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Constitution of Japan (Part I – Introduction)

[This is a guest post written by Naritada Miura, a Student Assistant in Special Collections & University Archives, who works primarily in the Prange Collection.]

Introduction

Below is the Imperial Rescript declared on January 1st, 1946 by Emperor Hirohito, in which he gives words of encouragement to the Japanese people as they reconstruct the nation. Though this rescript is commonly called the “Humanity Declaration,” it envisions a spiritual unification in overcoming the challenges in the aftermath of war.

As part of the reconstruction, the Japanese adopted a new constitution. The new Constitution of Japan was ratified on November 3, 1946 and came into effect on May 3, 1947. Even to this day, historians have various views on how much the General Headquarters (GHQ) influenced the writing of this constitution.

Japanese students who want to study this topic may have a hard time reading the original documents in English or even locating them (successive drafts of the constitution can be found here). The student assistant position at the Gordon W. Prange Collection (I am also a Government and Politics major with an International Relations Concentration and as member of the East Asian Studies Certificate program at the University of Maryland, College Park) has offered me a great opportunity to conduct in-depth research on the Constitution of Japan. Through this research, I have discovered the uniqueness of the situation and the obstacles that the Japanese government faced in ratifying the constitution.

I will present my findings in five blog posts, in the following order:

  1. Preamble
  2. Article 1
  3. Article 9
  4. Article 7
  5. Reference

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