Modern History Sourcebook:
The Constitution of Japan, 1946
* CHAPTER I: THE EMPEROR
* CHAPTER II: RENUNCIATION OF WAR
* CHAPTER III: RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF THE PEOPLE
* CHAPTER IV: THE DIET
* CHAPTER V: THE CABINET
* CHAPTER VI: JUDICIARY
* CHAPTER VII: FINANCE
* CHAPTER VIII: LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT
* CHAPTER IX: AMENDMENTS
* CHAPTER X: SUPREME LAW
* CHAPTER XI: SUPPLEMENTARY PROVISIONS
THE CONSTITUTION OF JAPAN
November 3, 1946
We, the Japanese people, acting through our duly elected representatives
in the National Diet, determined that we shall secure for ourselves
and our posterity the fruits of peaceful cooperation with all
nations and the blessings of liberty throughout this land, and
resolved that never again shall we be visited with the horrors
of war through the action of government, do proclaim that sovereign
power resides with the people and do firmly establish this Constitution.
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. This is a universal principle of mankind
upon which this Constitution is founded. We reject and revoke
all constitutions, laws ordinances, and rescripts in conflict
herewith. We, the Japanese people, desire peace for all time
and are deeply conscious of the high ideals controlling human
relationship and we have determined to preserve our security and
existence, trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving
peoples of the world. We desire to occupy an honored place in
an international society striving for the preservation of peace,
and the banishment of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance
for all time from the earth. We recognize that all peoples of
the world have the right to live in peace, free from fear and
want. We believe that no nation is responsible to itself alone,
but that laws of political morality are universal; and that obedience
to such laws is incumbent upon all nations who would sustain their
own sovereignty and justify their sovereign relationship with
other nations. We, the Japanese people, pledge our national honor
to accomplish these high ideals and purposes with all our resources.
CHAPTER I: THE EMPEROR
The Emperor shall be the symbol of the State and the unity of
the people, deriving his position from the will of the people
with whom resides sovereign power.
The Imperial Throne shall be dynastic and succeeded to in accordance
with the Imperial House Law passed by the Diet.
The advice and approval of the Emperor in matters of state, and
the Cabinet shall be responsible therefor.
The Emperor shall perform only such acts in matters of state as
are provided for in this Constitution and he shall not have powers
related to government. 2) The Emperor may delegate the performance
of his acts in matters of state as may be provided for by law.
When, in accordance with the Imperial House Law, a Regency is
established, the Regent shall perform his acts in matters of state
in the Emperor's name. In this case, paragraph one of the preceding
Article will be applicable.
The Emperor shall appoint the Prime Minister as designated by
the Emperor shall appoint the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court
as designated by the Cabinet.
The Emperor shall, with the advice and approval of the Cabinet,
perform the following acts in matters of state on behalf of the
people: (1) Promulgation of amendments of the constitution, laws,
cabinet orders and treaties. (2) Convocation of the Diet. (3)
Dissolution of the House of Representatives. (4) Proclamation
of general election of members of the Diet. (5) Attestation of
the appointment and dismissal of Ministers of State and other
officials as provided for by law, and of full powers and credentials
of Ambassadors and Ministers. (6) Attestation of general and special
amnesty, commutation of punishment, reprieve, and restoration
of rights. (7)Awarding of honors. (8) Attestation of instruments
of ratification and other diplomatic documents as provided for
by law. (9) Receiving foreign ambassadors and ministers. (10)
Performance of ceremonial functions.
No property can be given to, or received by, the Imperial House,
nor can any gifts be made therefrom, without the authorization
of the Diet.
CHAPTER II: RENUNCIATION OF WAR
Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice
and order, 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. 2) In order to accomplish the
aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as
well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right
of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.
CHAPTER III: RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF THE PEOPLE
The conditions necessary for being a Japanese national shall be
determined by law.
