Major constitutional developments in Japan in the first decade of the twenty-first century

Shojiro Sakaguchi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter reviews several major constitutional developments in Japan in the first decade of the twenty-first century and then examines the current and future state of Japanese constitutional law. Among the many possible topics that merit attention, this chapter focuses on two main subjects from the perspective of comparative constitutional law, namely (1) the rise and fall of the movement towards constitutional reform and (2) the recent tendency towards activist judicial review by the Supreme Court of Japan. Regarding the first issue, I argue that the conflict between the Cabinet Legislation Bureau and conservative politicians concerning the interpretation of Article 9 is a principal cause of the recent movement towards constitutional revision. As to the second issue, I argue that the Supreme Court has not finally abandoned its conservative attitude despite its recent tendency towards activism. I also briefly discuss the revision of the Fundamental Law on Education. Finally, I argue that the impact of the change of government, from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to the Democratic Party, on the development of Japanese constitutional law is relatively insignificant since both parties are basically inclined towards constitutional reform. In December 2012, the LDP won the House of Councilors election and returned to the position of ruling party. Since then, the LDP has made revision of the Constitution part of its political agenda. The first topic is a major development in Japanese constitutional law in the first decade of the twenty-first century. The Constitution of Japan has never been amended despite attempts to do so in the past. The current movement to revise the Constitution will have an effect across Asia because Article 9, which is the main issue of current constitutional revision, was originally enacted to ensure peace in the region. Since Japan has still failed to deal with the question of war responsibility and earn the trust of neighboring countries, any revision of Article 9 would be too premature to be accepted by them.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConstitutionalism in Asia in the Early Twenty-First Century
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781107338333
ISBN (Print)9781107043411
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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