Imperial sovereignty (天皇主権)

Imperial sovereignty is the sovereignty held by the Emperor under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan. The western monarch sovereignty had been adopted in Japan and the imperial sovereignty is also referred to as monarchism. The theory of the study of constitution, which is structured focusing on imperial sovereignty, is called the theory of imperial sovereignty.

The Constitution of the Empire of Japan, promulgated in 1889, taking effect the following year, stipulated in Article 4 that 'the Emperor is the head of the state and holds all sovereignty but is to execute its authority according to the Articles of the Constitution.'
The interpretation of this article and the interpretation and operation of the overall Constitution were divided and discussed by two large schools; one is the monarchism school, (also called the theocracy sect) led by Yatsuka HOZUMI, Shinkichi UESUGI, etc., who valued imperial sovereignty (monarchism) and the other was the constitutional school, led by Tatsukichi MINOBE, Soichi SASAKI, etc., who valued constitutionalism, with a focus on the parliament system.

Initially, when the Constitution took effect, interpretation by the monarch school sect focusing on imperial sovereignty was valued by domain clique politicians and bureaucrats who promulgated the idea of the doctrine of superiority. At the end of the Meiji period, there was the emperor-as-organ theory argument between Uesugi and Minobe and constitutional school sect became predominant during the Taisho democracy. However, in the emperor-as-organ theory incident, constitutional school sect, led by Minobe, was driven out and interpretation focusing on imperial sovereignty was set in the statement of the fundamental character of the nation which was announced by the government in the same year.

Afterwards, promulgated in 1946 and taking effect the following year, the Constitution of Japan set forth the sovereignty of the people in the preamble as well as Article 1, in turn, abolishing the imperial sovereignty (Article 98 of the Constitution of Japan).

[Original Japanese]