This public holiday, also known as Constitution Day and “Kenpo kinenbi” in Japan, is part of Golden Week. On May 3rd, 1947, Japan’s Constitution went into effect, and has been designated as a national holiday to remember the incident. Many newspapers and magazines write pieces regarding Japan’s government on this day. On this day only, the National Diet Building in Tokyo, where the constitution was drafted, is also open to the public.

Japan’s constitution was amended after the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, emphasizing peace and pacifism. Unlike the Meiji Constitution that it replaced, the current Constitution proclaims that the people have sovereignty; the Emperor is “the symbol of the state and the unity of the people”. It states that individuals have basic human rights and that they oppose conflict. It’s an extremely democratic document, modeled after the US and British constitutions.

The main purpose of Constitution Memorial Day is to commemorate Japan’s democratic transition. It is also a day when pacifists commemorate the constitution’s “guarantee” of permanent peace, which declares Japan to be perpetually neutral. This is also one of the most important days in Japan’s history and culture. It is an important part of “Golden Week,” a set of four significant Japanese festivals that takes place in late April and early May.