The people shall not be prevented from enjoying any of the fundamental
human rights. These fundamental human rights guaranteed to the
people by this Constitution shall be conferred upon the people
of this and future generations as eternal and inviolate rights.
The freedoms and rights guaranteed to the people by this Constitution
shall be maintained by the constant endeavor of the people, who
shall refrain from any abuse of these freedoms and rights and
shall always be responsible for utilizing them for the public
All of the people shall be respected as individuals. Their right
to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness shall, to the extent
that it does not interfere with the public welfare, be the supreme
consideration in legislation and in other governmental affairs.
All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no
discrimination in political, economic or social relations because
of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin. 2) Peers
and peerage shall not be recognized. 3) No privilege shall accompany
any award of honor, decoration or any distinction, nor shall any
such award be valid beyond the lifetime of the individual who
now holds or hereafter may receive it.
The people have the inalienable right to choose their public officials
and to dismiss them. 2) All public officials are servants of the
whole community and not of any group thereof. 3) Universal adult
suffrage is guaranteed with regard to the election of public officials.
4) In all elections, secrecy of the ballot shall not be violated.
A voter shall not be answerable, publicly or privately, for the
choice he has made.
Every person shall have the right of peaceful petition for the
redress of damage, for the removal of public officials, for the
enactment, repeal or amendment of laws, ordinances or regulations
and for other matters; nor shall any person be in any way discriminated
against for sponsoring such a petition.
Every person may sue for redress as provided by law from the State
or a public entity, in case he has suffered damage through illegal
act of any public official.
No person shall be held in bondage of any kind. Involuntary servitude,
except as punishment for crime, is prohibited.
Freedom of thought and conscience shall not be violated.
Freedom of religion is guaranteed to all. No religious organization
shall receive any privileges from the State, nor exercise any
political authority. 2) No person shall be compelled to take part
in any religious acts, celebration, rite or practice. 3) The State
and its organs shall refrain from religious education or any other
Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and
all other forms of expression are guaranteed. 2) No censorship
shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication
Every person shall have freedom to choose and change his residence
and to choose his occupation to the extent that it does not interfere
with the public welfare. 2) Freedom of all persons to move to
a foreign country and to divest themselves of their nationality
shall be inviolate.
Academic freedom is guaranteed.
Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes
and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the
equal rights of husband and wife as a basis. 2) With regard to
choice of spouse, property rights, inheritance, choice of domicile,
divorce and other matters pertaining to marriage and the family,
laws shall be enacted from the standpoint of individual dignity
and the essential equality of the sexes.
All people shall have the right to maintain the minimum standards
of wholesome and cultured living. 2) In all spheres of life, the
State shall use its endeavors for the promotion and extension
of social welfare and security, and of public health.
All people shall have the right to receive an equal education
correspondent to their ability, as provided for by law. 2) All
people shall be obligated to have all boys and girls under their
protection receive ordinary education as provided for by law.
Such compulsory education shall be free.
All people shall have the right and the obligation to work. 2)
Standards for wages, hours, rest and other working conditions
shall be fixed by law. 3) Children shall not be exploited.
The right of workers to organize and to bargain and act collectively
The right to own or to hold property is inviolable. 2) Property
rights shall be defined by law, in conformity with the public
welfare. 3) Private property may be taken for public use upon
just compensation therefor.
The people shall be liable to taxation as provided for by law.
No person shall be deprived of life or liberty, nor shall any
other criminal penalty be imposed, except according to procedure
established by law.
No person shall be denied the right of access to the courts.
No person shall be apprehended except upon warrant issued by a
competent judicial officer which specifies the offense with which
the person is charged, unless he is apprehended, the offense being
No person shall be arrested or detained without being at once
informed of the charges against him or without the immediate privilege
of counsel; nor shall he be detained without adequate cause; and
upon demand of any person such cause must be immediately shown
in open court in his presence and the presence of his counsel.
