Nihonkoku Kotei (Emperor of Japan) (日本国皇帝)

Nihonkoku Kotei is one of the titles of the Emperor of Japan that had been used up to early Showa period and was mainly used in diplomatic domain.

According to ancient Giseiryo (law regarding rituals) in the Ritsuryo codes, it was defined that the Emperor should be described as 'Kotei' in documents toward inside and outside of China.

In the drafts of Constitution prepared by public and private sectors in the early Meiji period, the title 'Kotei' was adopted in many cases. In Meiji Government, Nihonkoku Kokkenan (one of the drafts of Constitution) that was reported to the throne by Genroin (the Chamber of Elders) in 1880 adopted the 'Kotei' title. In Kenpo Daikoryo (literally, The Grand Outline of the Constitution) reported to the throne by Tomomi IWAKURA the next year, the title 'Tenno' was used.
Thereafter, in the drafts prepared in the government, the Emperor's title was always 'Tenno.'
The title Tenno was also adopted in the Constitution of the Empire of Japan.

However, this did not lead to the integration of the title into 'Tenno' on official documents; still, many official documents with 'Nihonkoku Kotei' title were prepared. In addition, the titles 'Dainihonkoku Kotei' (Emperor of great Japan) and 'Dainippon Teikoku Kotei' (Emperor of the great Empire of Japan' are also identified.

Examples of the usage of 'Nihonkoku Kotei' title can mostly be seen in diplomatic documents. However, many official documents for domestic communication that have nothing to do with diplomacy (e.g. certificates for decoration for the Japanese, appointment letters, etc.) with the title 'Nihonkoku Kotei' as issuer are identified.

For example, in Tokugawa family-related documents exhibited in Tojo History Museum in Matsudo City, Chiba Prefecture, usage examples of the title 'Nihonkoku Kotei' for domestic communication (e.g. the letter of appointment of Iesato TOKUGAWA to Chairman of the House of Peers in 1903) can be seen.

In regard to the treaties issued, the title of 'Dainippon Teikoku Kotei Heika' (literally, His Imperial Majesty of Great Empire of Japan) had been adopted before Showa Ju (10) nen Treaty No.9 issued in December 21, 1935. However, 'Dainippon Teikoku Tenno Heika' (His Imperial Majesty of the Great Empire of Japan) came to be adopted after Showa Juichi (11) nen Treaty No.3 was issued in May 11, 1936. The reason why the title on the treaty was shifted from 'Kotei' to 'Tenno' between these treaties is unknown.

Examples of Usage After the Meiji Period

Imperial ordinance on the dispatch of Toshimichi OKUBO as a minister with plenary powers for appropriate handling regarding Taiwan Expedition' in 1874, by 'Dainipponkoku Kotei'

Imperial rescript on the proclamation of war against Qing' in 1894, by 'Dainippon Teikoku Kotei'

Imperial rescript on the proclamation of war against Russia' in 1904, by 'Dainippon Teikoku Kotei'

Japan-Korea Protocol' in 1904, by 'Dainippon Teikoku Kotei'

Japan-US treaty on the protection of invention, design, trademark and copyright in Korea' in 1910, by 'Nihonkoku Kotei'

Treaty on annexation of Korea by Japan' in 1910, by 'Nihonkoku Kotei'

Imperial rescript on the proclamation of war against Germany' in 1914, by 'Dainippon Teikoku Kotei'

Treaty on Shandong Province' in 1915, by 'Nihonkoku Kotei'

Treaty on Southern Manchuria and eastern Inner Mongolia' in 1915, by 'Nihonkoku Kotei'

Non-belligerency pact' in 1929, by 'Nihonkoku Kotei'

[Original Japanese]