Being East-Asian states, Japan and China developed their current political systems only in the second half of the twentieth century as the result of their defeat in the Second World War. The states were to transform their governance. Analyzing peculiarities of the political systems of the two countries, this paper focuses on the aspect of the designing political power in Japan and the Peoples Republic of China. The goal of the research is to identify and compare the main branches of power in Japan and the Peoples Republic of China, describing institutions that represent these branches and their key functions in the political life. The study analyzes relationships between the bodies belonging to different categories, comparing the state of affairs in both countries. Comparing the political systems of Japan and the Peoples Republic of China, the study explores different sources, including books, articles in journals, and sources in the Internet.
Key words: political system, executive branch of power, legislative branch of power, judicial branch of power
Japan and the Peoples Republic of China
The political systems of Japan and the Peoples Republic of China in their modern type appeared as the result of political consequences of the Second World War. After their defeat, these states embraced a new approach to the political building, taking independent ideological courses. Japan followed the Western pattern, while China traced the key state characteristics of the Soviet Union.
Being proclaimed in 1949, the Peoples Republic of China was built as the state with a conservative political system. Japan turned into the constitutional monarchy with the Emperors limited power in 1947 after launching the modern Constitution that established democratic values (Hayes, 2014, p.63).
The Main Branches of Power in Japan and the Peoples Republic of China
The Executive Branch
Japan takes a unique place in the world community, being among few countries with the monarchy. In fact, Japan is the constitutional monarchy with restricted Emperors authority. Before the Japans defeat in the Second World War, the Emperor was considered as divine. However, the Emperor acts as the symbol of the state nowadays. Currently, he is the ceremonial head of state (Asia for Educators, n.d.). The Cabinet that comprises the Prime Minister and several other ministers represents the executive branch in Japan. The Prime Minister is the leader of the party, obtaining the greatest support of the Japanese. The Cabinet cannot act in an independent way. It is under the control of the Diet (Asia for Educators, n.d.).
The constant instability characterizes the Japans political system. Therefore, the Prime Minister is often dismissed long before his legal term expires. The Prime Minister must win a majority in the Diet in a single ballot. If the two houses cannot reach agreement, the decision of the House of Representatives prevails (A short guide to the Japanese political system, 2015).
The Prime Minister lives the Kantei that serves as his official residence. Nowadays, the Liberal Democratic Party performs duties of Japans Prime Minister. According to the constitutional amendment, the Prime Minister selects a team in the Cabinet, consisting of additional fourteen regular officials enjoying powers of three special members. The Diet is represented by the majority of the Cabinet (Darlington, 2014).
In China, the Cabinet or the State Council represents the executive branch (Hayes, 2014, p.62). This governmental institution exercises the legislative power granted by the National Peoples Congress (Chinas parliament) and its Standing Committee. Similarly to Japan, the executive branch in China does not exist as an independent body. In fact, the State Council is under control of the National Peoples Congress. Officially, this institution has to provide complete information about all its acitivities to the Standing Committee. According to the Chinas Constitution, the State Council performs administrative functions. It formulates administrative measures, enacts administrative regulations, promulgates decisions and orders; exercices unified leadership over the work of the ministries and commissions and the work of other organizations under its jurisdictions (China in Brief, n.d.). The State Council designs and launches national plans in the economic and social fields. It discusses and adopts the state budget. The issues of national education, science, culture, healthcare, and even family planning are under the State Councils control. In fact, powers of this governmental institution in China are broader than in Japan.
The structure of this body in China differs from the Diet in Japan. The premier, vice-premiers, state councillors, heads of numerous ministries and commisions, the auditor, and the secretary-general are members of the Cabinet in China (China in Brief, n.d.).