The right of all persons to be secure in their homes, papers and
effects against entries, searches and seizures shall not be impaired
except upon warrant issued for adequate cause and particularly
describing the place to be searched and things to be seized, or
except as provided by Article 33. 2) Each search or seizure shall
be made upon separate warrant issued by a competent judicial officer.
The infliction of torture by any public officer and cruel punishments
are absolutely forbidden.
In all criminal cases the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy
and public trial by an impartial tribunal. 2) He shall be permitted
full opportunity to examine all witnesses, and he shall have the
right of compulsory process for obtaining witnesses on his behalf
at public expense. 3) At all times the accused shall have the
assistance of competent counsel who shall, if the accused is unable
to secure the same by his own efforts, be assigned to his use
by the State.
No person shall be compelled to testify against himself. 2) Confession
made under compulsion, torture or threat, or after prolonged arrest
or detention shall not be admitted in evidence. 3) No person shall
be convicted or punished in cases where the only proof against
him is his own confession.
No person shall be held criminally liable for an act which was
lawful at the time it was committed, or of which he had been acquitted,
nor shall he be placed in double jeopardy.
Any person may, in case he is acquitted after he has been arrested
or detained, sue the State for redress as provided for by law.
CHAPTER IV: THE DIET
The Diet shall be the highest organ of the state power, and shall
be the sole law-making organ of the State.
The Diet shall consist of two Houses, namely the House of Representatives
and the House of Councillors.
Both Houses shall consist of elected members, representative of
all the people. 2) The number of the members of each House shall
be fixed by law.
The qualifications of members of both Houses and their electors
shall be fixed by law. However, there shall be no discrimination
because of race, creed, sex, social status, family origin, education,
property or income.
The term of office of members of the House of Representatives
shall be four years. However, the term shall be terminated before
the full term is up in case the House of Representatives is dissolved.
The term of office of members of the House of Councillors shall
be six years, and election for half the members shall take place
every three years.
Electoral districts, method of voting and other matters pertaining
to the method of election of members of both Houses shall be fixed
No person shall be permitted to be a member of both Houses simultaneously.
Members of both Houses shall receive appropriate annual payment
from the national treasury in accordance with law.
Except in cases as provided for by law, members of both Houses
shall be exempt from apprehension while the Diet is in session,
and any members apprehended before the opening of the session
shall be freed during the term of the session upon demand of the
Members of both Houses shall not be held liable outside the House
for speeches, debates or votes cast inside the House.
An ordinary session of the Diet shall be convoked once per year.
The Cabinet may determine to convoke extraordinary sessions of
the Diet. When a quarter or more of the total members of either
House makes the demand, the Cabinet must determine on such convocation.
When the House of Representatives is dissolved, there must be
a general election of members of the House of Representatives
within forty(40) days from the date of dissolution, and the Diet
must be convoked within thirty(30) days from the date of the election.
2) When the House of Representatives is dissolved, the House
of Councillors is closed at the same time. However, the Cabinet
may, in time of national emergency, convoke the House of Councillors
in emergency session. 3) Measures taken at such session as mentioned
in the proviso of the preceding paragraph shall be provisional
and shall become null and void unless agreed to by the House of
Representatives within a period of ten(10) days after the opening
of the next session of the Diet.
Each House shall judge disputes related to qualifications of its
members. However, in order to deny a seat to any member, it is
necessary to pass a resolution by a majority of two-thirds or
more of the members present.
Business cannot be transacted in either House unless one-third
or more of total membership is present. 2) All matters shall
be decided, in each House, by a majority of those present, except
as elsewhere provided for in the Constitution, and in case of
a tie, the presiding officer shall decide the issue.
Deliberation in each House shall be public. However, a secret
meeting may be held where a majority of two-thirds or more of
those members present passes a resolution therefor. 2) Each House
shall keep a record of proceedings. This record shall be published
and given general circulation, excepting such parts of proceedings
of secret session as may be deemed to require secrecy. 3) Upon
demand of one-fifth or more of the members present, votes of the
members on any matter shall be recorded in the minutes.
