The State Council of Japan (コクムイン [國務院] Kokumu-in) is the national advisory body of Japan. The State Council held its regular meeting at least once a month in the right wing of National Congress Building, Tokyo, the national capital of Japan. Although the State Council assembles in National Congress Building, but the State Council is not a legislative parliamentary chamber. The State Council does not have any legislative, executive, and judicial power and intended only serves as an advisory body for the Government of Japan and National Congress in general and for the President of the Republic in particular. The State Council role is somewhat analogous to the role of upper house in bicameral parliament system.
Prior to World War II, most of State Councillors was elected by the chambers of functional group such as workers, farmers, teachers, artisans, etc., every four years, while several others were appointed by the President of the Republic with the concerns from the National Congress every eight years. With the 1946 constitutional amendments, most of all State Councillors are elected by the electoral colleges, consists of 40 electorates, in every provinces for six years term. There are two Councillors who elected in one province and the electoral colleges are required to cast their votes twice. The National Front, an alliance of political parties under Nationalist Party leadership always nominating two of their candidates in each provinces, while another candidate(s) are usually independent.
Some of the State Councillors are unelected. The first category is the Councillor for Life which is appointed by the President of the Republic with the advices from the National Court. By 1946, the number of Councillors for Life is only 7. However, by 2013, there are 60 Councillors for Life in the Council. Second, the representatives from Shōheikō University and Keio University. By 2012, there are 18 University representatives in the Council. Third, the representatives from indigenous peoples of Karafuto, Ezo, Ryukyu and Taiwan which are appointed by the President of the Republic by the concerns from the Congress every four years. By 2012, there are 29 Indigenous representatives in the Council. Both the elected and unelected State Councillors has the equal right to vote in the Kyogi Sokwai.
Since the post of President of the Republic and of Ministers of State requires the person who also serves as the member of Congress according to the Constitution, that is impossible for the members of State Council to serve as the part of executive branch of government during its term of office.
The State Council's main function is to advise the Government of Japan (the Congress, the President, and the Council of Ministers) on matters of grave importance including:
- proposed amendments to the Constitution of the Republic
- matters of constitutional interpretation, proposed laws, and ordinances
- proclamations of martial law
- declaration of war and termination of war
- treaties and other international agreements
- matters submitted by the Congress
- matters of general state policies.
However, the State Council rarely uses their functions alone today since most of its functions are executed through the Kyogi Sokwai.
Extra-constitutionally, the State Council has several legislative powers when the Council assembling the Kyogi Sokai with the Legislative Council. The State Council can openly debated about the any legislation proposals from the Legislative Council which will be submitting to the National Congress. According to the Regulation about the Joint Meeting between Two Councils (レンゴウ ギクワイ クヮイギ キソク [聯合議會會議規則] Rengō Gikwai Kwaigi Kisoku), if the three-fourth quorum able to achieve from among all State Councillors, the State Council can vetoes the Legislative Council’s proposals.