Has the Japanese Supreme Court been passive?

The Japanese Supreme Court (JSC) is characterized as passive, conservative, and deferential. On the other hand, the degree of democracy and freedom in Japan is not necessarily low. For example, Freedom House ranks Japan as one of the most democratic and free countries with 96 points. What is the cause of this paradox? This paper explores this cause. The paper posits that the JSC, despite its visible passivity, has played an active role in the maintenance of democracy and freedom through the following unique approaches. First, it has not always been deferential in cases where free expression and the right to vote are concerned. Second, even though the conclusions were constitutional, the JSC has implied cases in which further infringement of rights would be unconstitutional. Because of the fragile constitutional status of the JSC, it has been able to maintain its autonomy only by narrowing the scope of its review and avoiding direct conflict with the political branches.