IMPERIAL HOUSE LAW AND SUPPLEMENTS THERETO

 

The Imperial Throne of Japan, enjoying the Grace of Heaven and everlasting from ages eternal in an unbroken line of succession, has been transmitted to Us through successive reigns. The fundamental rules of Our Family were established once for all, at the time that Our Ancestors laid the foundations of the Empire, and are even at this day as bright as the celestial luminaries. We now desire to make the instructions of Our Ancestors more exact and express and to establish for Our posterity a House Law, by which Our House shall be founded in everlasting strength, and its dignity be forever maintained. We hereby, with the advice of Our Privy Council, give Our Sanction to the present Imperial House Law, to serve as a standard by which Our descendants shall be guided.

 

    [His Imperial Majesty's Sign-Manual.]

    [Privy Seal.]

 

The 11th day of the 2nd month of the 22nd year of Meiji.

 

 

 

THE IMPERIAL HOUSE LAW.

 

CHAPTER I.

SUCCESSION TO THE IMPERIAL THRONE.

 

Article I.- The Imperial Throne of Japan shall be succeeded to by male descendants in the male line of Imperial Ancestors.

Article II.- The Imperial Throne shall be succeeded to by the Imperial eldest son.

Article III.- When there is no Imperial eldest son, the Imperial Throne shall be succeeded to by the Imperial eldest grandson. When there is neither Imperial eldest son nor any male descendant of his, it shall be succeeded to by the Imperial son next in age, and so on in every successive case.

Article IV.- For succession to the Imperial Throne by an Imperial descendant, the one of full blood shall have precedence over descendants of half blood. The succession to the Imperial Throne by the latter shall be limited to those cases only when there is no Imperial descendant of full blood.

Article V.- When there is no Imperial descendant, the Imperial Throne shall be succeeded to by an Imperial brother and by his descendants.

Article VI.- When there is no such Imperial brother or descendant of his, the Imperial Throne shall be succeeded to by an Imperial uncle and by his descendants.

Article VII.- When there is neither such Imperial uncle nor descendant of his, the Imperial Throne shall be succeeded to by the next nearest member among the rest of the Imperial Family.

Article VIII.- Among the Imperial brothers and the remoter Imperial relations, precedence shall be given, in the same degree, to the descendants of full blood over those of half blood, and to the elder over the younger.

Article IX.- When the Imperial heir is suffering from an incurable disease of mind or body, or when any other weighty cause exists, the order of succession may be changed in accordance with the foregoing provisions, with the advice of the Imperial Family Council and with that of the Privy Council.

 

CHAPTER II.

ASCENSION AND CORONATION.

 

Article X.- Upon the demise of the Emperor, the Imperial heir shall ascend the Throne, and shall acquire the Divine Treasures of the Imperial Ancestors.

Article XI.- The ceremonies of Coronation shall be performed and a Grand Coronation Banquet (Daijosai) shall be held at Kyoto.

Article XII.- Upon an ascension to the Throne, a new era shall be inaugurated, and the name of it shall remain unchanged during the whole reign, in agreement with the established rule of the 1st year of Meiji

 

CHAPTER III.

MAJORITY, INSTITUTION OF EMPRESS AND OF HEIR-APPARENT.

 

Article XIII.- The Emperor, the Kotaishi and the Kotaison shall attain their majority at eighteen full years of age.

Article XIV.- Members of the Imperial Family, other than those mentioned in the preceding Article, shall attain their majority at twenty full years of age.

Article XV.- The son of the Emperor who is Heir-Apparent, shall be called ≪Kotaishi≫. In case there is no Kotaishi, the Imperial grandson who is Heir-Apparent, shall be called ≪Kotaison≫.

Article XVI.- The institution of Empress and that of Kotaison shall be proclaimed by an Imperial Rescript.

 

CHAPTER IV.

STYLES OF ADDRESS.

 

Article XVII.- The style of address for the Emperor, the Grand Empress Dowager, the Empress Dowager and of the Empress, shall be ≪His≫, or ≪Her≫ or ≪Your Majesty≫.

Article XVIII.- The Kotaishi and his consort, the Kotaison and his consort, the Imperial Princes and their consorts, the Imperial Princesses, the Princes and their consorts, and the Princesses shall be styled ≪His≫, ≪Her≫, ≪Their≫ or ≪Your Highness≫ or ≪Highnesses≫.

