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Birth of the Constitution of Japan

We, Japanese, have to recognize regarding "Birth of the Constitution of Japan".
And May 3 is the memorial day of "The Constitution of Japan".
The Constitution of Japan (Shinjitai: 日本国憲法 Kyūjitai: 日本國憲法, Nihon-Koku Kenpō) has been the founding legal document of Japan since 1947.
The constitution provides for a parliamentary system of government and guarantees certain fundamental rights. Under its terms the Emperor of Japan is "the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people" and exercises a purely ceremonial role without the possession of sovereignty.
The constitution, also known as the "Peace Constitution" ( 平和憲法, Heiwa-Kenpō), is most characteristic and famous for the renunciation of the right to wage war contained in Article 9 and to a lesser extent, the provision for de jure popular sovereignty in conjunction with the monarchy.
The constitution was drawn up under the Allied occupation that followed World War II and was intended to replace Japan's previous militaristic absolute monarchy system with a form of liberal democracy. Currently, it is a rigid document and no subsequent amendment has been made to it since its adoption.


Please refer to the following Link: http://www.ndl.go.jp/constitution/e/index.html (National Diet Library)
Outline: http://www.ndl.go.jp/constitution/e/outline/00outline.html
Documents with Commentaries: http://www.ndl.go.jp/constitution/e/shiryo/01shiryo.html

Main Issues: http://www.ndl.go.jp/constitution/e/ronten/01ronten.html
The Potsdam Declaration

(The ceremony for acceptance of "The Potsdam Declaration")

On 26 July 1945 Allied leaders Winston Churchill, Harry S Truman, and Chiang Kai-Shek issued the Potsdam Declaration, which demanded Japan's unconditional surrender. This declaration also defined the major goals of the postsurrender Allied occupation: "The Japanese government shall remove all obstacles to the revival and strengthening of democratic tendencies among the Japanese people.
Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established" (Section 10).
In addition, the document stated: "The occupying forces of the Allies shall be withdrawn from Japan as soon as these objectives have been accomplished and there has been established in accordance with the freely expressed will of the Japanese people a peacefully inclined and responsible government" (Section 12).
The Allies sought not merely punishment or reparations from a militaristic foe, but fundamental changes in the nature of its political system. In the words of political scientist Robert E. Ward: "The occupation was perhaps the single most exhaustively planned operation of massive and externally directed political change in world history."

Drafting process

The wording of the Potsdam Declaration - "The Japanese Government shall remove all obstacles..." - and the initial postsurrender measures taken by Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), suggest that neither he nor his superiors in Washington intended to impose a new political system on Japan unilaterally.
Instead, they wished to encourage Japan's new leaders to initiate democratic reforms on their own. But by early 1946, MacArthur's staff and Japanese officials were at odds over the most fundamental issue, the writing of a new constitution.
Emperor Showa (known to the West as Hirohito), Prime Minister Shidehara Kijuro and most of the cabinet members were extremely reluctant to take the drastic step of replacing the 1889 Meiji Constitution with a more liberal document.
(Mr. Jiro Shirasu who comitted "Brith of The Japanese Constitution" as interpreter
and as the Member of Foreign Ministry)

In late 1945, Shidehara appointed Joji Matsumoto, state minister without portfolio, head of a blue-ribbon committee of constitutional scholars to suggest revisions. The Matsumoto Commission's recommendations, made public in February 1946, were quite conservative (described by one Japanese scholar in the late 1980s as "no more than a touching-up of the Meiji Constitution"). MacArthur rejected them outright and ordered his staff to draft a completely new document.

Much of it was drafted by two senior army officers with law degrees: Milo Rowell and Courtney Whitney. The articles about equality between men and women are reported to be written by Beate Sirota. Although the document's authors were non-Japanese, they took into account the Meiji Constitution, the demands of Japanese lawyers, and the opinions of pacifist political leaders such as Shidehara and Yoshida Shigeru. The draft was presented to surprised Japanese officials on 13 February 1946. On 6 March 1946 the government publicly disclosed an outline of the pending constitution. On 10 April elections were held to the House of Representatives of the Ninetieth Imperial Diet, which would consider the proposed constitution. The election law having been changed, this was the first general election in Japan in which women were permitted to vote.

(Ceremony of promulgation of The Constitution of Japan)

The MacArthur draft, which proposed a unicameral legislature, was changed at the insistence of the Japanese to allow a bicameral legislature, both houses being elected. In most other important respects, however, the ideas embodied in the 13 February document were adopted by the government in its own draft proposal of 6 March. These included the constitution's most distinctive features: the symbolic role of the Emperor, the prominence of guarantees of civil and human rights, and the renunciation of war.
(Noet): Mr. Jiro Shirasu confronted resolutely Mr. MacArthur and he is said to only one person who have shouted against Mr. MacArthur. In a sense, he was really one of the "Japanese Samurai".

By T.S. on May 6, 2010
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Author:T. SATOH