House of Representatives (Japan)

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Coordinates: 35°40′30.6″N 139°44′41.8″E / 35.675167°N 139.744944°E / 35.675167; 139.744944

House of Representatives
The 46th House of Representatives
Coat of arms or logo
Bunmei IbukiLDP
since December 26, 2012
Hirotaka AkamatsuDPJ
since December 26, 2012
Prime Minister
Shinzō AbeLDP
since December 26, 2012
President of the Democratic Party (Opposition Leader)
Banri KaiedaDPJ
since December 25, 2012
Seats 480
46th House of Representatives of Japan seat composition.svg
Political groups

(as of July 9, 2014)
Ruling coalition (326):

  LDP (295)
  Kōmeitō (31)

Opposition (154):

  DPJ (56)
  Restoration (32)
  Independents (11)
  YP (9)
  UPJ (9)
  JCP (8)
  PLP (7)
  SDP (2)
  NPD (1)
Parallel voting:
First past the post (300 seats)
Party-list proportional representation (180 seats)
Last election
December 16, 2012
Next election
December 16, 2016 or earlier
Meeting place
Chamber of the House of Representatives of Japan.jpg
The House of Representatives Chamber
Imperial Seal of Japan.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

The House of Representatives (衆議院 Shūgiin?) is the lower house of the National Diet of Japan. The House of Councillors is the upper house.

The House of Representatives has 480 members, elected for a four-year term. Of these, 180 members are elected from 11 multi-member constituencies by a party-list system of proportional representation, and 300 are elected from single-member constituencies. 241 seats are required for majority.

The overall voting system used to elect the House of Representatives is a parallel system, not a form of proportional representation. Under a parallel system the allocation of list seats does not take into account the outcome in the single seat constituencies. Therefore the overall allocation of seats in the House of Representatives is not proportional, to the advantage of larger parties. In contrast, in bodies such as the German Bundestag the election of single-seat members and party list members is linked, so that the overall result respects proportional representation.

The House of Representatives is the more powerful of the two houses, able to override vetoes on bills imposed by the House of Councillors with a two-thirds majority. It can be dissolved by the Prime Minister at will, as it was by Yoshihiko Noda on November 16, 2012.

Right to vote and candidature[edit]

  • Japanese nationals aged 20 years and older may vote.
  • Japanese nationals aged 25 years and older may run for office in the lower house.

Differences between the Upper and Lower Houses[edit]

The House of Representatives has several powers not given to the House of Councillors. If a bill is passed by the lower house (the House of Representatives) but is voted down by the upper house (the House of Councillors) the House of Representatives can override the decision of the House of Councillors by a two-thirds vote in the affirmative. However, in the case of treaties, the budget, and the selection of the prime minister, the House of Councillors can only delay passage, but not block the legislation. As a result, the House of Representatives is considered the more powerful house.

Members of the House of Representatives, who are elected to a maximum of four years, sit for a shorter term than members of the House of Councillors, who are elected to full six-year terms. The lower house can also be dissolved by the Prime Minister or the passage of a nonconfidence motion, while the House of Councillors cannot be dissolved. Thus the House of Representatives is considered to be more sensitive to public opinion, and is termed the "lower house".

Current composition[edit]

(as of July 9, 2014)[1]

Parliamentary group
(breakdown by party)
Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (Jiyūminshutō) 294
  Democratic Party of Japan, Club of Independents (Minshutō・Mushozoku Club) 55
Japan Restoration Party, Unity Party (Nippon Ishin no Kai・Yui no Tō)
(JRP: 32, UPJ: 9)
New Komeito (Kōmeitō) 31
Party for Future Generations (Jisedai no Tō) 19
Your Party (Minna no Tō) 9
Japanese Communist Party (Nihon Kyōsantō) 8
People's Life Party (Seikatsu no Tō) 7
Social Democratic Party (Shakaiminshutō・Shimin Rengō) 2
(independents: 11, Speaker (LDP): 1, Vice-Speaker (DPJ): 1, NPD: 1)
Total 480

