After the war (1945), two committees set up by the Japanese government proposed only small changes to the 1889 Constitution. General Douglas MacArthur, on 4 Feb 1946, set up a "constitutional assembly" of 24 westerners headed by Charles Louis Kades. This committee completed a draft in only five days. Governing Shigeru Yoshida called the radically different document "outrageous", but could no longer object when Emperor Hirohito endorsed it. With minor changes, the document became the new Constitution on 3 Nov 1946.
One of the most striking features of the Constitution is its pacifist doctrine in Art. 9 which is more binding and explicit than that found even in the charter of the United Nations (cf. Art. 51 UN Charter). However, the introduction of Self-Defence Forces in 1956, the mutual security pact with the US in 1960, and a new law allowing Japanese troops to participate in UN peace-keeping operations led to pragmatic alterations of the original concept. Art. 9 does not rule out defending the Japanese homeland from attack. On 18 Dec 1998, Japans navy sank a North Korean submarine only 50 km off the Japanese coastline. But Japan still does not have bombers, long-range missiles, aircraft carriers, or other means of projecting power beyond its own territory.
There has been no amendment yet to Japan's constitution. However, constitutional research committees without special powers and with no foreseeable results have been set up in the lower and upper houses. Among the candidates for revision is Art. 89 prohibiting subsidies to private universities. Notwithstanding this provision, Japan's government has in recent years found ways to provide subsidies because public universities cannot meet the educational demand.
In the future, elections will be based on the electoral-reform bill of Ozawa who managed to replace Japan's old multi-member electoral constituencies with a mixture of single-member, first-past-the-post seats and others filled by proportional representation. The new electoral system is similar to the one of Germany.
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