Haitorei (decree banning the wearing of swords) (廃刀令)

Haitorei (decree banning the wearing of swords) was an abbreviated expression of the edict titled "Taireifuku narabini gunjin keisatsukanri to seifuku chakuyo no hoka taito kinshi" (decree banning the wearing of swords except for full-dress uniform wearers, military men and police officers) issued by the Grand Council of State on March 28. It was so-called a prohibition against wearing swords.


Since about 1869, a discussion on banning the wearing of swords had already been held. In March 1869, Arinori MORI, who engaged in compilation of regulations, proposed to ban carrying a sword in a meeting of Kogisho (the lower house). His opinion was that it was better to get rid of barbarian manner immediately. However, since it was not long before the imperial rule was restored, politicians in the lower house opposed this and the bill was voted down as banning of the wearing of swords would ruin the spirit of samurai and discourage the power of the imperial nation. In 1870, carrying a sword was banned for the common people. On September 23, 1871, the government issued Sanpatsu-datto-rei which allowed shizoku (family or person with samurai ancestors) to choose whether to carry a sword or not. On March 28, Haitorei was finally issued.

The direct cause of the issuance was that Aritomo YAMAGATA's proposal was adopted in December. The proposal was long but it could be summarized as follows.
Originally, samurai warriors were wearing double swords to attack enemies and protect themselves.'
However, since universal conscription and the system of a patrol officer have been introduced, the necessity for individuals to carry a sword is no longer recognized.'
It is hoped that Haitorei will be issued immediately so as to remove samurai's arrogance and remaining custom of brutality.'

The content of Haitorei was to ban the right to bear a surname and to wear a sword except for full-dress uniform wearers, military men and police officers. What Haitorei banned was to carry a Japanese sword, and to owe one was allowed. However, to belt on a sword was originally more like a symbol of privileged class rather than a practical weapon and denying it meant denying their status and identity along with conscription and Chitsuroku-shobun (abolition measure of hereditary stipend) introduced in the same year which actually denied their privileges. Some shizoku (family or person with samurai ancestors) opposed these policies to enact equality of all people, and the Shizoku Hanran (revolt by family or person with samurai ancestors) occurred.

History of the Act

This act introduced as edict of Grand Council of State remained intact for a long time after that, but lost its effectiveness gradually as time went by. As a process how the regulation gradually lost its effectiveness, the following matters are conceivable.

Police officers
In 1946, by the issuance of the uniform act for police officers and firefighters (the 367th imperial edict in 1946), they were basically banned to carry a sword.

Taireifuku (a full-dress uniform)
It was mainly stipulated in the imperial edict, but was abolished completely when the Constitution of Japan was effectuated.

Military men
As a result that the Second World War ended, Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) were demobilized and military men who were originally supposed to carry a sword went out of existence.

Considering that Haitorei had already lost its effectiveness at that time, the government decided to abolish this act by the article No.4 of the law on organizing regulations relevant to the Cabinet and the Prime Minister's Office (the 203rd law in 1954). Accordingly, this act was abolished on July 1, 1954.

[Original Japanese]