The instruments of surrender signed by Japan aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay set Japan under the leadership of the Supreme Allied Commander — General Douglas MacArthur, who quickly went about reforming the old Meiji government into a modern constitutional democracy. One of those changes was the establishment of an Anglo-American court system.
On this day, August 4, in 1947, the first Japanese Supreme Court convened for the first time. As the highest court in the land and “the court of last resort” according the Japanese constitution, it was modeled on the American version.
The Chief Justice of the Japanese Supreme Court is appointed by the Emperor, and associate justices by his cabinet (with the Emperor’s approval), but unlike the American system, appointments are not necessarily for life. All incoming justices face a “people’s review” with the first election to the House of Representatives after their appointment. A popular vote decides whether their tenure should continue. After the initial review, justices face them again every ten years.