Outline - Part 4 | Deliberations in the Imperial Diet

Outline

Part 4 Deliberations in the Imperial Diet

Presentation to the Privy Council

On April 17, 1946, the "Draft for a Revised Constitution" was brought before the Privy Council. But the Shidehara Cabinet was disbanded on April 22, and following precedent, the proposal was temporarily withdrawn by reason of the formation of the cabinet led by Yoshida on May 22. After some changes were made based on the results of deliberations that had been ongoing until May 27, the proposal was again brought before the Privy Council. The "Draft for a Revised Constitution" was overwhelmingly approved by a plenary session of the Privy Council with the sole exception of Tatsukichi Minobe.

General Election and Deliberations in the House of Representatives

Minister of State Kanamori explains the Bill for Revision of the Imperial Constitution

Minister of State Kanamori explains the "Bill for Revision of the Imperial Constitution" (July 1, 1946) From "Yoshida Naikaku"

With the granting of women's suffrage based on the newly revised election law, a general election was held for the House of Representatives on April 10, 1946, and the 90th Imperial Diet was convened on May 16. On the day before the Diet was opened, Tokujiro Kanamori was appointed Minister of State in charge of the Constitution.

On June 20, an Imperial Rescript was issued according to Article 73 of the Meiji Constitution, and the "Bill for Revision of the Imperial Constitution" was submitted to the Diet. It was then brought before a plenary session of the House of Representatives, and on June 28 it was referred to the Committee on the Bill for Revision of the Imperial Constitution, which was chaired by Hitoshi Ashida.

The Committee started deliberations on July 1, and a subcommittee was formed on July 23 to draft revisions. The subcommittee held discussions behind closed doors from July 25 to August 20. On August 20, the subcommittee created a revised bill to which all the member parties gave consent. This proposal included such clauses as the "Ashida amendment" at the beginning of the second paragraph of Article 9 which states "In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph." The Committee was informed of the cooperatively revised bill on the following day, August 21, and it was approved as revised.

On August 24, in a plenary session the House of Representatives voted 421 to 8 in a tremendous endorsement of the bill, and it was sent to the House of Peers that very day.

Deliberation in the House of Peers and Promulgation of the Constitution

The "Bill for Revision of the Imperial Constitution" was brought before the House of Peers on August 26, and on August 30 it was referred to the Special Committee on the Bill for Revision of the Imperial Constitution chaired by Yoshishige Abe. The Special Committee entered deliberations on September 2, and on September 28 decided to create a subcommittee for the purpose of making revisions.

The subcommittee made revisions to four items, including the addition of what is known as the "Civilians' Clause" based on requests from GHQ. On October 3, the Special Committee was informed of the proposed revisions, and the bill was approved as revised by the subcommittee.

The House of Peers stood and voted overwhelmingly on October 6 to approve the "Bill for Revision of the Imperial Constitution" as revised. The bill was returned that day to the House of Representatives, and on October 7, a plenary session of the House of Representatives voted decisively to approve, with only 5 votes against.

Following that, on October 12, the "Bill for Revision of the Imperial Constitution" was again presented to the Privy Council, which on October 29 voted to approve unanimously except for two members who were absent. The "Bill for Revision of the Imperial Constitution" upon receiving the Emperor's sanction was promulgated on November 3, 1946 as the Constitution of Japan.

Involvement of the FEC in Constitutional Reform

With the start of deliberations on the "Bill for Revision of the Imperial Constitution" in the House of Representatives, MacArthur declared on June 21, 1946, that it was imperative (a) "that adequate time and opportunity should be allowed for full discussion and consideration of the terms of such a charter," (b) "that the procedure followed assures complete legal continuity with the constitution of 1889," and (c) "that the manner of adoption of such a charter demonstrates that it affirmatively expresses the free will of the Japanese people." These three principles of the deliberations of the constitutional reforms in the Imperial Diet were the same as the "Criteria for the Adoption of a New Japanese Constitution" laid out by the FEC on May 13, 1946. This was an indication that MacArthur had, to a certain degree, accepted the demands of the FEC. The FEC, on July 2, 1946 just after the committee had begun deliberations in the House of Representatives, decided the "Basic Principles for a New Japanese Constitution" as a standard for the new constitution. These principles were based on the "Reform of the Japanese Governmental System" (SWNCC 228) which had been previously prepared by the US government. Following this, GHQ had the Japanese government revise the draft along the lines of the FEC's views, resulting in stipulations such as sovereignty of the people, universal suffrage, and the civilians' clause.

Minutes of the Imperial Diet are available from Database System for the Minutes of the Imperial Diet (Japanese).

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