Japanese Language Blog

Constitution Day Posted by on May 2, 2009 in Uncategorized

May 3rd is Kenpoo Kinenbi (憲法記念日) or Constitution Day in Japan. Kenpoo Kinenbi (憲法記念日) honors the 1947 Constitution of Japan. The Constitution of Japan is a legal document that guarantees certain fundamental rights to the Japanese people. The Constitution is called the Peace Constitution or Heiwa Kenpoo (平和憲法). It’s a constitution set up after WWII and it enabled Japan to move into a democratic form of government.

There are a total of 11 articles in the constitution. The three most important articles (in my opinion) are the first three. The first article states that the emperor of Japan is only a figure head and cannot be worshipped as a god. Although it’s true that the Japanese royal family has no official governing power, they are still respected as royalty and while perhaps not worshipped, they certaintly are given a lot of respect.

The second article has to do with the disarmament of weapons and the promise to never engage in war. This is also another controversial article because Japan has participated in several wars, namely the Korean war, the Iraq war and others. Of course Japan has never declared war on any nation since the 1947 constitution, but it hasn’t exactly been neutral, if you know what I mean. Just because Japan’s involvement in these wars are minor doesn’t really ignore the fact that they are technically going against the constitution. The general consensus among the people of Japan is anti-war in any form so there’s that complication as well.

Lastly the third article lists the rights of every citizen in Japan. Things like the prohibition of slavery, right to fair trial, freedom of speech etc, are all in there. It’s a lot similar to the U.S. Bill of Rights and that shouldn’t be a surprise. The Constitution was influenced by the U.S., as they were the victors of the war.

In sum, Kenpoo Kinenbi (憲法記念日) is a day to reflect on Japan’s progress towards a democratic nation. It’s also a day when people take tours around the National Diet Building. The National Diet Building is called kokkai gijidoo (国会議事堂) and located in Tokyo. It’s a stunning building. I recommend you go see it!

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  1. Sarah:

    This is a really interesting post! What is the National Diet Building used for, and why do people visit it on Kenpoo Kinebi?

  2. Ginny:


    I would say the National Diet Building is kind of like the Congress Building in Washington D.C. Leaders of the Japanese government use that building to debate bills, vote on leaders and other stuff like that. People visit the National Diet Building because it’s the only day out of the entire year that it’s open to the public. It’s also architecturally stunning.