House of Representatives (Japan)
House of Representatives
|The 48th House of Representatives|
First past the post (289 seats)
Party-list proportional representation (176 seats)
|October 22, 2017|
|On or before October 22, 2021|
|Chamber of the House of Representatives|
|This article is part of a series on the|
politics and government of
The composition of the House is established by Article 41 of the Constitution of Japan and Article 42 of the Constitution of Japan.  The House of Representatives has 465 members, elected for a four-year term. Of these, 176 members are elected from 11 multi-member constituencies by a party-list system of proportional representation, and 289 are elected from single-member constituencies. 233 seats are required for a majority.
The overall voting system used to elect the House of Representatives is a parallel system, a form of semi-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 or the Scottish Parliament the election of single-seat members and party list members is linked, so that the overall result respects proportional representation fully or to some degree.
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. The house is currently led by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
Right to vote and candidature
- Japanese nationals aged 18 years and older may vote (prior to 2016, the voting age was 20).
- Japanese nationals aged 25 years and older may run for office in the lower house.
Differences between the Upper and Lower Houses
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".
While the legislative term is nominally 4 years, early elections for the lower house are very common, and the median lifespan of postwar legislatures has in practice been around 3 years.
|Liberal Democratic Party / Association of Independents
Jiyūminshutō / Mushozoku no Kai
|Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan / Independent's Forum
|Japanese Communist Party
|Nippon Ishin / Independents
Nippon Ishin no Kai
|Democratic Party for the People / Independent's Club
Members not affiliated with a parliamentary group/non-inscrits
|LDP (Speaker), CDP (Vice-Speaker), N-Koku, independents||7|
For a list of majoritarian members and proportional members from Hokkaidō, see the List of members of the Diet of Japan.
Latest election result
|Parties||Constituency||PR Block||Total seats|
|Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)||26,719,032||48.21||0.11||218||18,555,717||33.28||0.17||66||284||6||61.08||0.02|
|Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP)||4,852,097||8.75||New||18||11,084,890||19.88||New||37||55||40||11.83||6.66|
|Japanese Communist Party (JCP)||4,998,932||9.02||4.28||1||4,404,081||7.90||3.47||11||12||9||2.58||1.84|
|Social Democratic Party (SDP)||634,719||1.15||0.36||1||941,324||1.69||0.77||1||2||0||0.43||0.01|
|Kibō no Tō (Party of Hope)||11,437,601||20.64||New||18||9,677,524||17.36||New||32||50||7||10.75||1.25|
|Nippon Ishin no Kai (JIP)||1,765,053||3.18||4.98||3||3,387,097||6.07||9.65||8||11||3||2.37||0.58|
|Happiness Realization Party (HRP)||159,171||0.29||–||0||292,084||0.52||0.03||0||0||0||0.00||0.00|
|New Party Daichi||–||–||–||–||226,552||0.41||–||0||0||0||0.00||0.00|
|No Party to Support||–||–||–||–||125,019||0.22||0.02||0||0||0||0.00||0.00|
|Party for Japanese Kokoro (PJK)||–||–||–||–||85,552||0.15||2.50||0||0||0||0.00||0.00|
Election results for major parties since 1958
- green: Ruling party/coalition before and after the lower house election
- red: Ruling party/coalition until the election = Change of government as a result of the lower house election
- blue: Ruling party/coalition after the election = Change of government as a result of the lower house election
- none: Opposition before and after the election
Note that the composition of the ruling coalition may change between lower house elections, e.g. after upper house elections. Parties who vote with the government in the Diet, but are not part of the cabinet (e.g. SDP & NPH after the 1996 election) are not shaded.
Parallel electoral system (since 1996)
|Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Jiyū Minshutō||FPTP||38.6%||41.0%||43.9%||47.8%||38.6%||43.0%||48.1%||48.21%|
|Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP) Rikken Minshutō||FPTP||–||8.75%|
|Party of Hope Kibō no Tō||FPTP||–||20.64%|
|Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Minshutō (1996–2014)
Democratic Party (DP) Minshintō (2017)
|Japan Restoration Party (JRP) Nippon Ishin no Kai (2012)
Japan Innovation Party (JIP) Ishin no Tō (2014)
|(New) Komeito (K/NK/NKP/CGP/NCGP/etc.) Kōmeitō||FPTP||–||2.0%||1.5%||1.4%||1.1%||1.4%||1.5%||1.5%|
|Japanese Communist Party (JCP) Nihon Kyōsantō||FPTP||12.6%||12.1%||8.1%||7.2%||4.2%||7.8%||13.3%||9.02%|
|Social Democratic Party (SDP) Shakai Minshutō||FPTP||2.2%||3.8%||2.9%||1.5%||1.9%||0.7%||0.8%||1.15%|
|New Frontier Party (NFP) Shinshintō (1996)
Liberal Party Jiyūtō (2000)
Tomorrow Party of Japan (TPJ) Nippon Mirai no Tō (2012)
People's Life Party (PLP) Seikatsu no Tō (2014)
Liberal Party (LP) Jiyūtō (2017)
|Your Party (YP) Minna no Tō||FPTP||–||0.8%||4.7%||–|
|Conservative Party Hoshutō (2000)
New Conservative Party Hoshu Shintō (2003)
|New Party Harbinger (NPH) Shintō Sakigake||FPTP||1.3%||–|
SNTV multi-member districts (1947–1993)
|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%|
|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%|
|Japan Renewal Party (JRP) Shinseitō||–||10.1%|
|Kōmeitō (K/KP/CGP/etc.) Kōmeitō||–||5.4%||10.9%||8.5%||11.0%||9.8%||9.0%||10.1%||9.4%||8.0%||8.1%|
|Japan New Party (JNP) Nihon Shintō||–||8.0%|
|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%|
|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%|
|New Party Harbinger (NPH) Shintō Sakigake||–||3.5%|
This section needs expansion with: history after 1947. You can help by adding to it. (August 2020)
Meiji period (1890-1912)
The Japanese parliament, then known as the Imperial Diet, was established in 1890 as a result of the 1889 Meiji Constitution. It was modeled on the parliaments of several Western countries, particularly the German Empire and the United Kingdom, because of the Emperor Meiji's westernizing reforms. The Imperial Diet consisted of two chambers, the elected House of Representatives which was the lower house, and the House of Peers which was the upper house. This format was similar to the House of Lords in the Westminster system, or the Herrenhaus in Prussia, where the upper house represented the aristocracy.
