imperial throne, throughout history has sometimes held power,
been an authority figure
or been a pawn for those who held power. Having said that,
each era in history is named after the reigning emperor,
as is still the case today( Heisei ).Military rule lasted for
hundreds of years, from the Kamakura period
to the end of the Tokugawa shogunate, when a coup d'etat by
low ranking samurai, led to the Meiji
restoration (1868). This coup attempt
was justified as an attempt to restore the emperor's
power. The emperor's
position and power is rooted in the ancient past,
where the roots of the throne are said to have started as a
Shinto priest performing religious
rites, to ensure a good harvest. Even today, the present
Emperor can be seen on TV planting
rice in the Spring and harvesting it in the Autumn (a symbolic
gesture). The Emperor is the symbolic head of Shintoism.
Japan has over 1.000 years of history behind it. The
Yamato court modeled rules of government on the Chinese
expanded to maintain these rules. During
the Edo period the bureaucracy took in many Samurai warriors
as peace had prevailed for around 250
the 19th century as Japan opened its doors to the West, the
power was still retained by these warrior-bureaucrats.
They built upon their power by using Western administration
ideas and founding national
universities such as the famous Tokyo University, which was
to train future bureaucrats. This practice still remains in
bureaucracy in Japan used to enjoy a powerful and
respected position in Japan.
the many, many scandals have led to a loss of trust by the
people of Japan, for this
once trusted powerhouse.
the Emperors position is similar to that of my countries
Queen, holding only symbolic power.
modern constitution in Japan was set up after the end of the
Second World War, by the victorious allied
powers. The constitution was enacted on May 3, 1947, which is
a National holiday in Japan.
one of the constitution states that 'the Emperor derives his
position from the will of the people', but
as with so much else, that the allies tried to impose, it was
left largely unclear, such points as, deposition.
nine states, 'the the Japanese people forever renounce war as
a sovereign right of the Nation and the
threat or use of force as a means of settling international
constitution as it stands, poses many problems for Japan. One
example is the fact that Japan cannot send
Self Defense Force (Japanese military) members, with weapons
on any UN sponsored missions.
I remember was a sore point with some nations, during the war
with Iraq. The government often tries to get around
problem, but is always met with fierce opposition, from
opponents against the sending of the Japanese
to any other country.
in the British system
the Japanese parliament is made up of two bodies, the Upper
and Lower houses.
The Diet selects the new Prime Minister, the Liberal
Democratic Party has been in power, nearly constantly
1955, despite various scandals surrounding its former Prime
Ministers and other party officials. Diet members
or disapprove of Supreme Court Judges, elect local officials
and decide referendums on amendments to the constitution,
which requires a two thirds majority.
Ministers as a rule do not last more than one or two years.
There are many reasons for this. One example, 'reforming
the bureaucracy', is not a good
pledge for a Prime Minister to make, 'rocking the boat' in any
form, tends to see the quick demise
of a Prime Minister.
in Japan is not like the American or British version, where
ordinary people, freely
the latest 'goings on' of a particular politician or party. The
Japanese are very hesitant to talk about politics,
it is nearly a taboo subject. One reason I believe, is the
comparative newness of democracy in Japan. a little
50 year has passed, before freedom of speech and basic human
rights were unheard of. Laws were severely upheld
by military rulers, such as the Shoguns.
in Japan could best be described as murky, with distinctions
between business, bureaucracy and
politicians, vague. It is a matter treated as normal, for a
bureaucrat, upon retirement, to find himself in the private
a nicely positioned 'job'. Many bureaucrats have come under
suspicion for accepting bribes. Many politicians have
cornered, because of 'shady goings on'. Business executives
seem to take it as a 'matter of course' to have secret
politicians and bureaucrats, still believing they live in a
long gone world !
people find it difficult to understand the world of politics,
with many confusing alliances between parties, parties changing
names as quickly as Prime Ministers.
are generally not trusted, which has reflected in the recent
poor turnouts during elections. As I have mentioned in another
section, some companies
actively support one candidate during an election. This
sometimes entails, pushing their employees to vote for
candidate", and even bussing them to the polling station.
personally detest election times in Japan, because the
candidate go around the streets in minivans, with enormous
sound systems, sometimes
early in the morning, "especially at the weekend)
blasting their message across to everyone in a radius of 1 km
from the van.
