When asked if Japan is a democratic nation, one can say--sarcasm aside--that Japan is indeed a constitutional democracy. Elections are held, and the country has a representative-style parliament.
Elections allow ordinary citizens to swap those at the pinnacle of power and are undeniably an important constituent of democracy. However, having long covered American democracy, it has become clear to me that democracy doesn't consist merely of elections and parliament. The following are six important elements Japanese democracy lacks.
1- The commission system 2- Public hearings 3- Referenda 4- Autonomous local government 5- Non-profit organizations (NPOs) 6- Civil participation in the enactment of regulations (ordinances, statutes)