Constitution Memorial Day is observed in Japan on May 3 to commemorate the birth of the Japanese Constitution. The Constitution of Japan had come into force on May 3, 1947, and the day has since become a public holiday.

Constitution Memorial Day is a part of the Golden Week in Japan when four national holidays line up in the span of seven days. The day, which is alternatively known as "Kenpo kinenbi," celebrates the introduction of the post-war Constitution of the country modeled on democratic lines.

On this day, the many notable Japanese tabloids and newspapers publish articles on the lineage of the Japanese government. The Japanese Diet Building, where the Constitution was penned, also remains open to the general public on this day. The granting of mass access to the Diet Building is also aimed at expanding the public’s knowledge about Japan’s wartime past.

The History of Constitution Memorial Day:

The introduction of the post-war Japanese Constitution is traced to 1945 when Japan lost two of its cities -- Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- to U.S. nuclear bombings. The newer Japanese Constitution, which replaced the previous Meiji Constitution, also represents Japan’s shift from Imperial ruling to democracy.

The Meiji constitution pressed on conquering countries through violence and war while undermining the well-being of its civilians. However, the focus of the newly drafted constitution lay on upholding the sovereignty of people, protecting them, and resolving any international conflict without waging a war.

After Japan’s Emperor Showa surrendered to the allied forces following the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the country drafted its new constitution centering on peace and pacifism. The document was ready and ratified by 1946, but the official implementation of the constitution took place in 1947.

In the newer Constitution, sovereignty took center stage while the Emperor stood as the "symbol of the state and the unity of the people" who was stripped of his power on the government. The newer Japanese constitution upholds the ideas of fundamental human rights and people’s right to renounce war.

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