Constitution of Japan facts for kids
- Historical origins
- Main provisions
- Amendments and revisions
- Human rights guarantees in practice
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, also known as the "Postwar Constitution" ( 戦後憲法 Sengo-Kenpō) or the "Peace Constitution" ( 平和憲法 Heiwa-Kenpō), is most characteristic and famous for the renunciation of the right to wage war contained in Article 9 and to a lesser extent, the provision for de jure popular sovereignty in conjunction with the monarchy.
The constitution was drawn up under the Allied occupation that followed World War II and was intended to replace Japan's previous militaristic and absolute monarchy system with a form of liberal democracy. Currently, it is a rigid document and no subsequent amendment has been made to it since its adoption.
The Constitution of the Empire of Japan of 1889 (commonly called the "Meiji Constitution", after the emperor during whose reign it was composed), was the fundamental law of the former state. Enacted after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, it provided for a form of mixed constitutional and absolute monarchy, based jointly on the Prussian and British models. In theory, the Emperor of Japan or Tenno was the supreme ruler, and the Cabinet, whose Prime Minister would be elected by a Privy Council, were his followers; in practice, the Emperor was head of state but the Prime Minister was the actual head of government. Under the Meiji Constitution, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet were not necessarily chosen from the elected members of the Diet. Pursuing the regular amending procedure of the "Meiji Constitution", it was entirely revised to become the "Postwar Constitution" on 3 November 1946. The Postwar Constitution has been in force since 3 May 1947.
The Potsdam Declaration
On 26 July 1945, Allied leaders Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman, and Chiang Kai-shek issued the Potsdam Declaration, which demanded Japan's unconditional surrender. This declaration also defined the major goals of the postsurrender 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, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established" (Section 10). 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 freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government" (Section 12). The Allies sought not merely 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 perhaps 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 (SCAP), 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 Kijuro Shidehara and most of the cabinet members were extremely reluctant to take the drastic step of replacing the 1889 Meiji Constitution with a more liberal document. In late 1945, Shidehara appointed Joji 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 (described by one Japanese scholar in the late 1980s as "no more than a touching-up of the Meiji Constitution"). MacArthur rejected them outright and ordered his staff to draft a completely new document. An additional reason for this was that on January 24, 1946, Prime Minister Shidehara has 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 are reported to have been 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, and especially the draft presented by the Constitution Research Association (Kenpō Kenkyū-kai) under the chairmanship of Suzuki Yasuzō (1904-1983), which had been translated into English in its entirety already at the end of December 1945. MacArthur gave the authors less than a week to complete the draft, which was 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 to 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 legislature, both houses being elected. In most other important respects, however, the ideas embodied in the 13 February document were adopted by the government in its own draft proposal of 6 March. These included the constitution's most distinctive features: the symbolic role of the Emperor, the prominence of guarantees of civil and human rights, and the renunciation of war.
In 1946, criticism of or any reference at all to SCAP's role in drafting the constitution could be made subject to CCD censorship (as was any reference to censorship itself). Until late 1947, CCD exerted pre-publication censorship over about 70 daily newspapers, all books and magazines and many other publications.
It was decided that in adopting the new document the Meiji Constitution would not be violated, but rather legal continuity would be maintained. Thus the 1946 constitution was adopted as an amendment to the Meiji Constitution in accordance with the provisions of Article 73 of that document. Under Article 73 the new constitution was formally submitted to the Imperial Diet by the Emperor, through an imperial rescript issued on 20 June. The draft constitution was submitted and deliberated upon as the Bill for Revision of the Imperial Constitution. The old constitution required that the bill receive the support of a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Diet in order to become law. After both chambers had made some amendments the House of Peers approved the document on 6 October; it was adopted in the same form by the House of Representatives the following day, with only five members voting against, and finally became law when it received the Emperor's assent on 3 November. Under its own terms the constitution came into effect six months later on 3 May 1947.