Latest election result[edit]

e • d Summary of the 16 December 2012 Japanese House of Representatives election results[2]
Alliances and parties Local constituency vote PR block vote Total seats +/−
Votes[3]  % Seats Votes  % Seats Total  % (pre-
   Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Jimintō 25,643,309 43.01 237 16,624,457 27.79 57 294 61.25 Increase176 Increase175
New Komeito Party (NKP) Kōmeitō 885,881 1.49 9 7,116,474 11.90 22 31 6.46 Increase10 Increase10
Prospective LDP–NKP Coalition 26,529,190 44.49 246 23,740,931 39.69 79 325 67.71 Increase186 Increase185
   Democratic Party (DPJ) Minshutō 13,598,773 22.81 27 9,268,653 15.49 30 57 11.88 Decrease173 Decrease251
Restoration Party (JRP) Ishin no Kai 6,942,353 11.64 14 12,262,228 20.50 40 54 11.25 Increase43
Your Party (YP) Minna no Tō 2,807,244 4.71 4 5,245,586 8.77 14 18 3.75 Increase10 Increase10
Tomorrow Party (TPJ) Mirai no Tō 2,992,365 5.02 2 3,423,915 5.72 7 9 1.88 Decrease52
Communist Party (JCP) Kyōsantō 4,700,289 7.88 0 3,689,159 6.17 8 8 1.67 Decrease1 Decrease1
Social Democratic Party (SDP) Shakai Minshutō 451,762 0.76 1 1,420,790 2.38 1 2 0.42 Decrease3 Decrease5
People's New Party (PNP) Kokumin Shintō 117,185 0.20 1 70,847 0.12 0 1 0.21 Decrease2 Decrease2
New Party Daichi (NPD) Shintō Daichi 315,604 0.53 0 346,848 0.58 1 1 0.21 Decrease2 Steady0
Happiness Realization Party (HRP) Kōfuku Jitsugentō 102,634 0.10 0 216,150 0.30 0 0 0.00 Steady0 Steady0
Others 62,697 0.28 0 134,781 0.59 0 0 0.00 Steady0 Steady0
Total opposition parties 32,090,906 53.82 49 36,078,957 60.31 101 150 31.25 Decrease180 Decrease249
   Independents 1,006,468 1.69 5 5 1.04 Decrease4 Decrease1
Totals 59,626,564 100.00% 300 59,819,888 100.00% 180 480 100.00 Increase1* Steady0
Turnout 59.32% 59.31% *(vacant seats)

Election results for major parties since 1960[edit]

e • d District vote for candidates by party
Parties 1958[4] 1960[4] 1963[4] 1967[4] 1969[4] 1972[4] 1976[4] 1979[4] 1980[4] 1983[4] 1986[4] 1990[4] 1993[4] 1996[5] 2000[6] 2003[7] 2005[8] 2009[9]
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Jiyū Minshutō 57.8% 57.6% 54.7% 48.8% 47.6% 46.8% 41.8% 44.6% 47.9% 48.9% 49.4% 46.1% 36.7% 38.6% 41.0% 43.9% 47.8% 38.6%
Japan Socialist Party (JSP) Nihon Shakaitō 32.9% 27.6% 29.0% 27.9% 21.4% 21.9% 20.7% 19.7% 19.3% 19.5% 17.2% 24.4% 15.4%
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Minshutō 10.6% 27.6% 36.7% 36.4% 47.4%
New Frontier Party (NFP) Shinshintō 18.1% (*) 28.0%
(New) Komeito Party (NKP) Kōmeitō 5.4% 10.9% 8.5% 11.0% 9.8% 9.0% 10.1% 9.4% 8.0% 8.1% 2.0% 1.5% 1.4% 1.1%
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) Nihon Kyōsantō 2.6% 2.9% 4.0% 4.8% 6.8% 10.5% 10.4% 10.4% 9.8% 9.3% 8.8% 8.0% 7.7% 12.6% 12.1% 8.1% 7.2% 4.2%
Liberal Party Jiyūtō 3.4%
Social Democratic Party (SDP) Shakai Minshutō 2.2% 3.8% 2.9% 1.5% 1.9%
Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) Minshatō 8.8% 7.4% 7.4% 7.7% 7.0% 6.3% 6.8% 6.6% 7.3% 6.4% 4.8% 3.5%

