Gunsei (a domestic law concerning Gun [County]) (郡制)

Gunsei was a domestic law of Japan during the period of Meiji and Taisho era, which stipulated Gun, a district occupying an intermediate position between a prefecture and a municipality, as a local government. It was promulgated on May, 1890.

Gun, which had existed before Edo period, was ignored in daiku-shoku system (a centralized district system that abolished all pre-existing towns, villages and their offices and institutions) introduced at the beginning of Meiji period, which aroused fierce opposition among the residents. Therefore, Gun-ku-cho-son Henseiho (Act for the alignment of local government system), which authorized the existing Gun as an administrative unit and placed Gunyakusho (a district office) and Guncho (a district headman chosen by the government), was established in 1878. In each Gun, Gunkai (a district association) and Gunsanjikai (a district council) were set up as decision-making bodies. Two-thirds of the Gunkai members were chosen by an internal vote of town and village assemblies. The other one-thirds were chosen by an internal vote among large landowners owning land valued in more than ten thousand yen. The Gunsanjikai consisted of council members (regarded as honorary position) who were appointed by Guncho and the prefectural governor. Gun did not have the right to levy taxes. In addition, it was under the control of Minister of Home Affairs and prefectural governors. Therefore, the function of Guncho was nothing but a regional office of the national or prefectural government, sending down an administrative order from the central government through the Kocho (an officer responsible for administrative affairs.) of towns and villages. As there had been a strong opposition against separation, installation, abolition and amalgamation of Gun, it was not until 1899 when Gunsei was revised so that Gunsei became effective in all the prefectures.

Around the time after Russo-Japanese War, controversy erupted over abolition of Gunsei. In 1921, the cabinet of Prime Minister Takashi HARA abolished Gunsei. Following this, Gunkai was abolished in 1923, and Gunyakusho and Guncho were abolished in 1926. Ever since then, however, Gun has remained merely as geographical term.

[Original Japanese]