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Japan Constitution Day

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Constitution Day (KenpoKinenbi – 憲法記念日) is the second of 4 national holidays, which takes place annually on May 3rd and is part of Golden Week, which came into effect on May 3rd, 1947, during post-war, replacing the old Meiji Era statute of 1889.

It is considered an important day for Japanese citizens to reflect on the meaning of Japanese laws, democracy and the Japanese government.

The Constitution of Japan (Nihon-Koku Kenpo) has been the basic law of the Japanese nation since May 3, 1947. It guarantees a parliamentary system of Government and fundamental rights. Under this Constitution, the Emperor is the symbol of the State and the union of the people, but exercises purely ceremonial power.

Constitution Day serves to remember the events and changes that began on September 2, 1945, after the Signing of the Surrender Agreement by then Emperor Hirohito (Emperor Showa), which ended World War II. This agreement left the country under the control of the Allied Forces, until, in 1952, the final Peace Treaty was signed.

Before the signing of the surrender agreement at the end of World War II, it was the Emperor of Japan (then Emperor Hirohito) who had supreme control over the country and government. And it was in the Imperial family home, that is, in the Imperial Palace, that all major national and international decisions were made, including the initial decision to take the country to war.

However, for the Japanese, the objective on this day is to remember and celebrate the establishment of democracy, as well as to reaffirm patriotism and, above all, to share awareness of the horrors resulting from wars.

The Japanese people are the only people in the world who witnessed the mass destruction resulting from atomic bombs. The cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the targets, where hundreds of thousands of people died as a direct and indirect result of the atomic bombing, carried out by the United States on August 6 and 9, 1945, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively.

  • Main Changes in the New Constitution

The main change is in Article 9, where the law prohibits Japan’s participation in any type of military activity, except in cases of self-defense. With this, Japan adopted a peaceful policy and gained admiration from the world, contrasting with the view of many of it being an aggressive, cold and warmongering nation.

Perhaps because it underestimated the enemy and witnessed the mass destruction and hundreds of thousands of deaths resulting from nuclear bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan learned through pain and suffering that no war is worth it and that it can cause losses and wounds difficult to heal.

The meaning of Article 9 is far beyond words written in an official document. It means renouncing the war and bringing back to the Japanese people the power to decide what is best for the nation. With this new turn, which ended up changing the direction of the government, the beginning of a new era in Japan was defined.

It’s no wonder that Article 9 is the biggest reason they made Kenpoukinenbi, a national holiday throughout the country, in which Japanese citizens can be proud of their New Constitution, promote patriotism and share their story of overcoming and hope of better days and peace.

  • Other changes granted in the New Constitution

The emperor will no longer exercise any governmental power and his position will be purely symbolic. This means that from the New Constitution onwards, sovereign power belongs to the people.

Division of governmental power: Judicial, legislative and executive branches.

It is forbidden to lead a war or train an army.

National HolidayMay 3rd, Constitution Day.

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