Part 2 Creation of Various Proposals to Reform the Constitution

Submission of Proposal by the Office of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal

The study begun by the Office of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal in October 1945 drew negative opinions from both internal and external sources because of Fumimaro Konoye's accountability for actions during the war and the questions whether the investigations made by the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal was constitutional or not. On November 1, MacArthur announced that he would not endorse Konoye's constitutional review, but Konoye and Soichi Sasaki continued their study nonetheless. On November 22, in a reply to the Imperial Throne, Konoye presented his Draft of Constitution Revision Subsequently, on the 24th of the same month, Sasaki approached the Imperial Throne with an independent study titled "Necessity of Reform of the Imperial Constitution" (although it was dated November 23).

On the 24th when Sasaki's proposal was presented to the Imperial Throne, the Office of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal was abolished. Konoye, having come under suspicion as a war criminal, committed suicide by taking poison at dawn on December 16 before he had to appear to face charges.

Submission of Proposal from the Matsumoto Committee

The Shidehara Cabinet's Constitutional Problem Investigation Committee (the Matsumoto Committee), started out principally to research and review, and not with the aim of constitutional reform. However, they recognized "the utmost urgency of the situation both internally and externally" forcing a change in their position, in that the study was modified to investigate reforms, wherein advisors and members of the Committee formulated individual reform proposals. Committee Chairman Matsumoto presented "Matsumoto's Four-Point Principle" in an address to the Imperial Diet on December 8, 1945, clarifying a basic policy toward constitutional reform.

At the start of 1946, Committee Chairman Matsumoto formulated his own independent proposal. Toshiyoshi Miyazawa, a professor at Imperial University of Tokyo and member of the Matsumoto Committee, put Matsumoto's proposal into the form of an outline, which after being edited by Matsumoto himself, became the "Gist of the Revision of the Constitution" (Proposal A). The "Constitutional Reform Proposal" (Proposal B) was also put together based on arguments that provisions for a proposal defining a broad range of reforms should be made. The "Gist of the Revision of the Constitution" was submitted to GHQ on February 8, 1946.

Various Non-Governmental Draft Proposals

Outline of Constitution Draft

Constitution Investigation Association, "Outline of Constitution Draft" (December 26, 1945)

While the government made efforts to draft reform proposals behind closed doors, movements were also afoot in the private sector to formulate draft proposals for constitutional reforms, and these proposals were made public one after another starting in late 1945 through the early part of the following year. The representative example of these efforts, the Constitutional Investigation Association's "Outline of Constitution Draft," was published on December 26, 1945. This proposal limited the Emperor's role to national ceremonies, laid down the sovereignty of the people, acknowledged the right to life, and provided for equality of the sexes among other items, and formed a basis of fundamental principles that envisioned the future Constitution of Japan. The principles expressed in this document were the focus of great interest among the GHQ staff doing the preliminary research on constitutional reforms.

Entering 1946, each of the political parties one after another announced reform proposals. The proposals included points particular to each party: both the Liberal Party and the Progressive Party added only small changes without much alteration to the Meiji Constitution, compared with the Communist Party which eliminated the Imperial Institution and advocated popular sovereignty, and the Socialist Party's declaration for the people's right to life.

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