Commentary of Minister of State Tokujiro Kanamori on the Constitution

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Commentary of Minister of State Tokujiro Kanamori on the Constitution, October 1946  (1946) 
by Tokujirō Kanamori

While under US occupation of the Imperial Japan, the member of the government discussed constitutional revision, supervised by American ambassador George Atcheson Jr. and the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers since 1945, and this commentary was submitted to the Allied Powers from Kanamori. After months, Constitution of Japan was established in 1947.

Three fundamental principle: stated in preamble. The preamble clarifies the three fundamental principles on which all provisions of the Constitution are based. The first is the statement that sovereignty lies in the people's hands, clarifying the right the people have in deciding upon a constitution. This is the most fundamental principle. The second is the statement that the Japanese earnestly desire a permanent peace. The third in the affirmation that rules of political morals unmistakably exist in international relations. In short, they can he summed up as follows: (1) democracy; (2) pacifism; (3) international political morality.

National polity should be criterion for national unity. In order to define the concept of national polity we muet first consider what it is as interpreted in the people's minds. Secondly, a national polity should be the criterion for a nation's permanent unity. From these two points, it is proper to say that what should be called national polity in Japan lies mainly in the proposition that the people are united, with the Emperor as nucleus, and the State is formed on this basis. It is not pertinent from a broader point of view to define national polity as something in which there exists someone who wields supreme national power.

Because the concept of national polity is not very clearly defined and its interpretation can vary in several ways, I have no intention of forcing my view arbitrarily upon others. I believe, however, that my view is perfectly fitting with national comnon sense and it would result in making the people recognize national solidarity in spite of themselves. Certainly, there were some lawyers who placed the concept of national polity in the Emperor as possessor of the Supreme power. However, such a definition is of secondary character, resulting from undue concern of some lawyers in the Meiji Era over the need for merely stipulating temporary provisions. If the recent revision of the Constitution should be regarded from this point of view, it would seem that national polity has entirely changed. But, contradictorily, one cannot fail to realize that national unity remains unchanged regardless of the change in national polity.

Popular sovereignty should be considered a change in recognition of the people. Inadvertently speaking, the idea of popular sovereignty is not an entirely new one. The fundamental will of the nation was heretofore decided upon along this line an seen in history. Sovereignty should he coneidered the very source of national will. However, in the past we failed to realize this fact because of too much emphasis on mysterious mythe regarding the origin of our country. Now this veil has been lifted and actualities have been made clear. It should he considered, therefore, that popular sovereignty is no more than a change in the recognition of the people.

Position or Emperor in syetem in which veil of mysticism has been lifted. Heretofore, the Emperor was consdered as having the ability to function as the very source or national will and, in consequence, certain mysterious characteristics were attached to his position. However, the fact that the Emperor has such a mysterious character is impossible. The source of national will should lie within the entire populace. Therefore, the new Constitution stipulates that the position of the Emperor is based on the general will of the Japanese people. Thus a drastic change has been made in the people's recognition of the position of the Emperor. The change in itself is not essential but its effects are important. A definite change in such spiritual matters is virtually an essential one. However, a calm examination of the matter should show that no essential change has been made except for the clarification, along national lines, of the heretofore vague conception of the position of the Emperor. It is from thie point of view that I maintain that the Emperor is a symbol of Japan, instead of the source of our national will.

Symbolic posiition of Emperor in accord with hie intrinsic character. The position or the Emperor as a national symbol should be interpreted to mean that the Emperor has a legal position through which any one of the people can conceive of Japan as a nation in thinking of him. In addition, it is stipulated in the new Constitution that the Emperor is the symbol of national unity. The reason the words ‘national unity‘ are introduced in it should be to correct the past evil that individuals, who ultimately form a nation, were all too rarely recognized because or too much importance attached to the nation at a whole. The nation clearly stipulated as being a gathering of individuals, I do not believe-that the Emperor's position as a symbol of the nation is without foundation because, fundamentally, he has an intrinsic character as a national symbol.

The idea that Japan, an a body of the Japaneee people, may be conceived more clearly in thinking of the Emperor, should be based on the fact that he constitutes the center or national adoration. True, emblems and the national flag are also symbols. Howeever, the difference in significance between the symbol, essential to the Emperor's position, and such artifically attached ones should be clearly realized.


This work is in the public domain because, according to Article 13 of the Copyright Act of Japan, this work is not eligible for copyright. The provisions of Article 13 shall not grant copyright to a work falling under any of the following categories:

  1. the Constitution and other laws and regulations;
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  3. judgments, decisions, orders and decrees of courts, as well as rulings and judgments made by government agencies in proceedings of a quasi-judicial nature;
  4. translations and compilations prepared by organs of the State or local public entities, incorporated administrative agencies or local incorporated administrative agencies of [any of] the materials listed in the preceding three items.