single-member districts, proportional representation, simple majority vote, prefectures, National Diet
Japanís legislature, the National Diet, comprises two housesóa lower House of Representatives and an upper House of Councillors. The House of Representatives has 480 members, 300 of whom are elected by simple majority vote in single-member districts (geographical areas that each have one representative). The remaining 180 members are elected by proportional representation from a list of candidates selected by the political parties. The maximum term of office for representatives is four years. Their term may be shorter, however, if the prime minister or members of the House of Representatives decide to dissolve the house before the term is up in order to hold a general election. The House of Councillors has 252 members, of whom 100 are elected by proportional representation from a national constituency and 152 are elected from Japanís 47 prefectures. Councillorsí term of office is six years, with one-half of the members elected every three years. The upper house is not subject to dissolution.
A bill becomes law if a majority in each house approves it. However, if a bill does not receive upper-house approval, it can still be passed into law if two-thirds of the lower house approves it on a second vote. If the upper and lower houses disagree over approval of the budget, the selection of the prime minister, or adoption of treaties with foreign countries, the decision of the lower house becomes law after 30 days without a second vote. For this reason the House of Representatives is the more powerful of the two bodies.
Article key phrases: