IMPERIAL HOUSE LAW REGULATING THE NOBILITY OF JAPAN.

 

 

Owing to the Imperial pleasure that there should be no distinction between the Court and the military, and that high and low should be harmoniously united, it has been decreed that henceforth the title of Court Nobles (kuge) and Feudal Lords (Shoko) shall be abolished and they shall be called Peers instead.

 

IMPERIAL EDICT CONCERNING THE CREATION OF PEERS.

 

(July 7th, 1884)

 

Peers and descendants of meritorious subjects are naturally objects of national respect and veneration and they should be invested with high titles of nobility to show the honour in which they are held. All civil and military subjects who have assisted in the great work of the Restoration and rendered conspicuous services to the country should be distinguished by high special rank of honour. We, therefore, hereby create five classes of a peerage in order to regulate their degrees.

You shall thus endeavour to be more faithful and loyal than ever and induce your descendants to make honour their ideal from generation to generation.

 

IMPERIAL ORDINANCE CONCERNING PEERS.

 

Promulgated May 8th, 1907.

 

Article I.- All persons possessing Titles of Nobility are Peers.

Members of the House of a Peer enjoy the ≪status≫ of Peers*.

Article II.- Titles of Nobility consist of five kinds, namely, Princes, Marquises, Counts, Viscounts and Barons.

Article III.- Titles of Nobility are conferred by Imperial pleasure through the Minister of the Imperial Household.

Article IV.- Persons possessing Titles of Nobility enjoy treatment corresponding to their respective titles.

Article V.- The wife of a person possessing a Title of Nobility enjoys treatment and denomination corresponding to her husband's title.

The widow of a person possessing a Title of Nobility is specially enabled to enjoy the old treatment and denomination so long as she remains in his House. In case she becomes the Head of the House, or, without any person succeeding to her husband's Title of Nobility, she remains in the House, she alone is enabled to retain enjoyment of the classification of Peer and the old treatment and denomination.

Article VI.- Of the members of the House of a person possessing a Title of Nobility, those mentioned below enjoy the treatment of Peers:

        1. Great-grandfather, Grandfather and Father;

        2. The legal Heir Presumptive to the House who is entitled to succeed to the Title of Nobility and his legitimate Eldest Son, or, if there is no legitimate Eldest Son, his illegitimate Eldest Son;

        3. The person who was the Head of the House;

        4. The Spouses of persons mentioned in the preceding three clauses.

Article VII.- Persons possessing Titles of Nobility or persons who under the preceding two articles are entitled to treatment as Peers cannot enjoy such treatment if they fall under one of the conditions mentioned below:

        1. Incompetent persons and quasi-incompetent persons;

        2. Persons who having undergone a disposition of insolvency (≪shindai-kagiri≫) have not yet fully discharged their liabilities, and persons against whom an adjudication in insolvency (≪kashi-bunsan≫), or bankruptcy, has become finally binding and for whom a decision of rehabilitation is not yet become finally binding;

        3. Persons against whom a sentence a criminal action is brought and who are consequently in detention or on bail;

        4. Persons against whom a sentence of a penalty of imprisonment or a graver penalty has been passed the judgment not yet having become finally binding.

Article VIII.- A person possessing a Title of Nobility may, within the scope of laws and ordinances in general and of rules and regulations relating to Peers, fix a Family Constitution (Law).

For a Family Constitution sanction of the Minister of the Imperial Household must be obtained. The same applies when it is cancelled or altered.

A person possessing a Title of Nobility, who is a minor or an incompetent person, may not make a Family Constitution, or cancel or alter the same.

Article IX.- A Title of Nobility is succeeded to by the Male Heir to the House.

Article X.- An Heir to a House who is entitled to succeed to a Title of Nobility, or his legal representative, must, within six months from his coming to knowledge of the falling-in of the Succession, give notice of the Succession to the House to the Minister of the Imperial Household.

On receipt of the notice mentioned in the preceding paragraph, the Minister of the Imperial Household issues an order granting the Succession to the Title after obtaining Imperial sanction.

Article XI.- The Succession to a Title of Nobility takes effect as from the time when the Succession to the House falls-in.

