National government

The National Diet of Japan is Japan's legislature. It consists of two houses: the House of Representatives of Japan and the House of Councillors. Both houses of the Diet are directly elected under a parallel voting system.


The Diet has the legislative function of tabling and passing of Bills. It has several powers not given to but is voted down by the House of Councillors, the House of Representatives can override the decision of the other chamber. In the case of treaties, the budget, and the selection of the prime minister, however, the House of Councillors can only delay passage, but not block the legislation

House of Representatives
Of the House of Representatives' 480 members, 300 are elected from single seat constituencies under the Single Member Plurality ('First-past-the-post') system, and 180 are elected from eleven separate electoral blocs under the party list system of proportional representation (PR).

House of Councilors
Of the 242 members in the House of Councilors, 146 are elected from 47 prefectural constituencies by means of the Single Non-Transferable Vote. The remaining 96 are elected by party list PR from a single national list.

Executive branch
The executive branch reports to the Diet. The chief of the executive branch, the Prime Minister, is appointed by the Emperor as directed by the Diet. He must be a member of either house of the Diet and a civilian. The Cabinet, which he organizes, must also be civilian. The Constitution states that the majority of the Cabinet must be elected members of either house of the Diet, the precise wording leaving an opportunity to appoint non-elected officials.

Prime Minister
Yukio Hatoyama

Yukio Hatoyama

Main article: Cabinet of Japan

Cabinet Office (National Public Safety Commission) Internal Affairs | Justice | Foreign Affairs | Finance | Education | Health | Agriculture | Economy | Land | Environment | Defense

Judicial branch
The judicial branch is independent of the other two. Its judges are appointed by the Emperor as directed by the Cabinet.

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 drawn up on May 3, 1947, includes a bill of rights similar to the United States Bill of Rights, and the Supreme Court has the right of judicial review. Japan does not have administrative courts or claims courts, and the jury system has only come into use relatively recently. Because of the judicial system's basis, court decisions are the final judicial authority.


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