Hastings International and Comparative Law Review

Article Title

Judicial Review in Japan


Herbert F. Bolz


Since World War H, intense controversy has surrounded the question of the degree to which Article 9, the "peace clause" of the Japanese Constitution, forbids the maintenance of military power by Japan. Many commentators have criticized the Japanese Supreme Court for its "remarkable" reluctance to exercise its power of judicial review, especially regarding Article 9. The author focuses on social, historical, and political factors that have impeded the development in Japan of powerful American-style judicial review, and on postwar influences that have nonetheless gradually increased the use of judicial review. The author contends that the Japanese Supreme Court's restrained use of judicial review has been the result of a rational strategy designed to preserve or increase the court's political power, and that the decision to avoid a definitive ruling on Article 9 reflects sound political judgment.