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Judicial Review

The Supreme Court is generally reluctant to exercise the powers of judicial review given to it by the constitution, in large part because of unwillingness to become involved in politically sensitive issues. When decisions have been rendered on such matters as the constitutionality of the Self-Defense Forces, the sponsorship of Shinto ceremonies by public authorities, or the authority of the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture to determine the content of school textbooks or teaching curricula, the court generally took a conservative, progovernment stance.

In the words of political scientist T.J. Pempel, the Supreme Court "has been an important, if frequently unrecognized, vehicle for preserving the status quo in Japan and for reducing the capacity of the courts to reverse executive actions." Important exceptions to this conservative trend, however, were the rulings on the unconstitutionality of the electoral district apportionment system, discussed earlier.

Data as of January 1994