SANGIIN THE HOUSE OF COUNCILLORS OF JAPAN
I - COMPOSITION
242 members elected by universal direct suffrage.
II - ELECTORAL SYSTEM
Mixed direct voting :
1) 146 elected by simple majority in geographical constituencies ; successful candidates are decided in the order of the number of valid votes obtained on the basis of the comparative plurality from among those who receive a number of votes equal to or greater than one-sixth of the total of valid ballots cast, divided by the number of seats to be filled from the constituency concerned.
2) 96 elected on a national level with election by proportional list.
Term of office: 6 years, renewable by half every 3 years.
Most recent election: 29 July 2001.
Age of eligibility: 30.
- 47 multi-member constituencies, formed on a metropolitan or prefectural basis;
- one national constituency for remaining seats.
III - ORGANISATION OF SESSIONS
A ORDINARY SESSION
1 ordinary session per year.
B EXTRAORDINARY SESSIONS
Convened by the Cabinet which must do so when a quarter or more of the members of either chamber of the Diet (House of Representatives and House of Councillors) so demands.
IV - RELATIONS WITH THE OTHER CHAMBER AND WITH THE EXECUTIVE
A - LEGISLATIVE POWERS
1) Right to propose legislation
2) Right of amendment
3) Legislative procedure
a) Procedure of general law
Government and private bills are examined successively by both chambers.
But if they are passed in a different text by the House of Councillors, the government or private bill becomes law when it is passed a second time by the House of Representatives, with a two-thirds majority of the members present.
Notwithstanding these provisions, the House of Representatives may convene the meeting of a joint committee of both chambers.
If the House of Councillors has not taken a final decision within 60 days of receipt of a government or private bill passed by the House of Representatives, not counting parliamentary recesses, the House of Representatives may decide that this is equivalent to rejection of the said government or private bill by the House of Councillors.
b) Budgetary procedure
The budget must be submitted first to the House of Representatives.
If the House of Councillors comes to a different decision and if no agreement can be reached, in spite of resorting to a joint committee of both chambers, or if the House of Councillors cannot decided finally within 30 days (not including any recess period) of receipt of the budget passed by the House of Representatives, the latter's decision is considered as a decision of the Diet.
c) The above procedure also applies to the approval of treaties.
B - SUPERVISORY POWERS
1) Appointment of the Cabinet
a) The Prime Minister is appointed from among the members of the Diet by a resolution made by it.
If the two chambers are not in agreement, and if agreement proves impossible, even by the intervention of a joint committee of both chambers, or if the House of Councillors does not appoint anyone within ten days (not including any recess period) following the appointment by the House of Representatives, the latter's decision is considered as a decision of the Diet.
b) The majority of the ministers (appointed by the Prime Minister) must be chosen from among the members of the Diet.
2) Right to inquiry
The House of Councillors (like the House of Representatives) may conduct inquiries into Government actions and may demand the attendance and hearing of witnesses, as well as the production of documents.
3) Ministers must appear before the chambers when their attendance is demanded in order to give responses and explanations.
4) Special measures in public finance matters
a) Reserve Fund
In order to make up for any unforeseen budgetary deficits, the Diet may authorise the creation of a reserve fund, and the responsibility for its use lies with the Cabinet which must obtain the subsequent approval of the Diet for any payments made out of the Fund.
b) All the expenditure of the imperial family is approved by the Diet which votes on the corresponding funds within the framework of the budget.
c) At regular intervals and at least once a year, the Cabinet submits a report on the state of the national finances to the Diet (and to the citizens).
C - ADJOURNMENT OF THE HOUSE OF COUNCILLORS
When the House of Representatives is dissolved.
But it may be convened in an extraordinary session by the Cabinet in the event of a national emergency.
V - SPECIAL MEASURES
A - CONSTITUENT POWERS
Revisions of the Constitution are instigated by the Diet, by a vote of at least two thirds of all the members of each chamber.
They are then submitted to a referendum.
B - The House of Councillors (like the House of Representatives) is judge of the election of its members.
A member may however only be deprived of his seat by the passing of a resolution by at least a two-thirds majority of the members present.
C - DISMISSAL OF MEMBERS OF THE JUDICIARY
The Diet may set up a tribunal of indictment among the members of both chambers, for the purpose of judging members of the judiciary against whom dismissal proceedings have been instituted.