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Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan

Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan

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The was an administrative post not of Cabinet rank
Cabinet rank
A person who is of Cabinet rank holds a ministerial position in a government. They sit in Cabinet and form the highest body of leadership in a government.-United Kingdom:...

 in the government of the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

. The Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal was responsible for keeping the Privy Seal of Japan
Privy Seal of Japan
The Privy Seal of Japan is the Emperor of Japan's official seal. It is square and its inscription "天皇御璽" is written in the seal script . It has two lines of vertical writing. On the right-hand side is "天皇" and on left-hand side is "御璽"...

 and State Seal of Japan
State Seal of Japan
The Great Seal of Japan is the Japanese official seal of state. It is cubic. The characters 大日本國璽 are carved in the archaic Chinese Seal script...

.

The office of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal was identical with the old Naidaijin only in name.

The office of Naidaijin (literally "Inner Minister") was an ancient title predating the Taihō Code
Taiho Code
The was an administrative reorganization enacted in 701 in Japan, at the end of the Asuka period. It was historically one of the . It was compiled at the direction of Prince Osakabe, Fujiwara no Fuhito and Awata no Mahito...

 of 701. Fujiwara no Kamatari
Fujiwara no Kamatari
Fujiwara no Kamatari was a Japanese statesman, courtier and politician during the Asuka period.Kamatari was the founder of the Fujiwara clan in Japan. His birth clan was the Nakatomi. He was the son of Nakatomi no Mikeko, and his birth name was Nakatomi no Kamatari...

 was the first person appointed to the post in 669. After the appointment of Fujiwara no Michitaka
Fujiwara no Michitaka
, the first son of Kaneie, was a Kugyō of the Heian period. He served as regent for the Emperor Ichijō, and later as Kampaku...

 in 989, the office became permanently established, ranking just below that of Udaijin
Udaijin
Udaijin , most commonly translated as the "Minister of the Right", was a government position in Japan in the late Nara and Heian periods. The position was consolidated in the Taihō Code of 702. The Asuka Kiyomihara Code of 689 marks the initial appearance of the Udaijin in the context of a central...

(Minister of the Right) and Sadaijin
Sadaijin
, most commonly translated as "Minister of the Left", was a government position in Japan in the late Nara and Heian periods. The position was consolidated in the Taihō Code of 702. The Asuka Kiyomihara Code of 689 marks the initial appearance of the Sadaijin in the context of a central...

(Minister of the Left).

Independent office


The modern office was established in 1885, after the Meiji government
Government of Meiji Japan
The Government of Meiji Japan was the government which was formed by politicians of the Satsuma Domain, Chōshū Domain and Tenno. The Meiji government was the early government of the Empire of Japan....

 established the cabinet
Cabinet (government)
A Cabinet is a body of high ranking government officials, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee.- Overview :...

; however, the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal
Privy Seal
A privy seal refers to the personal seal of a reigning monarch, used for the purpose of authenticating official government document.-Privy Seal of England:The Privy Seal of England can be traced back to the reign of King John...

 was separate from the cabinet, and acted as a direct, personal advisor to the Emperor
Emperor of Japan
The Emperor of Japan is, according to the 1947 Constitution of Japan, "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people." He is a ceremonial figurehead under a form of constitutional monarchy and is head of the Japanese Imperial Family with functions as head of state. He is also the highest...

. He was also responsible for the administration of imperial documents such as rescript
Rescript
A rescript is a document that is issued not on the initiative of the author, but in response to a specific demand made by its addressee...

s and edict
Edict
An edict is an announcement of a law, often associated with monarchism. The Pope and various micronational leaders are currently the only persons who still issue edicts.-Notable edicts:...

s. Petitions to the emperor and the court were also handled by the Lord Keeper's office, as well as the responses.
When the Privy Council was created in 1888, the Privy Seal retained his independent advisory role. The term "privy" in Privy Council and Privy Seal identifies a direct relationship of special trust.

In 1907, the post was expanded to become the Naidaijin-fu (Office of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal) with a chief secretary, three secretaries and six assistants in order to handle the increased workload with the passing of the genrō
Genro
was an unofficial designation given to certain retired elder Japanese statesmen, considered the "founding fathers" of modern Japan, who served as informal extraconstitutional advisors to the emperor, during the Meiji, Taishō and early Shōwa periods in Japanese history.The institution of genrō...

.

Shōwa period


After the start of Emperor Shōwa's reign in 1925, the office and position of the Lord Privy Seal became increasingly important, at the expense of the office of the prime minister
Prime Minister of Japan
The is the head of government of Japan. He is appointed by the Emperor of Japan after being designated by the Diet from among its members, and must enjoy the confidence of the House of Representatives to remain in office...

