Washington Law Review


This article analyzes the constitutional right of free expression, exercised by political demonstrations, in the political context of contemporary Japan, where consensus among political parties on the constitutional framework itself is lacking. The Japanese people possess an unusually strong sense of cultural unity, and strong emphasis is placed on harmony and consensus in social relations. On the other hand, the excesses and strident tone of many mass demonstrations strikingly illustrate the absence of consensus between groups and the pervasive tendency toward "groupism" which distinguish the Japanese from the American political setting. Although the sociopolitical tensions may have become great in some sectors of the American constitutional system, the United States still enjoys a broadly based, deep and longestablished consensus among its leaders of support for the constitution which has yet to develop in Japan. It wo)uld be less than humble for an American observer to pass judgment on the work of the Japanese Supreme Court on the assumption that the social and political context of constitutional law in Japan closely parallels that of the United States. The paradoxes of the sociopolitical setting within which demonstrations take place in Japan must be penetrated if the reader is to see the Supreme Court decisions delineating the relationship between the public welfare and the freedom of assembly in proper perspective.

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