The front page of the Sankei Shimbun morning edition on April 26, 2013. The newspaper announces the draft of “National Constitution of Japan”.
The Sankei Shimbun drafted a proposed “National Constitution of Japan” in April 2013. Four years later—on Wednesday, May 3, 2017—the country observes the 70th anniversary of the postwar Constitution, and we are republishing in English the key sections of the draft’s outline.
As Japan witnesses renewed efforts to push for the amendment of some parts of the Constitution, here are Sankei’s proposed Preamble, Chapter 1 (“The Emperor”), Chapter 2 (“Structure of the State”), Chapter 3 (“National Defense”), Chapter 11 (“State of Emergency”), and Chapter 12 (“Amendments”). The original Japanese version, published in 2013, has 12 chapters and 117 articles.
Recent initiatives of the Abe administration to seek the revision of the current Constitution and to change the interpretation of some of its provisions—especially the right to exercise collective self-defense—have attracted attention from overseas. Therefore, emphasis was placed on the translation of topics such as national security and the character of the nation.
The constitutions of other countries have provisions such as the creation and retention of armed forces to maintain peace, as well as the power and authority of the prime minister during a national emergency. In Japan’s case, however, they were omitted when this constitution was drafted more than 70 years ago.
It is hoped that the release of this English translation will provide the audience a sense of the “global standards” to which Japan aspires as this debate continues.
The Sankei Shimbun organized a drafting committee for this project consisting of five members, and chaired by Tadae Takubo, professor emeritus of Kyorin University. The committee has held 27 meetings since March 2012 for the purpose of drafting, debating, and finalizing the proposed outline of a new “National Constitution of Japan.”
The Nation of Japan is a constitutional state possessing an eternal history inherited from its ancestors, with the Emperor at its foundation.
Since the founding of the Nation, the people of Japan have relied upon the Emperor for national unity, rejected tyranny, esteemed public discourse, and thereon formed a dignified modern state. Blessed by nature and a beautiful homeland of purple mountains and crystal clear waters, the maritime Nation of Japan developed its own unique civilization. The people of Japan have nurtured the noble spirit of hope that all the world’s oceans be joined in peace and valor in the face of national calamity.
The people of Japan, acknowledging a diversity of values, created their distinctive traditional culture using their enterprising spirit and seeking harmony with differing cultures. With resilient spirit they have overcome countless natural disasters and recovered from the devastation of great wars. The Japanese people are resolved that their nation shall occupy a consequential position in the international community, respect international norms, and play an important role through international cooperation.
Standing upon the principles of liberalism and democracy, the Nation of Japan is dedicated to achieving a fair and vigorous society that promotes the welfare of its people through parliamentary democracy and respect for fundamental human rights. The national goal is to be an ethical, independent, and self-reliant nation. The Nation values racial equality and promotes co-existence and prosperity for all nations and ethnicities as it actively contributes to the security and prosperity of the international community.
We, the Japanese people, desiring lasting and permanent peace, resolve to protect and defend the national sovereignty, independence, and honor of Japan. Wherefore, upon these noble ideals and with pride, we hereby establish this Constitution.
Chapter 1 The Emperor
Article 1 (National Character) The Nation of Japan is a constitutional monarchy in which the Emperor shall be the symbol of permanence of the State and of the unity of the People.
Article 2 (Head of State) The Emperor is the Head of State and represents Japan.
Article 3 (Succession to the Imperial Throne) The Imperial Throne shall be succeeded to by paternal descendants of the Imperial line in accordance with the Imperial House Law.
Article 4 (Authority of the Emperor, Assistance and Responsibility of the Cabinet.) The Emperor shall perform acts in state and public affairs as provided for in this Constitution.
2. Acts of the Emperor in matters of state and public affairs shall require the assistance of the Cabinet, which shall assume responsibility for the same.
Article 5 (Regency) When, in accordance with the Imperial House Law, a Regency is established, the Regent shall perform acts in matters of state in the name of the Emperor.
Article 6 (Appointment of the Heads of the Three Branches of Government) The Emperor shall appoint the Prime Minister as designated by the Diet.
2. The Emperor shall appoint the Speaker of the House of Representatives as designated by the House of Representatives.
3. The Emperor shall appoint the President of the House of Councilors as designated by the House of Councilors.
4. The Emperor shall appoint the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as designated by the Cabinet.
Article 7 (Acts of the Emperor in State and Public Affairs) The Emperor shall perform the following acts in Affairs of State:
(1) Promulgation of amendments of the Constitution, laws, Cabinet Orders and treaties;
(2) Convocation of the Diet and dissolution of the House of Representatives;
(3) Enforcement of the election of members of the Diet;
(4) Appointment and dismissal of Ministers of State and other public officials as provided by law;
(5) Issuance of the full powers and credentials of Ambassadors and Ministers;
(6) Acceptance of the credentials of foreign Ambassadors and Ministers;
(7) Conferring of honors;
(8) Granting of general and special amnesty, commutation of punishment, reprieve, and restoration of rights;
(9) Presiding over ceremonial functions;
(10) Establishment of the name of an era.