(*) NFP-precursors Japan Renewal Party (Shinseitō) & Japan New Party (Nihon Shintō)

Note: Before the 1994 electoral reform all districts but one (Amami electoral district 1955–1990) were multi-member constituencies.

e • d Proportional block vote by party
Parties 1996[5] 2000[6] 2003[7] 2005[8] 2009[9]
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Jiyū Minshutō 32.8% 28.3% 35.0% 38.1% 26.7%
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Minshutō 16.1% 25.2% 37.4% 31.0% 42.4%
New Frontier Party (NFP) Shinshintō 28.0%
New Komeito Party (NKP) Kōmeitō 13.0% 14.8% 13.3% 11.4%
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) Nihon Kyōsantō 13.1% 11.2% 7.8% 7.2% 7.0%
Liberal Party Jiyūtō 11.0%
Social Democratic Party (SDP) Shakai Minshutō 6.4% 9.4% 5.1% 5.5% 4.2%

The House of Representatives as part of the Imperial Diet 1890–1947[edit]

Under the 1889 Meiji Constitution which took effect in 1890 and established the Imperial Diet, the House of Peers functioned as an aristocratic upper house in a format similar to the House of Lords in the Westminster system, or the Herrenhaus in the Prussian-based German government of the time. The elected House of Representatives served as the lower house of the Imperial Diet.

In the Imperial Diet, both houses (and the Emperor) had to agree to legislation; even at the height of party-based constitutional government, the House of Peers could simply vote down bills deemed too liberal by the oligarchy such as the introduction of women's suffrage, increases in local autonomy or trade union rights. The government and the prime minister leading it were neither responsible to nor elected by the Imperial Diet. But the right to vote on (and if necessary block) legislation and more importantly the budget gave the House of Representatives leverage to force the government into negotiations. After an early period of frequent confrontation and temporary alliances between the cabinet and political parties in the lower house, parts of the Meiji oligarchy more sympathetic to political parties around Itō Hirobumi and parts of the liberal parties eventually formed a more permanent alliance in form of the Rikken Seiyūkai in 1900. The confidence of the House of Representatives was never a formal requirement to govern; but in fact between 1905 and 1918, only one cabinet took office that did not enjoy majority support in the House of Representatives.[10] During the Taisho Political Crisis in 1913, a "no-confidence vote"[11] against the 3rd Katsura Cabinet, accompanied by major demonstrations outside the Diet, was followed shortly by resignation. Subsequently, in the period often referred to as Taishō democracy, it became increasingly customary to appoint many ministers including several prime ministers from the House of Representatives – Hara Takashi became the first commoner as prime minister in 1918. In the same year, the Rice Riots had confronted the government with an unprecedented scale of domestic unrest, and a socialist revolution brought the Prusso-German monarchy to its end, the very system Meiji oligarchs had used as the main model for the Meiji constitution to consolidate and preserve Imperial power. Even oligarchs formerly fundamentally opposed to political parties such as Yamagata Aritomo became more inclined to cooperate with the [still mainly bourgeois] parties to prevent a rise of socialism or other movements that might threaten Imperial rule itself – socialist parties would not be represented in significant numbers in the lower house until the 1930s. Influence of the House of Representatives on the government increased, and the party cabinets of the 1920s brought Japan apparently closer to a parliamentary system of government; but while there were several reforms to the upper house in 1925, the equal balance of powers between the two houses and the influential role of extra-constitutional actors such as the Genrō (who still selected the prime minister) or the military (that had brought down several cabinets) remained in essence untouched. After the Imperial Army had invaded Manchuria in 1931, within less than a year following several assassinations and coup attempts, party government was replaced by "national unity" (kyokoku itchi) cabinets which were dominated by nobles, bureaucrats and increasingly the military. After the start of the war in 1937, the influence of the Imperial Diet was further diminished, though never fully eliminated, by special laws such as the National Mobilization Law and expanded powers for cabinet agencies such as the Planning Board.[12]

