House of Representatives (Japan)

The House of Representatives (衆議院, Shūgiin) is the lower house of the National Diet of Japan. The House of Councillors is the upper house.

House of Representatives


The 48th House of Representatives
Tadamori Oshima, LDP
since April 21, 2015
Hirotaka Akamatsu, CDP
since November 1, 2017
Prime Minister
Shinzō Abe, LDP
since December 26, 2012
Opposition leader
Yukio Edano, CDP
since October 23, 2017
Political groups
Government (314)

Opposition (145)

Parallel voting:
First past the post (289 seats)
Party-list proportional representation (176 seats)
Last election
October 22, 2017
Next election
On or before October 22, 2021
Meeting place
Chamber of the House of Representatives
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The House of Representatives has 465 members, elected for a four-year term. Of these, 176 members are elected from 11 multi-member constituencies by a party-list system of proportional representation, and 289 are elected from single-member constituencies. 233 seats are required for a majority.

The overall voting system used to elect the House of Representatives is a parallel system, a form of semi-proportional representation. Under a parallel system the allocation of list seats does not take into account the outcome in the single seat constituencies. Therefore, the overall allocation of seats in the House of Representatives is not proportional, to the advantage of larger parties. In contrast, in bodies such as the German Bundestag the election of single-seat members and party list members is linked, so that the overall result respects proportional representation.

The House of Representatives is the more powerful of the two houses, able to override vetoes on bills imposed by the House of Councillors with a two-thirds majority. The house is led by Prime Minister, the most recent was by Shinzō Abe as on September 28, 2017.[1][2][3]

Right to vote and candidature

  • Japanese nationals aged 18 years and older may vote (prior to 2016, the voting age was 20).[4]
  • Japanese nationals aged 25 years and older may run for office in the lower house.

Differences between the Upper and Lower Houses

The House of Representatives has several powers not given to the House of Councillors. If a bill is passed by the lower house (the House of Representatives) but is voted down by the upper house (the House of Councillors) the House of Representatives can override the decision of the House of Councillors by a two-thirds vote in the affirmative. However, in the case of treaties, the budget, and the selection of the prime minister, the House of Councillors can only delay passage, but not block the legislation. As a result, the House of Representatives is considered the more powerful house.

Members of the House of Representatives, who are elected to a maximum of four years, sit for a shorter term than members of the House of Councillors, who are elected to full six-year terms. The lower house can also be dissolved by the Prime Minister or the passage of a nonconfidence motion, while the House of Councillors cannot be dissolved. Thus the House of Representatives is considered to be more sensitive to public opinion, and is termed the "lower house".

While the legislative term is nominally 4 years, early elections for the lower house are very common, and the median lifespan of postwar legislatures has in practice been around 3 years.

Current composition

Composition of the House of Representatives of Japan (as of 1 October 2019 before 200th National Diet)[5]
In-House Groups
[innai] kaiha
Parties Representatives
Liberal Democratic Party
Jiyūminshutō・mushozoku no kai
(lit. "Liberal Democratic Party/Association of Independents")
LDP, independents 285
The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Democratic Party For the People, The Reviewing Group on Social Security Policy, and the Independent
Rikken-minshu・Kokumin・Shaho・mushozoku fōramu
("Constitutional Democratic/People's/Soc[ial]-Sec[urity]/Independent Forum")
CDP, DPFP, SDP, independents 120
Kōmeitō 29
Japanese Communist Party
Nihon Kyōsantō
JCP 12
Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party)
Nippon Ishin no Kai
Ishin 11
  The Party of Hope
Kibō no Tō
Kibō 2
Members not affiliated with a parliamentary group/non-inscrits
LDP (Speaker), CDP (Vice-Speaker), N-Koku, independents 6
Total 465

For a list of majoritarian members and proportional members from Hokkaidō, see the List of members of the Diet of Japan.

