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JAPANESE POLITICS GUIDE
System of Government: Parliamentary Democratic Monarchy
The politics of Japan are conducted in a multi-party system where the Prime Minister of Japan is Head of Government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in the Diet consisting of the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors. The Judicial system of Japan is an independent entity. Japan is generally considered a Constitutional Monarchy with a system of civil laws.
The Constitution of Japan defines the Emperor to be "The symbol of the state and of the unity of the people." He performs ceremonial duties and holds no real power, not even emergency reserve powers. Political power is held mainly by the Prime Minister and other elected members of the Diet. Sovereignty is vested in the Japanese people by the Constitution. Though his official status is disputed, on diplomatic occasions the Emperor tends to behave as the Head of State (with widespread public support).
The Executive branch reports to the Diet. The chief of the Executive branch, the Prime Minister, is appointed by the Emperor at the direction of the Diet. The Prime Minister must be a member of the Diet and a civilian. The Cabinet members are nominated by the Prime Minister and must also be civilian. Since the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has been in power, it has been the convention that the President of the party serves as Prime Minister.
The Cabinet is composed of the Prime Minister and Ministers of State and is responsible to the Diet. The Prime
Minister has the power to appoint and remove ministers, a majority of whom must be Diet members. The LDP was in
power from 1955 to 2009, except for a very short-lived coalition government formed from its opposition parties in
1993. The largest opposition party was the Democratic Party of Japan in the late 1990s and late 2000s.