Kimu Rokujo (Six articles about very important affairs of State) (機務六条)

Kimu Rokujo is the agreement between the Emperor Meiji and Hirobumi ITO (Prime Minister and Minister of the Imperial Households), who represented the cabinet (Japan) in September 7, 1886. It stipulated the relationship between Emperor and the cabinet in which the Emperor Meiji declared to renounce in effect the will for the direct imperial rule and accept the position as constitutional monarch.


When the cabinet holds meetings on critical matters of state, the Emperor shall allow the Prime Minister to ask him to attend the meeting and ask for his opinion. When the Emperor have questions about the reports from ministries, he shall call and directly ask questions to the minister or the vice-minister having jurisdiction over the issues. If necessary, the Emperor may make Imperial visits to local regions. The Emperor shall accept requests from the Prime Minister or the Minister of Foreign Affairs to have a dinner with qualified people here and abroad. The Emperor shall accept the request from the Minister of State to have an audience with the Emperor over the issues administered by the ministry. When the Emperor is ill in bed or stays in the Imperial Palace, Minister of State may be allowed to have audience with the Emperor at the Imperial Palace.It is very difficult to relay messages in writing or by supernumerary government officials and it may well ruin the opportunity to accomplish important duties.
(P6,631 of Meiji Tenno ki [Annals of Emperor Meiji])


In the political situation after Toshimichi OKUBO died, the confrontation was going on between Meiji government with Grand Minister Sanetomi SANJO and Minister of the Right Tomomi IWAKURA as leaders, and Councilors Hirobumi ITO and Shigenobu OKUMA as supporters, and the members of Freedom and People's Rights Movement, but there was a big problem within the Meiji government. The Imperial Household Ministry was divided by the difference in policy course into the Imperial Court side, centering on jiho (an aide) who assisted and provided directions to the Emperor Meiji, and Dajokan (Grand Council of State) side, who managed practical affairs.

The Imperial Court side insisted that the Emperor Meiji should pursue the direct imperial rule as an oriental autocrat based on Confucianism and had provided the Emperor Meiji with the study to become an emperor accordingly. This contradicted with the policy of Dajokan who hoped to put the Emperor at the center of a modern state as an western constitutional monarch in the future. So Iwakura and Ito eliminated the position of jiho to eradicate the course of direct imperial rule but the Emperor Meiji himself sided with jiho such as Nagazane MOTODA and Takayuki SASAKI, treating them as his private brains, and tried to realize their ideal monarch.

On March 10, 1879, the Emperor Meiji published 'Imperial Thoughts on Diligence and Thriftiness' to criticize the government's financial policy and also ordered Motoda to write 'Imperial Thoughts on Education' to criticize its education policy. While Ito and others attempted to change the relationship between the Emperor and the Imperial court, Sanjo and Iwakura were disinclined to completely suppress the power of Imperial court side including Motoda and Sasaki, in fear that their own status defended by the lineage of court noble would be undermined by the rapid establishment of constitutionalism, and they even cooperated with the Imperial court side to put pressure on the Dajokan side over the problem of the issuance of foreign bonds in the closing days of Okuma finance.

Ito started to improve such situation after Iwakura died and he was inaugurated as the Minister of Imperial Households in 1884. Immediately after his inauguration, however, the Emperor began rejecting audiences with government officials for health reasons. Ito was shocked to know that the reason of Emperor's rejection to return to public service was because the Emperor was upset about the informal appointment of Arinori MORI, a Christian, as Goyogakari (a general affairs official of the Imperial Household) which he thought was a neglect of his 'Imperial Thoughts on Education', and that the appointment was reported to the Emperor by the close advisers in the Imperial court before the government. Ito immediately explained that the appointment of Mori was not to Christianize Japan, but it took the Emperor two months to accept his words and return to duty, which obstructed state services.

After that, Ito introduced the cabinet system and took the position of Prime Minister by himself as well as that of the Imperial Households Minister. Ito explained to the Emperor that the introduction of constitutional monarchy and other Western systems and products of culture would not hurt the Emperor's authority, and in order to mediate between the Emperor and bureaucrats, he communicated to bureaucrats Emperor's questions and dissatisfaction about their works. Although he cut direct ties between the Emperor and his trusted close advisors in the Imperial court by assigning them to Imperial court councilor under the jurisdiction of Minister of the Imperial Households, he showed his respect for the Emperor and the close advisors' royalty for the Emperor by continuously treating Motoda, who gained both domestic and international prestige as a scholar of the Chinese classics, as the private advisor to the Emperor and by conferring the dignity of a peerage to other close advisors.

Under such circumstance, the Emperor gradually accommodated Ito's policies and principles, for example, he no longer rejected the introduction of western protocols to the Imperial court which he would have shown negative response. Kimu rokujo' was proposed by Ito in such surroundings to stipulate the relationship between the Emperor and the cabinet, whose contents the Emperor accepted with only a few conditions.


It consists of six articles.

In Dajokan days, (although there were only few actual cases,) the Emperor could attend cabinet meetings basically anytime he wished and was free to say his opinion, but the Article 1 confirmed that the Emperor would not attend the cabinet meeting unless requested by the Prime Minister and recognized the Prime Minister as the host of the cabinet meeting.

The Article 2 limited Emperor's national political advisors to the ministers and the vice-ministers having jurisdiction over the issues in question (Motoda was an exception but he was effectively forbidden to talk about other than education, his specialty, or Emperor's private problems).

Article 3 and 4 won assurance that the Emperor would not reject ceremonies depending on his likes and dislikes.

Article 5 and 6 stipulated, with due considerations to Emperor's health which was far from robust, that the Emperor would not immoderately reject audiences with ministers and other duties for health reason which would disrupt the flow of public service, to prevent national services from being affected (This placed importance in avoiding such situation as the Emperor would refuse to return to public service as was seen upon the appointment of Arinori MORI as Goyogakari).


After 'Kimu rokujo' came into practice, the Emperor proactively engaged himself in behaving as a constitutional monarch, for example, he started to meet directly with bureaucrats to ask about policies and also to accept the audiences with diplomatic corps which he would have been reluctant for fear of 'foreigners'. Especially when supporters of his close advisors in the Imperial court demanded Ito to resign from the Imperial Households Minister in 1887 in protest against the revision of the treaty and his Europeanization policy, the Emperor did not accept Ito's resignation and, instead, ordered him to continue to serve as the Imperial Households Minister and to work on the draft constitution, and also when Tateki TANI, the Minister of Agriculture and Commerce on the side of Emperor's close advisors in the Imperial court, attempted to report against the proposal for revision of the treaty to the throne, the Emperor would not see Tani against Motoda's advice, saying he should not violate the duties of the Minister of Foreign Affairs according to the principles of 'Kimu rokujo' and allowed to remove Tani.

Thereafter, the Emperor Meiji eventually ceased to directly participate in the Cabinet's policy discussions unless requested by the cabinet to hold a conference in the presence of the Emperor, and clarified his position as a constitutional monarch. The above-mentioned relationship between the Emperor and the cabinet was taken over by the Constitution of the Empire of Japan and the Cabinet Organization Order almost in the same form. The both sides established a strong mutual trust, respecting Ito as the leading figure of the Meiji government, despite their differences in opinion about the launch of Rikken seiyukai (a political party organized by Hirobumi ITO).

[Original Japanese]