 

CHAPTER V.

REGENCY.

 

Article XIX.- When the Emperor is a minor, a Regency shall be instituted.

When He is prevented by some permanent cause from personally governing, a Regency shall be instituted, with the advice of the Imperial Family Council and with that of the Privy Council.

Article XX.- The Regency shall be assumed by the Kotaishi or the Kotaison, being of full age of majority.

Article XXI.- When there is neither Kotaishi nor Kotaison, or when the Kotaishi or the Kotaison has not yet arrived at his majority, the Regency shall be assumed in the following order:

        1. An Imperial Prince or a Prince.

        2. The Empress.

        3. The Empress Dowager.

        4. The Grand Empress Dowager.

        5. An Imperial Princess or a Princess.

Article XXII.- In case the Regency is to be assumed from among the male members of the Imperial Family, it shall be done in agreement with the order of succession to the Imperial Throne. The same shall apply to the case of female members of the Imperial Family.

Article XXIII.- A female member of the Imperial Family to assume the Regency, shall be exclusively one who has no consort.

Article XXIV.- When, on account of the minority of the nearest related member of the Imperial Family, or for some other cause, another member has to assume the Regency, the latter shall not, upon the arrival at majority of the above mentioned nearest related member, or upon the disappearance of the aforesaid cause, resign his or her post in favour of any person other than of the Kotaishi or of the Kotaison.

Article XXV.- When a Regent or one who should become such, is suffering from an incurable disease of mind or body, or when any other weighty cause exists therefor, the order of the Regency may be changed, with the advice of the Imperial Family Council and with that of the Privy Council.

 

CHAPTER VI.

THE IMPERIAL GOVERNOR.

 

Article XXVI.- When the Emperor is a minor, an Imperial Governor shall be appointed to take charge of His bringing up and of His education.

Article XXVII.- In case no Imperial Governor has been nominated in the will of the preceding Emperor, the Regent shall appoint one, with the advice of the Imperial Family Council and with that of the Privy Council.

Article XXVIII.- Neither the Regent nor any of his descendants can be appointed Imperial Governor.

Article XXIX.- The Imperial Governor can not be removed from his post by the Regent, unless upon the advice of the Imperial Family Council and upon that of the Privy Council.

 

CHAPTER VII.

THE IMPERIAL FAMILY.

 

Article XXX.- The term ≪Imperial Family≫ shall include the Grand Empress Dowager, the Empress Dowager, the Empress, the Kotaishi and his consort, the Kotaison and his consort, the Imperial Princes and their consorts, the Imperial Princesses, the Princes and their consorts, and the Princesses.

Article XXXI.- From Imperial sons to Imperial great-great-grandsons, Imperial male descendants shall be called Imperial Princes; and from Imperial daughters to Imperial great-great-granddaughters, Imperial female descendants shall be called Imperial Princesses. From the fifth generation downwards, they shall be called, respectively, Princes or Princesses.

Article XXXII.- When the Imperial Throne is succeeded to by a member of a branch line, the title of Imperial Prince or Imperial Princess shall be specially granted to the Imperial brothers and sisters, being already Princes or Princesses.

Article XXXIII.- The births, namings, marriages and deaths in the Imperial Family shall be announced by the Minister of the Imperial Household.

Article XXXIV.- Genealogical and other records relating to the matters mentioned in the preceding Article shall be kept in the Imperial archives.

Article XXXV.- The members of the Imperial Family shall be under the control of the Emperor.

Article XXXVI.- When a Regency is instituted, the Regent shall exercise the power of control referred to in the preceding Article.

Article XXXVII.- When a member, male or female, of the Imperial Family is a minor and has been bereft of his or her father, the officials of the Imperial Court shall be ordered to take charge of his or her bringing up and education. Under certain circumstances, the Emperor may either approve the guardian chosen by his or her parent, or may nominate one.

Article XXXVIII.- The guardian of a member of the Imperial Family must be himself a member thereof and of age.

Article XXXIX.- Marriages of members of the Imperial Family shall be restricted to the circle of the Family, or to certain noble families specially approved by Imperial Order.

