A Short History of Japan
Japan is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government. The Japanese Emperor enjoys limited power and plays a more ceremonial role. The constitution defines him as "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people".
The head of government and most powerful figure is the Prime Minister, appointed by the Emperor of Japan after being designated by the Diet from among its members. He must enjoy the confidence of the House of Representatives to remain in office.
The legislative organ is the National Diet, a bicameral parliament that comprises a House of Representatives of 480 seats and a House of Councillors of 242 seats. All members of both houses are elected by popular vote. There is universal suffrage for adults over 20 years of age with a secret ballot for all elective offices.
Akihito is the Japanese Emperor and head of state. Shinzo Abe succeeded Junichiro Koizumi as Prime Minister and head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in September 2006. Japan's youngest leader since World War II, Abe wants Japan to play a larger, more important role in global matters. He is also inclined towards a closer alliance with the US and a revision of the 1947 pacifist constitution.