Is the Japanese Diet Consensual?

Journal of Legislative Studies, Vol. 6, No. 4, Winter 2000, pp. 9-28.

Mikitaka Masuyama

Seikei University, Dept. Law


The institutional design of the Japanese Diet is commonly believed to necessitate interparty accommodation and to make the legislative process more 'viscous' than it appears. This common belief about the Diet is challenged by examining the Constitution, the Diet Law, the House Rules, and parliamentary practices with special attention to agenda setting procedures. It is argued that the 'unanimity norm' is less binding than commonly recognized. By applying the criteria proposed by Doring, this paper compares the Diet with western European parliaments, and shows that it ranks relatively high in terms of the ruling majority's ability to control the legislative agenda. Although the post-war Diet is modelled on the legislative process in the US Congress, it is critically important to keep in mind that the constitutional principle of the Diet follows the fusion of power in the British Parliament. The picture that emerges from the analysis is in strong contrast with the traditional image of the Japanese Diet, and sheds new light on the majoritarian foundation of the Diet.


Figure 1 on page 23