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Japanese Constitution Lecture (4/15/11)

April 5th, 2011 · No Comments · Events

A free, public lecture on the topic of the current Constitution of Japan will be held at the Michigan Room of the Michigan League, University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor on April 15th starting at 8:30AM.

One of the principal goals of the American Occupation was to craft a pluralistic constitution that would consolidate Japanese democracy in the wake of WWII. Written by US officers in a week, the Constitution incorporated progressive values and new republican institutions that transformed the structure of governance and the nature of state-society relations. After sovereignty was returned in 1952, many observers predicted that the document would be amended to better reflect Japanese priorities. However, the Constitution remains unaltered sixty years later making it one of the oldest un-amended constitutions in existence.

Over the last decade, there has been renewed consideration of constitutional revision. The end of the Cold War and two decades of economic malaise have brought into question the viability of Japanese institutions in the 21st century. Political parties have proposed new drafts, the parliament has begun preliminary deliberations, and public support for reform has been trending upwards. Importantly, these initiatives aim to rewrite the entire document, not just make a few amendments. Given the fundamental role of Constitutions in shaping Japanese politics, society, religion, economy, and law, is revision a good idea? And even if it were, what would be the likelihood and impact of any changes?

This conference brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to examine the historical influence and future prospects of the Japanese Constitution. Has the document survived because its writers crafted provisions that continue to be popular with Japanese citizens? How have interpretative changes by the government and by the courts altered the impact of the Constitution on Japanese society? How does Japan’s constitution compare in its provisions and amendment processes to other democracies? Are there changes that should be made to help Japan prosper in the 21st Century?

Economic, and Political Effects of Japan’s Constitution

John Haley, Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University Law School;
William R. Orthwein,
Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus, Washington University in St. Louis, School of Law
Helen Hardacre
, Reischauer Institute Professor of Japanese Religions and Society, Harvard University
Moderator
: Rieko Kage, 2010-11 Toyota Visiting Professor, CJS; Associate Professor, Political Science, University of Tokyo The Constitution’s Influence on Japan’s Global Relations

The Constitution’s Influence on Japan’s Global Relations

Jun Saito, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Yale University
Richard Samuels
, Ford International Professor of Political Science, MIT
Moderator
: Kiyoteru Tsutsui, Assistant Professor, Sociology, University of Michigan

Constitutional Reform: Will It Happen, and What Will Change?

Kenneth Mori McElwain, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan
Chris Winkler
, Senior Research Fellow, Social Science Section, German Institute for Japanese Studies Tokyo (DIJ)
Moderator
: Mark West, Nippon Life Professor of Law, Associate Dean, Law School, University of Michigan

Co-sponsored by: The International Institute, Institute for Humanities, Rackham Graduate School, the Japanese Legal Studies Program.

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