Like in Japan where the Emperor appoints the Prime Minister, Chinas President appoints the premier of the State Council. However, the procedure is more difficult. The President selects a future premier. Members of the National Peoples Congress discuss this individual and inform the President about their decision. Finally, the President confirms the candidate for the highest position in the institution. Moreover, the President enjoys the right to remove the premier in case the premiers activities do not satisfy him. Members of the State Council are elective and may serve during the period that does not exceed two consecutive terms (Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China in the Republic of Albania, 2008).
The Legislative Branch
In Japan, the Diet or the Kokkai in Japanese represents the legislative branch of the state. This government body has a bicameral design. A majority vote is required for making official decisions in common cases, while matters of a special kind require the positive will of the two-thirds of the Diet (Darlington, 2014).
The Japanese parliament or the Diet consists of two houses, including the House of Representatives or the Shugi-in in Japanese and the House of Councilors or the Sangi-in. In fact, the House of Representatives is the lower house in the Japanese parliament. In 1994, an electoral transformation was launched, changing the proportion of deputies in the Japanese parliament. Before 1994, Japans parliament included 512 deputies of the House of Representatives and 252 deputies of the House of Councilors. Currently, the lower government body comprises 480 deputies who enjoy the authority and develop the state legislation during the term of four years. However, the state of affairs in this structure is extremely fragile. To illustrate this fact, members of the House of Representatives have had the opportunity to complete their duties within the subscribed term only once since the Second World War. In fact, deputies have the chance to improve the legislative base of the state during the period of approximately two and a half years. The elective procedure has certain rules. Thus, out of the 480 members of the Shugi-in, 300 are elected from single-member constituencies and the other 180 are elected from 11 multi-member constituencies by a system of proportional representation (Darlington, 2014). Strict requirements insist on age limits of deputies who are to be above 25 years old. To compare, in the past election restrictions demanded for deputies to reach 20 years of age. Since 2016, the age limit of the parliament members is to be cut up to 18 years of age. This fact would enhance the amount of the electorate up to 2.4 million individuals.
The House of Representatives exercises certain privileges in comparison to the House of Councilors. Deputies of the Shugi-in have the right to put a resolution about the vote of no confidence in the Cabinet. There are two ways to dismiss members of the House of Representatives. The first one is the personal decision of the Prime Minister. The second way is the vote of no confidence adopted by the Cabinet. The last election took place in the winter of 2014. Therefore, the next election is expected to be approximately at the end of 2018 (Darlington, 2014).
The House of Councilors or the Snangi-in is the upper house in the Japanese parliament. The Shangi-in includes 242 deputies who meet to discuss and make laws of the country. They serve for the state during six years. The peculiarity of the Japanese election system is the necessity to select 50% of the Shangi-in deputies once in three years. A parallel elective system is implemented this way. A half of the House of Councilors deputies, i.e. 121 members, is to undergo the election procedure. Citizens from 47 prefectural districts select their 73 deputies via a single transferable election. The rest 48 future members of the Shangi-in undergo the proportional representation, existing in all parts of the state. The elective method of the proportion representation was established in 1982 to avoid extremely large expenses on the elections. The age limit for the deputies of the House of Councilors is at least 30 years.
During the legislative process, certain disagreements between deputies of the lower and upper houses are expected. In cases of the state budget, treaties, or designation of the Prime Minister, members of the Shugi-in have the right to promote their legislative decisions. Members of the House of Representatives exercise the right to manage the legislative base concerning other fields only in special cases when their two-third majority vote for the bill is required (Darlington, 2014).
In turn, citizens of the Peoples Republic of China select deputies of both the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors via direct elections. Members of the House of Representatives are expected to serve during four years. However, the lower house may be dissolved much earlier than the date when the term expires. Members of the House of Councilors belong to two categories. The first one serves for three years. Deputies of the second category serve for six years.
In China, the National Peoples Congress and the Standing Committee of the Chinese Peoples Political Consulative Conference represent the legislative branch of power. Like the Japanese Diet, the National Peoples Congress exercises rather insignificant power in the state. Nevertheless, its authority is increasing nowadays. The Standing Committee of the Chinese Peoples Political Consulative Conference ia a kind of a parlimentary part, performing consulting fuctions. In fact, this institution serves as the place where public matters are under discussion. Despite its practical use, the Standing Committee does not enjoy the legal power to make decisions (The US China Business Council, n.d.).