Each House shall select its own president and other officials.
2) Each House shall establish its rules pertaining to meetings,
proceedings and internal discipline, and may punish members for
disorderly conduct. However, in order to expel a member, a majority
of two-thirds or more of those members present must pass a resolution
A bill becomes a law on passage by both Houses, except as otherwise
provided for by the Constitution. 2) A bill, which is passed by
the House of Representatives, and upon which the House of Councillors
makes a decision different from that of the House of Representatives,
becomes a law when passed a second time by the House of Representatives
by a majority of two-thirds or more of the members present. 3)
The provision of the preceding paragraph does not preclude the
House of Representatives from calling for the meeting of a joint
committee of both Houses, provided for by law. 4) Failure by the
House of Councillors to take final action within sixty(60) days
after receipt of a bill passed by the House of Representatives,
time in recess excepted, may be determined by the House of Representatives
to constitute a rejection of the said bill by the House of Councillors.
The budget must first be submitted to the House of Representatives.
2) Upon consideration of the budget, when the House of Councillors
makes a decision different from that of the House of Representatives,
and when no agreement can be reached even through a joint committee
of both Houses, provided for by law, or in the case of failure
by the House of Councillors to take final action within thirty(30)
days, the period of recess excluded, after the receipt of the
budget passed by the House of Representatives, the decision of
the House of Representatives shall be the decision of the Diet.
The second paragraph of the preceding Article applies also the
the Diet approval required for the conclusion of treaties.
Each House may conduct investigations in relation to government,
and may demand the presence and testimony of witnesses, and the
production of records.
The Prime Minister and other Ministers of State may, at any time,
appear in either House for the purpose of speaking on bills, regardless
of whether they are members of the House or not. They must appear
when their presence is required in order to give answers or explanations.
The Diet shall set up an impeachment court from among the members
of both Houses for the purposes of trying those judges against
whom removal proceedings have been instituted. 2) Matters relating
to impeachment shall be provided for by law.
CHAPTER V: THE CABINET
Executive power shall be vested in the Cabinet.
The Cabinet shall consist of the Prime Minister, who shall be
its head, and other Ministers of State, as provided for by law.
2) The Prime Minister and other Ministers of State must be civilians.
3) The Cabinet shall, in the exercise of executive power, be collectively
responsible to the Diet.
The Prime Minister shall be designated from among the members
of the Diet by a resolution of the Diet. This designation shall
precede all other business. 2) If the House of Representatives
and the House of Councillors disagree and if no agreement can
be reached even through a joint committee of both Houses, provided
for by law, or the House of Councillors fails to make designation
within ten(10) days, exclusive of the period of recess, after
the House of Representatives has made designation, the decision
of the House of Representatives shall be the decision of the Diet.
The Prime Minister shall appoint the Ministers of State. However,
a majority of their number must be chosen from among the members
of the Diet. 2) The Prime Minister may remove the Ministers of
State as he chooses.
If the House of Representatives passes a non-confidence resolution,
or rejects a confidence resolution, the Cabinet shall resign en
masse, unless the House of Representatives is dissolved within
When there is a vacancy in the post of Prime Minister, or upon
the first convocation of the Diet after a general election of
members of the House of Representatives, the Cabinet shall resign
In the cases mentioned in the two preceding Articles, the Cabinet
shall continue its functions until the time when a new Prime Minister
The Prime Minister, representing the Cabinet, submits bills, reports
on general national affairs and foreign relations to the Diet
and exercises control and supervision over various administrative
The Cabinet shall, in addition to other general administrative
functions, perform the following functions: (1) Administer the
law faithfully; conduct affairs of state. (2) Manage foreign affairs.
