mandag 2. mai 2022

How does Japan’s post-war constitution hold up in an era of increasing great power competition?

2022 marks the 75th anniversary of Japan’s remarkable constitution. It is Japan’s second, preceded by the Meiji Constitution of 1889 that heralded a similar overhaul of Japan’s social and political institutions. Both documents reflected a conscious effort to transform Japan to keep pace with global dynamics. The Meiji Constitution signaled an embrace of modernity by Japanese elites as the industrializing nations of Europe and the United States began to set their sights on Asia’s resources. Under the leadership of the emperor, Japan would compete rather than capitulate to Western imperialism.

The 1947 Constitution was a harbinger of a different Japan. After being defeated in World War II, Japan was occupied by Supreme Commander of Allied Powers General Douglas MacArthur. The aim of the new constitution was deliberate: to democratize and demilitarize Japan.