Early proposals for amendment
The new constitution would not have been written the way it was had MacArthur and his staff allowed Japanese politicians and constitutional experts to resolve the issue as they wished. The document's foreign origins have, understandably, been a focus of controversy since Japan recovered its sovereignty in 1952. Yet in late 1945 and 1946, there was much public discussion on constitutional reform, and the MacArthur draft was apparently greatly influenced by the ideas of certain Japanese liberals. The MacArthur draft did not attempt to impose a United States-style presidential or federal system. Instead, the proposed constitution conformed to the British model of parliamentary government, which was seen by the liberals as the most viable alternative to the European absolutism of the Meiji Constitution.
After 1952 conservatives and nationalists attempted to revise the constitution to make it more "Japanese", but these attempts were frustrated for a number of reasons. One was the extreme difficulty of amending it. Amendments require approval by two-thirds of the members of both houses of the National Diet before they can be presented to the people in a referendum (Article 96). Also, opposition parties, occupying more than one-third of the Diet seats, were firm supporters of the constitutional status quo. Even for members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the constitution was advantageous. They had been able to fashion a policy-making process congenial to their interests within its framework. Yasuhiro Nakasone, a strong advocate of constitutional revision during much of his political career, for example, downplayed the issue while serving as prime minister between 1982 and 1987.
The constitution has a length of approximately 5,000 words. It consists of a preamble and 103 articles grouped into eleven chapters. These are:
- I. The Emperor (1–8)
- II. Renunciation of War (9)
- III. Rights and Duties of the People (10–40)
- IV. The Diet (41–64)
- V. The Cabinet (65–75)
- VI. Judiciary (76–82)
- VII. Finance (83–91)
- VIII. Local Self–Government (92–95)
- IX. Amendments (96)
- X. Supreme Law (97–99)
- XI. Supplementary Provisions (100–103)
The constitution contains a firm declaration of the principle of popular sovereignty in the preamble. This is proclaimed in the name of the "Japanese people" and declares that "sovereign power resides with the people" and
- government is a sacred trust of the people, the authority for which is derived from the people, the powers of which are exercised by the representatives of the people, and the benefits of which are enjoyed by the people.
Part of the purpose of this language is to refute the previous constitutional theory that sovereignty resided in the Emperor. The constitution asserts that the Emperor is merely a symbol and that he derives "his position from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power" (Article 1). The text of the constitution also asserts the liberal doctrine of fundamental human rights. In particular Article 97 states that
- the fundamental human rights by this Constitution guaranteed to the people of Japan are fruits of the age-old struggle of man to be free; they have survived the many exacting tests for durability and are conferred upon this and future generations in trust, to be held for all time inviolate.
Organs of government
- Main article: Government of Japan
The constitution establishes a parliamentary system of government. The Emperor carries out most of the functions of a head of state but his role is merely ceremonial and, unlike the forms of constitutional monarchy found in some other nations, he possesses no reserve powers. Legislative authority is vested in a bicameral National Diet and, whereas previously the upper house had consisted of members of the nobility, the new constitution provided that both chambers be directly elected. Executive authority is exercised by a Prime Minister and cabinet answerable to the legislature, while the judiciary is headed by a Supreme Court.
"The rights and duties of the people" are prominently featured in the postwar constitution. Altogether, thirty-one of its 103 articles are devoted to describing them in considerable detail, reflecting the commitment to "respect for the fundamental human rights" of the Potsdam Declaration. Although the Meiji Constitution had a section devoted to the "rights and duties of subjects", which guaranteed "liberty of speech, writing, publication, public meetings, and associations", these rights were granted "within the limits of law". Freedom of religious belief was allowed "insofar as it does not interfere with the duties of subjects" (all Japanese were required to acknowledge the Emperor's divinity, and those, such as Christians, who refused to do so out of religious conviction were accused of lèse-majesté). Such freedoms are delineated in the postwar constitution without qualification.
Individual rights under the Japanese constitution are rooted in Article 13 where the constitution asserts the right of the people "to be respected as individuals" and, subject to "the public welfare", to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." This article's core notion is jinkaku, which represents "the elements of character and personality that come together to define each person as an individual," and which represents the aspects of each individual's life that the government is obligated to respect in the exercise of its power.
