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2 Gonz. J. Int'l L. 1 (1998-1999)

handle is hein.journals/gjil2 and id is 1 raw text is: A Suggested Amendment to the Constitution of Japan to
Strengthen the Office of Prime Minister
By Richard Barron Parker, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., J.D.
Professor of Law, Hiroshima Shudo University, Hiroshima, Japan. Haverford College
(B.A., Philosophy,1962); Brown University (M.A., Philosophy, 1963); University of
Chicago (Ph.D., Philosophy, 1968); Harvard Law School (J.D., 1971). Fulbright Lecturer
in Law, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan (1983-84). Visiting Professor of Law, Osaka
University, Osaka, Japan (1985-87). Appointed to current position in 1990.
The Constitution of Japan (English version). Japan Index
The government of Japan lacks the ability to make quick and firm policy decisions.
Concerned Japanese wish for a strong and effective leader, but the Japanese tradition of
decision making by consensus ensures that the same parliamentary system that works
well in Britain fails to work in Japan. Since the Japanese are unlikely to change their
traditions of decision making by consensus, the solution may be to adjust the
parliamentary system to allow the people to directly elect the Prime Minister of Japan,
thus making the holder of that office the most powerful politician in Japan. In the British
system, it is the office of Prime Minister that is powerful, not the individual who occupies
that office. The British Prime Minister has the authority to make key decisions because of
the power and authority of the office. When Margaret Thatcher or John Major lost the
office of Prime Minister, they automatically lost their ability to influence key decisions.
In the Japanese system, it is individuals who are powerful rather than the office of
Prime Minister. It is not uncommon for a man to be more powerful after he ceases to be
Prime Minister than he was while he was Prime Minister. Shadow shoguns in Japan
dilute the authority and capability of the actual Prime Minister to make the quick and
effective decisions necessary for governing any large modern democracy. Power is so
diffused among powerful politicians and bureaucrats that difficult decisions cannot be
made. When powerful men disagree, there is no commonly accepted procedure for
forcing a decision to be made. As a result, no one person has the authority to speak and
act for Japan.
The purpose of the proposed amendment is to make the holder of the office of Prime
Minister the most powerful politician in Japan. A directly elected Prime Minister could
speak for Japan in a way that no one now can. Such a directly elected Prime Minister
would enable the government to act rapidly and decisively by concentrating the
responsibility for decision making in a single person. The proposed amendment is as

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