House of Councillors (Japan)

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.

House of Councillors


Akiko Santō, LDP (caucus: independent)
since 1 August 2019
Vice President
Toshio Ogawa, CDP (caucus: independent)
since 1 August 2019
Political groups
Government (141)

Opposition (104)

Parallel voting:
Single non-transferable vote (147 seats)
Party-list proportional representation (98 seats)
Staggered elections
Last election
21 July 2019
Next election
Meeting place
Chamber of the House of Councillors
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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 (SNTV) and 48 are elected from a nationwide list by proportional representation (PR) with open lists.[1]

Current composition

Composition of the House of Councillors of Japan (as of 9 November 2019 in the 200th National Diet)[2]
Caucus (English name)
(domestic name)
Parties Members
Term expires Total
July 25, 2022 July 28, 2025
Liberal Democratic Party and Voice of The People
Jiyūminshutō・Kokumin no Koe
LDP, independent 203757 183856 113
Rikken・Kokumin・Shinryokufūkai・Shamin ("Constitutionalist/People's/New Ryokufūkai/Social Democrats")
CDP, DPFP, SDP, independents 122133 121628 61
Kōmeitō 7714 7714 28
Nippon Ishin(Japan Innovation Party)
Nippon Ishin no Kai
Ishin 336 5510 16
Japanese Communist Party
Nihon Kyōsantō
JCP 516 437 13
Okinawa Whirlwind
Okinawa no kaze (lit. "Wind of Okinawa")
Okinawa Socialist, independent 011 011 2
Reiwa shinsengumi ("Reiwa Shinsengumi")
Reiwa Shinsengumi 000 202 2
Hekisuikai ("Blue water association")
Independents 000 022 2
Your Party
Minna no Tō ("Everyone's Party")
N-Koku, Independent/YP 101 101 2
Members not affiliated with any parliamentary caucus
Independents, LDP (President), CDP (Vice President) 033 123 6
Total 4873121 5074124 245

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

Latest election

 Summary of the 10 July 2016 Japanese House of Councillors election results[3][4][5]
Party Pre-election SNTV/FPTP majoritarian D'Hondt proportional Seats wonNew totalChange from
TotalNot upUp Votes[6]%Seats Votes[6]%Seats Before20132010
Ruling parties 1357659 69145+10+10+42
Liberal Democratic PartyLDP 1156550 22,590,79339.94 %36 20,114,78835.91 %19 55120+5+5+36
KomeitoK 20119 4,263,4227.54 %7 7,572,96013.52 %7 1425+5+5+6
Revisionist opposition parties 1082 715+5(new +15)
+6 from JRP
(new +15)
Initiatives from Osaka 752 3,303,4195.84 %3 5,153,5849.20 %4 712+5(new +12)(new +12)
Party for Japanese Kokoro 330 535,5170.95 %0 734,0241.31 %0 030(new +3)(new +3)
0 from SPJ
Anti-revisionist opposition parties
(joint nominations in single-member districts)
792752 4067-12n/an/a
Democratic PartyDP 621745 14,215,95625.14 %21 11,751,01520.98 %11 3249-13(new +49)
-10 from DPJ
(new +49)
-57 from DPJ
Japanese Communist PartyJCP 1183 4,103,5147.26 %1 6,016,19510.74 %5 614+3+3+8
People's Life PartyPLP 312 not contested independently 1,067,3011.91 %1 12-1-1(new +2)
Social Democratic PartySDP 312 289,8990.51 %0 1,536,2392.74 %1 12-1-1-2
New Renaissance PartyNRP 202 60,4310.11 %0 580,6531.04 %0 00-2-1-1
Happiness Realization PartyHRP 000 963,5851.70 %0 366,8150.65 %0 0000-1
Seitō shiji nashi ("no party supported") 000 127,3670.23 %0 647,0711.16 %0 000(new 0)(new 0)
Angry voice of the people 000 82,3570.15 %0 466,7060.83 %0 000(new 0)(new 0)
Others 000 279,6810.49 %0 not contested 00n/an/an/a
Assembly to Energize JapanAEJ 321 not contested 02-1(new +2)
-16 from YP
(new +2)
-9 from YP
Okinawa Social Mass PartyOSMP 110 not contested 01000
(incl. some joint opposition-endorsed "independents"
& 1 successful LDP-endorsed "independent")
1174 5,739,45210.15 %5 n/a 512+1+9+10
Total (valid votes) 241121120 56,555,393100.00 %73 56,007,353100.00 %48 121242+1 (vacant)00
Turnout out of 106,202,873 eligible voters 58,094,00554.70 % 58,085,67854.69 %

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.

The House initially had 250 seats. Two seats were added to the House in 1970 after the agreement on the repatriation of Okinawa, increasing the House to a total of 252.[7] Legislation aimed at addressing malapportionment that favoured less-populated prefectures was introduced in 2000; this resulted in ten seats being removed (five each at the 2001 and 2004 elections), bringing the total number of seats to 242.[7] Further reforms to address malapportinoment took effect in 2007 and 2016, but did not change the total number of members in the house.[7]

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.[7] 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 a nationwide proportional representation block in the 1983 election.[7] The national proportional representation block was reduced to 96 members in the 2000 reforms.[7]

See also


  1. Hayes 2009, p. 50
  2. 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), retrieved 9 November 2019.
  3. Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications: Results of the 24th regular election of members of the House of Councillors (in Japanese)
  4. Yomiuri Shimbun: 2016 election results
  5. Asahi Shimbun: 2016 election results
  6. Decimals from proportionate fractional votes (按分票 anbunhyō) rounded to full numbers
  7. 参議院議員選挙制度の変遷 [Changes to the electoral system of the House of Councillors] (in Japanese). Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  • Hayes, L. D., 2009. Introduction to Japanese Politics. 5th ed. New York: M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 978-0-7656-2279-2
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