. Political infighting within the Diet of Japan
Diet of Japan
The is Japan's bicameral legislature. It is composed of a lower house, called the House of Representatives, and an upper house, called the House of Councillors. Both houses of the Diet are directly elected under a parallel voting system. In addition to passing laws, the Diet is formally...

 further boosted the power of the Lord Privy Seal. The Lord Privy Seal was able to strictly control who was allowed to have an audience with the emperor, as well as the flow of information. This made the final Lord Privy Seal Marquis Kido Kōichi
Koichi Kido
Marquis served as Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal from 1940 to 1945, and was the closest advisor to Emperor Showa throughout World War II.Kido was the grandson of Kido Takayoshi, one of the leaders of the Meiji Restoration...

 in effect even more powerful than the prime minister.

After World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the Office of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal was officially abolished on 24 November 1945.. However, the function itself was abolished with the promulgation of the new constitution in November 1946. Thus, former Grand Chamberlain Fujita Hisanori
Hisanori Fujita
was a Japanese naval officer, and after retiring from the navy was an assistant to the Emperor of Japan during World War II.Fujita graduated from the Japanese Naval Staff College, and became Commander of the Japanese battleship Kirishima on December 1, 1924. In 1929, he attained the rank of...

 was the last Lord Keeper.

Today, the seals are kept in the care of the Chamberlain of Japan
Chamberlain of Japan
The is a domestic caretaker and aide of the Emperor of Japan. He also keeps the Privy Seal and the State Seal and has been an official civil servant since the Meiji Period. Today the Grand Chamberlain, assisted by a Vice-Grand Chamberlain, heads the Board of the Chamberlains, the division of the...

.

List of Lord Keepers Privy Seal

Name Dates as Lord Keeper
Sanjō Sanetomi
Sanjo Sanetomi
Prince was an Imperial court noble and statesman at the time of the Meiji Restoration. He held many high-ranking offices in the Meiji government.-Biography:Born in Kyoto, Sanjō was the son of Naidaijin Sanjō Sanetsumu...

 
22 December 1885 – 18 February 1891
Tokudaiji Sanetsune  21 February 1891 – 12 August 1912
Katsura Tarō
Katsura Taro
Prince , was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army, politician and three-time Prime Minister of Japan.-Early life:Katsura was born into a samurai family from Hagi, Chōshū Domain...

 
21 August 1912 – 21 December 1912
HIH Prince Fushimi Sadanaru
Prince Fushimi Sadanaru
was the 22nd head of the Fushimi-no-miya shinnōke . He was a field marshal in the Imperial Japanese Army.- Early life :...

 
21 December 1912 – 13 January 1915
Ōyama Iwao
Oyama Iwao
|-...

 
23 April 1915 – 10 December 1916
Matsukata Masayoshi
Matsukata Masayoshi
Prince was a Japanese politician and the 4th and 6th Prime Minister of Japan.-Early life:...

 
2 May 1917 – 18 September 1922
Hirata Tōsuke
Hirata Tosuke
Count was a statesman and Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan, active in the Meiji and Taishō period Empire of Japan.Hirata was born in the Yonezawa Domain, Dewa Province as the son of a local samurai. He was sent by the domain to Edo for studies, and susequetly fought in the Boshin War on the...

 
19 September 1922 – 30 May 1925
Hamao Arata
Hamao Arata
Viscount was a Japanese politician and educator of the Meiji period, originally hailing from Toyooka, Hyōgo. He was active in the Monkasho and as the president of institutions such as Tokyo Imperial University. Hamao was also, very briefly, Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan....

 
30 March 1925 – 30 March 1925
Makino Nobuaki
Makino Nobuaki
Count was a Japanese statesman, active from the Meiji period through the Pacific War.- Biography :Born to a samurai family in Kagoshima, Satsuma domain , Makino was the second son of Ōkubo Toshimichi, but adopted into the Makino family at a very early age.In 1871, at the age of 11, he accompanied...

 
30 March 1925 – 26 February 1935
Saitō Makoto
Saito Makoto
Viscount was an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy, two-time Governor-General of Korea from 1919 to 1927 and from 1929 to 1931, and the 30th Prime Minister of Japan from May 26, 1932 to July 8, 1934.-Early life:...

 
26 February 1935 – 26 February 1936
Ichiki Kitokurō  6 March 1936-6 March 1936
Yuasa Kurahei  6 March 1936 – 1 June 1940
Kido Kōichi
Koichi Kido
Marquis served as Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal from 1940 to 1945, and was the closest advisor to Emperor Showa throughout World War II.Kido was the grandson of Kido Takayoshi, one of the leaders of the Meiji Restoration...

 
1 June 1940 – 24 November 1945
Fujita Hisanori
Hisanori Fujita
was a Japanese naval officer, and after retiring from the navy was an assistant to the Emperor of Japan during World War II.Fujita graduated from the Japanese Naval Staff College, and became Commander of the Japanese battleship Kirishima on December 1, 1924. In 1929, he attained the rank of...

25 November 1945 - 2 November 1946

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