2 minute read

Constitutionalism

Japanese Conceptions

The Japanese reception of Western constitutionalism, following the collapse of the Tokugawa Shogunal regime (1603–1867), was motivated by the diplomatic and military needs of national independence. The strengthening of the military needed to be augmented by "the concord of the People's mind (jinwa or jinmin kyôwa)," which could be achieved through the introduction of Western constitutional government. One of the pressing tasks in domestic politics was to settle the conflict between powers by entrusting supreme authority to parliament. Hence, in his Tonarigusa (1861; Grass next door), the first treatise on constitutionalism in Japan, Katō Hiroyuki (1836–1916) proclaimed the establishment of parliamentary politics. The perception of a constitution as the symbol of a modern Western-style state was widely shared by the political leaders of the new Meiji government, which led to the speedy creation of the Meiji Constitution, the first constitutional law in East Asia. Yet, the adoption of a "Westernized" constitution, officially an imperial gift to the Japanese subjects, was not accompanied by wide acceptance of the idea of controlling the power of the state. The prevalent Confucian language that equated the private with the evil and the public (namely, the state, not the civil society) with justice undercut the constitutional idea of the protection of individual liberties.

After Japan's defeat in World War II, constitutionalism, which had experienced a serious setback during the war, was rehabilitated under the new Constitution of Japan. This Constitution, however, was created not by popular demand, but by the initiative of the occupation authority. Ever since, Article 9, which proscribes the use of military means in diplomatic conflict, has been the focal point of post-war constitutional debate.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Beer, Laurence Ward, ed. Constitutionalism in Asia: Asian Views of the American Influence. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979.

Bellamy, Richard, ed. Constitutionalism, Democracy, and Sovereignty: American and European Perspectives. Aldershot, U.K.: Avebury, 1996.

Black, Antony. The History of Islamic Political Thought: From the Prophet to the Present. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2001.

Castiglione, Dario, and Richard Bellamy, eds. Constitutionalism in Transformation: European and Theoretical Perspectives. Oxford: Blackwell, 1996.

Figgis, J. N. Political Thought from Gerson to Grotius, 1414–1625. 2nd ed. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1916.

Franklin, Julian, trans. and ed. Constitutionalism and Resistance in the Sixteenth Century: Three Treatises by Hotman, Beza, and Mornay. New York: Pegasus, 1969.

Gordon, Scott. Controlling the State: Constitutionalism from Ancient Athens to Today. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Lloyd, Howell, A. "Constitutionalism." In The Cambridge History of Political Thought, 1450–1700, edited by J. H. Burns and Mark Goldie, 254–297. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

McIlwain, Charles H. Constitutionalism, Ancient and Modern. Rev. ed. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1947. Tierney, Brian. Religion, Law, and the Growth of Constitutional

Thought, 1150–1650. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1982.

Takashi Shogimen

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Condensation to CoshConstitutionalism - Ancient Conceptions, Medieval Conceptions, Early Modern Conceptions, Modern Conceptions, Islamic Conceptions, Chinese Conception