Deputies of the National Peoples Congress are selected via democratic elections in China. Citizens of 31 provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities, and special administrative regions take part in the event of the national level. Unlike in Japan, elections of the Chinas legislative body are held every five years. The Standing Committee administers the procedure, gathering deputies every year. Unlike Japan where all deputies work permanenttly during their elective term, deputies of Chinas legislative organs have vocatinal and permanent types of duties. During the period of the MPC holidays, the Standing Committee solves all the key issues, being the permanent legislative organ. The chairperson, several vice chairpersons, the secretary general, and other members exercise the autority in the Standing Committee (Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China in the Republic of Albania, 2008).
Unlike in Japan where the title of the Emperor is inherited, the position of the President in China is elected. The National Peoples Congress represents the will of Chinese citizens, electing the head of the state. Moreover, this body exercises the right to dismiss the President in case of the lack of confidence.
The Judicial Branch
In Japan, the Supreme Court represents the highest judical body of the state. The Emperor appoints only the Chief Justice chosen by the Cabinet. The Cabinet appoints other fourteen judges on its own. There is the procedure demanding confirmation of a justices tenure once in a decade. However, no significant changes in the highest court of the state take place. As a rule, the great majority of appointed judges work up to 70 years of age. It is necessary to admit that the Supreme Court does not enjoy great power in Japan. Traditionally, the judges try to escape controversial decisions and maintain the neutral position. This fact leads to a lower interest of Japans citizens in the activities of the Supreme Court (Darlington, 2014).
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The European civil law has had significant influence on the Japans legislation since the end of the 19th century. After the Second World War, certain changes have been introduced as well (Darlington, 2014).
In China, the Supreme Peoples Court and the Supreme Procuratorate form the judicial branch of power. Specialized military, maritime, and railway courts belong to the Chinas judicial system as well (The US China Business Council, n.d.). Like in Japan, the Supreme Peoples Court in China is not independent, being accountable to the National Peoples Congress. However, the Supreme Peoples Court independently exercises the highest judicial power according to law and is not subject to interference by any administrative organ, social organizarion or individual (Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China in the Republic of Albania, 2008).
The Supreme Peoples Procuratorate exercises legal control in the Peoples Republic of China. In fact, this body is represented both at the national and local levels, being the highest procuratorial body in the state (Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China in the Republic of Albania, 2008).
Overall, political systems of Japan and the Peoples Republic of China have many common features. Modern political structures in these countries were formed after the Second World War that brought old regimes in these countries to an end. Following American and Russian patterns, political structures in Japan and China were presented by governmental institutions of three branches such as legislative, executive, and judicial ones. However, Japan is the monarchy with the restricted Emperors power, while the Peoples Republic of China has followed the traditions of the Soviet Union with the leading role being played by the Communist Party, the President, and the National Peoples Congress as the controlling body.
At the first glance, Japans political system looks similar to the Western type. Although the country is a constitutional monarchy, it has three key branches of power. The Prime Minister and the Cabinet represent the executive branch. The legislative power is exercised by the Japans parliament (the Diet). It consists of two houses, including the House of Representatives or the Shugi-in and the House of Councilors or the Shangi-in. The Supreme Court represents the judicial branch in Japan. Nevertheless, all these governmental institutions traditionally do not exercise great authority. Unlike Japan where the title of the Emperor is inherited, the position of the President in China is elected. In China, the State Council represents the executive power. The National Peoples Congress and the Standing Committee represent the legislative branch. The Supreme Peoples Court and the Supreme Peoples Procuratorate represent the judicial branch of power. Like in Japan, the Supreme Peoples Court in China is not independent, being accountable to the National Peoples Congress.