Purpose and History
On August 7, 2007, the opening day of the 167th session of the National Diet, both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors set up Commissions on the Constitution of Japan for the following purposes: (1) to conduct broad and comprehensive research on the Constitution of Japan and fundamental legislation closely related to the Constitution of Japan, and (2) to consider Preliminary Draft Amendments to the Constitution, bills on the initiation of Amendments to the Constitution and/or a National Referendum thereon, and other matters.
Concurrent to the establishment of these new Commissions, the Research Commissions on the Constitution of both Houses (set up on January 20, 2000, the opening day of the 147th session of the Diet) were abolished.
The organization, management, and other matters related to the two Commissions are as provided under the Diet Law, while matters not specified in the Diet Law are to be provided for by a decision of the respective House.
The Rules and Regulations of the Commission on the Constitution of the House of Councillors, which was adopted at the plenary session on May 18, 2011, govern these matters for the House of Councillors body. The Commission on the Constitution started its work in earnest on October 20, 2011, during the 179th session of the Diet.
Organization and Management
- The Commission consists of 45 members. Membership is allocated to political groups in the House in proportion to their numerical strength. Members are appointed at the beginning of a Diet session.
- Chairperson and Directors:
- The Chairperson of the Commission is elected by its members from among themselves, and the Chairperson represents the Commission. The Commission also has a number of directors. The Chairperson may hold a meeting of directors to consult on the management of the Commission.
- The Commission may hold meetings at any time, regardless of whether the Diet is in session or not.
- Quorum and Voting:
- No business may be transacted and no decision taken in the Commission unless at least one-half of its members are present. All matters are decided in the Commission by a majority of the members present. In the case of a tie, the Chairperson makes a decision.
- Open Hearings:
- The Commission may hold open hearings for purposes of examination or research. However, the Commission must hold open hearings when deliberating upon Preliminary Draft Amendments to the Constitution.
- Opening to the Public:
- Meetings of the Commission are open to the public, unless decided otherwise.
- Joint Meetings:
- With respect to Preliminary Draft Amendments to the Constitution, the Commission on the Constitution of one House may, in consultation with the Commission of the other House, hold a joint meeting with the Commission of the other House. The joint meetings of the Commissions on the Constitution may make recommendations concerning Preliminary Draft Amendments to the Constitution to the Commission on the Constitution of each House.
- The Commission on the Constitution may set up subcommittees, dispatch Commission members, request the presence of a Minister of State and others at its meeting to give an explanation, and require the submission of reports and records.
● Handbook on the Research Report on the Constitution of Japan
The Research Commission on the Constitution of the House of Councillors (January 2000–August 2007) conducted broad and comprehensive research on the Constitution of Japan and submitted its report to the President of the House of Councillors in April 2005. For a summary of the report,<PDF>.