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The is the executive branch of the government of Japan. It consists of the Prime Minister and up to fourteen other members, called Ministers of State. The Prime Minister is designated by the Diet, and the remaining ministers are appointed and dismissed by the Prime Minister. The Cabinet is collectively responsible to the Diet and must resign if a motion of no confidence is adopted by the House of Representatives.

The modern Japanese Cabinet was established by the Constitution of Japan which came into effect in 1947. A cabinet also existed under the Meiji constitution of 1889-1946. This previous cabinet was subordinate to the Emperor.


Under the constitution, Ministers of State are appointed after the selection of the Prime Minister. A majority of the Cabinet, including the Prime Minister, must be members of the Diet (but may be members of either house), and all members must be civilians. Under the 2001 Cabinet Law, the number of Ministers of State (excluding the Prime Minister) must be fourteen or less, but this may be increased to seventeen if a special need arises. In the event that the Cabinet collectively resigns it continues to exercise its functions until the appointment of a new Prime Minister. While in office, legal action may not be taken against Ministers of State without the consent of the Prime Minister. The Cabinet must resign en masse in the following circumstances:
  • When a motion of no confidence is adopted, or a vote of confidence defeated, by the House of Representatives, unless there is a dissolution of the house within ten days.
  • Upon the first convocation of the Diet after a general election to the House of Representatives (even if every minister will then be reappointed).
  • When the position Prime Minister becomes vacant, or the Prime Minister declares his intention to resign.


The Cabinet exercises two kinds of power. Some of its powers, while in practice exercised in accordance with the binding instructions of the Cabinet, are nominally exercised by the Emperor with the "advice and approval" of the Cabinet. Its other class of powers are exercised by the Cabinet explicitly. Contrary to the practice in many constitutional monarchies, the Emperor of Japan is not even the nominal chief executive. Instead, the Constitution explicitly vests executive authority in the Cabinet.

In practice, much of the Cabinet's authority is exercised by the Prime Minister. Under the Constitution, he exercises "control and supervision" over the executive branch, and no law or Cabinet order can take effect without his countersignature. While Cabinet ministers in most other parliamentary regimes theoretically have some freedom of action (within the limits of collective responsibility), the Japanese Cabinet is effectively an extension of the Prime Minister's authority.

Powers exercised via the Emperor

  • Convocation of the Diet.
  • Dissolution of the House of Representatives.
  • Proclamation of general elections to the Diet
  • Conferring of honours.

A paulownia flower pattern is considered to be a symbol of the Japanese prime minister and cabinet routinely.

Explicit powers

  • Execution of the law.
  • Conduct of foreign affairs.
  • Conclusion of treaties (with the consent of the Diet).
  • Administration of the civil service.
  • Drafting of the budget (which must be adopted by the Diet).
  • Adoption of cabinet orders.
  • Granting of general amnesty, special amnesty, commutation of punishment, reprieve, and restoration of rights.
  • Every law or cabinet order is signed by the relevant Minister of State and countersigned by the Prime Minister.
  • Appointment of the associate justices of the Supreme Court of Japanmarker (except the Chief Justice, who is designated by the Prime Minister and formally appointed by the Emperor).
  • Appointment of vice-ministers (who are nominated by the minister to whom they will report).

Cabinet of Japan (as of 16 September 2009)

Office Incumbent
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama
Deputy Prime Minister
Minister of State for National Policy
Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy
Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy

Naoto Kan
Minister of Internal Affairs and Communicationsmarker
Minister of State for Promotion of Regional Sovereignty
Kazuhiro Haraguchi
Minister of Justice Keiko Chiba
Minister of Foreign Affairs Katsuya Okada
Minister of Finance Hirohisa Fujii
Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technologymarker Tatsuo Kawabata
Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare
Minister of State for Pension Reform
Akira Nagatsuma
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Hirotaka Akamatsu
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Masayuki Naoshima
Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs and Disaster Management
Seiji Maehara
Minister of the Environmentmarker Sakihito Ozawa
Minister of Defence Toshimi Kitazawa
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano
Chairman of the National Commission on Public Safety
Minister of State for the Abduction Issue
Hiroshi Nakai
Minister of State for Financial Services
Minister of State for Postal Reform
Shizuka Kamei
Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Food Safety, Social Affairs, and Gender Equality Mizuho Fukushima
Minister of State for Government Revitalisation
Minister of State for Civil Service Reform
Yoshito Sengoku

See also


  • The Japan Times. "Junichiro Koizumi's Third Cabinet". The Japan Times Online. Accessed 19 November 2003 from:
  • Cabinet Secretariat, Office of Cabinet Public Relations, Japan (2003). Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet. Retrieved 28 Oct. 2003 from:

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