Article XII.- The Heir to a House cannot succeed to the Title of Nobility:

        1. When the Succession to the House falls-in by reason of loss of nationality;

        2. When no notice of the Succession to the House has been given within the period mentioned in Article X, 1, or within three years from the time of the falling-in of the Succession to the House;

        3. When in accordance with Article XXII or XXIV he does not enjoy, or has lost or been deprived of, the right to the classification of Peer.

Article XIII.- Matters which are necessary for the control of the ≪status≫ of persons possessing Titles of Nobility and of members of their Houses are looked after by the Minister of the Imperial Household.

Article XIV.- When a person possessing a Title of Nobility intends to effect a Marriage, an Adoption, Retirement from the Headship of the House, a Divorce by mutual agreement, Dissolution of an Adoption or Designation of an Heir to the House or Cancellation thereof, permission of the Minister of the Imperial Household shall be obtained before notice is given to the Registrar, or, in case the permission of the Court is required for the Retirement from the Lordship of the House, before application is made for such permission.

When a person possessing a Title of Nobility has by will expressed an intention of making an Adoption or Designating an Heir to the House, the permission of the Minister of the Imperial Household shall be obtained before consent is given in the case of the person who is to be adopted or the person who is entitled to give consent to the adoption in his place; and before the Succession is accepted, in the case of the Designatee, or his legal representative.

The provisions of the preceding two paragraphs do not apply if one of the parties concerned is a member of the Imperial Family.

Article XV.- When a person possessing a Title of Nobility intends to effect the Disinheritance of the legal Heir Presumptive to the House, or Cancellation thereof, or when the Person who has been Disinherited intends to have the Disinheritance cancelled, the permission of the Minister of the Imperial Household shall be obtained before application is made to the Court. But this does not apply in case a person possessing a Title of Nobility has by will expressed an intention of disinheriting the heir to the house or of cancelling such disinheritance.

Article XVI.- A person who has been appointed Heir to the House of a person possessing a Title of Nobility, or his legal representative, shall, before accepting the Succession, obtain the permission of the Minister of the Imperial Household. The provisions of the preceding paragraph do not apply if the appointee is a member of the Imperial Family.

Article XVII.- When a member of the House of a person possessing a Title of Nobility intends to Marry, to be a party to an Adoption, to establish a Branch House, to Re-establish an Abolished or Extinct House, to Succeed to another House or to become a member of another House, the person possessing a Title of Nobility, or his legal representative, shall, before giving his consent thereto, obtain the permission of the Minister of the Imperial Household.

The provisions of the preceding paragraph do not apply if one of the parties is a member of the Imperial Family.

Article XVIII.- When a person possessing a Title of Nobility, or his legal representative, intends to consent to another person entering (registering into) the House, he shall, before giving consent, obtain the permission of the Minister of the Imperial Household.

Article XIX.- In case of a person possessing a Title of Nobility, or the Heir Presumptive to the House, having effected an Adoption, the Adopted is designated or appointed to be Heir to the House, the permission of the Minister of the Imperial Household cannot be obtained unless the Heir to the House comes under one of the following conditions:

        1. Blood-relations within the sixth degree of relationship in the male line of the Adoptive Father or of the Ancestor (the person who is succeeded to) except relations on the side of the original House of a person who has entered from another House.

        2. Members of the principal House or a co-Branch House (≪doke≫) or the head or members of a Branch House;

        3. Persons enjoying the right of classification as Peers.

Article XX.- If persons who are required to obtain the permission of the Minister of the Imperial Household have done any of the acts mentioned in Articles XIV-XVIII without obtaining the said permission, they may, according to circumstances, be suspended in regard to their treatment as Peers or prevented from succeeding to Titles of Nobility.

In case the provisions of Article XVIII are contravened, the person newly entering (registered into) the House cannot enjoy the right of classification as Peer.

Article XXI.- A person possessing a Title of Nobility against whom a sentence of death or penal servitude has become finally binding loses his Title of Nobility.

When the wife of a person possessing a Title of Nobility comes under the case mentioned in the preceding paragraph, her treatment as a Peer is estopped.

Article XXII.- When a person who is entitled to the treatment under Article V, 2 or a member of the House of a person possessing a Title of Nobility comes under the case mentioned in the preceding Article, such person only loses the right of classification as a Peer. In case a member of the House of a person on whom a Title of Nobility has been newly conferred comes under the case mentioned in the preceding Article, such member only cannot enjoy the right of classification as a Peer.

