Prime Minister of Japan

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The Prime Minister of Japan is the modern head of government of Japan, part of the cabinet system established in 1885 under the Meiji Restoration. Compared with strong executives such as the President of the United States, the Japanese leader has always had checks and balances, although informal in nature.

Prior to 1945, these checks came from the Palace, and the military. The military could influence Prime Ministers by preventing the formation of cabinets under the Cabinet Law of 1900, which required the Army and Navy Ministers to be serving generals and admirals, respectively, approved by their services. After 1945, the checks and balances came from the complex Japanese consensus system of decisionmaking, not the least element of which was the permanent civil service.

Hirobumi Ito, who was influential in writing the Constitution, was the first Prime Minister and served as Prime Minister in three other governments.