In general, mechanisms of direct democracy in Japan are not well established. At the national level, the National Referendum Law for the Change of the Constitution only recently came into effect on 18 May 2010, three years after its enactment. Before then there were no procedures laid out for a referendum on a constitutional amendment. At the local level, there are more options for direct citizen participation, however the result of a vote is not legally binding. This working paper aims to describe the different mechanisms of direct democracy in Japan, at the national as well as local level, to present their legal basis and frequency of use and to discuss developments since the late 1990s primarily at the local level.