Both houses, and also the Emperor, had to agree on legislation, and even at the height of party-based constitutional government, the House of Peers could simply vote down bills deemed too liberal by the Meiji oligarchy, such as the introduction of women's suffrage, increases in local autonomy, or trade union rights. The prime minister and his government served at the Emperor's pleasure, and could not be removed by the Imperial Diet. However, the right to vote on, and if necessary to block, legislation including 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 the form of the Rikken Seiyūkai in 1900. The confidence of the House of Representatives was never a formal requirement to govern, but between 1905 and 1918, only one cabinet took office that did not enjoy majority support in the House of Representatives.
Taisho and early Showa periods (1912-1937)
During the Taishō political crisis in 1913, a no-confidence vote against the third Katsura government, 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 was the first commoner to become prime minister in 1918.
In the same year, the Rice Riots had confronted the government with an unprecedented scale of domestic unrest, and a German Revolution brought the Prusso-German monarchy to an end, the very system Meiji oligarchs had used as the main model for the Meiji constitution to consolidate and preserve Imperial power. Even Yamagata Aritomo and other oligarchs that had been fundamentally opposed to political parties, became more inclined to cooperate with the still mainly bourgeoisie parties, to prevent a rise of socialism or other movements that might threaten Imperial rule. Socialist parties would not be represented in significant numbers in the lower house until the 1930s.
The initially very high census suffrage requirement was reduced several times, until the introduction of universal male suffrage in 1925. The electoral system to the House of Representatives was also fundamentally changed several times: 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.
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, and there were several reforms to the upper house in 1925. However, the 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. Within a year of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in September 1931, a series of assassinations and coup attempts followed. Party governments were replaced by governments of "national unity" (kyokoku itchi) which were dominated by nobles, bureaucrats and increasingly the military.
World War II and aftermath (1937-1947)
After the Marco Polo Bridge Incident and the start of 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. 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 life tenure (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.
In the 1946 election to the House of Representatives, held under the U.S.-led Allied occupation of Japan, 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 implemented. 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. The Imperial Diet was renamed the National Diet, the House of Peers was replaced by an elected upper house called the House of Councillors, and the House of Representatives would now be able to override the upper house in important matters. The constitution also gave the Diet exclusive legislative authority, without involvement of the Emperor, and explicitly made the cabinet responsible to the Diet and requires that the prime minister has the support of a majority in the House of Representatives.
Late Showa period (1947-1989)
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2020)
The Diet first met under the new constitution on 20 May 1947. Four days later, Tetsu Katayama of the Democratic Socialist Party became Japan's first socialist prime minister and the first since the introduction of parliamentarianism.
Since the end of US rule in 1952, it has been the norm that the prime minister dissolves the House of Representatives before its 4-year term expires. Only once, in 1976, did the House last a full 4 years. It has become tradition to give nicknames to each dissolution, usually referencing a major political issue or controversy. One infamous example was on 14 March 1953, when Shigeru Yoshida dissolved the House and called for new election, after he resorted to name calling people during a meeting of the budget committee. This came to be known as the "you idiot" dissolution.
Recent history (since 1989)
This section is empty. You can help by adding to it. (August 2020)
Members (since 1990)
- National Diet
- House of Councillors (Japan)
- List of districts of the House of Representatives of Japan
- List of Speakers of the House of Representatives of Japan
- Sekihairitsu, the system used in elections for the House of Representatives to determine the order of candidates on a proportional representation list
- "The Constitution of Japan". Japanese Law Translation. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
- "Diet enacts law lowering voting age to 18 from 20". The Japan Times.
- House of Representatives: Strength of the In-House Groups in the House of Representatives
- Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC/Sōmushō): 第４１回衆議院議員総選挙結果
- MIC: 第４２回衆議院議員総選挙結果
- MIC: 衆議院議員総選挙・最高裁判所裁判官国民審査結果調
- 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
- 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
- Includes Takahiro Inoue (independent, Fukuoka 1st district) who was retroactively nominated as LDP candidate; Reuters, December 14, 2014: 自民、井上氏を追加公認 Archived December 17, 2014, at Archive.today
- 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）
- Cambridge History of Japan, Vol. 6, p. 35
- 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
- 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).
- National Parliaments: Japan - Library of Congress
- Dissolving the House of Representatives: A Powerful Political Tool - nippon.com