Kaiseigakari (System reformation department) (改正掛)

Kaiseigakari is a department set in Minbusho (Ministry of Popular Affairs) on December 20, 1869. On August 6, 1870, it was transferred to Okura-sho (Ministry of the Treasury) and eliminated at the re-integration of Okura-sho and Minbusho on September 11, 1871. It created draft of a system reform necessary for Meiji government.

In 1869, Shigenobu OKUMA, who was a taifu (vice-minister) of so-called 'Minbu Okura-sho' (he was a taifu for both Okura-sho and Minbu-sho) to which a personnel integration was applied, was recommended by Junzo GO and intended to install Eiichi SHIBUSAWA who was a former retainer of shogun. However, Shibusawa declined the proposal saying the existing system of Minbu Okura-sho was far from building a new nation. Young bureaucracy such as Masahito SAKAMOTO and Kenzaburo OKAMOTO convinced Shibusawa that he should play a main role of creating the system. He also received the same request from Okuma and Munenari DATE who was Kyo, and an organization to promote reformation in the ministry (to improve capability of policy planning) was established and Shibusawa was designated a section head (head of the land tax department as well).

Okuma asked Hirobumi ITO and Kaoru INOUE questions on political challenges in the ministry, and Kaiseigakari such as Shibusawa took in charge of planning ・framing. Furthermore, Hisoka MAEJIMA, Noriyoshi AKAMATSU, and Yuzuru SUGIURA, who studied overseas and understood situations in Europe and America, were added. Especially, proposals such as unification of scales and measures, telegraph and railway-related constructions, establishment of the postal system, elimination of sukego (labor which was imposed to the neighboring village to help the primarily imposed village), promotion of local productions industry, and Haihan-chiken (abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures) were actually carried out. Though the Family Registration Law, land-tax reform, and abolition of the class system were not carried out immediately, they were all created based on proposals made in the structure, and it was kind of a pioneer among Japanese think tanks. In addition, Shibusawa, a section head, often visited Okuma's with Ito or Inoue, informed Okuma of discussions made in Kaiseigakari, and also talked frequently with young bureaucracy such as Naoyoshi YAMAGUCHI and Tomoatsu GODAI who were associated with Okuma. These people were called 'Tsukiji ryozanpaku' later. In addition, for Okuma who estranged himself from his old friends since the end of Edo Period such as Takato OKI and Taneomi SOEJIMA because of different way of living their life, the existence of Kaiseigakari, which gave him evolutional proposals about reformation, was very reliable, and he admitted it later ("Okuma memoir").

However, since these reforms are so radical that conflicts arose with the conservatives in the government and local officials. Especially, since most personnel who knew well about Europe and America were naturally those who had studied abroad and they were former retainers of shogun, this caused strong antipathy from Toshimichi Okubo who thought the fastest way of reformation was to wipe out old retainers of shogun. Therefore, when Okubo worked hard to remove an executive taking in charge of both Okura-sho and Minbu-sho (separation of Okura-sho and Minbu-sho), and Takato OKI, Tomozane YOSHII, and Masayoshi MATSUKATA were sent in to Minbu-sho, Kaiseigakari was transferred to Okura-sho, Shibusawa was removed from section head position, and other members were also dispatched to both Okura-sho and Minbu-sho to weaken the structure. When it was decided to merge Okura-sho and Minbu-sho again in exchange for Okubo's position in Okura-kyo (Minister of the Treasury) in accordance with Haihan-chiken, Okubo eliminated the structure.

However, proposals by Kaiseigakari which were made to build a modern centralized government had great effect on building a modern state after that.

[Original Japanese]