.
The Princess was born the eldest daughter of Shigejiro Tottori. She married the prince on 6 December 1984. Known as Prince Norihito of Mikasa, he received the title Prince Takamado and permission to start a new branch of the Imperial Family on 1 December 1984. Princess Takamado has three daughters, one of whom remains a member of the Imperial Family: Princess Tsuguko of Takamado The following family tree shows the lineage of the contemporary members of the Imperial Family. Princesses who le
Prime Minister of Japan
The Prime Minister of Japan is the head of government of Japan. The Prime Minister is appointed by the Emperor of Japan after being designated by the National Diet and must enjoy the confidence of the House of Representatives to remain in office, he dismisses the other Ministers of State. The literal translation of the Japanese name for the office is Minister for the Comprehensive Administration of the Cabinet. Before the adoption of the Meiji Constitution, Japan had in practice no written constitution. A Chinese-inspired legal system known as ritsuryō was enacted in the late Asuka period and early Nara period, it described a government based on an elaborate and rational meritocratic bureaucracy, serving, in theory, under the ultimate authority of the Emperor. Theoretically, the last ritsuryō code, the Yōrō Code enacted in 752, was still in force at the time of the Meiji Restoration. Under this system, the Daijō-daijin was the head of the Daijō-kan, the highest organ of Japan's pre-modern Imperial government during the Heian period and until under the Meiji Constitution with the appointment of Sanjō Sanetomi in 1871.
The office was replaced in 1885 with the appointment of Itō Hirobumi to the new position of Prime Minister, four years before the enactment of the Meiji Constitution, which mentions neither the Cabinet nor the position of Prime Minister explicitly. It took its current form with the adoption of the Constitution of Japan in 1947. To date, 62 people have served this position; the current Prime Minister is Shinzō Abe, who re-took office on December 26, 2012. He is the first former Prime Minister to return to office since 1948, the 4th longest serving Prime Minister to date; the Prime Minister is designated by both houses of the Diet, before the conduct of any other business. For that purpose, each conducts a ballot under the run-off system. If the two houses choose different individuals a joint committee of both houses is appointed to agree on a common candidate. However, if the two houses do not agree within ten days, the decision of the House of Representatives is deemed to be that of the Diet. Therefore, the House of Representatives can theoretically ensure the appointment of any Prime Minister it wants.
The candidate is presented with his or her commission, formally appointed to office by the Emperor. In practice, the Prime Minister is always the leader of the majority party in the House of Representatives, or the leader of the senior partner in the governing coalition. Must be a member of either house of the Diet. Must be a "civilian"; this excludes serving members of the Japan Self-Defense Forces. Former military persons may be appointed prime minister despite the "civilian" requirement, Yasuhiro Nakasone being one prominent example. Exercises "control and supervision" over the entire executive branch. Presents bills to the Diet on behalf of the Cabinet. Signs laws and Cabinet orders. Appoints all Cabinet ministers, can dismiss them at any time. May permit legal action to be taken against Cabinet ministers. Must make reports on foreign relations to the Diet. Must report to the Diet upon demand to provide explanations. May advise the Emperor to dissolve the Diet's House of Representatives. Presides over meetings of the Cabinet.
Commander-in-chief of the Japan Self-Defense Forces. May override a court injunction against an administrative act upon showing of cause. In most other constitutional monarchies, the monarch is nominal chief executive, while being bound by convention to act on the advice of the cabinet. In contrast, the Constitution of Japan explicitly vests executive power in the Cabinet, of which the Prime Minister is the leader, his signature is required for Cabinet orders. While most ministers in parliamentary democracies have some freedom of action within the bounds of cabinet collective responsibility, the Japanese Cabinet is an extension of the Prime Minister's authority. Located near the Diet building, the Office of the Prime Minister of Japan is called the Kantei; the original Kantei served from 1929 until 2002, when a new building was inaugurated to serve as the current Kantei. The old Kantei was converted into the Official Residence, or Kōtei; the Kōtei lies to the southwest of the Kantei, is linked by a walkway.
