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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Japan Series at JapanesePod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Japanese holidays and observances. I’m Becky, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 12- "Constitution Day".
May 3rd is 憲法記念日 (Kenpō kinenbi) or "Constitution Day". On this day in 1947, the Japanese constitution came into effect. Many countries around the world hold a national holiday commemorating the date their constitution was enacted. In Japan, the holiday celebrates the enactment of the Japanese constitution and also looks toward the future growth of the country.
Now, before we go any further, do you know the answer to this question - although the Constitution was enacted May 3rd, on which date was it proclaimed?
If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
There are three pillars of the Japanese constitution. They are the sovereignty of the people, pacifism, and respect for basic human rights. Constitution Week is held from May 1st to May 7th, with Constitution Day itself held in the middle of these dates. Various events are held by the Department of Justice and the courts, as well as local governments, to deepen understanding about the principles of the Constitution.
Debate on constitutional reform has grown in recent years, and because of this, on Constitution Day the Constitutional Reform Faction and the Constitution Protection Faction hold lectures and surveys about constitutional amendments. One of the main points of these debates concerns Article 9—the abandonment of war on the basis of pacifism, and the renunciation of the right to have an army and use belligerency. Opinions are exchanged on the country's role in the international community and on building a country in which people can live happily.
Many members of the Japanese general public rediscover Constitution Day via the news or radio. Newspapers and news broadcasts touch on various opinions about the Constitution, which allows people to consider it. On the other hand, since this day is one of the national holidays that make up Golden Week, it’s common for many to enjoy the day off and the pleasant May weather.
Here’s our fun fact for the day! Did you know that the names of many children born in 1947 when the Constitution was enacted incorporate the kanji character 憲 (ken), meaning "constitution”? Names like Kenji and Kentarō were common during this period.
Now it's time to answer the quiz question- when was the Constitution proclaimed?
The correct answer is that the Constitution was proclaimed six months before Constitution Day on November 3rd. This day is also a national holiday, known as Culture Day, and was named as such due to the Constitution's emphasis on peace and culture.
Well listeners, how was this lesson?
Did you learn something new?
In your country, do you have a Constitution Day?
Please leave us a comment telling us at JapanesePod101.com.
And we’ll see you next time!