House of Representatives
House of Representatives (HR)
The House of Representatives (HR) is the lower house of the National Diet of Japan. The more powerful of the two houses, the HR has the ability to block legislation and override vetoes from the House of Councillors. On the other hand, the HR may be dissolved by the Prime Minister or via nonconfidence resolution. Currently, the HR consists of 465 members who each serve four-year terms. The House of Representatives airs Diet sessions live and publishes videos of past sessions online.
Commission on the Constitution, HR (2007-)
The Commission on the Constitution was formed under the House of Representatives (HR) 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 on the Constitution publishes their session schedule, meeting notes, and other reference materials online, made available to the public.
Chōsa Tokubetsu Iinkai, HR (2005-2007)
The Chōsa Tokubetsu Iinkai was created in 2005, partly as an extension of the Research Commission of the Constitution of the House of Representatives (HR), with the objective of examining the Constitution and bills relating to constitutional revision. This special committee disbanded in 2007. The minutes of their sessions are available on the HR official website, and related materials, newsletters, and session minutes can be found on the current website of the HR Commission on the Constitution.
Research Commission on the Constitution, HR (2000-2005)
The Research Commission on the Constitution was formed in 2000 under the House of Representatives (HR), with the objective of conducting broad and comprehensive research on the Constitution of Japan. The Research Commission disbanded in 2005, when the Chōsa Tokubetsu Iinkai was established, and submitted a final report in that year. Information about the Research Commission is also available on the current website of the HR Commission on the Constitution.
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.