Latest election result

Summary of the 22 October 2017 House of Representatives election results
Parties Constituency PR Block Total seats
Votes % ±pp Seats Votes % ±pp Seats Seats ± % ±pp
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 26,719,03248.210.11218 18,555,71733.280.1766 284661.080.02
Komeitō (NKP) 832,4531.500.058 6,977,71212.511.2021 2956.240.92
Governing coalition 27,551,48549.710.17226 25,533,42945.791.0387 3131167.310.90
Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) 4,852,0978.75New18 11,084,89019.88New37 554011.836.66
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 4,998,9329.024.281 4,404,0817.903.4711 1292.581.84
Social Democratic Party (SDP) 634,7191.150.361 941,3241.690.771 200.430.01
Liberalist coalition 10,485,74818.9220 16,430,29529.4749 693114.846.84
Kibō no Tō (Party of Hope) 11,437,60120.64New18 9,677,52417.36New32 50710.751.25
Nippon Ishin no Kai (JIP) 1,765,0533.184.983 3,387,0976.079.658 1132.370.58
The third coalition 13,202,65423.8221 13,064,62123.4340 611013.121.83
Happiness Realization Party (HRP) 159,1710.290 292,0840.520.030 000.000.00
New Party Daichi 226,5520.410 000.000.00
No Party to Support 125,0190.220.020 000.000.00
Party for Japanese Kokoro (PJK) 85,5520.152.500 000.000.00
Others 52,0800.030 000.000.00
Independents 3,970,9467.164.3122 22174.733.48
Total 55,422,087100.00289 55,757,552100.00176 46510100.00

Election results for major parties since 1958


  • green: Ruling party/coalition before and after the lower house election
  • red: Ruling party/coalition after the election = Change of government as a result of the lower house election
  • blue: Ruling party/coalition until the election = Change of government as a result of the lower house election
  • none: Opposition before and after the election

Note that the composition of the ruling coalition may change between lower house elections, e.g. after upper house elections. Parties who vote with the government in the Diet, but are not part of the cabinet (e.g. SDP & NPH after the 1996 election) are not shaded.

Parallel electoral system (since 1996)

 Vote and seats by party and segment
Parties Segment 1996[6]2000[7]2003[8]2005[9]2009[10]201220142017
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Jiyū MinshutōFPTP 38.6%41.0%43.9%47.8%38.6%43.0%48.1%48.21%
PR 32.8%28.3%35.0%38.1%26.7%27.6%33.1%33.28%
Total seats239233237296119294291284
Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP) Rikken MinshutōFPTP 8.75%
PR 19.88%
Total seats55
Party of Hope Kibō no TōFPTP 20.64%
PR 17.36%
Total seats50
Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Minshutō (1996–2014)
Democratic Party (DP) Minshintō (2017)
FPTP 10.6%27.6%36.7%36.4%47.4%22.8%22.5%no party nominations,
≈14 members elected
PR 16.1%25.2%37.4%31.0%42.4%15.9%18.3%
Total seats521271771133085773
Japan Restoration Party (JRP) Nippon Ishin no Kai (2012)
Japan Innovation Party (JIP) Ishin no Tō (2014)
FPTP 11.6%8.2%3.18%
PR 20.3%15.7%6.07%
Total seats544111
(New) Komeito (K/NK/NKP/CGP/NCGP/etc.) KōmeitōFPTP 2.0%1.5%1.4%1.1%1.4%1.5%1.5%
PR 13.0%14.8%13.3%11.4%11.8%13.7%12.51%
Total seats 31343121313529
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) Nihon KyōsantōFPTP 12.6%12.1%8.1%7.2%4.2%7.8%13.3%9.02%
PR 13.1%11.2%7.8%7.2%7.0%6.1%11.4%7.9%
Total seats262099982112
Social Democratic Party (SDP) Shakai MinshutōFPTP 2.2%3.8%2.9%1.5%1.9%0.7%0.8%1.15%
PR 6.4%9.4%5.1%5.5%4.2%2.3%2.5%1.69%
Total seats1519677222
New Frontier Party (NFP) Shinshintō (1996)
Liberal Party Jiyūtō (2000)
Tomorrow Party of Japan (TPJ) Nippon Mirai no Tō (2012)
People's Life Party (PLP) Seikatsu no Tō (2014)
Liberal Party (LP) Jiyūtō (2017)
FPTP 28.0%3.4%5.0%1.0%no party nominations,
2 members elected
PR 28.0%11.0%5.7%1.9%
Total seats1562292
Your Party (YP) Minna no TōFPTP 0.8%4.7%
PR 4.2%8.7%
Total seats519
Conservative Party Hoshutō (2000)
New Conservative Party Hoshu Shintō (2003)
FPTP 2.0%1.3%
PR 0.4%
Total seats74
New Party Harbinger (NPH) Shintō SakigakeFPTP 1.3%
PR 1.0%
Total seats2

