House of Peers (Japan)

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House of Peers

貴族院

Kizoku-in
Japanese House of Peers.jpg
House of Peers, 1915
Type
Type
History
Established6 March 1871
Disbanded2 May 1947
Succeeded by House of Councillors
Seats251 (1889)
409 (at peak, 1938)
373 (1947)
Elections
Last election
1946
Meeting place
National Diet Building, Tokyo

The House of Peers (貴族院, Kizoku-in) was the upper house of the Imperial Diet as mandated under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan (in effect from 11 February 1889 to 3 May 1947).

Contents

Background

Emperor Meiji in a formal session of the House of Peers. Ukiyo-e woodblock print by Yoshu Chikanobu, 1890 Yoshu Chikanobu House of Peers.jpg
Emperor Meiji in a formal session of the House of Peers. Ukiyo-e woodblock print by Yōshū Chikanobu, 1890

In 1869, under the new Meiji government, a Japanese peerage was created by an Imperial decree merging the former Court nobility (kuge) and former feudal lords ( daimyos ) into a single new aristocratic class called the kazoku. A second imperial ordinance in 1884 grouped the kazoku into five ranks equivalent to the European aristocrats, prince (or duke), marquis, count, viscount, and baron. [1] Although this grouping idea was taken from the European peerage, the Japanese titles were taken from Chinese and based on the ancient feudal system in China. Itō Hirobumi and the other Meiji leaders deliberately modeled the chamber on the British House of Lords, as a counterweight to the popularly elected House of Representatives (Shūgiin).

Establishment

The House Of Peers in 1910 The Imperial Throne, The House Of Peers.jpg
The House Of Peers in 1910

In 1889, the House of Peers Ordinance established the House of Peers and its composition. For the first session of the Imperial Diet (November 1890–March 1891), there were 145 hereditary members and 106 imperial appointees and high taxpayers, for a total of 251 members. In the 1920s, four new peers elected by the Japan Imperial Academy were added, and the number of peers elected by the top taxpayers of each prefecture was increased from 47 to 66 as some prefectures now elected two members. Inversely, the minimum age for hereditary (dukes and marquesses) and mutually elected (counts, viscounts and barons) noble peers was increased to 30, slightly reducing their number. By 1938, membership reached 409 seats. [2] After the addition of seats for the Empire's colonies Chōsen (Japanese colonial name of Korea) and Taiwan (Japanese name of Formosa) during the last stages of WWII, it stood at 418 at the beginning of the 89th Imperial Diet in November 1945, [3] briefly before Douglas MacArthur's "purge" barred many members from public office. In 1947 during its 92nd and final session, the number of members was 373.

Composition

After revisions to the ordinance, notably in 1925, the House of Peers comprised:

[4]

Postwar dissolution

After World War II, under the current Constitution of Japan, in effect from 3 May 1947, the unelected House of Peers was replaced by an elected House of Councillors.

Presidents

No.NamePortraitTitleTerm of officeSessions
Took officeLeft officeTime in office
1 Itō Hirobumi Ito Hirobumi.jpg Count (hakushaku)24 October 189020 July 1891269 days1
2 Hachisuka Mochiaki Hachisuka Mochiaki.jpg Marquis (kōshaku)20 July 18913 October 18965 years, 75 days2–9
3 Konoe Atsumaro Konoe Atsumaro.jpg Prince (kōshaku)3 October 18964 December 19037 years, 62 days10–18
4 Tokugawa Iesato Portrait of Prince Tokugawa Iesato as President of the House of Peers.jpg Prince (kōshaku)4 December 19039 June 193329 years, 187 days19–64
5 Fumimaro Konoe Fumimaro Konoe.jpg Prince (kōshaku)9 June 193317 June 19374 years, 8 days65–70
6 Yorinaga Matsudaira Yorinaga Matsudaira.jpg Count (hakushaku)17 June 193711 October 19447 years, 116 days71–85
7 Tokugawa Kuniyuki Tokugawa Kuniyuki.jpg Prince (kōshaku)11 October 194419 June 19461 year, 251 days86–89
8 Tokugawa Iemasa Tokugawa Iemasa.JPG Prince (kōshaku)19 June 19462 May 1947317 days90–92

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References

  1. The Twentieth Century. Nineteenth Century and After. 1907.
  2. p. 109, "Government: The Imperial Diet - House of Peers," Japan Year Book 1938-1939, Kenkyusha Press, Foreign Association of Japan, Tokyo
  3. National Diet Library, Reference (レファレンス, an NDL periodical) 2005.5, Hidehisa Ōyama 帝国議会の運営と会議録をめぐって; contains an appended table listing membership by category at the beginning of each Imperial Diet]
  4. p. 109, "Government: The Imperial Diet - House of Peers," Japan Year Book 1938-1939, Kenkyusha Press, Foreign Association of Japan, Tokyo