Kokuzekomoku (break a national policy down and analyze it both generally and in detail) (国是綱目)

Kokuzekomoku was a petition that Hirobumi ITO who was a governor of Hyogo Prefecture submitted it with three executives of Prefecture (Nobuyuki NAKAJIMA, Mitsuaki TANAKA, Noriyuki GA) and Finance officer/ judge, Munemitsu MUTSU who was in Osaka. It is also known as Hyogoron.


The members of the Meiji government which was established by the collapse of the Edo Shogunate were patriot of joi (principle of excluding foreigners) group of Imperial court, Satsuma-han, Choshu-han which supported anti-foreigner policy. For this, local anti-foreigner factions thought that anti-foreigner policy will be operated if when the new government realized. However, on January 10 1868, the new government promised to continue the treaty which Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) concluded for the foreign countries as ' an imperial rescript of opening of a country to the world' and although the government stated 'Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world' and 'Evil customs of the past shall be broken off' in the five charter oath and although they posted 'implementation of international law' in the next five notices, they didn't deny excluding foreigners clearly.

Hirobumi ITO who used to be involved in British Legination Attack in Tozenji Temple had thought through study in Britain that anti-foreigner was unrealistic way and that it was wrong to cling to the unfeasible way. Also keeping up han will be one of the causes to hinder Japanese political integration so Hirobumi ITO wanted to abolish the system as soon as possible. But at that time, Ito was just a local governor and not in a position to be related to the central government policy.

On September 17, 1868, when the collapse of Ouetsu-reppan alliance became certain, Ito said, 'Japan should stand side by side with other countries in the five continents and that people know the national politics could not go forward in heredity system.' and submitted a written opinion that Japan should aim at a nation equal to other countries, and for this, the emperor should be given a solo military authority, and as soon as he knew that nearby Himeji Domain offered to return of lands and people to the emperor, Ito resubmitted a written opinion containing a similar statement.

However, Ito was frustrated because he had not heard a word from the new government, and once he caught a news that the lord of the domains (Satsuma, Choshu, Tosa, Hizen) submitted the memorial to the emperor that they would return their lands and people to the emperor, Ito planned to submit the petition with his subordinates, Nakajima (Assistant Judicial Officer), Tanaka (Assistant Judicial Officer), Ga (Scholar of English, served for prefecture as an advisor), and also Mutsu who happened to get to know Ito joined them, and they all submitted in their five joint names "kokuzekomoku" which was composed of the six points.


The submission, the contents and the impact became clear from materials including "Hirobumi ITO Biography" which was written hearing from Ito himself while he was alive.

In the new government in Kyoto, Ito submitted the petition and Shojiro GOTO read out the contents while Sanetomi SANJO, Tomomi IWAKURA, Toshimichi OKUBO, Takamori SAIGO, Saneomi HIRASAWA were sitting there.

Summary of the contents

In order to maintain a nation in unbroken imperial line, it is necessary to carry out politics for the cultural enlightenment standing side by side with other countries and to build a nation which can give benefit of emperor to every people equally.

In order to gather the supreme power of politics and armies throughout the country into the Imperial court, it is required to let every han return their people and army and treat the lord of the domain as aristocrat, instead, Imperial court law should be proclaimed throughout the nation.

The government should open the transportation to all the countries of the world and boost national prestige to show fidelity to the other countries.

The government should give the right to freedom to people and the nation should abolish shinokosho (hierarchy of samurai, farmers, artisans, and merchants) to let people choice their job and where to live.

It is required to let common people learn so that they could obtain a same academic level as other countries of the world, and for that, it is necessary to establish colleges in the major cities and elementary schools in towns and villages to provide with an education regardless of ranks and place of residence.

It is necessary to observe treaties with foreign countries, to create a trading industry in order for people to engage in, and to set up a Kokuron (nation's policy) for exchanging a friendship with foreign countries, while killing or hurting foreign people should not be accepted. Also we should make this national policy clear and eliminate the heresy (principle of excluding foreigners) and lead public and private sector to this way (and to establish the fiscal discipline was needed but will be answered later).


According to the "Hirobumi ITO Biography," Sanjo and other listened silently without discussing pros and cons for this but in fact, it is said that they provoked Okubo and others antipathy. Because Okubo, Saigo and Takayoshi KIDO already proceeded with the preparations for the returning of lands and people to the emperor focused on haihan-chiken (abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures) in the future but if returning of lands and people to the emperor realized, this means denying fundamentally the master-servant relationship of the load of domain and the feudal retainer of domain which continued for more than 250 years as an absolute principle, so a single misstep could be a cause of a nationwide rebellion. Therefore, Okubo planned to justify by getting an agreement of `kogiyoron' by each organization in the new government on a spirit of Five Charter Oath. Ito's petition could destroy that plan.

Ito's petition spread in and out of the new government quickly so Ito was hated badly.
One is that samurais of domains got upset by the sudden discussion on haihan-chiken and a part of the conservatives mobbed Kyoto to ask the new government to exclude or punish Ito as 'the one who makes light of loyalty.'
And another is that Ito pressed the denial of joiron and stated to 'stand in line with foreign countries' so a part of joi-ha conformed to this. Iwakura who was concerned about this directed Ito to be suspended and also Kido sent a letter to Ito on March 12 and warned him of the risk of using the word 'stand in line with foreign countries' without care.

The decision of opening of a country to the world

However, Ito's petition was not in vain at all. On March 7 of that year, the lower house was established in the residence of Himeji domain in Tokyo gathering 227 lower house members from each domain and the foreign policy was picked up as an urgent matter. On April 17, two agendas 'article 17', 'article 4' were posted by the Officer of Foreign Affairs. Following the questioning form consisted of 17 questions called 'article 17', they first questioned whether proceed the expulsion of foreigners or not and asked for the opinion of the lower house members about the measurement in case of the expulsion of foreigners implemented.
Although the result was wrapped up on 23rd, the question itself was thoroughly about the policy of expulsion of foreigners so the lower house members who were stuck for an answer replied 'expulsion of foreigners are impossible.'
And in the Jokyoku (a law-making body) meeting began in Tokyo on May 21, Meiji emperor's question brought up on 25 for questioning the need to make 'opening of a country to the world peacefully' a national policy in response to the result of the lower house and Jokyoku meeting showed the emperor's reply that this was positive on 28th. Accordingly, they officially decided to take 'the opening of Japan' for a national policy of Japan (Meiji government).

In the following, return of lands and people to the emperor which had passed through the same process, was also decided to be implemented on June 17, although it was more complicated than diplomatic issues.


Also these five people involved with this petition crossed each other later in the Meiji government. Later, when Hirobumi ITO became the prime minister, Tanaka served as Secretary of the Cabinet, Mutsu served as Minister of Foreign Affairs (Japan). Also chairman of House of Representatives, Nakajima's first wife was a sister of Mutsu and Toru HOSHI who was ga's disciple and became an English teacher by ga's recommendation in Osaka got to know Mutsu by ga's introduction and later engaged in political activity together.

[Original Japanese]