Article XL.- Marriages of the Members of the Imperial Family shall be subject to the sanction of the Emperor.

Article XLI.- The Imperial writs sanctioning the marriages of members of the Imperial Family shall bear the countersignature of the Minister of the Imperial Household.

Article XLII.- No member of the Imperial Family can adopt any one as his son.

Article XLIII.- When a member of the Imperial Family wishes to travel beyond the boundaries of the Empire, he shall first obtain the sanction of the Emperor.

Article XLIV.- A female member of the Imperial Family, who has married a subject, shall be excluded from membership of the Imperial Family. However, she may be allowed, by the special grace of the Emperor, to retain her title of Imperial Princess or of Princess, as the case may be.

 

CHAPTER VIII.

IMPERIAL HEREDITARY ESTATES.

 

Article XLV.- No landed or other property, that has been fixed as the Imperial Hereditary Estates, shall be divided up and alienated.

Article XLVI.- The landed and other property to be included in the Imperial Hereditary Estates, shall be settled by Imperial writ, with the advice of the Privy Council, and shall be announced by the Minister of the Imperial Household.

 

CHAPTER IX.

EXPENDITURES OF THE IMPERIAL HOUSE.

 

Article XLVII.- The expenditures of the Imperial House of all kinds shall be defrayed out of the National Treasury at a certain fixed amount.

Article XLVIII.- The estimates and audit of accounts of the expenditures of the Imperial House and all other rules of the kind, shall be regulated by the Finance Regulations of the Imperial House.

 

CHAPTER X.

LITIGATIONS. DISCIPLINARY RULES FOR THE MEMBERS OF THE IMPERIAL FAMILY.

 

Article XLIX.- Litigation between members of the Imperial Family shall be decided by judicial functionaries specially designated by the Emperor to the Department of the Imperial Household, and execution issued, after Imperial Sanction thereto has been obtained.

Article L.- Civil actions brought by private individuals against members of the Imperial Family, shall be decided in the Court of Appeal in Tokyo. Members of the Imperial Family shall, however, be represented by attorneys, and no personal attendance in the Court shall be required of them.

Article LI.- No member of the Imperial Family can be arrested, or summoned before a Court of Law, unless the sanction of the Emperor has been first obtained thereto.

Article LII.- When a member of the Imperial Family has committed an act derogatory to his (or her) dignity, or when he has exhibited disloyalty to the Imperial House, he shall, by way of disciplinary punishment and by order of the Emperor, be deprived of the whole or of a part of the privileges belonging to him as a member of the Imperial Family, or shall be suspended therefrom.

Article LIII.- When a member of the Imperial Family acts in a way tending to the squandering of his (or her) property, he shall be pronounced by the Emperor prohibited from administering his property, and a manager shall be appointed therefor.

Article LIV.- The two foregoing Articles shall be sanctioned, upon the advice of the Imperial Family Council.

 

CHAPTER XI.

THE IMPERIAL FAMILY COUNCIL.

 

Article LV.- The Imperial Family Council shall be composed of the male members of the Imperial Family, who have reached the age of majority. The Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, the President of the Privy Council, the Minister of the Imperial Household, the Minister of State for Justice and the President of the Court of Cassation shall be ordered to take part in the deliberation of the Council.

Article LVI.- The Emperor personally presides over the meeting of the Imperial Family Council, or directs one of the members of the Imperial Family to do so.

 

CHAPTER XII.

SUPPLEMENTARY RULES.

 

Article LVII.- Those of the present members of the Imperial Family of the fifth generation and downwards, who have already been invested with the title of Imperial Prince, shall retain the same as heretofore.

Article LVIII.- The order of succession to the Imperial Throne shall in every case relate to the descendants of absolute lineage. There shall be no admission to this line of succession to any one, as a consequence of his now being an adopted Imperial son, Koyushi or heir to a princely house.

Article LIX.- The grades of rank among the Imperial Princes, Imperial Princesses, Princes and Princesses shall be abolished.

Article LX.- The family rank of Imperial Princes and all usages conflicting with the present Law, shall be abolished.

Article LXI.- The property, annual expenses and all other rules concerning the members of the Imperial Family, shall be specially determined.

Article LXII.- When in the future it shall become necessary either to amend or make additions to the present Law, the matter shall be decided by the Emperor, with the advice of the Imperial Family Council and with that of the Privy Council.

