Prime Minister's Office of Japan

Shushō Kantei

Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet (Kantei)

The Prime Minister of Japan, designated by the National Diet and formally appointed by the Emperor of Japan, serves as the head of government and commander-in-chief of Japan. Overseeing the Cabinet, the Prime Minister has the power to appoint other ministers of state. The current Prime Minister is Fumio Kishida, who took office in 2021. The official website for the Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet contains records of comments and interviews with both current and former prime ministers, including their remarks on constitutional revision.

Advisory Council on the Imperial House Law

Established in 2004 under the Koizumi Junichirō administration, the Advisory Council on the Imperial House Law discussed the future of the imperial succession amid the shortage of male  heirs; as of 2004, Prince Akishino (born in 1965) was the youngest male imperial member. Currently, the Imperial House Law determined that the imperial throne is succeeded by male-line male members of the family. Lead by Hiroyuki Yoshikawa (former president of Tokyo University, engineer), the council was composed of scholars and expats from various fields, including Sadako Ogata (president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency/JICA, academic in International Relations) and Takeshi Sasaki (professor at Gakushūin University, political scientist). In 2005, the council submitted a report, proposing to change the Imperial House Law to allow imperial succession by female and female-line imperial heirs members as well, with priority to the first child of the current Emperor. In 2006, Prince Hisahito of Akishino was born between Prince Akishino and his wife, Kiko. After this, the discussion on female/female-line emperors was discontinued.     

Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security

The Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security was established in 2007 by Former Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. This panel was launched to discuss constitutional circumstances related to exercising Japan’s collective self-defense right. After a period of inactivity following the submission of a report in 2008, the Advisory Panel became active again in 2012 after the Second Abe Cabinet was established. The 2008 report suggested the constitution be interpreted as giving Japan the right to exercise collective self-defense in the four cases: (1) defense of a U.S. naval vessel on the high seas; (2) interception of a ballistic missile that might be on its way to the United States; (3) use of weapons in international peace operations; and, (4) logistics support for the operations of other countries participating in the same U.N. PKO operations. The panel published another report in 2014, which confirmed the necessity of changing the interpretation of the constitution, recognizing that other cases which Japan must deal with may arise. The 2014 report led to 2015 Japanese military legislation that constitutionally permits Japan to exercise its collective self-defense right in limited situations. However, this legislation has been criticized for ambiguating the limitation on the usage of Japan’s collective self-defense right. The web page of the Advisory Panel, which can be found under the official website of the Prime Minister and His Cabinet, contains a report published by the panel in 2014 in both Japanese and English. The information from the panel before 2012 is available on the webpage of the previous iteration of the Advisory Panel, where the 2008 report can be found in both Japanese and English.