The government offices centralizing plan (官庁集中計画)

The government offices centralizing plan was the city plan of the capital of Tokyo which was organized in the Meiji period; it planned to build a splendid baroque city which would be equivalent to Paris or Berlin by centralizing official buildings such as the Congress Hall and government offices around Kasumigaseki area in Tokyo. The plan was cancelled because the leader of the plan, Kaoru INOUE fell from power.


Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kaoru INOUE employed the policy of Europeanization which was called the Rokumeikan (Rokumeikan guest house) diplomacy to aim at revising the European treaties and the grand capital construction was an integral part of the policy. Thus, a Temporary Architectural Bureau was formed in the Cabinet in 1886; Inoue assumed the premiership, Michitsune MISHIMA assumed office of the vice-president (concurrently the Tokyo Metropolitan Police commissioner), and Tsumunaga MATSUZAKI, an architect who had returned from Germany, assumed office of the director of construction. They commissioned the German architects, Hermann ENDE and Wilhelm BÖCKMANN to be responsible for city planning and the architectural design of primary buildings. In the same year, Böckmann and other German architects came to Japan, and the Japanese architects, Yuzuru WATANABE, Yorinaka TSUMAKI, Kozo KAWAI and artisans went to Germany to study.

When Böckmann came to Japan, he undertook the grandiose project of city planning of Tokyo; it was to set the center of the capital around the area from Tsukiji to Kasumigaseki, and to place buildings, such as a central station, a theater, a venue for exhibitions, government offices, a new palace and a congress hall. However, there were financial constraints on the project. Subsequently, James HOBRECHT who was recommended by Böckmann was invited as a technical adviser of the water project in Tokyo, but once Hobrecht arrived, he downscaled Böckmann's project to a large extent. Then, Ende came to Japan and amended the project according to the downscaled one.

After that, Inoue resigned as Minister of Foreign Affairs (in 1887) due to his failure in the treaty revision; this caused to set back the government offices centralizing plan. The Temporary Architectural Bureau was transferred to the Ministry of the Interior; Japanese students who were studying in Germany were ordered to return to Japan. The contents of the commission for Ende and Böckmann were limited to only three buildings, the Congress Hall, the Predecessor of the Supreme Court of Japan and the Ministry of Justice. The project was transferred to the Civil Engineering Bureau in the Ministry of the Interior due to abolishment of the Temporary Architectural Bureau in 1890; Ende and Böckmann were given notice for cancelling of the contract.

Consequently, the construction of the temporary building of the Congress Hall, which had two stories, was started and the main building was completed in 1890 when the First congress of the Imperial Diet was opened (the reference of History of the Diet Building.)
The buildings of the Predecessor of the Supreme Court of Japan and the Ministry of Justice which were based on the designs of Ende and Böckmann were completed in 1895.
(The building of the Ministry of the Navy designed by Josiah CONDER started to be constructed in 1890 and was completed in 1894.)

The structural remnants of the government offices centralizing plan

The roofs and interiors of the buildings of the Predecessors of the Supreme Court of Japan and the Ministry of Justice were burned due to the war-damage in 1945 (they were repaired after the war).

The building of the Supreme Court of Japan (the old Predecessor of the Supreme Court of Japan) was demolished in 1976.

The building of the Ministry of Justice was repaired in 1994 and is now restored to the building that used to be. It is recorded as one of the important cultural assets.

[Original Japanese]