Subsequent provisions provide for:
- Equality: The constitution guarantees equality before the law and outlaws discrimination against Japanese citizens based on "political, economic or social relations" or "race, creed, sex, social status or family origin" (Article 14). The right to vote cannot be denied on the grounds of "race, creed, sex, social status, family origin, education, property or income" (Article 44). Equality between the sexes is explicitly guaranteed in relation to marriage (Article 24) and childhood education (Article 26).
- Prohibition of peerage: Article 14 forbids the state from recognising peerage. Honours may be conferred but they must not be hereditary or grant special privileges.
- Democratic elections: Article 15 provides that "the people have the inalienable right to choose their public officials and to dismiss them". It guarantees universal adult (in Japan, persons age 20 and older) suffrage and the secret ballot.
- Prohibition of slavery: Guaranteed by Article 18. Involuntary servitude is only permitted as punishment for a crime.
- Separation of Religion and State: The state is prohibited from granting privileges or political authority to a religion, or conducting religious education (Article 20).
- Freedom of assembly, association, speech, and secrecy of communications: All guaranteed without qualification by Article 21, which forbids censorship.
- Workers' rights: Work is declared both a right and obligation by Article 27 which also states that "standards for wages, hours, rest and other working conditions shall be fixed by law" and that children shall not be exploited. Workers have the right to participate in a trade union (Article 28).
- Right to property: Guaranteed subject to the "public welfare". The state may take property for public use if it pays just compensation (Article 29). The state also has the right to levy taxes (Article 30).
- Right to due process: Article 31 provides that no one may be punished "except according to procedure established by law". Article 32, which provides that "No person shall be denied the right of access to the courts," originally drafted to recognize criminal due process rights, is now understood as source of due process rights for civil and administrative law cases.
- Protection against unlawful detention: Article 33 provides that no one may be apprehended without an arrest warrant, save where caught in flagrante delicto. Article 34 guarantees habeas corpus, right to counsel, and right to be informed of charges. Article 40 enshrines the right to sue the state for wrongful detention.
- Right to a fair trial: Article 37 guarantees the right to a public trial before an impartial tribunal with counsel for one's defence and compulsory access to witnesses.
- Protection against self-incrimination: Article 38 provides that no one may be compelled to testify against themselves, that confessions obtained under duress are not admissible and that no one may be convicted solely on the basis of their own confession.
- Other guarantees:
- Right to petition government (Article 16)
- Right to sue the state (Article 17)
- Freedom of thought and conscience (Article 19)
- Freedom of expression (Article 19)
- Freedom of religion (Article 20)
- Academic freedom (Article 23)
- Prohibition of forced marriage (Article 24)
- Compulsory education (Article 26)
- Protection against entries, search and seizures (Article 35)
- Prohibition of torture and cruel punishments (Article 36)
- Prohibition of ex post facto laws (Article 39)
- Prohibition of double jeopardy (Article 39)
- Renunciation of war: Under Article 9 of the constitution the "Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes". To this end the article provides that "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained".
- Judicial review: Article 98 provides that the constitution takes precedence over any "law, ordinance, imperial rescript or other act of government" that offends against its provisions.
- International law: Article 98 provides that "the treaties concluded by Japan and established laws of nations shall be faithfully observed". In most nations it is for the legislature to determine to what extent, if at all, treaties concluded by the state will be reflected in its domestic law. Under Article 98, however, in theory at least, international law and the treaties Japan has ratified automatically form a part of domestic law.
Amendments and revisions
The constitution has not been amended since its 1947 enactment. Article 96 provides that amendments can be made to any part of the constitution. However, a proposed amendment must first be approved by both houses of the Diet, by at least a super majority of two-thirds of each house (rather than just a simple majority). It must then be submitted to a referendum in which it is sufficient for it to be endorsed by a simple majority of votes cast. A successful amendment is finally promulgated by the Emperor, but the monarch cannot veto an amendment.
Some commentators have suggested that the difficulty of the amendment process was favoured by the constitution's American authors from a desire that the fundamentals of the regime they had imposed would be resistant to change. However, among Japanese themselves, any change to the document and to the post-war settlement it embodies is highly controversial. From the 1960s to the 1980s, constitutional revision was rarely debated. In the 1990s, right-leaning and conservative voices broke some taboos, for example, when the Yomiuri Shimbun published a suggestion for constitutional revision in 1994. This period saw a number of right-leaning groups forming to aggressively push for constitutional revision, but also a significant number of organizations and individuals speaking out against revision and in support of "the peace constitution."
