Japan Government and Politics Part I

Constitutional laws. – The constitution of the Empire of Japan (Dai – Nihon Teikoku Kenp ō) was promulgated on February 11, 1889, and consists of an imperial declaration, an imperial rescript for promulgation and the text of the constitution, divided into 7 chapters and 76 articles. The chap. 1 (art.1-17) deals with the emperor. The legislative power of the emperor is, unlike the executive one, which can be said to be almost absolute, considerably limited by the constitution. The chap. 2 (art. 18-32) regulates the rights and duties of the subjects. The emperor guarantees to his subjects the enjoyment of freedom of worship, speech, writing, assembly and association, respect for property, the inviolability of the domicile and the free choice of it, the right not to be arrested and judged that in accordance with the law, the secret of letters. The chap. 3 (art. 33-54) establishes that the The deliberative assembly of the Empire is made up of the House of Peers and the House of Representatives. The chap. 4 (art. 55-56) deals with the powers of state ministers and private councilors. The chap. 5 (art. 57-61) deals with the judicial authority, establishes the separation of the judiciary from the executive, the publicity of the hearings, the immovability of the magistrates. The chap. 6 (art. 62-72) establishes the competence of the two chambers in financial matters. The chap. 7 (art. 73-76) determines the procedure for the modification of the same constitution. The initiative belongs to the emperor; the parliament deliberates with the presence of two thirds of its members and with a majority of at least two thirds of the members present. Connected to the constitution are: the statute of the imperial house, promulgated on 11 February 1889; the various laws on parliament, among which it is worth noting the fundamental one of 11 February 1889, in 18 chapters and 99 articles, subsequently amended several times; the law of 10 February 1890, on the judiciary (see below).

The emperor. – The emperor officially has the title of Tenn ō, he is also sometimes called Tenshi (son of heaven), K ō tei (emperor), etc. The term Mikado, so well known in Europe, it was used only in antiquity; today it is known only by the educated Japanese and unknown to the people. Although the legal status of the emperor is not, in the light of the constitution, much different from that of the European sovereigns, his influence over the mass of the population is without comparison greater. This is partly due to the peculiar psychology of this, partly to the weight and ascendancy of a whole complex of traditions concerning a dynasty more than twice a thousand years old, partly, finally, to the national religion, according to which the emperor is sacred because of divine descent.

Private advice. – Immediately next to the emperor is the private council (S ū mitsu – in) which occupies a different position in the constitutional system of the nation from similar institutions of other nations. Its functions are mainly consultative in nature and it is convened by the emperor. It has no power, but it exerts enormous, indisputable influence in Japanese politics. It is made up of 26 members.

Cabinet of Ministers. – The Cabinet of Ministers (Naikaku) is an institution similar to that of European nations, from which it differs in that there is no ministerial solidarity. The Cabinet of Ministers is the first executive body of the state and exercises in the name of the emperor all the legislative, executive and judicial powers contemplated in the constitution.

Imperial diet. – The Imperial Diet (Teikoku Gikwai) is the organ that comes immediately after the Cabinet. It is composed of the House of Peers (Kizoku – in) and the House of Representatives or Parliament (Sh ū gi – in). The chamber of peers, on December 24, 1925, on the occasion of the 51st session of the Diet, was made up of 405 members divided as follows: 20 princes of the imperial house, 195 nobles, 120 illustrious persons in the field of studies or distinguished for particular merits or services, nominated by the emperor, 4 members of the Academy of Sciences, 66 representatives chosen by election in each province, among those who pay the most taxes.

According to PICKTRUE.COM, the House of Representatives, according to the latest law, is made up of members elected by all Japanese male citizens, aged 25 or older and declared eligible for the right of election. The whole country, with the exception of the colonies, is divided into 119 electoral districts, each of which elects between 3 and 5 deputies; the total number of which was set at 466. General elections take place every 4 years.

Legislatively, neither of the two chambers is superior to the other, but together they constitute, as has been said, two coordinated bodies to which the constitution confers and guarantees the same powers and rights. The only difference is that the House of Representatives, unlike that of peers, is dissolvable. Despite this, in practice it is the most powerful. The House of Peers is always on the side of the government. Political parties, which never have a well-defined agenda, have no influence on government policy. Currently, the House of Representatives consists largely of the two parties Seiy ū kai and Minseit ō ; the first represents the bureaucratic trend, the other the liberal one. The proletarian parties consist of a social-democratic party and several parties representing agrarian interests.

Japan Government 1