Constitution of Japan

(1947)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

In the preamble, which summarizes the intents of the constitution, the authors stress peaceful cooperation with all nations, emphasize that power in the country rests with the people, and reject any earlier constitutions or political documents that conflict with these notions. The word peace occurs five times in the preamble, and the Japanese people pledge their national honor to achieve the high ideals described. The idealistic and ambitious reforms of the Americans are prominent in the constitution, which served to abolish Shintoism as the state religion, extend the vote to women, encourage labor unions, liberalize education, end (at least temporarily) the powerful Zaibatsu conglomerates, and outlaw war. Many Japanese who were not part of the elite class that had held power for generations genuinely welcomed the American reforms. Yet when the Japanese National Diet promulgated the constitution, it did not refer to American...

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The young emperor Hirohito (Library of Congress)

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