Washington International Law Journal


The national constitutions of Japan and the United States describe which domestic branches conclude “treaties” and how they do it. In both countries, the legislative branch plays a critical role in the treaty-making process, checking and controlling the executive branch. However, both nations enter international agreements without following the procedures explicitly provided in their national constitutions. Such agreements are called “executive agreements.” In both Japan and the United States, the practice of entering executive agreements has been recognized since the adoption of the current constitutions, and the number of such agreements—in lieu of treaties—is rising. Despite contrasting government and legal systems, the two countries share similarities with regard to executive agreements and the domestic legal force of international agreements. This Article compares the practices of entering executive agreements and shows some differences and similarities by analyzing the drafting history of the constitutions, the history of executive agreements, their types, and their domestic legal force.