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JAPAN
Shugiin (House of Representatives)

This page contains the full text of the PARLINE database entry on the selected parliamentary chamber, with the exception of Oversight and Specialized bodies modules which, because of their excessive length, can be only viewed and printed separately.

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GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE PARLIAMENTARY CHAMBER

Parliament name (generic / translated) Kokkai / National Diet
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Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name (generic / translated) Shugiin / House of Representatives
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Sangiin / House of Councillors
Affiliation to the IPU Yes
Affiliation date(s) 1908 - 1939
1952 -
LEADERSHIP
President Tadamori Oshima (M) 
Notes Elected on 21 April 2015.
Secretary General Shinji Muko-ono (M) 
Notes Appointed on 20 June 2014.
COMPOSITION
Members (statutory / current number) 475 / 475
PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN


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Women (current number) 45 (9.47%)
Mode of designation directly elected 475
Term 4 years
Last renewal dates 14 December 2014
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CONTACT INFORMATION
Address Shugiin (House of Representatives)
7 - 1 Nagatacho 1, Chiyodaku
100-8960 TOKYO
(Export mailing lists)
Phone (81 3) 3581 5111
Fax (81 3) 3581 2900
E-mail JpnDiet@shugiinjk.go.jp
Website
http://www.shugiin.go.jp

ELECTORAL SYSTEM

Parliament name (generic / translated) Kokkai / National Diet
Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name (generic / translated) Shugiin / House of Representatives
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Sangiin / House of Councillors
LEGAL FRAMEWORK
Electoral law 15 April 1950
Last amendment: 19 June 2015
Mode of designation directly elected 475
Constituencies - 295 single-member constituencies (majority system)
- 11 multi-member (6 to 29 seats) constituencies (proportional representation system)

*In accordance with the amendments to the Electoral law adopted by the House of Representatives on 25 June 2013, which came into effect on 28 July 2013, the number of single-member constituencies was reduced from 300 to 295.
Voting system Mixed: Mixed system:
- simple majority vote in 295 single-member constituencies
- party list under the proportional representation system using the d'Hondt method for the remaining 180 seats, with allocation of seats based on the parties' share of the national vote in the 11 large districts.
Candidates may run in both the single-seat constituencies and the proportional representation poll. However, these so called "duplicate" candidates are only allowed to run for the proportional representation block in which their single- seat constituency is located.
Each party's proportional representation list includes candidates who take part in the proportional representation poll alone, adding up to the set number of seats for each bloc plus duplicate candidates from single-seat constituencies.
Candidates running in single-seat constituencies must obtain at least one-sixth of all valid votes to obtain a seat.
Vacancies for members elected under the proportional representation system are filled by the "next-in-line" candidate of the same party, regardless of the number of votes obtained. However, in the case of duplicate candidates, the number of votes obtained must be higher than the statutory number of votes, i.e. one-tenth of all valid votes.
By-elections are held if seats occupied by members elected from single-seat-constituencies become vacant. They are held twice a year, in April and October.
Voting is not compulsory.
Voter requirements - age: 18 years*
- Japanese citizenship
- domicile registered in a constituency for at least three months
Japanese nationals living abroad, who fulfil the following conditions and are registered on the electoral commission's overseas voters' list of the final place of residence in Japan can vote in general and parliamentary elections:
- Persons who have notified their town hall of a change in their location and of final residence in Japan;
- Persons who have been registered at the Japanese Embassy/Consulate as a Japanese citizen living abroad for at least three months (or those who can prove their residence over the past three months).

*On 4 and 17 June 2015 respectively, the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors adopted a bill to amend the Public Offices Election Act, which includes a provision to lower the voting age from 20 to 18 years old. The Act was promulgated by the Cabinet on 19 June 2015 and will be applied to national elections the start of whose campaign period is announced one year after that date (i.e., any election with a campaign period announced after 20 June 2016 and whose polling day falls after 7 July 2016).

Disqualifications:
The following persons are disqualified from voting:
- Persons recognized as a ward of the court by a family court;
- Persons sentenced to imprisonment or a more severe form of punishment and who have not completed their sentences;
- Persons sentenced to imprisonment or a more severe form of punishment and to whom the sentence still applies (excluding persons for whom execution of the sentence is suspended);
- Persons sentenced to imprisonment or to a more severe form of punishment for an electoral offence, and who are given suspended sentences;
- Persons who, during their tenure as public office-holders, were convicted of bribery. This disqualification is valid during the term of the sentence and for five years thereafter;
- Persons who have committed an election-related offence provided for in the Public Offices Election Act;
- Persons who have committed an offence provided for in the Public Funds Control Act.
CANDIDATES
Eligibility - Qualified electors
- age: 25 years
- Japanese citizenship
Ineligibilities: Persons who, during their tenure as public office-holders, have been convicted of bribery. This disqualification is valid during the term of the sentence and for five years thereafter.
Incompatibilities - official post in Government or local public entity
- officer or staff of public corporation
- a member may, during his term of office, be appointed as a member of a commission, adviser, counsellor or hold any other function of a similar nature in any executive branch of the Cabinet, based on a concurrent decision of both Houses
Candidacy requirements - deposit of 3 million yen in single-seat constituencies, forfeited if the total number of votes obtained is less than 10 per cent of the total number of valid votes.
- deposit of 6 million yen for each candidate on the list of a political party, or 3 million yen if that candidate is also running for a single-seat constituency, forfeited according to the formula given below.
Amount to be forfeited = deposited amount - (3 million yen × A + 6 million yen × B × 2)
Note:
(a) A is the number of candidates who run for office in both a single-seat constituency and under the proportional representation system, and who are elected in the single-seat constituency;
(b) B is the number of candidates elected by proportional representation.

LAST ELECTIONS

Parliament name (generic / translated) Kokkai / National Diet
Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name (generic / translated) Shugiin / House of Representatives
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Sangiin / House of Councillors
BACKGROUND
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 14 December 2014
Timing and scope of renewal Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition - comprising his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito - retained its two-thirds majority in the early elections, taking a total of 325 seats in the 475-member House of Representatives (see note). The major opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), increased its share from 54 to 73 seats although its leader, Mr. Banri Kaieda, was not re-elected. Nippon Ishin no To (Japan Restoration Party, JRP), led by the Mayor of Osaka City, Mr. Toru Hashimoto, remained the third largest force, but reduced its share from 54 to 41 seats. The Japanese Communist Party (JCP) increased its share from eight to 21.

The 2014 snap elections were called by the Prime Minister to seek support for his economic policies. After an increase in the consumption tax in April from 5 to 8 per cent, GDP contracted sharply between July and September, and the Japanese economy entered into a recession. In late November, the Prime Minister announced that he would postpone a further increase in the consumption tax to 10 percent, initially planned for October 2015. Both the LDP and Komeito, led by Mr. Natsuo Yamaguchi, pledged to increase the consumption tax to 10 per cent in April 2017. Prime Minister Abe insisted that his economic policies, known as "Abenomics" (a combination of monetary easing, fiscal stimulus, and growth-oriented strategies) were "the only way" for Japan to overcome a two decades of deflation. The DPJ pledged "Farewell to Abenomics", promising to take measures against the over-depreciation of the yen. The JRP vowed to stop the planned raise in the consumption tax, promising to cover the shortfall in revenue through administrative reform. The JCP also pledged to halt the consumption tax increase, promising to increase the tax rate for the rich and big companies.

Note:
In accordance with the amendments to the Electoral law which came into effect in July 2013, the statutory number of members was reduced from 480 to 475.
Date of previous elections: 16 December 2012

Date of dissolution of the outgoing legislature: 21 November 2014

Timing of election: Early elections

Expected date of next elections: December 2018

Number of seats at stake: 475 (full renewal)

Number of candidates: 1,191 (993 men, 198 women)*
*The total number of candidates excluding double-candidacy (candidates who ran under both the majority and proportional representation systems)

Percentage of women candidates: 16.6%

Number of parties contesting the election: 10

Number of parties winning seats: 8

Alternation of power: No

Number of parties in government: 2

Names of parties in government: Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito

Date of the first session of the new parliament: 24 December 2014

Name of the new Speaker: Mr. Nobutaka Machimura (Liberal Democratic Party)
STATISTICS
Voter turnout
Round no 114 December 2014
Number of registered electors
Voters
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
103'962'785
54'735'787 (52.65%)

Notes Statistics above refer to PR system.
Distribution of votes
Round no 1
Political group Candidates Votes % of votes
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)
Nippon Ishin no To (Japan Restoration Party)
Komeito
Japanese Communist Party (JCP)
Independents
Social Democratic Party (SDPJ)
Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations)
Seikatsu no To (People's Life Party)
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total of seats Majority Proportional
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 290 222 68
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) 73 38 35
Nippon Ishin no To (Japan Restoration Party) 41 11 30
Komeito 35 9 26
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 21 1 20
Independents 9 9 0
Social Democratic Party (SDPJ) 2 1 1
Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations) 2 2 0
Seikatsu no To (People's Life Party) 2 2 0
Distribution of seats according to sex
Men

Women

Percent of women
430

45

9.47%
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
Comments
Sources:
House of Representatives (16.12.2014)
http://www.soumu.go.jp/senkyo/47sansokuhou/index.html

Note: One independent candidate-elect joined the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) after the elections, bringing the LDP’s tally to 291 seats.

PRESIDENCY OF THE PARLIAMENTARY CHAMBER

Parliament name (generic / translated) Kokkai / National Diet
Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name (generic / translated) Shugiin / House of Representatives
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Sangiin / House of Councillors
APPOINTMENT AND TERM OF OFFICE
Title Speaker of the House of Representatives
Term - duration: 4 years (term of House)
- reasons for interruption of the term: resignation, death, dissolution of the House
Appointment - Elected by all members of the House
- The election is held at the first sitting of the new legislature
- after members' mandates have been validated
Eligibility - any Member may be a candidate
Voting system - formal vote by secret ballot
- an absolute majority is required; if no candidate obtains a majority in the first round, a second round is held between the two candidates who obtained the largest number of votes; in case of a tie, lots are drawn
Procedures / results - the Deputy Speaker or, in his or her absence, the Secretary General, presides over the Assembly during the voting
- the Deputy Speaker or, in his or her absence, the Secretary General, supervises the voting
- the Deputy Speaker or, in his or her absence, the Secretary General announces the results without any delay
- the results cannot be challenged
STATUS
Status - ranks on a par with the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
- has precedence over the President of the House of Councillors
- represents the House with the public authorities
- represents the House in international bodies
- in the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker can assume his/her role and functions, in the absence of the latter, he/she is replaced by an interim Speaker elected by the House
Board
Material facilities - same salary as the Prime Minister
+ expense allowance
- official residence
- official car
- secretariat
- bodyguards
FUNCTIONS
Organization of parliamentary business - convenes sessions
- establishes the agenda
- organizes the debates and sets speaking time
- examines the admissibility of bills and amendments
- refers texts to a committee for study
Chairing of public sittings - can open, adjourn and close sittings
- ensures respect for provisions of the Constitution and Standing Orders
- makes announcements concerning the House
- establishes the list of speakers, gives and withdraws permission to speak
- establishes the order in which amendments are taken up and selects which amendments are to be debated
- may only call for a vote if at least one-fifth of the Members are present, verifies the voting procedure and cancels a vote in the event of irregularities
- checks the quorum
- authenticates the texts adopted and the records of debates
- interprets the rules or other regulations governing the life of the House basing itself on precedents
Special powers - compiles annual estimates on revenues and expenditures of the House and presents the estimates to the Minister of Finance
- gives his/her agreement for the recruitment or dismissal of staff
- oversees the Clerk
- supervises the services of the House
- is responsible for relations with foreign Parliaments
- is responsible for safety and, in this capacity, can call the police in the event of disturbance in the House
Speaking and voting rights, other functions - may take the floor in legislative debates by leaving the podium
- intervenes in the parliamentary oversight procedure when members submit written questions to the Cabinet
- guarantees the proper enactment of laws

PARLIAMENTARY MANDATE

Parliament name (generic / translated) Kokkai / National Diet
Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name (generic / translated) Shugiin / House of Representatives
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Sangiin / House of Councillors
NATURE
Nature of the mandate · Free representation
Start of the mandate · From the day of the election, or, if the term of office of Members of the House of Representatives has not yet expired, from the day following the date of expiration of the said term of office (Art. 102 and 256 of the Public Offices Election Law)
Validation of mandates
End of the mandate · On the day when the legal term of the House ends - or on the day of early dissolution (Art. 45 of the Constitution of 03.11.1946; for dissolution, see Art. 54 of the Constitution)
Can MPs resign? Yes ·(See Art. 107 of the Diet Law). Reasons: running for election as a prefectural governor, or municipal mayor, or for other special reasons (item 88 of the Collection of Precedents of the House of Representatives)
· Procedure (Art. 186 to 188 of the Rules of the House of Representatives)
· Authority competent to accept the resignation: the House, or, while the Diet is out of session, the Presiding Officer of the House
Can MPs lose their mandate ? Yes (a) Definitive exclusion from Parliament by the latter:
- Disputes related to qualifications (Art. 55 of the Constitution, Art. 111 to 113 of the Diet Law, Art. 189 to 199 of the Rules of the House of Representatives)
- Disciplinary measure (Art. 58 (2) of the Constitution, Art. 122 (4) and 123 of the Diet Law, Art. 245 and 246 of the Rules of the House of Representatives; see Discipline)
(b) Loss of mandate by judicial decision:
- Loss of legal eligibility for election (Art. 109 of the Diet Law; causes of ineligibility)
(c) Loss of mandate for incompatibilities (Art. 48 of the Constitution, Art. 108 of the Diet Law, Art. 90 of the Public Offices Election Law)
STATUS OF MEMBERS
Rank in hierarchy
Indemnities, facilities and services · Official passport· Basic salary:in accordance with function
+ Additional allowance: in accordance with function
+ Allowance for Diet Expenses (President, Vice-President, Chairmen of Standing, Special, and Research Committees): Yen 6,000 per day during sessions
· No exemption from tax, except for the postal and telephone services allowance
· Pension scheme (Art. 36 of the Diet Law, Law on Diet Members Mutual Aid Pension)
· Other facilities:
(a) Secretariat (Art. 132-II of the Diet Law)
(b) Assistants (Art. 26, 43, 131 and 132 of the Diet Law)
(c) Official housing
(d) Official car
(e) Postal and telephone services (Art. 38 of the Diet Law, Art. 9 of the Law Concerning Salaries, Transport Allowances, and Other Expenses of Diet Members)
(f) Travel and transport (Art. 8 and 10 of the Law Concerning Salaries, Transport Allowances, and Other Expenses of Diet Members)
(g) Others: National Diet Library (Art. 130 of the Diet Law)
Obligation to declare personal assets Yes
Parliamentary immunity - parliamentary non-accountability · The concept does exist (Art. 51 of the Constitution).
· Parliamentary non-accountability is limited to words spoken or written by MPs and votes cast within Parliament.
· Derogations: insulting language or remarks on another person's private affairs (Art. 119 and 120 of the Diet Law, Art. 216 of the Rules of the House of Representatives), offensive remarks (Art. 116 of the Diet Law, Art. 216 and 238 of the Rules of the House of Representatives) (for both, see Discipline)
· Non-accountability takes effect on the day when the mandate begins and offers, after the expiry of the mandate, protection against prosecution for opinions expressed during the exercise of the mandate.
Parliamentary immunity - parliamentary inviolability · The concept does exist (Art. 50 of the Constitution, Art. 33 of the Diet Law).· It applies only to criminal proceedings, covers all offences but protects MPs only from arrest and from being held in preventive custody. It does not protect MPs from the opening of judicial proceedings against them and from their homes being searched.
· Derogations: in cases of flagrante delicto, the consent of the House is not necessary (Art. 33 of the Diet Law)
· Parliamentary inviolability does prevent MPs from being called as witnesses before a judge or tribunal (Art. 191 of the Code of Civil Procedure, Art. 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure).
· Protection is provided only during sessions. Since it does not cover judicial proceedings in general, it does not cover judicial proceedings instituted against MPs before their election. However, any Member arrested before the opening of a session shall be freed during the term of the session at the request of the House (Art. 50 of the Constitution).
· Parliamentary immunity (inviolability) can be lifted (Art. 33 of the Diet Law):
- Competent authority: the House of Representatives
- Procedure (Art. 34 of the Diet Law, item 95 of the Collection of the Precedents of the House of Representatives). In this case, MPs do not have to be heard. They do not have means of appeal.
· Parliament cannot subject the prosecution and/or detention to certain conditions (item 97 of the Collection of Precedents of the House of Representatives, Decision of the Tokyo District Court of 6 March 1954)
· Parliament can suspend the detention of one of its members (Art. 50 of the Constitution; see also Authorisation to attend sittings of Parliament):
- Competent authority: the House
- Procedure (Art. 50 of the Constitution, Art. 34-II and 34-III of the Diet Law)
· In the event of preventive custody or imprisonment, the MPs concerned can be authorised to attend sittings of Parliament (Art. 50 of the Constitution; see also Suspension of the detention of one of the Members of Parliament)
