The Kyogi Sokai (キョウギソオウカイ; 協議総會 Kyōgi Sōkai), literally means “the consultative meeting”, is the usual joint meeting between the Legislative Council and the State Council of Japan. The meetings are commonly convoked by the State Council in order to discuss some important national issues. The Kyogi Sokai sessions are held at the Main Auditorium of National Congress Building where the National Congress session also usually take place.
Powers and functions
Constitutionally, the Kyogi Sokai is only briefly mentioned in the Constitution of Japan in Chapter IV, Article 61:
- "The State Council shall routinely held a consultative meeting with the Legislative Council to discuss upon important matters of State according to the provisions of law."
Before 1945, the joint sessions between the Legislative Council and State Council were rarely held. Only two sessions of Kyogi Sokai that were ever convened prior to World War II, first during the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1930 and second in 1943 regarding the post-war plan of decolonization. Both sessions were attended by the members of National Government, including President Nagayama Yoshida and members of Council of Ministers. Nevertheless, the pre-war sessions were considered only symbolic as there was only general statement of opinions from the members of State Council to the Legislative Council and no any debate took place.
The importance of Kyogi Sokai increased shortly after the war. Electoral reform on the State Council in 1946 created a safe-haven for political opposition of the Nationalist Party within the existing power system. Independent-minded individuals are regularly elected to the State Council which giving the organ a significant power to check and balance the ruling Nationalist regime established through the National Congress. The so-called "allied parties" of Nationalist Party in the National Front are having more presence in the State Council compared to in the Congress.
As result of increasing significance of State Council, the Kyogi Sokai sessions are regularly held in the post-war period. While the State Council technically does not having any legislative power, within the Kyogi Sokai the members are having rights to question the Legislative Council regarding the passed or proposed laws. In addition, the members of Legislative Council may also demands the presence of Ministers of State before the joint session. This situation resulting to more debates are taken in the Kyogi Sokai than in the National Congress. A notable occurence incident happened in 1975 when a famous feminist, Ichikawa Fusae, opened a heated debate in the Sokai regarding gender inequality in Japan that involved the government and lasted for two years.
Although the Constitution of Japan clearly mentions the National Congress as the national parliament of Japan, the Kyogi Sokai can being viewed as an "extra-constitutional parliament" since the body playing the role as an effective national forum between the state organs. The active but constitutionally powerless Kyogi Sokai plays a counterbalance role to the rubber-stamp but constitutionally powerful National Congress in the politics of Japan. As result, Japan often referred as "a country with two parliaments".