The Prime Minister of Japan travels in a Lexus LS 600h L, the official transport for the head of government, or an unmodified Toyota Century escorted by a police motorcade of numerous Toyota Celsiors. For long distance air travel, Japan maintains two Boeing 747-400 aircraft for the Prime Minister of Japan, the Emperor and other members of the Imperial Family, operated by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, they have the radio callsigns Japanese Air Force One and Japanese Air Force Two when operating on official business, Cygnus One and Cygnus Two when operating outside of official business. The aircraft always fly together on government missions, with one serving as the primary transport and the other serving as a backup with maintenance personnel on board; the aircraft are referred to as Japanese government exclusive aircraft. The aircraft were constructed at the Boeing factory at the same time as the U. S. Air Force One VC-25s, though the U. S. aircraft wer
The National Diet is Japan's bicameral legislature. It is composed of a lower house called the House of Representatives, an upper house, called the House of Councillors. Both houses of the Diet are directly elected under parallel voting systems. In addition to passing laws, the Diet is formally responsible for selecting the Prime Minister; the Diet was first convened as the Imperial Diet in 1889 as a result of adopting the Meiji Constitution. The Diet took its current form in 1947 upon the adoption of the post-war constitution, which considers it the highest organ of state power; the National Diet Building is in Nagatachō, Tokyo. The houses of the Diet are both elected under parallel voting systems; this means that the seats to be filled in any given election are divided into two groups, each elected by a different method. Voters are asked to cast two votes: one for an individual candidate in a constituency, one for a party list. Any national of Japan at least 18 years of age may vote in these elections.
The age of 18 replaced 20 in 2016. Japan's parallel voting system is not to be confused with the Additional Member System used in many other nations; the Constitution of Japan does not specify the number of members of each house of the Diet, the voting system, or the necessary qualifications of those who may vote or be returned in parliamentary elections, thus allowing all of these things to be determined by law. However it does guarantee universal adult suffrage and a secret ballot, it insists that the electoral law must not discriminate in terms of "race, sex, social status, family origin, property or income". The election of Diet members is controlled by statutes passed by the Diet; this is a source of contention concerning re-apportionment of prefectures' seats in response to changes of population distribution. For example, the Liberal Democratic Party had controlled Japan for most of its post-war history, it gained much of its support from rural areas. During the post-war era, large numbers of people were relocating to the urban centers in the seeking of wealth.
The Supreme Court of Japan began exercising judicial review of apportionment laws following the Kurokawa decision of 1976, invalidating an election in which one district in Hyōgo Prefecture received five times the representation of another district in Osaka Prefecture. The Supreme Court has since indicated that the highest electoral imbalance permissible under Japanese law is 3:1, that any greater imbalance between any two districts is a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution. In recent elections the malapportionment ratio amounted to 4.8 in the House of Councillors and 2.3 in the House of Representatives. Candidates for the lower house must be 25 years old or older and 30 years or older for the upper house. All candidates must be Japanese nationals. Under Article 49 of Japan's Constitution, Diet members are paid about ¥1.3 million a month in salary. Each lawmaker is entitled to employ three secretaries with taxpayer funds, free Shinkansen tickets, four round-trip airplane tickets a month to enable them to travel back and forth to their home districts.
Article 41 of the Constitution describes the National Diet as "the highest organ of State power" and "the sole law-making organ of the State". This statement is in forceful contrast to the Meiji Constitution, which described the Emperor as the one who exercised legislative power with the consent of the Diet; the Diet's responsibilities include not only the making of laws but the approval of the annual national budget that the government submits and the ratification of treaties. It can initiate draft constitutional amendments, which, if approved, must be presented to the people in a referendum; the Diet may conduct "investigations in relation to government". The Prime Minister must be designated by Diet resolution, establishing the principle of legislative supremacy over executive government agencies; the government can be dissolved by the Diet if it passes a motion of no confidence introduced by fifty members of the House of Representatives. Government officials, including the Prime Minister and Cabinet members, are required to appear before Diet investigative committees and answer inquiries.
