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Cabinet System of Japan

The Cabinet System Under the Current Constitution- Constitution of Japan

The Constitution of Japan
The Constitution of Japan (November 3, 1946)
The Cabinet Law
The Cabinet Law (January 16, 1947)

(1) Overview

The current Constitution and the Cabinet Law went into effect on May 3, 1947, establishing the current framework of the Cabinet system. Namely, under the sovereignty of the people, the independence of the three branches of government - legislative, administrative and judicial powers - was emphasized, and the Cabinet was to be the main body to exercise administrative power within the basic framework of the Parliamentary Cabinet system.

The Prime Minister was given the status as "the head of the Cabinet" representing the Cabinet, and his/her status and power within the Cabinet were strengthened for consistency and unity of the Cabinet. However, with the exception of independent powers such as appointing and dismissing the Ministers of State and giving consent to impeachment of a Minister of State, the powers of the Prime Minister were exercised with the submission to the Cabinet meeting in principal.

In addition, the Constitution stipulates that executive or administrative power shall be vested in the Cabinet and in this sense all the responsibilities to execute administrative work belong to the Cabinet. However, all the administrative affairs are not handled by the Cabinet alone, but are practically distributed among the Cabinet Office and ten Ministries under the control of the Cabinet. Some of them further distribute their work through external organs such as committees and agencies.

[ The Parliamentary Cabinet System ]

The current Constitution adopts the Parliamentary Cabinet system. This is a system in which the existence of the Cabinet including the election of the Prime Minister is dependent on parliamentary confidence in the Cabinet. The Constitution institutionally clarifies such a system by the following stipulations.

1) The Prime Minister shall be designated from among the members of the Diet by a resolution of the Diet. (First paragraph of Article 67)

2) A majority of the Ministers of State must be chosen from among the members of the Diet. (Proviso of the first paragraph of Article 68)

3) The Cabinet, in the exercise of executive power, shall be collectively responsible to the Diet. (Third paragraph of Article 66)

4) The Cabinet must be given confidence by the House of Representatives. (Article 69 and 70)

Separation of the three powers of administration, legislation and judicature