House of Councillors (Japan)

Coordinates: 35°40′35.5″N 139°44′40.5″E / 35.676528°N 139.744583°E / 35.676528; 139.744583

This article is about Japan. For Morocco, see House of Councillors (Morocco). For South Korea, see House of Councillors (South Korea).
House of Councillors
Coat of arms or logo
Chūichi Date, LDP (caucus: independent)
Since August 1, 2016
Akira Gunji, DP (caucus: independent)
Since August 1, 2016
Opposition leader
Renhō, DP
Since September 15, 2016
Seats 242
Political groups

Party strength before 191st Diet[1][2][3] Government (146)

  LDP (121)
  Kōmeitō (25)

Revisionist opposition (15)

  Initiatives (12)
  PJK (3)

Other opposition (69)

  DP (49)
  JCP (14)
  Energize (2)
  SDP (2)
  PLP (2)

Independents & others (12)

  Government-aligned independents (3)
  Opposition-aligned independents (5)
  OSMP (1)
  Other independents (3)
Parallel voting:
Single non-transferable vote (146 seats)
Party-list proportional representation (96 seats)
Staggered elections
Last election
July 10, 2016
Meeting place
National Diet Building, Tokyo
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The House of Councillors (参議院 Sangiin) is the upper house of the National Diet of Japan. The House of Representatives is the lower house. The House of Councillors is the successor to the pre-war House of Peers. If the two houses disagree on matters of the budget, treaties, or designation of the prime minister, the House of Representatives can insist on its decision. In other decisions, the House of Representatives can override a vote of the House of Councillors only by a two-thirds majority of members present.

The House of Councillors has 242 members who each serve six-year terms, two years longer than those of the House of Representatives. Councillors must be at least 30 years old, compared with 25 years old in the House of Representatives. The House cannot be dissolved, as only half of its membership is elected at each election. Of the 121 members subject to election each time, 73 are elected from the 47 prefectural districts (by single non-transferable vote) and 48 are elected from a nationwide list by proportional representation with open lists. [4] Up to the 1998 election, there were 252 members, 126 elected at a time: 76 from prefectural districts and 50 elected nationwide. At the 2001 elections these numbers were reduced and the total number was 247 (126 elected in 1998 and 121 elected in 2001) and the open list preference vote was introduced.

Current composition

(as of November 7, 2016 [192nd National Diet])[5]

Caucus (English name)
(domestic name)
Term expires Total
July 25, 2022 July 31, 2019
Liberal Democratic Party
56 67 123
  The Democratic Party and The Shin-Ryokufukai
Minshintō・Shin-Ryokufūkai (~"Dem. Prog. Party, New Ryokufūkai")
32 18 50
Kōmeitō (~"Justice/Fairness Party")
14 11 25
Japanese Communist Party
Nihon Kyōsantō
6 8 14
Nippon Ishin(Japan Innovation Party)
Nippon Ishin no Kai (~"Japan Innovation/Restoration Association")
7 5 12
Hope Coalition (Kibou)
Kibō no kai (jiyū, shamin) (~"Assembly of hope (LP, SDP)")
3 2 5
Independents Club
Mushozoku kurabu
0 4 4
The Party for Japanese Kokoro
Nippon no Kokoro (~"Japan's heart")
0 3 3
Okinawa Whirlwind
Okinawa no kaze (~"Wind of Okinawa")
1 1 2
(Members who do not sit with a caucus, includes Pres., Vice Pres.)
2 2 4
Total 121 121 242

For a list of individual members, see the List of members of the Diet of Japan.

Latest election

Japanese House of Councillors election, 2016

Historical notes

Article 102 of the Japanese Constitution provided that half of the councillors elected in the first House of Councillors election in 1947 would be up for re-election three years later in order to introduce staggered six-year terms.

From 1947 to 1983, the House had 100 seats allocated to a national block (全国区 zenkoku-ku), of which fifty seats were allocated in each election. It was originally intended to give nationally prominent figures a route to the House without going through local electioneering processes. Some national political figures, such as feminists Shidzue Katō and Fusae Ichikawa and former Imperial Army general Kazushige Ugaki, were elected through the block, along with a number of celebrities such as comedian Yukio Aoshima (later Governor of Tokyo), journalist Hideo Den and actress Yūko Mochizuki. Shintaro Ishihara won a record 3 million votes in the national block in the 1968 election. The national block was last seen in the 1980 election and was replaced with proportional representation in the 1983 election.

The House initially had 250 seats. Two seats were added to the House in 1970[6] after the agreement on the repatriation of Okinawa for a total of 252. Ten seats were removed in 2001 with the introduction of an open list for proportional representation seats, bringing the total number of seats to 242.

See also


  1. NHK: Results of the 2016 regular election
  2. Yomiuri Shimbun: 2016 election results
  3. Asahi Shimbun: 2016 election results
  4. Hayes 2009, p. 50
  5. House of Councillors: Members Strength of the Political Groups in the House (only caucus totals and female members; full Japanese version partitioned by class/end of term and election segment 会派別所属議員数一覧)
  6. House of Councillors: Changes to the electoral system of the House of Councillors (Japanese)
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