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World > Asia > Japan > Government and Political Conditions (Notes)

Japan - Government and Political Conditions (Notes)


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Japan is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government. There is universal adult suffrage with a secret ballot for all elective offices. Sovereignty, previously embodied in the emperor, is vested in the Japanese people, and the Emperor is defined as the symbol of the state.

Japan's Government is a parliamentary democracy, with a House of Representatives and a House of Councillors. Executive power is vested in a cabinet composed of a prime minister and ministers of state, all of whom must be civilians. The prime minister must be a member of the Diet and is designated by his colleagues. The prime minister has the power to appoint and remove ministers, a majority of whom must be Diet members. The judiciary is independent.

The five major political parties represented in the National Diet are the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the New Clean Government Party (Komeito), the Japan Communist Party (JCP), and the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

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 U.S. 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 does not have a federal system, and its 47 prefectures are not sovereign entities in the sense that U.S. states are. Most 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.

Recent Political Developments
The post-World War II years saw tremendous economic growth in Japan, with the political system dominated by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). That total domination lasted until the Diet Lower House elections on July 18, 1993, in which the LDP failed for the first time to win a majority. The LDP returned to power in 1994.

Shinzo Abe was elected Prime Minister in a Diet vote in September 2006. Abe is the first Prime Minister to be born after World War II and the youngest Prime Minister since the war. Abe comes from one of Japan's political families. His grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, was elected Prime Minister in 1957 and his father, Shintaro Abe, was a former foreign minister. Abe took over his father's parliamentary seat after his death in 1993 and gained national popularity for his firm stance against North Korea for its abductions of Japanese citizens. Despite a reputation as a conservative nationalist, Shinzo Abe has taken positive steps to improve relations with South Korea and China. He visited Beijing and Seoul during his first trip overseas as Prime Minister. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Tokyo in April 2007.

Principal Government Officials
Head of State--Emperor Akihito
Prime Minister (Head of Government)--Shinzo Abe
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Taro Aso
Ambassador to the U.S.--Ryozo Kato
Permanent Representative to the UN--Kenzo Oshima

Japan maintains an embassy in the United States at 2520 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel: 202-238-6700; fax: 202-328-2187).


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions - Japanese Yen Exchange Rates
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Climate
Current Time
Ranking Positions
Japanese Yen Exchange Rates


Notes and Commentary
People
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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