 

SUPPLEMENT TO THE IMPERIAL HOUSE LAW.

 

Promulgated on February 11th, 1907, that is on the 18th year of enactment of the original Imperial House Law, with the following Imperial Rescript:

 

The Law of the Imperial House of the Empire of Japan in enjoyment of heavenly grace is accordant with the principles of the Imperial Ancestors and there is no disagreement whatsoever. But with the development of civilization and the progress of the world, it is necessary that the system should be established in a full and complete form, and the provisions of the Law increased and enlarged. Considering it advisable, therefore, to consolidate for all time the Foundation laid down by Our Ancestors, and being desirous of making clear the ≪status≫ of members of the Imperial Family by Written Law, We hereby promulgate a Supplement to the Imperial House Law after duly consulting the Imperial Family Council and the Privy Council, and it is Our hope that Our Descendants and Subjects shall follow and observe it and never deviate therefrom.

 

Article I.- A Prince of the Blood (≪Wo≫) may, by Imperial pleasure or on application, be granted a Family Name and be placed among the Peers.

Article II.- A Prince of the Blood may, with Imperial permission, become Heir to the House of a Peer or become adopted by a Peer with the object of succeeding to his House.

Article III.- The Wife and Lineal Descendants of a person who under the preceding two articles enters upon the ≪status≫ of a subject, and their wives, enter his House, except daughters who are married to other members of the Imperial Family and their Lineal Descendants.

Article IV.- A Prince of the Blood who is deprived of his privileges may, at Imperial pleasure, be lowered to the ≪status≫ of a subject.

The Wife of a person who under the preceding paragraph is lowered to the status of a subject enters his House.

Article V.- In the case of Articles I, II and III, the opinion shall be taken of the Imperial Family Council and the Privy Council.

Article VI.- A person who has once entered upon the ≪status≫ of a subject cannot become a member of the Imperial Family again.

Article VII.- In addition to what is provided in this Law, regulations relating to the status and other rights and duties of members of the Imperial Family shall be separately provided.

Where, as to matters in which both members of the Imperial Family and subjects are concerned, the provisions to be followed by the one differ from those to be followed by the other, the provisions of the preceding paragraph are followed.

Article VIII.- Those provisions of laws and ordinances which are intended for members of the Imperial Family apply only where there are not special provisions in this Law and rules issued on the basis of this Law.

 

On February 10th, 1907, the fact of the above Supplement to the Imperial House Law being about to be promulgated was solemnly declared before the ≪Kashiko-dokoro≫ (Shrine of Amaterasu Okami, the Imperial Ancestress), the ≪Kworeiden≫ (Shrine of the bygone Emperors and Empresses) and the ≪Shiuden≫ (Shrine of the Gods) in the Imperial palace, and Imperial messengers were sent to the Ise shrines, the Emperor Jimmu's mausoleum at Kashiwabara and the Emperor Komei's (the late Emperor's father) at Go-tsuki-no-wa, Kyoko. The Document which was read before these Shrines, etc., ran as follows:

 

   "We hereby respectfully inform the Spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors: Nineteen years have elapsed since the Imperial House Law was made for the purpose of making clear the rules bequeathed by the Imperial Ancestors and of consolidating the great Foundation of the Dynasty, endless with heaven and earth, during which time We have duly observed it along with Our brethren and have never acted in contravention thereof. But now that the national fortunes are enhanced more than ever and the divine influence of Our Imperial Ancestors shines forth afar all over the world, it is nothing but what the August intention of Our Imperial Ancestors directs that the Law should be Enlarged and Supplemented in view of the progress of time and fortune in order to strengthen the means of upholding Our dignity and authority, and broadening the way which Our Descendants are to tread. We, therefore, have provided this Supplement to the Imperial House Law, praying for the divine grace of Our Imperial Ancestors and swearing that we will faithfully act upon it for ever."

   "We pray that the Divine Spirits will hear this."

 


 

THE IMPERIAL REGULATIONS OF PRECEDENCE AT COURT.

 

Precedence at Court is determined according to the list hereto annexed, but this does not apply to that which is connected with Official Functions.

