House of Councillors


House of Councillors (HC)

The House of Councillors (HC) is the upper house of the National Diet of Japan. Prior to World War II, the original governing body was the House of Peers, which was composed of members of the imperial family, the Kazoku (the hereditary peerage of the Empire of Japan), and others appointed by the emperor. The House of Councillors was created by the postwar Constitution to replace the House of Peers, instead having members elected directly by the people. Currently, the HC consists of 245 members who each serve six-year terms, with elections held every three years for the half of its membership. The House of Councillors provides information to the public on the Diet and the House, including session summaries and documents submitted to the sessions. Additionally, the investigation office of the HC does some research for HC members and regularly publishes articles and reports here.

Commission on the Constitution, HC (2007-)

The Commission on the Constitution was formed under the House of Councillors (HC) in 2007, the year that the National Referendum Act was approved in the Diet. The Commission conducts research on the Constitution of Japan, constitutional drafts, and related laws, and engages in discussion on national referendums and constitutional revision. The Commission consists of 45 members from various political groups, proportional to their representation in the HC. The Commission on the Constitution publishes their session schedule, meeting notes, and other reference materials online, made available to the public.

Chōsa Tokubetsu Iinkai, HC (2007)

The Chōsa Tokubetsu Iinkai was created in January 2007, partly as an extension of the Research Commission of the Constitution of the House of Councillors (HC), with the objective of examining the Constitution and bills relating to constitutional revision. This special committee disbanded in 2007. When they were active, the committee provided information online to the public about their members and petitions that were submitted to the committee. Information on this special committee is available on the website of the Commission on the Constitution as well. 

Research Commission on the Constitution, HC (2000-2007)

The Research Commission on the Constitution was formed in 2000 under the House of Councillors (HC), with the objective of conducting broad and comprehensive research on the Constitution of Japan. The Research Commission disbanded in 2007, when the Chōsa Tokubetsu Iinkai was established, and submitted a final report in that year, which can be found along with related materials on the HC official website. Information on the research commission is available on the website of the Commission on the Constitution as well.  

Kenpō Chōsa Suishin Giin Renmei (Diet Members Caucus for Promoting Constitutional Research)

Marking the 50th anniversary of the effectuation of the Constitution of Japan, the Diet Members Caucus for Promoting Constitutional Revision was founded in May 1997 by more than 350 Diet members, who pushed for the establishment of the Research Commission on the Constitution in the Diet. In 1997, the group organized a forum, inviting five Americans who worked on the GHQ’s draft for the Constitution of Japan, including Milton J. Esman, Richard A. Poole, and Beate Sirota Gordon. On their website, the association provides their mission statement and membership. Essays by the chairperson and then-member of the House of Councillors, Tarō Nakayama, are available on the website; the essays examine a comparative history of the constitutions of Japan and Germany, among other topics.

Shinkenpō Seitei Sokushin Iinkai Junbikai

The head of the Shinkenpō Seitei Sokushin Iinkai Junbikai was Keiji Furuya, a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) politician and member of the House of Representatives, when it was established. The group was made up of a suprapartisan group of Diet members from the LDP and the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in the House of Councillors and the House of Representatives. Takeo Hiramua, an independent at that time, also joined the group. In addition to Hiranuma and Furuya, other members included politicians, such as Masaaki Akaike, Tomomi Inada, and Minoru Kihara, from all-party parliamentary groups of conservatives (Shintō Seiji Renmei Kokkai Giin Kondankai, and Sōsei Nippon), which are mainly composed of LDP members. Jin Matsubara, who joined this group from the DPJ, was also a member of Shintō Seiji Renmei Kokkai Giin Kondankai.

Shinkenpō Seitei Sokushin Iinkai Junbikai published “A Proposal for a New Constitution” in 2007, 60 years after the Constitution of Japan was enforced. This proposal called for the establishment of a new constitution. In order to prepare for the draft of a new constitution, the group scrutinized the entire text of the current Constitution and presented its revisions. First, the proposal suggests the preamble mention that the Japanese nation developed around the Japanese people’s spirit of harmony and the Emperor, the symbol of the unity of the people.  The group proposes to stipulate that the Emperor is the head of state. This proposal also explicitly states that the Prime Minister has the authority to command and supervise the Self-Defense Army (Bōeigun). It includes a new Emergency Clause stipulating that the people are “obligated to defend the nation.” In addition to protecting families, the proposal mentions new concepts of human rights: the right to privacy, the right to know, and the right to the environment.