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Q. What does the Japanese Constitution emphasize?


A new Japanese Constitution to replace the Constitution of the Empire of Japan was promulgated in 1946 and came into effect on May 3, 1947. Its drafters aimed to abolish militarism and lay the foundations for a peaceful, democratic Japan after World War II. As the supreme law of the nation, it differs radically from its predecessor in three basic principles.

For one thing, the principle that sovereignty resides with the people has been adopted. The old provision reading "the Emperor is head of the Empire, combining in Himself the rights of sovereignty, and exercises them," has been changed so that the power of deciding how the country is governed is clearly vested in the people.

For another, respect for fundamental human rights is stressed. The rights of all citizens to enjoy human, individual freedoms are guaranteed. Fundamental human rights come in many forms, but the Constitution is explicit on equality - before the law, of the sexes, and in other areas.

And thirdly, the Constitution is pacifist. The Preamble is clear about the national resolve to remain a peaceful nation, and Article 9 specifies that Japan renounces war.

In addition to rights, the Constitution also lays down obligations, the three most important being that citizens work, make sure their children receive mandatory education, and pay taxes.

The Japanese Constitution, like that of other nations, adheres to the modern principles of popular sovereignty and fundamental human rights.