Japan: Government

Japan Flag
Coat of Arms of Japan

Key Figures

Chief of State: Emperor Akihito

Head of Government: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe


Government Name: Japan

Constitution: Adopted: 1946; Contains a pacifist doctrine in Article 9 that is considered to be more binding and explicit than that found even in the charter of the UN. No amendment has yet been made to Japan's constitution.

Government Type: Parliamentary Government with a Constitutional Monarchy

Main Powers Election Process Election Cycle Source: ElectionGuide, http://www.electionguide.org/

According to the constitution, the emperor acts as the "symbol of the state and of the unity of the people". The prime minister holds various constitutional roles such as signing laws/orders, presenting bills, and making reports on domestic and foreign relations to the Diet.

The emperor is hereditary. The prime minister is appointed by parliament.

Immediately after legislative elections


Saiko Saibansho is the highest court of the land and is in charge of holding the constitution.

The supreme court chief justice is designated by the cabinet, and appointed by the monarch. Associate justices are appointed by the cabinet and confirmed by the monarch. All justices are reviewed in a popular referendum at the first general election of the house of representatives following each judge's appointment and every 10 years afterward.

10 years


The national Diet is responsible for making laws, approving the annual national budget, and initiating the drafting of constitutional amendments. The house of councilors is the higher house and can delay the adoption of a budget or treaty.

The house of councilors has 96 members who are elected through an open-list proportional representation system. The national Diet has 300 members who are elected by plurality vote in single-member constituencies and another 18 members who are elected through a closed-list proportional representation system.

House of Councilors: 6 years; National Diet: 4 years

International Relations

Foreign Policy Trends: Japan is the world's third-largest economy and a major economic power both in Asia and globally. Japan has diplomatic relations with nearly all independent nations and has been an active member of the United Nations since 1956. Japanese foreign policy has aimed to promote peace and prosperity for the Japanese people by working closely with the West and supporting the United Nations. In recent years, the Japanese public has shown a substantially greater awareness of security issues and increasing support for the Self Defense Forces. However, there are still significant political and psychological constraints on strengthening Japan's security profile. All postwar Japanese governments have relied on a close relationship with the United States as the foundation of their foreign policy and have depended on the Mutual Security Treaty for strategic protection.

Regional Trade Blocs: APEC

Treaties: No multilateral military treaties

Tax Authority: National Tax Agency Japan

Tax Name: Consumption Tax


CIA World Factbook and U.S. Bilateral Relations Fact Sheets except where stated otherwise.