2. The Emperor shall perform the following acts in matters of Public Affairs:
(1) Conduct rites of the Imperial Court based on tradition;
(2) Attend national events and ceremonies and conduct tours of the country;
(3) Carry out other suitable acts, in addition to the matters provided in the two preceding paragraphs, as the symbol of unity of the Japanese people.
Article 8 (Amendment of the Imperial House Law) Any amendment of the Imperial House Law shall require prior deliberation of the Imperial House Council.
Article 9 (Imperial Household Property) The Imperial Household property, excluding hereditary property, shall be appropriated by the Diet.
Chapter 2 Structure of the State
Article 10 (Japanese Sovereignty) Sovereignty resides in the people and the powers of the state derive from the people. The people shall exercise their sovereignty through their representatives or by such other means as provided for in this Constitution.
Article 11 (Japanese Nationals) The prerequisites for being a Japanese national shall be determined by law.
Article 12 (Territory) The territory of Japan consists of the Japanese archipelago, ancillary islands, and such other islands as stipulated by law.
Article 13 (National Sovereignty, Obligations of the State and the People) The State has an obligation to defend its sovereignty and independence, maintain the public order and protect the life, freedom, and property of the people.
2. The people shall be conscious of their citizenship and do their utmost to contribute to the development of the State.
Article 14 (The National Flag and National Anthem) The national flag of Japan shall be the flag of the Rising Sun and the national anthem shall be Kimigayo.
2. The people shall respect the National Flag and the National Anthem.
Chapter 3 National Defense
Article 15 (Aspiring to an International Peace) Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, Japan shall seek peaceful resolution of international disputes in accordance with the treaties concluded by Japan and established international laws and norms.
Article 16 (Maintenance of Armed Forces and Supreme Command) Japan shall maintain armed forces in order to defend its independence and national security, safeguard its people, and contribute to international peace.
2. Supreme command of the armed forces shall be exercised by the Prime Minister. Political supremacy over the armed forces shall be ensured.
3. The structure and organization of the armed forces shall be determined by law.
Chapter 11 State of Emergency
Article 114 (Declaration of State of Emergency) In the event of attack by an external military force, domestic insurgency, major terror incident, large-scale natural disaster, serious cyber-attack, or other emergency, the Prime Minister, with either prior or ex-post facto approval of the Diet, may declare a state of emergency.
Article 115 (Emergency Orders and Emergency Fiscal Measures) In the event a state of emergency is declared, the Cabinet may substitute Cabinet Orders in place of laws and carry out emergency fiscal measures for the purpose of overcoming the crisis.
2. The Cabinet, in order to accomplish the objective of the preceding clause, may limit to the extent necessary the rights specified in Article 30 (Secrecy of Communication), Article 34 (Freedom of Residence, Movement, and Choice of Occupation), Article 35 (Property Rights and Protection of Intellectual Property), Article 36 (Guarantee of Due Process), and Article 37 (Guarantee Against Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, Imprisonment, Search, and Seizure).
Article 116 (Approval and Declaration of Nullification) The Cabinet shall promptly obtain the approval of the Diet for the Cabinet Orders and emergency fiscal measures stipulated under the previous Article.
2. In the event the approval required by the preceding clause is not obtained, the Cabinet shall declare said Cabinet Orders and emergency fiscal measures null and void.
Chapter 12 Amendments
Article 117 (Procedures and Promulgation of Amendments to the Constitution) Amendments to this Constitution shall be initiated by the Diet through a concurring vote of a majority of the members of each House and shall thereupon be submitted to the people for ratification. Ratification shall require the affirmative vote of a majority of the valid ballots cast in a national referendum for Constitutional amendment.
2. Amendments when so ratified shall be promulgated immediately by the Emperor.
The members of the drafting committee for The Sankei Shimbun commemoration project for a new “National Constitution” are:
Tadae Takubo (Chair), professor emeritus, Kyorin University
Masamori Sase, professor emeritus, The National Defense Academy
Osamu Nishi, professor emeritus, Komazawa University
Yasuo Oohara, professor emeritus, Kokugakuin University
Akira Momochi, professor, Nihon University
©2014 The Sankei Shimbun & SANKEI DIGITAL All rights reserved.
(Click here to read the original “National Constitution of Japan” in Japanese)