The debate has been highly polarized. The most controversial issues are proposed changes to Article 9, the "peace article" and provisions relating to the role of the Emperor. Progressive, left, center-left and peace movement related individuals and organizations, as well as the opposition parties, labor and youth groups advocate keeping (and even strengthening) the existing constitution in these areas, while right-leaning, nationalist and/or conservative groups and individuals advocate changes to increase the prestige of the Emperor (though not granting him political powers) and to allow a more aggressive stance of the self-defense force, e.g. by turning it officially into a military. Others areas of the constitution and connected laws discussed for potential revision relate to the status of women, the education system and the system of public corporations (including social welfare, non-profit and religious organizations as well as foundations), and structural reform of the election process, e.g. to allow for direct election of the prime minister. There are countless grassroots groups, associations, NGOs, think tanks, scholars, and politicians speaking out in favor of one or the other side of the issue.
Amendment Drafts by the LDP
The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), one of the most influential political parties in Japan that has been in majority in the Diet for the most of the time since its 1955 establishment, adopts several party platforms every of which lists "revision of the current Constitution" as a political motive. One of the earliest platforms, "The Duties of the Party" in 1955, points out as follows:
|“||Although democracy and liberalism emphasized under the control of the Allied occupation should be respected and upheld as a new principle for Japan, the initial objective of the occupying forces of the Allies was mainly to demoralize the State; therefore, many of the reforms implemented by the forces including those of the Constitution, education and other governmental systems have been unjustly suppressing the notion of the State and patriotism of the people and excessively disuniting the national sovereignty.||”|
In recent years the LDP has committed itself more to constitutional revision, following its victory in the September 2005 general election of the representatives. Currently, the party has released two versions of amendment drafts, each in 2005 and 2012.
In August 2005, the then Japanese Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, proposed an amendment to the constitution in order to increase Japan's Defence Forces' roles in international affairs. A draft of the proposed constitution was released by the LDP on 22 November 2005 as part of the fiftieth anniversary of the party's founding. The proposed changes included:
- New wording for the Preamble.
- First paragraph of Article 9, renouncing war, is retained. The second paragraph, forbidding the maintenance of "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential" is replaced by an Article 9-2 which permits a "defence force", under control of the Prime Minister, which defends the nation and may participate in international activities. This new section uses the term "軍" (gun, army or military), which has been avoided under the current constitution. Also, addition in Article 76 of military courts. Members of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces are currently tried as civilians by civilian courts.
- Modified wording in Article 13, regarding respect for individual rights.
- Changes in Article 20, which gives the state limited permission within "the scope of socially acceptable protocol" for "ethno-cultural practices". Changes Article 89 to permit corresponding state funding of religious institutions.
- Changes to Articles 92 and 95, concerning local self-government and relations between local and national governments.
- Changes to Article 96, reducing the vote requirement for constitutional amendments in the Diet from two thirds to a simple majority. A national referendum would still be required.
This draft fanned the debate, with strong opposition coming even from non-governmental organisations of other countries, as well as established and newly formed grassroots Japanese organisations, such as Save Article 9. Per the current constitution, a proposal for constitutional changes must be passed by a two-thirds vote in the Diet, then be put to a national referendum. However, there was in 2005 no legislation in place for such a referendum.
Koizumi's successor, Shinzo Abe vowed to push aggressively for constitutional revision. A major step toward this was getting legislation passed to allow for a national referendum in April 2007. However, by that time there was little public support for changing the constitution, with a survey showing 34.5% of Japanese not wanting any changes, 44.5% wanting no changes to Article 9, and 54.6% supporting the current interpretation on self-defense. On the 60th anniversary of the constitution, on 3 May 2007, thousands took to the streets in support of Article 9. The Chief Cabinet secretary and other top government officials interpreted the survey to mean that the public wants a pacifist Constitution that renounces war, and may need to be better informed about the details of the revision debate. The legislation passed by parliament specifies that a referendum on constitutional reform could take place at the earliest in 2010, and would need approval from a majority of voters.
