What is a constitution? From a modern constitutional perspective, which was established through people’s revolutions in Europe, the purpose of a constitution is to “limit the national authority to protect human rights.” In the present day, however, a constitution should both serve as the limiting legislation for a state while at the same time providing the grand design of the state and describing the basic values of the country and society. In the new Constitution, it is necessary to clearly present this basic concept at the beginning.
1. In the Preamble to the Constitution, Clearly Define the Basic Values, such as Democracy, that the People of Japan Hold Dear; the Traditions and Culture Cherished by the Japanese People; and the Ideal Vision of the Nation that the People Aim to Achieve!
In its preamble, the current Constitution of Japan declares, “The people of Japan … by trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving people of the world … preserve our peace and existence.” It is clear, however, that this premise cannot be sustained when considering the actions of North Korea and the radical group ISIL, as well as actions by China demonstrating its intention to forcefully seize the Nansei Shoto Islands. These incidents indicate that basic values that Japanese people respect, such as democracy, liberalism, the rule of law, and basic human rights, have not been achieved in the rest of the world. Japan should lead the world in achieving these basic values by taking advantage of the democracy that it has cultivated over the 70 years since the end of World War II.
The preamble of the current Constitution does not include any description regarding Japanese history and culture. This is understandable when considering the process of developing the Constitution. In the new Constitution, the history and tradition that have been cherished by the Japanese people should be described in the preamble, as in other countries.
At the end of the preamble, the ideal vision of the nation and society that Japan aims to achieve should be clearly described: a vibrant nation that undergoes constant change in line with market principles (which I have previously explained); people who are actively involved in the international community and participate in efforts to address various global issues; a country that emphasizes education and leads the world in science and technology as well as cultural aspects; and an actor that actively contributes to peace and prosperity in the world.
2. Clarify the Position of the Emperor as the Head of State!
The constitutions of many monarchies around the world stipulate that the king is the head of state. In Japan, the Constitution stipulates that the Emperor of Japan is a symbol of both the state and the unity of the people, but includes no provision mentioning the head of state. There are very few nations in the world without a head of state. If the Constitution clearly stipulates that the emperor is the head of Japan, it will clarify the position of the emperor, the symbolic monarch, as the head of state and that of the prime minister as the political head of state. It will also clarify the position of Japan in terms of diplomacy.
3. Define the Duties of the Emperor!
The Constitution of Japan provides a limited list of the duties of the emperor. Due to this, some say that other than these functions listed in the Constitution, the emperor is only allowed to engage in his own personal affairs. However, the emperor is actually engaged in many public functions other than the constitutional functions, such as exchange of personal letters with foreign heads of state, official visits, reception of state guests, attendance at national events such as national athletic meets, and, moreover, making solidarity visits following the Great East Japan Earthquake. All of these functions contribute to the national interests of Japan.
The Imperial system, which has been maintained without interruption since the beginning of Japan’s history, is precisely the culture and tradition that Japan is proud of. In particular, the significance of the existence of the emperor is extremely important in diplomatic relations and gives Japan strength. When he met the emperor, President Obama spontaneously bowed to him. This reflects the power of Japanese history and tradition embodied by the emperor. I have of course no intention to say that the emperor should be invested with political authority. In order to avoid allowing the duties of the emperor to expand without limit, it is necessary to reconsider constitutional functions to be stipulated in the Constitution: “Reception and hosting of the heads of foreign countries and diplomatically important persons” should be added to the constitutional functions and the emperor’s public functions should be clearly defined in the Constitution.