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Explaining Politics: Japan

Explaining Politics: Japan

Who leads Japan?

Japan’s political system is a constitutional monarchy, with the Emperor being the head of state and the Prime Minister being the head of government. The current Emperor of Japan is Naruhito and the current Prime Minister of Japan is Shinzo Abe, who have served for two 4-year periods. Similar to the United Kingdom, Japan’s Emperor has a primary role of being the symbol of the government. This was implemented since World War II. It is also interesting to know that the succession of the Emperor begins a new period/era. Recently, Japan’s former Emperor Akihito stepped down from his role, marking the end of the Heisei Era and the beginning of the Reiwa Era under the new Emperor.

What are its Governmental Bodies?

Its main legislative body, The National Diet, is bicameral in nature consisting the House of Representatives as the lower house and House of Councillors as the upper house. The house of representatives consists of 480 members while the upper house consists of 242 members. It chose its constituents through a mixed system of Single-member constituencies and Proportional Representation system. Its executive body consists of a cabinet headed by the Prime Minister and 17 state ministers. The Cabinet is directly responsible to the House of Representatives. Lastly, similar to other countries, Japan’s judicial system consist of a Supreme court which the Judicial authority in addition to other courts lower in the system such as a high court and district court among others

What defines Japanese politics?

There are a few issues that matters greatly in Japanese politics. Firstly, the issue of rearmament. It has been long discussed within the National Diet regarding the renewal of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution which stipulates the prohibition of Japan having its own active military. This issue has come to importance especially with the ascension of China in international politics with its world-class military. Currently in replacement of an army, Japan has established a Self-Defense Force (SDF) which have participated passively (medical or technical aid instead of direct combat) in various peacekeeping missions around the world. The current Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe is a keen supporter of Japanese rearmament. In addition to the rearmament issue, Another important part of Japanese politics would involve historical issues between japan, China, and South Korea. More often than not,  Japanese officials have been criticised for doing certain actions that in a way brings negative historical sentiments to the other two countries. Such issues would be visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, the final resting place of many who died in World War II including Japanese War Criminals. Examples would include former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit back in 2001 one which sparked criticism from both China and South Korea. Other than the issue of Yasukuni Shrine, comfort women and various ‘atrocities’ such as the Nanking Massacre/Incident during World War II that are still prevalent in Japanese domestic and international politics today.

Photo: Mount Fuji, the highest volcano in Japan

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