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Politics in Japan

 

 

 

 

 

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In 1890 the Imperial Diet was established, making Japan the first country in Asia to introduce parliamentary politics.  The Diet is the sole legislative organ of the state and the highest organ of power.  It is vested with such powers as initiating constitutional revisions, deciding on the budget, approving treaties and designating a prime minister.  

The upper house, or the House of Peers, of the Imperial Diet was made up of representatives of the privileged class, especially the peerage and the Japan remained an absolute monarch, with sovereignty in the hands of the emperor.  It was only in November 1946, when the present Constitution was promulgated, that sovereignty was given to the people and a democratic system government was adopted.  Now the emperor is the symbol of the state and the Diet is the supreme organ of state power.  

The present system is built on the separation of powers of the three branches of government - legislative, executive and judicial - which act to check and balance one another. Administration at the prefectural level is centered on the governor and assembly of each of the 47 prefectures.

  The governor and assembly members are elected directly by residents of the prefecture.  Under each prefectural government is a system of city, town, and village administrations.  These municipal assemblies and mayors are also elected directly by local residents.

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Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Japan
local long form: Nihon-koku/Nippon-koku
local short form: Nihon/Nippon
Government type:
a parliamentary government with a constitutional monarchy
Capital:
name: Tokyo
geographic coordinates: 35 41 N, 139 45 E
time difference: UTC+9 (14 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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:
3 May 1947 (current constitution adopted as amendment to Meiji Constitution); notable earlier dates: 660 B.C. (traditional date of the founding of the nation by Emperor JIMMU); 29 November 1890 (Meiji Constitution provides for constitutional monarchy)
National holiday:
Birthday of Emperor AKIHITO, 23 December (1933)
Constitution:
3 May 1947
Legal system:
modeled after European civil law systems 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
Executive branch:
chief of state: Emperor AKIHITO (since 7 January 1989)
head of government: Prime Minister Naoto KAN (since 8 June 2010)
cabinet: Cabinet is appointed by the prime minister
elections: Diet designates the prime minister; constitution requires that the prime minister commands parliamentary majority; following legislative elections, the leader of majority party or leader of majority coalition in House of Representatives usually becomes prime minister; the monarchy is hereditary
Legislative branch:
bicameral Diet or Kokkai consists of the House of Councillors or Sangi-in (242 seats - members elected for fixed six-year terms; half reelected every three years; 146 members in multi-seat constituencies and 96 by proportional representation) and the House of Representatives or Shugi-in (480 seats - members elected for maximum four-year terms; 300 in single-seat constituencies; 180 members by proportional representation in 11 regional blocs); the prime minister has the right to dissolve the House of Representatives at any time with the concurrence of the cabinet
elections: House of Councillors - last held on 11 July 2010 (next to be held in July 2013); House of Representatives - last held on 30 August 2009 (next to be held by August 2013)
election results: House of Councillors - percent of vote by party - DPJ 31.6%, LDP 24.1%, YP 13.6%, NK 13.1%, JCP 6.1%, SDP 3.8%, others 7.7%; seats by party - DPJ 106, LDP 84, NK 19, YP 11, JCP 6, SDP 4, others 12
House of Representatives - percent of vote by party (by proportional representation) - DPJ 42.4%, LDP 26.7%, NK 11.5%, JCP 7.0%, SDP 4.3%, others 8.1%; seats by party - DPJ 308, LDP 119, NK 21, JCP 9, SDP 7, others 16 (2009)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (chief justice is appointed by the monarch after designation by the cabinet; all other justices are appointed by the cabinet)
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Party of Japan or DPJ [Naoto KAN]; Japan Communist Party or JCP [Kazuo SHII]; Liberal Democratic Party or LDP [Sadakazu TANIGAKI]; New Komeito or NK [Natsuo YAMAGUCHI]; People's New Party or PNP [Shizuka KAMEI]; Social Democratic Party or SDP [Mizuho FUKUSHIMA]; Your Party or YP [Yoshimi WATANABE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
other: business groups; trade unions
International organization participation:
ADB, AfDB (nonregional member), APEC, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, CE (observer), CERN (observer), CICA (observer), CP, EAS, EBRD, FAO, FATF, G-20, G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAIA (observer), MIGA, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), Paris Club, PCA, PIF (partner), SAARC (observer), SECI (observer), UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNDOF, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIS, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Ichiro FUJISAKI
chancery: 2520 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 238-6700
FAX: [1] (202) 328-2187
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Agana (Guam), Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Portland (Oregon), San Francisco, Seattle
consulate(s): Anchorage, Nashville
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador John V. ROOS
embassy: 1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420
mailing address: Unit 9800, Box 300, APO AP 96303-0300
telephone: [81] (03) 3224-5000
FAX: [81] (03) 3505-1862
consulate(s) general: Naha (Okinawa), Osaka-Kobe, Sapporo
consulate(s): Fukuoka, Nagoya
Flag description:
white with a large red disk (representing the sun without rays) in the center
National anthem:
name: "Kimigayo" (The Emperor"s Reign)
lyrics/music: unknown/Hiromori HAYASHI
note: adopted 1999; in use as unofficial national anthem since 1883; oldest anthem lyrics in the world, dating to the 10th century or earlier; there is some opposition to the anthem because of its association with militarism and worship of the emperor

 

 
 
 
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