Japan flag Japan: Economic and Political Overview

The political framework of Japan

Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
Emperor: Naruhito (since 1 May 2019); succeeded his father who abdicated on 30 April 2019
Prime Minister: Fumio Kishida (since 4 October 2021)
Next Election Dates
House of Representatives: October 2025
House of Councillors: July 2025
Current Political Context
The ruling coalition, comprised of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, commands a majority in the House of Representatives, holding 63% of the seats, and in the House of Councillors, with 58% representation, following their victory in the upper house election shortly after the assassination of former leader Shinzo Abe. However, support for Fumio Kishida's government has sharply declined to below 30% amidst revelations regarding the enduring connections between the LDP and the controversial Unification Church, as well as a succession of forced ministerial departures due to scandal.
The Japanese government is concerned about the intensification of regional security imbalances, especially regarding China’s growing assertiveness: Japan identified the situation around Taiwan as a national security threat, with some representatives of the LDP party explicitly mentioning that a ”major incident” over Taiwan would trigger the deployment of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF). Against the backdrop of escalated geopolitical tensions, Japan’s government has redirected its focus towards enhancing supply-chain resilience and fortifying energy security. Meanwhile, diplomatic relations with South Korea have been improving, with Korean President Yoon proclaiming that South Korea and Japan “share universal values” and pursued common interests.
Main Political Parties
The main political parties in Japan include:

- The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP): centre-right, conservative, nationalist, liberal, populist
- The Democratic Party of Japan (CDP): centre to centre-right, liberal
- Komeito (NK): centre-right, conservative, pacifist, in coalition with the LDP
- Social Democratic Party (SDP): centre-left to left-wing, social-democratic
- Japanese Communist Party (JPC): left-wing to far-left, socialist; more than doubled its representation in the last election
- Japan Innovation Party (Ishin): conservative, right-wing, populist
- Free Education For All (FEFA): centrist, advocates for free education, raising the minimum wage, welfare policies and pacifism
- Okinawa Social Mass Party: local party represented in the parliament, social-democratic
- Democratic Party for the People (DPP): centre to centre-right
- Reiwa Shinsengumi: left-wing, populist and progressive
- NHK Party: populist
- Constitutional Democratic Party: centre-left to left-wing, liberal, pacifist; opposition party
- Japan Restoration Party (JRP): right-wing to far-right, nationalist, populist; third largest force, but is slowly losing representation.
Executive Power
The head of State is the Emperor and the role is largely ceremonial. The leader of the majority party or leader of the majority coalition in the parliament (House of Representatives) is designated as the Prime Minister for a four-year term. The Prime Minister is the Head of the Government and enjoys executive powers, which include implementation of the law and running of day-to-day affairs. The Cabinet is appointed by the Prime Minister.
Legislative Power
The legislature in Japan is bicameral. The parliament, called the National Diet, consists of the House of Councillors (the upper house) and the House of Representatives (the lower house). The House of Councillors contains 248 members, elected through a popular vote for six-year terms, with half of the membership being renewed every three years. The House of Representatives contains 465 members, elected through a popular vote for four-year terms. The Constitution of Japan states that the nation's 'highest organ of state power' is the National Diet. The executive branch of government is directly or indirectly dependent on the support of the National Diet, which is often expressed through a vote of confidence.
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
67/180
 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Free
Political Freedom:
1/7

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

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Latest Update: February 2024