Article XXIII.- When persons possessing Titles of Nobility and persons who are entitled to the treatment under Articles V and VI come under one of the following clauses, their treatment as Peers is suspended:

        1. Persons who are unable to maintain the dignity of Peers;

        2. Persons who to a serious extent have contravened orders of the Minister of the Imperial Household or their Family Constitution.

Article XXIV.- Besides the cases specified in the preceding three Articles, persons who are guilty of acts disgracing the honour of Peers shall, according to circumstances, be required to return their Titles of Nobility, deprived of the right of classification as Peers or suspended or deprived of the treatment of Peers.

When members of Houses which do not enjoy the treatment under Articles V and VI are guilty of misconduct as mentioned in the preceding paragraph, they are deprived of the right of classification as Peers.

Article XXV.- A person possessing a Title of Nobility who is unable to maintain his dignity as such may, through the Minister of the Imperial Household, apply for permission to return his Title of Nobility.

Article XXVI.- Penal measures mentioned in Articles XX, 1, XXIII and XXIV are, with Imperial sanction, adopted by the Minister of the Imperial Household. The same applies when a suspension of the treatment of Peers is cancelled.

As for the penal measures and cancellation mentioned in the preceding paragraph, Imperial sanction shall be obtained after resolutions have been passed by the Disciplinary Committee organized of members jointly elected by persons possessing Titles of Nobility.

An estoppal of the treatment of Peers is cancelled by special Imperial grace.

Article XXVII.- The regulations relating to the joint election of a Disciplinary Committee shall, with Imperial sanction, be determined by the Minister of the Imperial Household.

This ordinance shall be enforced from June 1st, 1907.

The Imperial Ordinance concerning Peers of the year 1884 and ≪re≫ the Household Members and Officers of Princes of the Blood and Peers, and the ≪Dajokwan≫ Notice dated September 10th, 1871, are Hereby Cancelled.

 

*This means that they are said to belong to the class of Peers as contrasted with the class of Commerce, etc.

 

PRECEDENCE OF PEERS.

 

(Department of the Imperial Household Notice B No. 5, July 15th, 1884)

 

The Precedence of Peers is determined by their Titles of Nobility and, among persons possessing an equal Title of Nobility, it is determined by Court Rank.

 

REGULATIONS CONCERNING THE CONFERMENT OF COURT RANK.

 

(Imperial Ordinance No. 10, May 6th, 1887, amended by Imperial Ordinance No. 149, 1900)

 

Article I.- Court rank (Kurai) is conferred on Peers, officials of the ≪choku-nin≫ and ≪so-nin≫ ranks, persons who have rendered distinguished services to the State or persons of such merit as to warrant public notice.

Article II.- Rank is divided into sixteen grades from the senior grade of the first rank to the junior grade of the eighth rank.

Article III.- Court rank from the junior grade of the fourth rank upwards is conferred by Imperial grace through the Minister of the Imperial Household, and that from the senior grade of the fifth rank downwards is conferred with Imperial approval and made public by the Minister of the Imperial Household.

Article IV.- With the exception of cases otherwise governed by the Criminal Code and other special provisions, Court Rank is conferred for life. But in cases other than specified in special provisions, if a person possessing Court Rank is sentenced to a penalty of imprisonment or a graver penalty, or is guilty of an act calculated to disgrace his honour, he is required to return the rank.

Article V.- For ranks from junior grade of fourth rank, treatment is accorded corresponding to Titles of Nobility according to the following rule:

 

Prince      Junior grade of 1st rank

Marquis     Senior grade of 2nd rank

Count       Junior grade of 2nd rank

Viscount    Senior and junior grades of 3rd rank

Baron       Senior and junior grades of 4th rank

 

Article VI.- Persons possessing at once a Title of Nobility and a Special Rank are treated according to whichever is the higher of the two.

 

COURT RANKS.

 

Joichii     First

Juichii     Second

Jonii       Third

Junii       Fourth

Jozammi     Fifth

Juzammi     Sixth

Joshii      Seventh

Jushii      Eighth

Jogoi       Ninth

Jugoi       Tenth

Jorokui     Eleventh

Jurokui     Twelfth

Joshichii   Thirteenth

Jushichii   Fourteenth

Johachii    Fifteenth

Juhachii    Sixteenth