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House of Councillors (Japan)

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House of Councillors (Japan)

House of Councillors
Masaaki YamazakiLDP
since 2 August 2013
Azuma KoshiishiDPJ
since 2 August 2013
LDP parliamentary group chairman (Government leader)
Kensei MizoteLDP
since 2013
DPJ parliamentary group chairman (Opposition leader)
Akira GunjiDPJ
since 2013
Seats 242
House of Councillors Japan 2013.svg
Political groups

(as of early 2014)
Government (134):

  LDP (114)
  Kōmeitō (20)

Oppositions (108):

  DPJ/Shinryokufūkai (58)
  YP (13)
  UP (6)
  JCP (11)
  JRP (9)
  Independents (4)
  SDP (3)
  NRP-GI (3)
  PLP (2)
Parallel voting:
Single non-transferable vote (146 seats)
Party-list proportional representation (96 seats)
Staggered elections
Last election
July 21, 2013
Meeting place
Japanese diet inside.jpg
National Diet Building, Tokyo
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

The House of Councillors (参議院 Sangiin) is the upper house of the National Diet of Japan. The House of Representatives is the lower house. The House of Councillors is the successor to the pre-war House of Peers. If the two houses disagree on matters of the budget, treaties, or designation of the prime minister, the House of Representatives can insist on its decision. In other decisions, the House of Representatives can override a vote of the House of Councillors only by a two-thirds majority of members present.

The House of Councillors has 242 members who each serve six-year terms, two years longer than those of the House of Representatives. Councillors must be at least 30 years old, compared with 25 years old in the House of Representatives. The House cannot be dissolved, as only half of its membership is elected at each election. Of the 121 members subject to election each time, 73 are elected from the 47 prefectural districts (by single non-transferable vote) and 48 are elected from a nationwide list by proportional representation with open lists. [1] Up to the 1998 election, there were 252 members, 126 elected at a time: 76 from prefectural districts and 50 elected nationwide. At the 2001 elections these numbers were reduced and the total number was 247 (126 elected in 1998 and 121 elected in 2001) and the open list preference vote was introduced.

See List of members of the Diet of Japan for the list of current members of the House of Councillors.

Current composition

(as of December 5, 2014)[2]
Parliamentary group Councillors
mandate expires total
2016 2019
Liberal Democratic Party (Jiyūminshutō) 49 65 114
  The Democratic Party and The Shin-Ryokufukai (Minshutō・Shin-Ryokufūkai) 41 17 58
Komeito (Kōmeitō) 9 11 20
Japan Innovation Party (Ishin no Tō) 5 6 11
Japanese Communist Party (Nihon Kyōsantō) 3 8 11
Your Party (Minna no Tō) 5 5 10
Party for Future Generations (Jisedai no Tō) 2 5 7
Social Democratic Party (Shakaiminshutō・Goken Rengō) 2 1 3
New Renaissance Party and Group of Independents (Shintō Kaikaku・Mushozoku no Kai)
Breakdown by political party: one NRP member, one independent
1 1 2
People's Life Party (Seikatsu no Tō) 2 0 2
Breakdown by political party: President (LDP), Vice-President (DPJ), one OSMP member, one independent
2 2 4
Total 121 121 242

Latest election

 Summary of the 21 July 2013 Japanese House of Councillors election results[3]
Alliances and parties Prefectural constituency vote National PR vote Not up Total seats +/−
Votes[4] % Seats Votes % Seats Total % (pre-
   Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Jimintō – 自民党 22,681,192 42.7 47 18,460,404 34.7 18 50 115 47.5 Increase31 Increase31
New Komeito Party (NKP) Kōmeitō – 公明党 2,724,447 5.1 4 7,568,080 14.2 7 9 20 8.3 Increase1 Increase1
LDP–NKP Coalition 25,405,639 47.8 51 26,028,484 48.9 25 59 135 55.8 Increase32 Increase32
   Democratic Party (DPJ) Minshutō – 民主党 8,646,371 16.3 10 7,268,653 13.4 7 42 59 24.4 Decrease27 Decrease47
Restoration Party (JRP) Ishin no Kai – 日本維新の会 3,846,649 7.2 2 6,355,299 11.9 6 1 9 3.7 Increase6 New (Increase9)[5]
Communist Party (JCP) Kyōsantō – 共産党 5,645,937 10.6 3 5,154,055 9.7 5 3 11 4.5 Increase5 Increase5
Your Party (YP) Minna no Tō – みんなの党 4,159,961 7.8 4 4,755,160 8.9 4 10 18 7.4 Increase5 Increase7
Social Democratic Party (SDP) Shamintō – 社民党 271,547 0.5 0 1,255,235 2.4 1 2 3 1.2 Decrease1 Decrease1
Others 5,096,372 9.7 1[6] 2,547,160[7] 4.8 0 3 4[8] 1.6 Decrease12[9] Decrease6[10]
Independents 2 1 3 1.2 Decrease3 Increase1
Total opposition parties 27,666,837 52.2 22 27,335,562 51.1 23 62 107 44.2 Decrease27 Decrease32
Totals 53,072,476 100.0 73 52,816,886 100.0 48 121 242 100.0 Increase5* Steady0
Turnout 52.61% 52.61% *(vacant seats)

Historical notes

Article 102 of the Japanese Constitution provided that half of the councillors elected in the first House of Councillors Election (the 1947 election would be up for re-election three years later (the 1950 election) in order to introduce staggered six-year terms.

From 1947 to 1983, the House had 100 seats allocated to a national block (全国区 zenkoku-ku), of which fifty seats were allocated in each election. It was originally intended to give nationally prominent figures a route to the House without going through local electioneering processes. Some national political figures, such as feminists Shidzue Katō and Fusae Ichikawa and former Imperial Army general Kazushige Ugaki, were elected through the block, along with a number of celebrities such as comedian Yukio Aoshima (later Governor of Tokyo), journalist Hideo Den and actress Yūko Mochizuki. Shintaro Ishihara won a record 3 million votes in the national block in the 1968 election. The national block was last seen in the 1980 election and was replaced with proportional representation in the 1983 election.

The House initially had 250 seats Two seats were added to the House in 1971 and 1974 after the repatriation of Okinawa for a total of 252. Ten seats were removed in 2001 with the introduction of an open list for proportional representation seats, bringing the total number of seats to 242.

See also


  1. ^ Hayes 2009, p. 50
  2. ^ House of Councillors: Members Strength of the Political Groups in the House (Japanese version 会派別所属議員数一覧)
  3. ^ Final results. NHK. 17 December 2012.
  4. ^ Decimals from fractional votes (ambunhyō) rounded to full numbers
  5. ^ Increase6 compared to precursor Sunrise Party of Japan
  6. ^ Okinawa Socialist Mass Party
  7. ^ People's Life Party 943,836, New Party Daichi 523,146, Green Party 457,862, Green Wind 430,673, Happiness Realization Party 191,643
  8. ^ People's Life Party, 2, New Renaissance Party 1, Okinawa Socialist Mass Party 1
  9. ^ People's Life Party Decrease6, Okinawa Socialist Mass Party Steady, New Renaissance Party Decrease1, Green Wind Decrease4, New Party Daichi Decrease1, Others Steady
  10. ^ Decrease9 if Sunrise Party of Japan is included


  • Hayes, L. D., 2009. Introduction to Japanese Politics. 5th ed. New York: M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 978-0-7656-2279-2

External links

  • House of Councillors Website (in English)
  • House of Councillors internet TV - Official site (in Japanese)
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