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The is the usual English-language term used for the head of government of Japanmarker, although the literal translation of the Japanese name for the office is Minister for the general administration of the Cabinet. 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. Yukio Hatoyama has been prime minister since 16 September 2009.

The office was created in 1885, four years before the enactment of the Meiji Constitution. It took its current form with the adoption of the current constitution in 1947.


The Prime Minister is designated by both houses of the Diet, before the conduct of any other business. For that purpose, each conducts a ballot under the run-off system. If the two houses choose different individuals, then a joint committee of both houses is appointed to agree on 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. Therefore, the House of Representatives can theoretically ensure the appointment of any Prime Minister it wishes. The candidate is then formally appointed to office by the Emperor.

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.



Constitutional roles

  • Exercises "control and supervision" over the entire executive branch.
  • Presents bills to the Diet on behalf of the Cabinet.
  • Signs laws and Cabinet orders (along with other members of the Cabinet).
  • Appoints all Cabinet ministers, and can dismiss them at any time.
  • May permit legal action to be taken against Cabinet ministers.
  • Must make reports on domestic and foreign relations to the Diet.
  • Must report to the Diet upon demand to provide answers or explanations.

Statutory roles

  • Presides over meetings of the Cabinet.
  • Commander in chief of the Japan Self-Defense Forces.
  • May override a court injunction against an administrative act upon showing of cause.


File:Standard of the Prime Minister of Japan.svg|Standard of Prime MinisterFile:Emblem of the Prime Minister of Japan.svg|Emblem of the Prime MinisterFile:Go-shichi no kiri crest 2.svg|Crest for the Prime Minister


After the Meiji Restoration, the Daijō-kan system, which was used in the Nara period, was adopted as the Japanese government entity. Political powers of their leader, Daijō Daijin and his aides, Sadaijin and Nadaijin were ambiguous and frequently conflicted with other positions such as Sangi. In the 1880s, Itō Hirobumi, then one of Sangi, started to examine the reformation of the governmental organization. In 1882, Ito and his staff, Ito Miyoji and Saionji Kinmochi, traveled to Europe and investigated constitutions in constitutional monarchies, the British Empire and the German Empiremarker. After his return to Japan, Ito urged the need of a Constitution and a modern governmental system and persuaded conservatives to approve his plan.

On 22 December 1885, in the Daijō-kan order No. 69, abolition of Daijō-kan and the induction of the Prime Minister (内閣総理大臣) and his cabinet were published.

Official office and residence

Kantei, the official residence of the Prime Minister
The Office of the Prime Minister of Japan is called the Kanteimarker (官邸). The original Kantei served from 1929 until 2002. A new building was inaugurated at this time and now serves as the new Kantei. The old Kantei was then converted to the new official residence, or Kōtei (公邸).

Living former Japanese Prime Ministers

See also


  1. Article 67 of the Constitution of Japan
  2. Article 6 of the Constitution of Japan
  3. Article 69 of the Constitution of Japan
  4. Article 5 of the Constitution of Japan
  5. Article 72 of the Constitution of Japan
  6. Article 74 of the Constitution of Japan
  7. Article 68 of the Constitution of Japan
  8. Article 75 of the Constitution of Japan
  9. Article 63 of the Constitution of Japan
  10. Cabinet Act, article 4
  11. Self-Defense Forces Act of 1954
  12. Administrative Litigation Act, article 27

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