The House of Representatives in the Empire had a four-year term and could be dissolved by the Emperor. In contrast, members of the House of Peers had either a lifetime mandate (subject to revocation by the Emperor) or a seven-year term in the case of members elected in mutual peerage elections among the three lower peerage ranks, top taxpayer and academic peerage elections. During the war, the term of the members of the House of Representatives elected in the last pre-war election of 1937 was extended by one year. The initially very high census requirement for suffrage was reduced several times until the introduction of universal male suffrage in 1925. The electoral system to the House of Representatives also changed several times fundamentally: between systems of "small" mostly single- and few multi-member electoral districts (1890s, 1920, 1924), "medium" mostly multi-member districts (1928–1942) and "large" electoral districts (usually only one, rarely two city and one counties district per prefecture; 1900s and 1910s), using First-past-the-post in single-member districts, Plurality-at-large voting (1890s) or Single non-transferable vote in the multi-member districts. In the last general election to the House of Representatives of the Empire in 1946 under U.S.-led Allied occupation, women's suffrage was introduced, and a system of "large" electoral districts (one or two per prefecture) with limited voting was used. A change in the electoral law in April 1945 had for the first time allocated 30 seats to the established colonies of the Empire: Karafuto (Sakhalin), Taiwan and Chōsen (Korea); but this change was never applied in a House of Representatives general election. Similarly, Korea and Taiwan were granted several appointed members of the House of Peers in 1945.

In 1946, both houses of the Imperial Diet (together with the Emperor) passed the postwar constitution which took effect in 1947. In the National Diet, the House of Peers would be replaced by an elected upper house, the House of Councillors, and the House of Representatives is now able to override the upper house in important matters. The constitution also gave the Diet exclusive legislative authority (without the Emperor) and explicitly made the cabinet responsible to and the prime minister elected by the Diet.

Members (since 1990)[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ House of Representatives: Strength of the Political Groups in the House (Japanese version that additionally contains a list of Representatives sorted by group: 会派名及び会派別所属議員数)
  2. ^ General election results final. Yomiuri Shimbun. 17 December 2012.
  3. ^ Decimals from fractional votes (ambunhyō) rounded to full numbers
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, statistics bureau: 衆議院議員総選挙の党派別当選者数及び得票数(昭和33年~平成5年)
  5. ^ a b Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC/Sōmushō): 第41回衆議院議員総選挙結果
  6. ^ a b MIC: 第42回衆議院議員総選挙結果
  7. ^ a b MIC: 衆議院議員総選挙・最高裁判所裁判官国民審査結果調
  8. ^ a b MIC: 平成17年9月11日執行 衆議院議員総選挙・最高裁判所裁判官国民審査結果調
  9. ^ a b MIC: 平成21年8月30日執行 衆議院議員総選挙・最高裁判所裁判官国民審査結果調
  10. ^ Cambridge History of Japan, Vol. 6, p. 35
  11. ^ Wikisource: 第三次桂内閣に対する内閣不信任上奏決議案提出及び趣旨説明, excerpt from the Imperial Diet minutes, House of Representatives session February 5, 1913
  12. ^ The Cambridge History of Japan, Vol.6, chapters 2 (Taichirō Mitani: The establishment of party cabinets, 1889–1932) and 3 (Gordon M. Berger: Politics and mobilization in Japan, 1931–1945).

External links[edit]