On 27 April 2012, the LDP drafted a new version of amendment with an accompanying booklet describing an explanation for general readers. The booklet states that the spirit of the amendment is to "make the Constitution more suitable for Japan" by "drastically revising the translationese wording and the provisions based on the theory of natural human rights currently adopted in the Constitution". The proposed changes includes:
- Preamble: In the LDP draft, the Preamble declares that Japan is reigned by the Emperor and adopts the popular sovereignty and trias politica principles. The current Preamble refers to the government as a trust of the people (implying the "natural rights codified into the Constitution by the social contract" model) and ensures people "the right to live in peace, free from fear and want", but both mentions are deleted in the LDP draft.
- Emperor: Overall, the LDP draft adopts a wording that sounds as though the Emperor has greater power than under the current Constitution. The draft defines him as "the head of the State" (Article 1). Compared to the current Constitution, he is exempted from "the obligation to respect and uphold this Constitution" (Article 102). The draft defines Nisshōki and Kimigayo as the national flag and national anthem, respectively (Article 3).
- Human Rights: The LDP draft, as the accompanying booklet states, revises many of the human right provisions currently adopted in the Constitution. The booklet describes the reason of these changes as: "Human rights should have ground on the State's history, culture and tradition" and "Several of the current constitutional provisions are based on the Western-European theory of natural human rights; such provisions therefore require to be changed." The draft lists every instance of the basic rights as something that is entitled by the State — as opposed to something that human beings inherently possess — as seen in the draft provisions of "new human rights" (see below).
- The current Constitution has the phrase "public welfare" in four articles (Articles 12, 13, 22 and 29) and states that any human right is subject to restriction when it "interferes with the public welfare". The majority of legal professionals argue that the spirit of such restriction against rights based on "public welfare" is to protect other people's rights from infringement. In the LDP draft, every instance of the phrase "public welfare" is replaced with a new phrase: "public interest and public order". The booklet describes the reason for this change as "to enable the State to restrict human rights for the sake of purposes other than protecting people's rights from infringement", but it remains unclear under what conditions the State can restrict human rights. It also explains that what "public order" means is "order of society" and its intention is not to prohibit the people from making an objection to the government, but it explains nothing about "public interest".
- Provisions regarding the people's rights modified and/or added in the LDP draft include:
- Individualism: The LDP draft replaces the word "individuals" with "persons" (Article 13). This change reflects the draft authors' view that "excessive individualism" is an ethically unacceptable thought.
- Human rights and the supremacy of the Constitution: The current Constitution has Article 97 at the beginning of the "Supreme Law" chapter, which stipulates that the Constitution guarantees the basic human rights to the people. The current, prevalent interpretation of Article 97 is that this article describes the essential reason why this Constitution is the supreme law, which is the fact that the Constitution's spirit is to guarantee human rights. In the LDP draft, this article is deleted and the booklet does not explain any reason for the deletion.
- Freedom of assembly, association, speech and all other forms of expression: The LDP draft adds a new paragraph on Article 21, which enables the State to prohibit the people from performing expressions "for the purpose of interfering public interest and public order". The LDP explain that this change makes it easy for the State to take countermeasures against criminal organizations like Aum Shinrikyo.
- Right to property: The LDP draft adds a new paragraph stating that the State shall define intellectual property rights "for the sake of promotion of the people's intellectual creativity" (Article 29).
- Workers' rights: Workers have the right to participate in a labor union, but currently there is a dispute on whether public officials should be entitled to this right. The LDP draft add a new paragraph to make it clear that public officials shall not enjoy this right or part thereof (Article 28).
- Freedom from torture and cruel punishments: Under the current Constitution, torture and cruel punishments are "absolutely forbidden", but the LDP draft deletes the word "absolutely" (Article 36). The reason for this change is not presented in the booklet.