The day before an election can be the worst. A local election
was held recently, one candidate seemed to be, nearly in
with people to vote. Needless too say I breathed a sigh of
relief the next day, as all campaigning ends on the eve of
the end of the last World War, the judicial system was radically
changed from the Imperial courts, influenced by German
to a closer tie with British-American law, although there is
no jury system in Japan.
make up of the judicial system in Japan is as follows:
Supreme court, high courts, district courts, family courts and
There are three steps to the appeals process. The 50
district courts have first jurisdiction, the eight high courts
are the second
step in the process, and the Supreme court is the final
court of appeal.
family courts handle divorces, cases involving minors and
courts handle only minor cases, such as speeding violations.
Supreme Court is made up of 15 justices, including a chief
justice and is
divided into the grand bench, which consists of all the
supreme court justices and petty benches of three justices
cases are heard by the petty bench. The grand bench may
hear important cases. The Supreme Court is also responsible
administration of the legal system, including personnel
appointments, training and so on.
offenses that may entail a prison sentence are first heard
by the district
court, when the public prosecutor decides to indict
the cases in the district and high courts are tried by three
judges, one of which presides, with the defense and prosecution
the evidence has been put before the court, the defense has
made the final
argument and the prosecution has made the final augment
and the prosecution has made its sentencing
the three judges will hand down their verdict. If the
judges are divided the majority opinion is adopted and the
dissenting opinion is not announced.
high courts try cases that have been appealed either by the
prosecution. The procedure is similar to that of the district
court, but the record of the previous trial is also
The Supreme Court hears constitutional questions and other
Supreme Court, justices are appointed by the Cabinet, subject
to approval in
the first general election following the appointment.
The Diet Court of Impeachment is empowered to
justices that are accused of mal practice or considered
incompetent, and can dismiss the justice in question.
time to time, I will be updating this section, with
interesting stories from the world of Japanese politics.
Scandal, new Prime ministers,
attempts too clarify politics, reforming the bureaucracy, and
your have any views, positive or negative, send me an
from the world of politics:
once an inspector at the Ministry of Finance, was found guilty
on September 25,1998, of accepting bribes from
five banks, in the
form of golf and restaurant outings. Sanwa bank paid 1.62
million yen, Tokyo Mitsubishi bank paid 1.39 million
yen, Sumitomo bank
paid 695.800 yen, Dai-ichi Kangyo Bank paid
329.200 yen and the now bankrupt Hokkaido Takushoku bank paid
426.900 yen, for these excursions.
exchange Taniuchi leaked information on the Ministry's bank
inspection schedules and so on.
pleaded guilty to all charges, his lawyers argued that such
wining and dining is normal for ministry officials.
received a 28 month suspended sentence and a fine of 4.47
million yen, the amount of the bribes. He was also fired from
his job in February.
bank inspector, Koichi Miyagawa was tried on the same
charge and received a two and a half
Finance Ministry Bureaucrat:
was the deputy director of the Securities Bureau's
general affairs section
until he was fired in July 1998.
was found guilty on November 13th
1998 of accepting bribes totaling 3. outings,
gift coupons, etc. This occurred in Tokyo and Paris.
companies involved: Nomura Securities spent 1.8 million yen on
28 occasions, Daiwa Securities spent on six occasions, Nikko
Securities, 499.000 yen on nine occasions, Sumitomo Bank,
423.000 yen on 14 occasions and the now bankrupt Yamaichi
Securities, 368.000 yen on five occasions. In return,
Sakakibara leaked information that would benefit these
companies. He was arrogant enough to demand entertainment from
companies, when on business trips abroad, letting them take
his schedule for the trips.
was fined 3.37 million yen and a two year suspended prison
is the last of the four ex-Ministry officials to be sentenced.
None of the four were sent to prison.
Minoru Noda (LDP:
House of Representatives member):
Supreme Court on November 17th 1998, by Noda against a lower
court ruling, invalidating his 1996 election win due to his
secretary's conviction for buying votes. Noda has been banned
from running in an election for five years. This is the second
time a Diet member has lost his seat, since a revision of the
Public Offices Election Low in 1994.
its time for politicians to stop blaming their secretaries
every time they are found to have committed an offense!