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Constitution of Japan

The present Constitution of Japan took effect on May 3, 1947, during the American occupation after the surrender of Japan at the end of World War II.

Table of contents
1 The Meiji Constitution
2 The Present Constitution
3 References
4 See Also

The Meiji Constitution

The first constitution in Japan was enacted by the Emperor during the Meiji Era on February 11, 1889. In it, the authors outlined the role of the Emperor and the Imperial Family; the rights of citizens; the structure of the national legislature (Imperial Diet); the roles of Ministers of State and judiciary; and rights of taxation.

Article 1 of the first chapter states that Japan shall be ruled by the Emperor and the Imperial Family for "ages eternal", adding -- in contradictory terms -- that the Emperor is inviolable (Article 3) and at the same time subordinate to the Constitution (Article 4). The second chapter, in detailing the rights of citizens, bears a resemblance to similar articles in both European and American governments of the day.

The Present Constitution

The present-day constitution was written under the close supervision of General Douglas MacArthur and the occupation forces. On March 6, 1946, the government publicly disclosed an outline of the pending constitution. The 90th Imperial Diet approved the constitution on November 3, 1946, which would take effect on May 3, 1947.

Notable parts of the Constitution include the designation of the Emperor as the symbol of the state with ceremonial powers, Article 9, which forbids Japan from having an army or a navy, and the establishment of judicial review.


See Also