SNTV multi-member districts (1947–1993)

 Vote for candidates by party and
seats by party
Parties 1958[12]1960[12]1963[12]1967[12]1969[12]1972[12]1976[12]1979[12]1980[12]1983[12]1986[12]1990[12]1993[12]
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Jiyū Minshutō 57.8%57.6%54.7%48.8%47.6%46.8%41.8%44.6%47.9%48.9%49.4%46.1%36.7%
Japan Socialist Party (JSP) Nihon Shakaitō 32.9%27.6%29.0%27.9%21.4%21.9%20.7%19.7%19.3%19.5%17.2%24.4%15.4%
Japan Renewal Party (JRP) Shinseitō 10.1%
Kōmeitō (K/KP/CGP/etc.) Kōmeitō 5.4%10.9%8.5%11.0%9.8%9.0%10.1%9.4%8.0%8.1%
Japan New Party (JNP) Nihon Shintō 8.0%
Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) Minshatō 8.8%7.4%7.4%7.7%7.0%6.3%6.8%6.6%7.3%6.4%4.8%3.5%
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) Nihon Kyōsantō 2.6%2.9%4.0%4.8%6.8%10.5%10.4%10.4%9.8%9.3%8.8%8.0%7.7%
New Party Harbinger (NPH) Shintō Sakigake 3.5%

The House of Representatives as part of the Imperial Diet 1890–1947

Under the 1889 Meiji Constitution which took effect in 1890 and established the Imperial Diet, the House of Peers functioned as an aristocratic upper house in a format similar to the House of Lords in the Westminster system, or the Herrenhaus in the Prussian government of the time (by then a state of the German Empire). The elected House of Representatives served as the lower house of the Imperial Diet.

In the Imperial Diet, both houses (and the Emperor) had to agree to legislation; even at the height of party-based constitutional government, the House of Peers could simply vote down bills deemed too liberal by the oligarchy such as the introduction of women's suffrage, increases in local autonomy or trade union rights. The government and the prime minister leading it were neither responsible to nor elected by the Imperial Diet. But the right to vote on (and if necessary block) legislation and more importantly the budget gave the House of Representatives leverage to force the government into negotiations. After an early period of frequent confrontation and temporary alliances between the cabinet and political parties in the lower house, parts of the Meiji oligarchy more sympathetic to political parties around Itō Hirobumi and parts of the liberal parties eventually formed a more permanent alliance in form of the Rikken Seiyūkai in 1900. The confidence of the House of Representatives was never a formal requirement to govern; but in fact between 1905 and 1918, only one cabinet took office that did not enjoy majority support in the House of Representatives.[13] During the Taisho Political Crisis in 1913, a "no-confidence vote"[14] against the 3rd Katsura Cabinet, accompanied by major demonstrations outside the Diet, was followed shortly by resignation. Subsequently, in the period often referred to as Taishō democracy, it became increasingly customary to appoint many ministers including several prime ministers from the House of Representatives – Hara Takashi became the first commoner as prime minister in 1918. In the same year, the Rice Riots had confronted the government with an unprecedented scale of domestic unrest, and a socialist revolution brought the Prusso-German monarchy to its end, the very system Meiji oligarchs had used as the main model for the Meiji constitution to consolidate and preserve Imperial power. Even oligarchs formerly fundamentally opposed to political parties such as Yamagata Aritomo became more inclined to cooperate with the [still mainly bourgeois] parties to prevent a rise of socialism or other movements that might threaten Imperial rule itself – socialist parties would not be represented in significant numbers in the lower house until the 1930s. Influence of the House of Representatives on the government increased, and the party cabinets of the 1920s brought Japan apparently closer to a parliamentary system of government; but while there were several reforms to the upper house in 1925, the equal balance of powers between the two houses and the influential role of extra-constitutional actors such as the Genrō (who still selected the prime minister) or the military (that had brought down several cabinets) remained in essence untouched. After the Imperial Army had invaded Manchuria in 1931, within less than a year following several assassinations and coup attempts, party government was replaced by "national unity" (kyokoku itchi) cabinets which were dominated by nobles, bureaucrats and increasingly the military. After the start of the war in 1937, the influence of the Imperial Diet was further diminished, though never fully eliminated, by special laws such as the National Mobilization Law and expanded powers for cabinet agencies such as the Planning Board.[15]

