The Constitution of 1868 (Seitaisho) (政体書)

The Constitution of 1868 was the proclamation in which the Meiji government determined the governmental organization of the early Meiji period. Taneomi SOEJIMA and Takachika FUKUOKA drafted 'The Constitution of 1868' mainly referencing 'The Constitution of the United States of America' and "Seiyo jijo" (affairs in the Western countries). Then, the Meiji government proclaimed it on June 11, 1868.

The Japanese new government and the former Tokugawa Bakufu still continued to fight battles in the Ou (Mutsu Province and Dewa Province) region and the Kanto region after a chain of events including the Restoration of Imperial Rule on January 3, 1868, the Battle of Toba and Fushimi from January 27 to 30 of 1868, and the surrender of Edo Castle on May 3, 1868. In the Constitution of 1868, however, the new government, which had mostly seized control of the regions to the west of Kanto, stipulated a new government-regulated organization to replace the Dajokan Sanshoku-taisei (an administrative body composed of a Sosai [President], Gijo [directors] and Sanyo [administrators] that had been acting as the provisional government).

The Constitution of 1868 stated the Imperial Covenant Consisting of Five Articles at the beginning to define the basic policy of the new government, established Dajokan (Grand Council of State) as the central government to control national authority, and assigned two hosho (co-equal executive officers) as the heads of Dajokan. The authority of Dajokan was divided into three branches of legislation, administration and judiciary, each of which was exercised by Giseikan (the legislature), Gyoseikan (the executive) and subordinate five branches and Keihokan (the judiciary) respectively to achieve the system with three powers separated. In reality, however, influential members in Jokyoku (a law-making body) of Giseikan held concurrently a responsible position of Gyoseikan and Keihokan were put under the supervision of Gyoseikan; thus the separation of powers was not performed properly.

After minor amendments accompanied by the change of political situation after the end of the Boshin War, by the proclamation newly issued on August 15, 1869 (Shikiinryo, the law which stipulated duties of ministries), Dajokan was reformed into Nikan-Rokusho-taisei (the system maintained by two Departments [Jingikan, Dajokan] and six Ministries).

The 'Imperial Covenant Consisting of Five Articles' shall be the basic policy of the state.
(Article 1)

Dajokan (Grand Council of State) shall concentrate all political powers and authority of the state. The separation of powers of administration, legislation, and judicature shall be implemented.
(Article 2)

No officer shall serve concurrently in the legislature and the executive.
(Article 3)

The term of officers shall be four years, and every two years half of the officers shall be elected.
(Article 9)

Official ranks shall be determined from the First rank to the Ninth rank.
(Article 13)

[Original Japanese]