The Diet has the power to impeach judges convicted of criminal or irregular conduct. In most circumstances, in order to become law a bill must be first passed by both houses of the Diet and promulgated by the Emperor; this role of the Emperor is similar to the Royal Assent in some other nations. The House of Representatives is the more powerful chamber of the Diet. While the House of Representatives cannot overrule the House of Councillors on a bill, the House of Councillors can only delay the adoption of a budget or a treaty, approved by the House of Representatives, the House of Councillors has no power at all to prevent the lower house from selecting any Prime Minister it wishes. Furthermore, once appointed it is the confidence of the House of Representatives alone that the Prime Minister must enjoy in order to continue in office; the House of Representatives can overrule the upper house in the following circumstances: If a bill is adopted by the House of Representatives and either rejected, amended or not approved within 60 days by th
Shinzō Abe is a Japanese politician serving as Prime Minister of Japan and Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party since 2012. He served as Prime Minister from 2006 to 2007 and Chief Cabinet Secretary from 2005 to 2006. In 2019, Abe succeeded Shigeru Yoshida as the second-longest serving Prime Minister in post-war Japan and the fourth-longest serving PM in Japanese history. Abe comes from a politically prominent family and was first elected Prime Minister by a special session of the National Diet in September 2006. Aged 52, he became Japan's youngest post-war Prime Minister and the first to have been born after World War II. Abe resigned on 12 September 2007 for health reasons after his party lost the House of Councillors election that year, he was replaced by Yasuo Fukuda, the first in a series of five Prime Ministers who failed to retain office for more than sixteen months. Abe staged a political comeback, on 26 September 2012 he defeated former Minister of Defense Shigeru Ishiba for the LDP presidency.
Following the LDP's landslide victory in the 2012 general election, he became the first former Prime Minister to return to the office since Shigeru Yoshida in 1948. He was re-elected in the 2014 general election, retaining his two-thirds majority with coalition partner Komeito, again in the 2017 general election. Abe is a conservative whom political commentators have described as a right-wing nationalist, he is a member of the revisionist Nippon Kaigi and holds revisionist views on Japanese history, including denying the role of government coercion in the recruitment of comfort women during World War II, a position which has created tension with neighboring South Korea. He is considered a hard-liner with respect to North Korea, advocates revising Article 9 of the pacifist constitution to permit Japan to maintain military forces. Abe is known internationally for his government's economic policies, nicknamed Abenomics, which pursue monetary easing, fiscal stimulus, structural reforms. Shinzō Abe was born to a politically prominent family.
His family is from Yamaguchi Prefecture, Abe's registered residence is Nagato, where his grandfather was born. His grandfather, Kan Abe, father, Shintaro Abe, were both politicians, his great-great-grandfather, the Viscount Yoshimasa Ōshima served as General in the Imperial Japanese Army. Abe's mother, Yoko Kishi, is the daughter of Nobusuke Kishi, prime minister of Japan from 1957 to 1960. Kishi had been a member of the Tōjō Cabinet during the Second World War. Since GHQ's policy changed and became more anti-communist, Kishi was released from Sugamo Prison, established the Japan Democratic Party. In his book Utsukushii Kuni e, Abe wrote, "Some people used to point to my grandfather as a'Class-A war criminal suspect', I felt strong repulsion; because of that experience, I may have become attached to'conservatism', on the contrary."In 1955, Shigeru Yoshida's Liberal Party and Kishi's Democratic Party merged as an anti-leftist coalition and was reestablished as the LDP. Abe attended Seikei Junior High School and Seikei Senior High School.
He studied public administration and graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science from Seikei University in 1977. He moved to the United States and studied public policy at the University of Southern California's School of Public Policy for three semesters. In April 1979, Abe began working for Kobe Steel, he left the company in 1982 and pursued a number of government positions including executive assistant to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, private secretary to the chairperson of the LDP General Council, private secretary to the LDP secretary-general. Shinzō Abe was elected to the first district of Yamaguchi Prefecture in 1993 after his father's death in 1991, winning the most votes of the four Representatives elected in the SNTV multi-member district. In 1999, he became Director of the Social Affairs Division, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary in the Yoshirō Mori and Junichirō Koizumi Cabinets from 2000–2003, after which he was appointed Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic Party.
Abe is a member of the Mori Faction of the Liberal Democratic Party. This faction is headed by former prime minister Yoshirō Mori. Jun'ichirō Koizumi was a member of the Mori Faction prior to leaving it, as is the custom when accepting a high party post. From 1986 to 1991, Abe's father, headed the same faction; the Seiwa Seisaku Kenkyū-kai has 60 members in the House of Representatives and 26 in the House of Councillors. In 2000, Abe's home and the office of his supporters in Shimonoseki, in Yamaguchi Prefecture, were attacked with molotov cocktails on numerous occasions; the perpetrators were several yakuza members belonging to the Kudo-kai, a Kitakyushu-based designated boryokudan syndicate. The reason for the attacks was believed to be that Abe's local aide refused to give cash to a Shimonoseki real estate broker in return for supporting a Shimonoseki mayoral candidate in 1999. Abe was chief negotiator for the Japanese government on behalf of the families of Japanese abductees taken to North Korea.
