Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Prime Minister of Japan
The Prime Minister of Japan (内閣総理大臣 Naikaku sōri daijin) is the head of government of Japan. The Prime Minister is appointed by the Emperor of Japan after being designated by the Diet from among its members, and must enjoy the confidence of the House of Representatives to remain in office. The Prime Minister is the head of the Cabinet and appoints and dismisses the Ministers of State. The current, since 2001, Prime Minister of Japan is Koizumi Junichiro.
The Prime Minister is designated by both houses of the Diet, before the conduct of any other business. For this purpose, each conducts a ballot under the run-off system. If the two houses choose different individuals a joint committee of both houses is appointed to agree a common candidate. Ultimately, however, if the two houses do not agree within ten days the decision of the House of Representatives is deemed to be that of the Diet. Theoretically, therefore, the House of Representatives can ensure the appointment of any Prime Minister it wishes.
The Prime Minister must resign if the House of Representatives adopts a motion of no confidence or defeats a vote of confidence, unless the House of Representatives is dissolved within ten days. The Prime Minister must also resign after every general election to the House of Representatives, even if they have won a majority in the house. The office of Prime Minister has by convention usually been occupied by the leader of the largest party in the Diet, which has usually been the Liberal Democratic Party.
The Prime Minister:
- Chairs meetings of the Cabinet.
- Appoints and dismisses Ministers of State.
- Permits legal action to be taken against Ministers of State.
- Counter-signs, along with the competent minister, all laws and cabinet orders.
Because of the factionalised and consensus-based nature of Japanese politics, the Prime Minister has much less actual power than the prime ministers of many other nations. His position as president of the largest party involves negotiation with party faction leaders, and legislation is usually initiated and reviewed by party committees rather than by the cabinet. Furthermore, substantial power is actually wielded by the civil service , over which the Prime Minister has little control.
History and official residence
The current office of Prime Minister derives from the 1946 Constitution of Japan. However the office also existed under Japan's pre-war, imperial constitution. Prior to 1946 the Prime Minister was chosen directly by the Emperor, and did not, under the constitution, need to have the support of the Diet. During World War II, the Prime Minister headed the Supreme War Council in the name of the emperor. The official residence of the Prime Minister of Japan is called the Kantei. The original Kantei served from 1929 until 2002. A new building was inaugurated at this time and now serves as the new Kantei.
- Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet. Official website.
- List of Japanese cabinets (in Japanese only).
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