(3) Conclude treaties. However, it shall obtain prior or, depending
on circumstances sudsequent approval of the Diet. (4) Administer
the civil service, in accordance with standards established by
law. (5) Prepare the budget, and present it to the cabinet orders
in order to execute the provisions of this Constitution and of
the law. However, it cannot include penal provisions in such cabinet
orders unless authorized by such law. (7) Decide on general amnesty,
special amnesty, commutation of punishment, reprieve, and restoration
All laws and cabinet orders shall be signed by the competent Minister
of State and countersigned by the Prime Minister.
The Ministers of State shall not, during their tenure of office,
be subject to legal action without the consent of the Prime Minister.
However, the right to take that action is not impaired hereby.
CHAPTER VI: JUDICIARY
The whole judicial power is vested in a Supreme Court and in such
inferior courts as are established by law. 2) No extraordinary
tribunal shall be established, nor shall any organ or agency of
the Executive be given final judicial power. 3) All judges shall
be independent in the exercise of their conscience and shall be
bound only by this Constitution and the laws.
The Supreme Court is vested with the rule-making power under which
it determines the rules of procedure and of practice, and of matters
relating to attorneys, the internal discipline of the courts and
the administration of judicial affairs. 2) Public procurators
shall be subject to the rule-making power of the Supreme Court.
3) The Supreme Court may delegate the power to make rules for
inferior courts to such courts.
Judges shall not be removed except by public impeachment unless
judicially declared mentally or physically incompetent to perform
official duties. No disciplinary action against judges shall be
administered by any executive organ or agency.
The Supreme Court shall consist of a Chief Judge and such number
of judges as may be determined by law; all such judges excepting
the Chief Judge shall be appointed by the Cabinet. 2) The appointment
of the judges of the Supreme Court shall be reviewed by the people
at the first general election of members of the House of Representatives
following their appointment, and shall be reviewed again at the
first general election of members of the House of Representatives
after a lapse of ten(10) years, and in the same manner thereafter.
The judges of the inferior courts shall be appointed by the Cabinet
from a list of persons nominated by the Supreme Court. All such
judges shall hold office for a term of ten(10) years with privilege
of reappointment, provided that they shall be retired upon the
attainment of the age as fixed by law. 2) The judges of the inferior
courts shall receive, at regular stated intervals, adequate compensation
which shall not be decreased during their terms of office.
The Supreme Court is the court of last resort with power to determine
the constitutionality of any law, order, regulation or official
Trials shall be conducted and judgement declared publicly. 2)
Where a court unanimously determines publicity to be dangerous
to public order or morals, a trial may be conducted privately,
but trials of political offenses, offenses involving the press
or cases wherein the rights of people as guaranteed in CHAPTER
III of this Constitution are in question shall always be conducted
CHAPTER VII: FINANCE
The power to administer national finances shall be exercised as
the Diet shall determine.
No new taxes shall be imposed or existing ones modified except
by law or under such conditions as law may prescribe.
No money shall be expended, nor shall the State obligate itself,
except as authorized by the Diet.
The Cabinet shall prepare and submit to the Diet for its consideration
and decision a budget for each fiscal year.
In order to provide for unforeseen deficiencies in the budget,
a reserve fund may be authorized by the Diet to be expended upon
the responsibility of the Cabinet must get subsequent approval
of the Diet for all payments from the reserve fund.
All property of the Imperial Household shall belong to the State.
All expenses of the Imperial Household shall be appropriated by
the Diet in the budget.
No public money or other property shall be expended or appropriated
for the use, benefit or maintenance of any religious institution
or association, or for any charitable, educational or benevolent
enterprises not under the control of public authority.
Final accounts of the expenditures and revenues of the State shall
be audited annually by a Board of Audit and submitted by the Diet,
together with the statement of audit, during the fiscal year immediately
following the period covered. 2) The organization and competency
of the Board of Audit shall be determined by law.
At regular intervals and at least annually the Diet and the people
on the state of national finances.
CHAPTER VIII: LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT
Regulations concerning organization and operations of local public
entities shall be fixed by law in accordance with the principle
of local autonomy.