As a part of the effort, he accompanied Koizumi to meet Kim Jong‑il in 2002. He gained national popularity when he demanded that Japanese abductees visiting Japan remain, in defiance of North Korea, he was the leader of a project team within the LDP that did a survey on "excessive sexual education and gender-free education". Among the items to which this team raised objections were anatomical dolls and other curricular materials "not taking into consideration the age of children", school policies banning traditional boys' and g
Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south; the kanji that make up Japan's name mean "sun origin", it is called the "Land of the Rising Sun". Japan is a stratovolcanic archipelago consisting of about 6,852 islands; the four largest are Honshu, Hokkaido and Shikoku, which make up about ninety-seven percent of Japan's land area and are referred to as home islands. The country is divided into 47 prefectures in eight regions, with Hokkaido being the northernmost prefecture and Okinawa being the southernmost one; the population of 127 million is the world's tenth largest. 90.7 % of people live in cities. About 13.8 million people live in the capital of Japan. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world with over 38 million people. Archaeological research indicates; the first written mention of Japan is in Chinese history texts from the 1st century AD.
Influence from other regions China, followed by periods of isolation from Western Europe, has characterized Japan's history. From the 12th century until 1868, Japan was ruled by successive feudal military shōguns who ruled in the name of the Emperor. Japan entered into a long period of isolation in the early 17th century, ended in 1853 when a United States fleet pressured Japan to open to the West. After nearly two decades of internal conflict and insurrection, the Imperial Court regained its political power in 1868 through the help of several clans from Chōshū and Satsuma – and the Empire of Japan was established. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, victories in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War and World War I allowed Japan to expand its empire during a period of increasing militarism; the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937 expanded into part of World War II in 1941, which came to an end in 1945 following the Japanese surrender. Since adopting its revised constitution on May 3, 1947, during the occupation led by SCAP, the sovereign state of Japan has maintained a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy with an Emperor and an elected legislature called the National Diet.
Japan is a member of the ASEAN Plus mechanism, UN, the OECD, the G7, the G8, the G20, is considered a great power. Its economy is the world's third-largest by nominal GDP and the fourth-largest by purchasing power parity, it is the world's fourth-largest exporter and fourth-largest importer. Japan benefits from a skilled and educated workforce. Although it has renounced its right to declare war, Japan maintains a modern military with the world's eighth-largest military budget, used for self-defense and peacekeeping roles. Japan is a developed country with a high standard of living and Human Development Index, its population enjoys the highest life expectancy and third lowest infant mortality rate in the world, but is experiencing issues due to an aging population and low birthrate. Japan is renowned for its historical and extensive cinema, influential music industry, video gaming, rich cuisine and its major contributions to science and modern technology; the Japanese word for Japan is 日本, pronounced Nihon or Nippon and means "the origin of the sun".
The character nichi means "sun" or "day". The compound therefore means "origin of the sun" and is the source of the popular Western epithet "Land of the Rising Sun"; the earliest record of the name Nihon appears in the Chinese historical records of the Tang dynasty, the Old Book of Tang. At the end of the seventh century, a delegation from Japan requested that Nihon be used as the name of their country; this name may have its origin in a letter sent in 607 and recorded in the official history of the Sui dynasty. Prince Shōtoku, the Regent of Japan, sent a mission to China with a letter in which he called himself "the Emperor of the Land where the Sun rises"; the message said: "Here, I, the emperor of the country where the sun rises, send a letter to the emperor of the country where the sun sets. How are you". Prior to the adoption of Nihon, other terms such as Yamato and Wakoku were used; the term Wa is a homophone of Wo 倭, used by the Chinese as a designation for the Japanese as early as the third century Three Kingdoms period.
