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Constitution of Japan (Part III – Article 1)

[This is a guest post written by Naritada Miura, a Student Assistant in the Prange Collection. This is the third post of the series of Constitution of Japan.  See Part I and Part II]

Article 1

Very soon, Emperor Akihito will abdicate his throne, which will be the start of the Reiwa period. Many of us are excited for the new emperor, yet do you know the role of the emperor? The Constitution of Japan, Article 1 writes:

In 1946, the debate over the emperor’s power under the new constitution was discussed day and night. If you would like to learn more about this topic, I recommend “Kenpo Kaisei no Keika” (Prange Call Number JQ-0165) by Isao Sato. At first, “It [GHQ] has not considered the Constitution as a part of its work“ (1). However, by observing the Japan’s firm stance in maintaining the emperor’s power, the GHQ declared on February 10th, “the Emperor becomes the symbol of the state in-stead of being the state… but forever deprived of that mystic power“ (2). Three days later, General Whitney summoned and ordered Foreign Minister Yoshida and Minister of State Matsumoto to follow the GHQ’s amendments (3). Yoshida and Matsumoto demanded an explanation, and Gen. Whitney responded, “it [the GHQ’s amendment] spoke for itself”(4).

Without the power to say NO, the Japanese government accepted the GHQ’s plan. Nonetheless, they continued to believe, “the emperor is the physical symbol of the nation, and by having legal legitimacy; the people of Japan must bare the responsibility in showing their respect to his majesty’s existence” (5). The Japanese Communist Party was the only party that maintained the same slogan of overthrowing the “imperial system”(6).

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Bibliography:

  1. Charles L. Kades Papers [Online]. Check sheet dated 18 Jan 46 attaching minutes of conference with FEC held 17 Jan 46: Extract From Minutes of Conference With Far Eastern Commission on 17 January 1946 (p. 416). Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/mdu-prange-30402/page/n415
  2. Charles L. Kades Papers [Online]. Check sheet dated 10 Feb 46 submitting Government Section draft with explanatory note: Explanatory Notes to Constitutional Revision (p. 486). Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/mdu-prange-30402/page/n485 
  3. Charles L. Kades Papers [Online]. Memorandum recording the events on 13 February 1946: Record of Events on 13 February 1946 When Proposed New Constitution for Japan Was Submitted to the Foreign Minister, Mr. Yoshida, In Behalf of the Supreme Commander (pp. 524-527). Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/mdu-prange-30402/page/n523
  4. Charles L. Kades Papers [Online]. Memorandum recording the events on 13 February 1946: Record of Events on 13 February 1946 When Proposed New Constitution for Japan Was Submitted to the Foreign Minister, Mr. Yoshida, In Behalf of the Supreme Commander (pp. 525). Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/mdu-prange-30402/page/n523
  5. Minobe, Tatsukichi. (1950). “Shin Kenpo Chikujo Kaisetsu” [Article by Article Explanation of the New Constitution]. (First ed. Nineteenth copy, p. 20). Tokyo: Nippon Hyoronsha. 美濃部達吉(1947)『新憲法逐条解説』p. 20, 日本評論社. (Prange Call Number JQ-0131)
  6. Oka, Masayoshi. (1946). “Kenpo ni tsuite” [About the Constitution]. Shibuya, Tokyo: Nihon Kyosanto Shuppanbu. 岡正芳(1946)『憲法について』日本共産党出版部. (Prange Call Number JQ-0149)

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