Japan's Government and History

Japan has a long and treasured history stretching back to 14 BC where the first signs of the Jomon civilization are first found. Japan has one of the longest lines of emperors in the world with documents showing that the imperial family may date back to Emperor Ojin during the 3 rd or 4 th century. Emperor Ojin is supposed to be the 16 th Emperor in the line of succession, but data is fairly scarce so mentions of previous emperors are presumed to be from legends.

Japan 's government has gone through many changes over the years, but ever since the feudal era gave rise to military warlords called shogun, and powerful landholding families called daimyo in the 12 th century, the imperial family has held a mostly symbolic office and has been historically affected by outside political forces.

The current government of Japan is divided into the legislative, executive and judicial branches. The legislative branch is called the National Diet of Japan and consists of two houses; the House of Representatives of Japan, and the House of Councilors, with both houses being directly elected under a parallel voting system. The House of Representatives is the more important of the two houses as it performs the function of tabling and passing bills, and has a number of powers the House of Councilors does not. If a bill is passed in the House of Representatives, but is subsequently voted down by the House of Councilors, the Representatives may choose to override the Councilors decision. As it concerns the national budget, treaties or the selection of the Prime Minister, the House of Councilors may only delay, but not block the legislation.

The executive branch of the government is headed by the country's Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is selected by the Diet, and reports to it. The prerequisites for selecting a Prime Minister are that they must be a member of either house of the Diet, and that he is a civilian. The Prime Minister organizes his own Cabinet which can be up to 14 other members called Ministers of State, all of which must be civilians. Japan 's Constitution dictates that the majority of the Cabinet must be from either house of the Diet, but leaves the door open to appointing un-elected cabinet members.

The judicial branch of Japan is independent from the other two branches. Japanese courts are divided into four areas, namely: Summary Courts handle small civil cases; District Courts deal with most felony cases and civil cases with large monetary disputes; High Courts are generally a three judge panel but may sit five judges in some cases; the Supreme Court has a Grand Bench which is divided into three groups (Petty Benches) of five judges each which hear appeals and recommend them for hearing at the Grand Bench. Except in the case of the Supreme Court, judges in Japan cannot be removed from the bench unless judicially proven mentally or physically incapable of carrying out their duties

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