As between persons of the same degree, Precedence is determined by the date on which they were appointed to office. But in case the date of appointment is the same, Precedence as between their predecessors in office governs.

If a person is transferred to another office of the same degree, his status is determined by the date on which he was first advanced to that degree.

In the case of a person holding two or more offices his status is determined by whichever is the highest of them, no matter whether it is his principal office or the one which he holds additionally (to the principal office).

As between persons who are admitted to office for the first time and who attain the same degree on the same date, there is no other fact by which the order of their status is to be determined; it is determined by their respective ages.

A person whose office has been abolished or who has resigned from his office but who has been re-appointed to an office of the same degree within thirty days may retain his former status.

A person who is lowered in official rank takes precedence over all persons actually holding offices of the same degree (as that to which he is lowered).

But a person who is lowered from the ≪shinnin≫ (rank of office) to the first class ≪sonin≫ (rank of office) takes the status next to those specially reserved for certain persons of the same degree.

Persons for whom a special status is allotted are not governed by these provisions.

 

Note: Though Precedence at Court is, as a rule, determined by whichever is the highest (of the qualifications of which a person may be possessed), when Peers from Counts downwards, or persons holding the Second Class Order of Merit downwards, are summoned to Court in view of the offices they hold, they are treated according to such offices; but when persons are summoned without any regard to offices, Orders of Merit or Classes of Peerage, they are treated according to whichever is the highest (of their qualifications).

 

Holders of Supreme Order (according to the order in which it has been conferred)

Minister-President of State

Marshals (according to the order in which the title has been granted)

Ministers of State (according to the order of appointment)

President of the Privy Council (according to the order of appointment)

Governor-General of Korea (according to the order of appointment)

Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary (according to the order of appointment)

Full Generals (according to the order of appointment)

Full Admirals (according to the order of appointment)

Grand Chamberlain

Vice-President of the Privy Council

≪Shinnin≫ officials (according to the order of appointment)

Persons treated as ≪shinnin≫ officials (according to the order of appointment)

President of the House of Peers

President of the House of Representatives

Holders of Order of the Rising Sun and Paulownia (according to the order in which it has been conferred)

Princes (according to the order of Creation)

Persons of Junior First Rank (according to the order in which it has been conferred)

Holders of First Class:

        Order of the Rising Sun (according to the order in which it has been conferred)

        Order of the Sacred Treasure (according to the order in which it has been conferred)

 

Persons of the First Degree

 

Grand Master of Ceremonies (according to the order of appointment)

Grand Master of Rituals (according to the order of appointment)

Grand Master of the Empress's Household (according to the order of appointment)

First Class high officials

Vice-President of the House of Peers

Vice-President of the House of Representatives

Marquises (according to the order of Creation)

Persons of Senior Second Rank (according to the order in which it has been conferred)

 

Persons of the Second Degree

 

Second Class high officials (according to the order of appointment)

Gentlemen-in-Waiting in ≪Jako≫ Hall (according to whichever is the highest in Peerage, Rank or Merit)

Gentlemen-in-Waiting in ≪Kinkei≫ Hall (according to whichever is the highest in Peerage, Rank or Merit)

Persons treated as ≪Choku-nin≫ officials (according to the order of appointment)

Counts (according to the order of Creation)

Persons of Junior Second Rank (according to the order in which it has been conferred)

Holders of Second Class:

        Order of the Rising Sun (according to the order in which it has been conferred)

        Order of the Sacred Treasure (according to the order in which it has been conferred)

Viscounts (according to the order of Creation)

Persons of Senior Third Rank (according to the order in which it has been conferred)

Persons of Junior Third Rank (according to the order in which it has been conferred)

Holders of Third Class:

        Order of the Rising Sun (according to the order in which it has been conferred)

        Order of the Sacred Treasure (according to the order in which it has been conferred)

Barons (according to the order of Creation)

Persons of Senior Fourth Rank (according to the order in which it has been conferred)

Persons of Junior Fourth Rank (according to the order in which it has been conferred)

 

Persons of the Third Degree

 

Third Class high officials (according to the order of appointment)

Persons treated in the same manner as civil ≪Sonin≫ officials (according to the order of appointment)

 

As regards persons of the Fourth Degree downwards, their Precedence is determined after the example of persons of the Third Degree, and it is therefore unnecessary to give details.