- "New human rights": The LDP draft adds four provisions regarding the concept collectively called "new human rights": protection of privacy (Article 19-2), accountability of the State (Article 21-2), environmental protection (Article 25-2), and rights of crime victims (Article 25-4). However, the draft only requires the State to make a good faith effort to meet the stated goals and does not entitle the people these "rights", as the booklet points out.
- Obligations of the People: The LDP draft can be characterized by its obligation clauses imposed on the people. The current Constitution lists three obligations: to work (Article 27), to pay taxes as provided for by law (Article 30), and to have all boys and girls under their protection receive ordinary education as provided for by law (Article 26). The LDP draft adds six more:
- The people must respect the national anthem and flag (Article 3).
- The people must be conscious of the fact that there are responsibilities and obligations in compensation for freedom and rights (Article 12).
- The people must comply with the public interest and public order (Article 12).
- The people must help one another among the members of a household (Article 24).
- The people must obey commands from the State or the subordinate offices thereof in a state of emergency (Article 99).
- The people must uphold the Constitution (Article 102).
- Additionally, although defense of the national territory (Article 9-3) and environmental protection (Article 25-2) are literally listed under the LDP draft as obligations of the State, these provisions let the State call for the "cooperation with the people" to meet the goals provided, effectively functioning as obligation clauses on the people's side.
- Equality: The current Constitution guarantees equality, prohibiting any discrimination based on "race, creed, sex, social status or family origin". The LDP draft adds "handicaps" (Articles 14 and 44) between "sex" and "social status", improving the equality under the law. On the other hand, the sentence "No privilege shall accompany any award of honor, decoration or any distinction" in the current paragraph (2) of Article 14 is deleted in the LDP draft, which means that the State shall be allowed to grant "privilege" as part of national awards. The reason for this change is not presented in the booklet.
- National Security: The LDP draft deletes the current provision declaring that armed forces and other war potential shall never be maintained, and adds new Articles 9-2 and 9-3 stating that the "National Defense Force" shall be set up and the Prime Minister shall be its commander-in-chief. According to the papagraph (3) of the new Article 9-2, the National Defense Force not only can defend the territory from a foreign attack and can participate in international peacekeeping operations, but also can operate in order to either maintain domestic public order or to protect individual rights.
- State of emergency: The LDP draft grants the Prime Minister the authority to declare a "state of emergency" in a national emergency including foreign invasions, domestic rebellions and natural disasters (Article 98). When in a state of emergency, the Cabinet can enact orders that have the effect equivalent to that of the laws passed by the National Diet (Article 99).
- Relaxation of Separation of Religion and the State: The LDP draft deletes the current clause that prohibits the State from granting "political authority" to a religious organization, and enables the State to perform religious acts itself within the scope of "social protocol or ethno-cultural practices" (Article 20).
- Political Control over the Courts: Unlike the current Constitution, which guarantees that the Supreme Court judges shall not be dismissed unless the "review" procedure stipulated by the Constitution, the LDP draft enables the Diet to define this review procedure through a Diet-enacted law, not the Constitution (Article 79). The draft also states that salary of a judge — of both the Supreme Court and inferior courts — could be decreased in the same manner as any other kinds of public officials (Articles 79 and 80) by the subordinate offices of the State (namely, the National Personnel Authority).
- Further Amendments: The LDP draft states that a simple majority in the two Houses shall be adequate for a motion for constitutional amendment (Article 96). An actual amendment shall still require a national referendum, but a simple majority in "the number of valid votes actually cast", as opposed to "the number of a qualified voter" or "the number of votes", shall enact the amendment (Article 96).
Human rights guarantees in practice
International bodies such as the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which monitors compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Amnesty International have argued that many of the guarantees for individual rights contained in the Japanese constitution have not been effective in practice. Such critics have also argued that, contrary to Article 98, and its requirement that international law be treated as part of the domestic law of the state, human rights treaties to which Japan is a party are seldom enforced in Japanese courts.
In one study, the conviction rate in contested Japanese trials in 1994 was found to be 98.8%, while the comparable conviction rate in contested United States federal trials in 1994 was 30.9%. The study concluded that this was due to the limited budgets for prosecutors in Japan compared to the United States, leading them to prosecute only the most solid cases, rather than due to bias by judges.
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