The House of Representatives in the Empire had a four-year term and could be dissolved by the Emperor. In contrast, members of the House of Peers had either a lifetime mandate (subject to revocation by the Emperor) or a seven-year term in the case of members elected in mutual peerage elections among the three lower peerage ranks, top taxpayer and academic peerage elections. During the war, the term of the members of the House of Representatives elected in the last pre-war election of 1937 was extended by one year. The initially very high census requirement for suffrage was reduced several times until the introduction of universal male suffrage in 1925. The electoral system to the House of Representatives also changed several times fundamentally: between systems of "small" mostly single- and few multi-member electoral districts (1890s, 1920, 1924), "medium" mostly multi-member districts (1928–1942) and "large" electoral districts (usually only one, rarely two city and one counties district per prefecture; 1900s and 1910s), using First-past-the-post in single-member districts, Plurality-at-large voting (1890s) or Single non-transferable vote in the multi-member districts. In the last general election to the House of Representatives of the Empire in 1946 under U.S.-led Allied occupation, women's suffrage was introduced, and a system of "large" electoral districts (one or two per prefecture) with limited voting was used. A change in the electoral law in April 1945 had for the first time allocated 30 seats to the established colonies of the Empire: Karafuto (Sakhalin), Taiwan and Chōsen (Korea); but this change was never applied in a House of Representatives general election. Similarly, Korea and Taiwan were granted several appointed members of the House of Peers in 1945.

In 1946, both houses of the Imperial Diet (together with the Emperor) passed the postwar constitution which took effect in 1947. In the National Diet, the House of Peers would be replaced by an elected upper house, the House of Councillors, and the House of Representatives is now able to override the upper house in important matters. The constitution also gave the Diet exclusive legislative authority (without the Emperor) and explicitly made the cabinet responsible to and the prime minister elected by the Diet.

Members (since 1990)

See also


  4. "Diet enacts law lowering voting age to 18 from 20". The Japan Times.
  5. House of Representatives: Strength of the In-House Groups in the House of Representatives (Japanese original which is updated more frequently and also contains lists of individual members for each group), retrieved 16 October, 2019.
  6. Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC/Sōmushō): 第41回衆議院議員総選挙結果
  7. MIC: 第42回衆議院議員総選挙結果
  8. MIC: 衆議院議員総選挙・最高裁判所裁判官国民審査結果調
  9. MIC: 平成17年9月11日執行 衆議院議員総選挙・最高裁判所裁判官国民審査結果調
  10. MIC: 平成21年8月30日執行 衆議院議員総選挙・最高裁判所裁判官国民審査結果調
  11. Includes Takahiro Inoue (independent, Fukuoka 1st district) who was retroactively nominated as LDP candidate; Reuters, December 14, 2014: 自民、井上氏を追加公認 Archived December 17, 2014, at
  12. Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, statistics bureau: 衆議院議員総選挙の党派別当選者数及び得票数(昭和33年~平成5年)
  13. Cambridge History of Japan, Vol. 6, p. 35
  14. Wikisource: 第三次桂内閣に対する内閣不信任上奏決議案提出及び趣旨説明, excerpt from the Imperial Diet minutes, House of Representatives session February 5, 1913
  15. The Cambridge History of Japan, Vol.6, chapters 2 (Taichirō Mitani: The establishment of party cabinets, 1889–1932) and 3 (Gordon M. Berger: Politics and mobilization in Japan, 1931–1945).
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