The local public entities shall establish assemblies as their
deliberative organs, in accordance with law. 2) The chief executive
officers of all local public entities, the members of their assemblies,
and such other local officials as may be determined by law shall
be elected by direct popular vote within their several communities.
Local public entities shall have the right to manage their property,
affairs and administration and to enact their own regulations
A special law, applicable only to one local public entity, cannot
be enacted by the Diet without the consent of the majority of
the voters of the local public entity concerned, obtained in accordance
CHAPTER IX: AMENDMENTS
Amendments to this Constitution shall be initiated by the Diet,
through a concurring vote of two-thirds or more of all the members
of each House and shall thereupon be submitted to the people for
ratification, which shall require the affirmative vote of a majority
of all votes cast thereon, at a special referendum or at such
election as the Diet shall specify. 2) Amendments when so ratified
shall immediately be promulgated by the Emperor in the name of
the people, as an integral part of this Constitution.
CHAPTER X: SUPREME LAW
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.
This Constitution shall be the supreme law of the nation and no
law, ordinance, imperial rescript or other act of government,
or part thereof, contrary to the provisions hereof, shall have
legal force or validity. 2) The treaties concluded by Japan and
established laws of nations shall be faithfully observed.
The Emperor or the Regent as well as Ministers of State, members
of the Diet, judges, and all other public officials have the obligation
to respect and uphold this Constitution.
CHAPTER XI: SUPPLEMENTARY PROVISIONS
This Constitution shall be enforced as from the day when the period
of six months will have elapsed counting from the day of its promulgation.
2) The enactment of laws necessary for the enforcement of this
Constitution, the election of members of the House of Councillors
and the procedure for the convocation of the Diet and other preparatory
procedures necessary for the enforcement of this Constitution
may be executed before the day prescribed in the preceding paragraph.
If the House of Councillors is not constituted before the effective
date of this Constitution, the House of Representatives shall
function as the Diet until such time as the House of Councillors
shall be constituted.
The term of office for half the members of the House of Councillors
serving in the first term under this Constitution shall be three
years. Members falling under this category shall be determined
in accordance with law.
The Ministers of State, members of the House of Representatives,
and judges in office on the effective date of this Constitution,
and all other public officials who occupy positions corresponding
to such positions as are recognized by this Constitution shall
not forfeit their positions automatically on account of the enforcement
of this Constitution unless otherwise specified by law. When,
however, successors are elected or appointed under the provisions
of this Constitution, they shall forfeit their positions as a
matter of course.
THE CONSTITUTION OF JAPAN (November 3, 1946)
I rejoice that the foundation for the construction of a new Japan
has been laid according to the will of the Japanese people, and
hereby sanction and promulgate the amendments of the Imperial
Japanese Constitution effected following the consultation with
the Privy Council and the decision of the Imperial Diet made in
accordance with Article 73 of the said Constitution.
Seal of the Emperor,
This third day of the eleventh month of the twenty-first year
of Showa (November 3, 1946).
* Prime Minister and concurrently Minister for Foreign Affairs
* YOSHIDA Shigeru,
* Minister of State * Baron SHIDEHARA Kijuro,
* Minister of Justice * KIMURA Tokutaro,
* Minister for Home Affairs * OMURA Seiichi,
* Minister of Education * TANAKA Kotaro,
* Minister of Agriculture and Forestry * WADA Hiroo,
* Minister of State * SAITO Takao,
* Minister of Communication * HITOTSUMATSU Sadayoshi,
* Minister of Commerce and Industry * HOSHIJIMA Jiro,
* Minister of Welfare * KAWAI Yoshinari,
* Minister of State * UEHARA Etsujiro,
* Minister of Transportation * HIRATSUKA Tsunejiro,
* Minister of Finance * ISHIBASHI Tanzan,
* Minister of State * KANAMORI Tokujiro,
* Minister of State * ZEN Keinosuke.
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(c)Paul Halsall Aug 1997