- Competent authority: the House
- Procedure (Art. 50 of the Constitution, Art. 34-II and 34-III of the Diet Law)
EXERCISE OF THE MANDATE
Training · Handbooks of parliamentary procedure:
- Collection of the Precedents of the House of Representatives
- Collection of the Precedents of Committees of the House of Representatives
- Compendium of the House of Representatives
Participation in the work of the Parliament · It is compulsory for MPs to be present at plenary sittings and committee meetings (Art. 124 of the Diet Law; see also Art. 181 to 185 of the Rules of the House of Representatives).
· Penalties foreseen in case of failure to fulfil this obligation: writ of summons, disciplinary measures
Discipline · The rules governing discipline within Parliament are contained in Art. 58 (2) of the Constitution, Art. 68, 116, 117, and 119 to 124 of the Diet Law, and Art. 216, 220, and 233 to 247 of the Rules of the House of Representatives.
· Disciplinary measures foreseen:
- Warning (Art. 116 of the Diet Law)
- Restraint (Art. 116 of the Diet Law)
- Retraction (Art. 116 of the Diet Law)
- Prohibition to speak (Art. 116 of the Diet Law)
- Order to withdraw (Art. 116 of the Diet Law, Art. 233 of the Rules of the House of Representatives)
- Recess or close of the sitting (Art. 233 of the Rules of the House of Representatives)
- Admonition in an open plenary sitting (Art. 122 (1) of the Diet Law)
- Apology in an open plenary sitting (Art. 122 (2) of the Diet Law)
- Suspension of attendance at the House for a certain period (Art. 122 (3) of the Diet Law)
- Expulsion (Art. 58 (2) of the Constitution, Art. 122 (4) and 123 of the Diet Law, Art. 245 and 246 of the Rules of the House of Representatives)
· Specific cases:
- Insulting language or remarks on another person's private affairs (Art. 119 and 120 of the Diet Law, and Art. 216 of the Rules of the House of Representatives): admonition in an open plenary sitting, apology in an open plenary sitting, suspension of attendance at the House for a certain period, expulsion
- Offensive remarks (Art. 116 of the Diet Law, Art. 216, and 238 of the Rules of the House of Representatives): warning, restraint, retraction, prohibition to speak, order to withdraw/admonition in an open plenary sitting, apology in an open plenary sitting, suspension of attendance at the House for a certain period, expulsion
- Disturbance in the Chamber (Art. 117 of the Diet Law): temporary suspension or adjournment of the sitting
- Failure to be present at plenary sittings or committee meetings (Art. 124 of the Diet Law): writ of summons, admonition in an open plenary sitting, apology in an open plenary sitting, suspension of attendance at the House for a certain period, expulsion
· Competent body to judge such cases/to apply penalties (see also Art. 220 of the Rules of the House of Representatives):
- Warning, restraint, retraction, prohibition to speak, order to withdraw, recess or close of the sitting, offensive remarks, disturbance in the Chamber: the Presiding Officer
- Admonition in an open plenary sitting, apology in an open plenary sitting, suspension of attendance at the House for a certain period, expulsion, insulting language or remarks on another person's private affairs, offensive remarks: the House, on the proposal of the Committee on Discipline
- Failure to be present at plenary sittings or committee meetings: the Presiding Officer; the House, on the proposal of the Committee on Discipline
· Procedure:
- General (Art. 58 (2) of the Constitution, Art. 68, 121, 121-II and 121-III of the Diet Law, Art. 234 to 240, and 247 of the Rules of the House of Representatives)
- Warning, restraint, retraction, prohibition to speak, order to withdraw, recess or close of the sitting, offensive remarks (Art. 116 of the Diet Law, Art. 233 and 238 of the Rules of the House of Representatives)
- Apology in an open plenary sitting (Art. 241 of the Rules of the House of Representatives)
- Suspension of attendance at the House for a certain period (Art. 242 to 244 of the Rules of the House of Representatives)
- Expulsion (Art. 58 (2) of the Constitution, Art. 123 of the Diet Law, Art. 245 and 246 of the Rules of the House of Representatives)
- Insulting language or remarks on another person's private affairs (Art. 119 and 120 of the Diet Law)
- Disturbance in the Chamber (Art. 117 of the Diet Law)
- Failure to be present at plenary sittings or committee meetings (Art. 124 of the Diet Law)
Code (rules) of conduct · This concept does exist in the country's juridical system (Art. 124-II to 124 IV of the Diet Law, Principles of Political Ethics, Standards of Conduct, Detailed Rules for Application of the Standards of Conduct, Regulations of the Deliberative Council on Political Ethics of the House of Representatives.
· Penalties foreseen for violation of the code of conduct (Art. 3 of the Regulations of the Deliberative Council on Political Ethics of the House of Representatives):
- admonition to abide by the Standards of Conduct
- admonition to refrain from presenting himself at the House for a certain period
- admonition to resign from the post of an Officer of the House or the Chairmanship of a Special Committee of the House
· Competent body to judge such cases/to impose penalties: the Deliberative Council on Political Ethics
· Procedure (Art. 1 to 5, 15, 17 to 24 of the Regulations of the Deliberative Council on Political Ethics of the House of Representatives).
Relations between MPs and pressure group · There are no legal provisions in this field.

This page was last updated on 30 June 2015
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