Japan is a liberal, multi-party democracy with regular free and fair elections. The prime minister, the majority leader in the countryâ€™s legislative body, serves as head of government. The emperor has a purely ceremonial role as head of state. Elections for the two chambers are held every four years for the lower chamber, the House of Representatives, and every six years for the upper chamber, the House of Councillors.
The LDP briefly lost its majority to the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in the 2009 elections, but regained power through snap elections in 2012. Before this short intermezzo the party had been in power for almost 55 years leading to close ties between government, banks, and big business, known as the iron-triangle.
Freedom of assembly and association are
constitutionally guaranteed, and there exist numerous human rights, social welfare and environmental groups. The same applies for the founding of parties and interest groups. Civil society engagement was recently highlighted by massive peaceful protests against the restarting of two nuclear reactors and protests against the deployment of US military jets.