Another form of Wa, Wei in Chinese) was used for an early state in Japan called Nakoku during the Han dynasty. However, the Japanese disliked some connotation of Wa 倭, it was therefore replaced with the substitute character Wa, meaning "togetherness, harmony"; the English word Japan derives from the historical Chinese pronunciation of 日本. The Old Mandarin or early Wu Chinese pronunciation of Japan was recorded by Marco Polo as Cipangu. In modern Shanghainese, a Wu dialect, the pronunciation of characters 日本; the old Malay word for Japan, Japun or Japang, was borrowed from a southern coastal Chinese dialect Fukienese or Ningpo – and this Malay word was encountered by Portuguese traders in Southeast Asia in the 16th century. These Early Portuguese traders brought the word
Constitution of Japan
The Constitution of Japan is the fundamental law of Japan. It was enacted on 3 May 1947, as a new constitution for a post-war Japan; the constitution provides for a parliamentary system of government and guarantees certain fundamental rights. Under its terms, the Emperor of Japan is "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people" and exercises a purely ceremonial role without the possession of sovereignty; the constitution known as the "Post-war Constitution" or the "Peace Constitution", is best known for its Article 9, by which Japan renounces its right to wage war. The constitution was drawn up during the Allied occupation that followed World War II and was intended to replace Japan's previous militaristic system of quasi-absolute monarchy with a form of liberal democracy. No amendment has been made to it since its adoption; the Meiji Constitution was the fundamental law of the Empire of Japan, propagated during the reign of Emperor Meiji. It provided for a form of mixed constitutional and absolute monarchy, based on the Prussian and British models.
In theory, the Emperor of Japan was the supreme ruler, the cabinet, whose prime minister was elected by a privy council, were his followers. Under the Meiji Constitution, the prime minister and his cabinet were not chosen from the elected members of the Diet. Pursuing the regular amending procedure of the "Meiji Constitution", it was revised to become the "Post-war Constitution" on 3 November 1946; the Post-war Constitution has been in force since 3 May 1947. On 26 July 1945, Allied leaders Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman, Chiang Kai-shek issued the Potsdam Declaration, which demanded Japan's unconditional surrender; this declaration defined the major goals of the post-surrender Allied occupation: "The Japanese government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people. Freedom of speech, of religion, of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established". In addition, the document stated: "The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there has been established in accordance with the expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government".
The Allies sought not punishment or reparations from a militaristic foe, but fundamental changes in the nature of its political system. In the words of political scientist Robert E. Ward: "The occupation was the single most exhaustively planned operation of massive and externally directed political change in world history." The wording of the Potsdam Declaration—"The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles..."—and the initial post-surrender measures taken by Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, suggest that neither he nor his superiors in Washington intended to impose a new political system on Japan unilaterally. Instead, they wished to encourage Japan's new leaders to initiate democratic reforms on their own, but by early 1946, MacArthur's staff and Japanese officials were at odds over the most fundamental issue, the writing of a new Constitution. Emperor Hirohito, Prime Minister Kijūrō Shidehara and most of the cabinet members were reluctant to take the drastic step of replacing the 1889 Meiji Constitution with a more liberal document.
In late 1945, Shidehara appointed Jōji Matsumoto, state minister without portfolio, head of a blue-ribbon committee of Constitutional scholars to suggest revisions. The Matsumoto Commission's recommendations, made public in February 1946, were quite conservative as "no more than a touching-up of the Meiji Constitution"). MacArthur rejected them outright and ordered his staff to draft a new document. An additional reason for this was that on 24 January 1946, Prime Minister Shidehara had suggested to MacArthur that the new Constitution should contain an article renouncing war. Much of the drafting was done by two senior army officers with law degrees: Milo Rowell and Courtney Whitney, although others chosen by MacArthur had a large say in the document; the articles about equality between men and women were written by Beate Sirota. Although the document's authors were non-Japanese, they took into account the Meiji Constitution, the demands of Japanese lawyers, the opinions of pacifist political leaders such as Shidehara and Shigeru Yoshida, the draft presented by the Constitution Research Association under the chairmanship of Suzuki Yasuzō, translated into English in its entirety by the end of December 1945.
MacArthur gave the authors less than a week to complete the draft, presented to surprised Japanese officials on 13 February 1946. On 6 March 1946, the government publicly disclosed an outline of the pending Constitution. On 10 April, elections were held for the House of Representatives of the Ninetieth Imperial Diet, which would consider the proposed Constitution; the election law having been changed, this was the first general election in Japan in which women were permitted to vote. The MacArthur draft, which proposed a unicameral legislature, was changed at the insistence of the Japanese to allow a bicameral one, with both houses being elected. In most other important respects, the government adopted the ideas embodied in the 13 February document in its own draft proposal of 6 March; these included the con