Fukensei (prefectural systemlaw) (府県制)

Fukensei (prefectural system/law) refers to a local administration system established in 1890 as well as the law that stipulates this system.

Fukensei as a local administration system

An administrative district, Fuken (prefecture) was started when Fu-han-ken sanchisei (fu-han-ken tripartite governance system) was established in 1868; and due to Haihan-chiken (abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures) established in 1871, the system with 3 fu and 302 ken were established, followed by the system with 3 fu and 72 ken; then it was unified into 3 fu and 43 ken in 1889. In the meantime, due to the three local new laws established in 1878, Gun-ku-cho-son Heniseiho (an act for the reorganization of counties, wards, towns and villages), Fukenkai Kisoku (the rules of prefectural assembly) as well as Chihozei Kisoku (the rules of local tax), Fuken started having two characters, its new character as an autonomous body and its original character as a government regional office in the local area.

Under the constitutional system of the Constitution of the Empire of Japan issued in 1889, 'Fukensei' was established following the state law of Prussia, which stipulates that Fuken are autonomous bodies. On the other hand, prefectural governors as well as other prefectural organizations of the local government were stipulated by an imperial edict, 'Chihokan Kansei' (Rules of local official and organization). Fuken chiji (Prefectural governor) was categorized as being elected by voters; and during the time of the party cabinet or the cabinet strongly influenced by the political party, mostly government officials from the prewar Ministry of Home Affairs were assigned to be Fuken chiji and were supervised by the prewar Minister of Home Affairs. On the other hand, the Fukenkai (prefectural assembly) only had a voting right on finance and had limited authority, and thus it was more like an administrative district than an autonomous body. During World War II, the regulation by the government was enforced, however, after the war, the first reform of the local system was implemented in 1946 to promote democratization, and the classification system where a prefectural governor is elected by voters was introduced, which was after all replaced by the current Todofuken sei (system of prefectural government) when the Local Autonomy Law was established in 1947.

Law 'Fukensei'

The law, Fukensei (Act No. 35 in 1890) which forms the local administration system under the Meiji Constitution, along with 'Shisei Chosonsei' (City, town and village system law) (Act No. 1 in 1888), was supported by the Imperial Diet under the First Yamagata cabinet and was issued with 'Gunsei' (County system law) (Act No. 36 in 1890) on May 17, 1890. This law stipulates 'Fuken as an autonomous body' which was mainly managed by Fuken kai (prefectural assembly) consisting of councilors elected by the citizens (the election was held by each class classified by the amount of tax payment) as well as Fuken sanjikai (prefectural council) consisting of honorary council members elected from prime ministers, prefectural senior officials and councilors of Fukenkai. The Supplementary Provision Article 94 stipulates that this law (Fukensei) should be sequentially implemented to the prefectures where 'Gunsei' and 'Shisei' have been implemented, however, the reorganization of Gun required for the implementation of Gunsei was delayed in many prefectures, causing the implementation of Fukensei to be delayed (it was only implemented in 9 prefectures in 1891).
As a result, 'Fukensei' was fully revised with 'Gunsei' in 1899, and was implemented in all prefectures except Hokkaido and Okinawa Prefectures (the prefectures where Fukensei was not implemented until this revision were three fu: Tokyo Prefecture, Osaka Prefecture and Kyoto Prefecture as well as four ken: Kanagawa Prefecture, Okayama Prefecture, Hiroshima Prefecture and Kagawa Prefecture.)
This new 'Fukensei' (Act No. 64 in 1899) was effective until it was abolished by the Local Autonomy Law executed in 1947. This revision gave Fuken a legal personality to reinforce its position as an autonomous body, and it also organized and reinforced the regulations on the authority of the prefectural governor.

In 1926, a revision (which abolished the limitation of suffrage and eligibility due to the amount of tax payment) was made to introduce the popular election system to the Fukenkai assembly elections like the election of the member of the House of Representatives, and the revision made in 1929 gave prefectures the constitutive power on its ordinance and regulation.

The revision made after the war in September 1946 introduced the popular election system where a prefectural governor is directly elected by the citizens. Since prefectural governors who used to be in charge of the election became the target of the election, this revision established the election management committee in each prefecture and segregated the election from the jurisdiction of prefectural governors. At the same time, 'Hokkaido kaiho' (Law on the Hokkaido assembly system) and 'Hokkaido chihohiho' (Law on the Hokkaido autonomous body) which used to stipulate the autonomy system of Hokkaido were abolished and unified into 'Fukensei', and the name of this law was then changed to 'Dofukensei' (prefectural system). The autonomous body in Hokkaido originally called as 'Hokkaido chihohi' was decided to be called as 'Do'. At the first nationwide local elections held in April 1947, prefectural governors and the governor of Hokkaido Prefecture were elected based on the law, Dofukensei.

When the Constitution of Japan and the Local Autonomy Law became effective on May 3, 1947, Shisei, Chosei, Tokyoto Sei as well as Dofukensei were abolished.

[Original Japanese]