Nijo Nariyuki (二条斉敬)

Nariyuki NIJO (November 1, 1816 – December 5, 1878) was a noble during the period between the end of the Edo period and the Meiji period. He was the head of the Nijo family of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan Sekke (line of regents and advisors). Nariyuki was the last Kanpaku (chief advisor to the Emperor) in Japanese history. He was the last Sessho (regent) to be appointed among subjects.

In 1816, Nariyuki was born the second son of Sadaijin (Minister of the Left) Narinobu NIJO and Tsuguko TOKUGAWA (the daughter of the lord of the Mito Domain Harutoshi TOKUGAWA and the older sister of Nariakira TOKUGAWA). In May 1824, Nariyuki celebrated genpuku (attainment of manhood) whereby, in accordance with the practice of the Nijo family, being granted to use a portion of the real name of the Seii Taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") Ienari TOKUGAWA, he changed his name to Nariyuki and was conferred Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) at age of 9. In 1825, was promoted to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank). Thereafter, Nariyuki steadily attained promotion and rose to the post of Gon Dainagon (Provisional Major Councilor) in 1831.

With respect to political situations after the coming of Kurofune, Nariyuki concurred with Nariakira MITO arguing against the charter of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the United States and Japan. On the initiative of Naosuke II who became Tairo (chief minister) in 1858, when Yoshifuku TOKUGAWA (later called Iemochi) was decided to be the 14th Shogun, Nariyuki went down to Edo as a messenger to deliver the appointment of Shogun. Nariyuki wanted to meet with the Chief Minister Ii but was refused. Nariyuki became subject to punishment during Ansei no Taigoku (suppression extremists by the Shogunate) that commenced that year and was ordered to a 10-day confinement in his house during the following February (old calendar). In the following month, however, he was promoted to Naidaijin (Minister of the Interior). In 1862, Nariyuki further advanced to the post of Udaijin (Minister of the Right).

As the Sonno Joi Movement (the movement advocating reverence for the Emperor and the expulsion of foreigners) mounted in Kyoto, along with the various other people including Imperial Prince Asahiko Kuninomiya (later called Imperial Prince Asahiko), Nariyuki was regarded as a part of the kobu-gattai (integration of the Imperial Court and the Shogunate) (pro-shogunate) faction. In January 1863, Nariyuki was appointed as Kokuji goyogakari (a general official of the Imperial Household in charge of State affairs) whereby there was antagonism between Nariyuki and the extremist nobles who were the Joi-ha (supporters of expulsion of foreigners) including Sanetomi SANJO and Kintomo ANEGAKOJI as well as the Choshu Clan supporting them. In 1863, together with the former Kanpaku Tadahiro Konoe and Imperial Prince Asahiko, Nariyuki gained the Satsuma clan and Kyoto shugoshoku (Military governor of Kyoto) Aizu clan over and carried out the Coup of August 18 successfully driving the Choshu clan and the extremist nobles (the exile of the seven nobles from Kyoto) out. The Emperor Komei, who strongly sought kobu-gattai from the beginning, became increasingly dependant upon Nariyuki who was ordered to perform nairan (a preliminary inspection of official documents submitted from the Great Council of State to the Emperor) in October 1863 and, additionally, was promoted to Juichii Sadaijin (Junior First Rank, Minister of the Left) in January of the next year. Additionally, an Imperial edict appointing Nariyuki to the post of Kanpaku was issued which he received.

Thereafter, working alongside Imperial Prince Asahiko, Nariyuki assisted Emperor Komei, settling the various critical affairs of States including the decision concerning the Choshu clan, issues related to the charter treaty and the matter of Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA's succession to the head of the Tokugawa family, played a key role as a pro-shogunate noble. As a consequence, Nariyuki offended nobles of the pro-Imperial Rule Restoration faction and the situation developed into a demonstration by 22 retainers of the Imperial Court including Tsuneyuki NAKAMIKADO and Shigetomi OHARA to petition the Emperor for a reform of the government by the Imperial Court on September 9, 1866, demanding dismissal of Nariyuki and Imperial Prince Asahiko. In light of the above, Nariyuki submitted his resignation on the grounds that he could no longer be effective in assisting the Emperor with affairs of State, but Emperor Komei had deep trust towards those two rejecting Nariyuki's resignation. Instead, 22 retainers of the Imperial Court ended up being reprimanded the following month. Nariyuki thus overcame the crisis for the time being, but Emperor Komei died at the end of that year. Nariyuki's position was no longer secure.

In February of the following year, when Emperor Meiji ascended the throne, Nariyuki remained Sessho participating in affairs of State, but the pro-Imperial Rule Restoration faction gradually began to regain power around that time. In October Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA finally executed Taisei Hokan (transfer of power back to the Emperor), handing the government over to the Imperial Court. On January 3, 1868, the Decree for the Restoration of Imperial Rule proclaimed the direct rule by the Emperor whereby abolishing Sekkan (regents and advisors) (however, later on, members of the Imperial Family could be appointed as Sekkan as prescribed by the Imperial House Act and there is an instance that when he was the Crown Prince, Emperor Showa became Regent to Emperor Taisho). As a result, Nariyuki along with Imperial Prince Asahiko was no longer allowed to go to the court. Although pardoned in September of the following year, Nariyuki subsequently never participated in government by the Imperial Court.

In April 1869, Nariyuki was appointed as Omiya gosho Goyogakari (a general affairs official of the Imperial Household working at Empress Dowager's palace) during Emperor Meiji's gyoko (Imperial visit) to Tokyo and was subsequently appointed as Jako no ma shiko (emperor's personal attendant in Jako room) during August of that year. Nariyuki died in December 1878 at age of 63. He was buried in the grounds of Nison-in Temple in Sagano. The adopted child Motohiro NIJO (the eighth son of Hisatada KUJO) carried on the Nijo family. Nariyuki's biological children included Masamaro NIJO (who started a branch family and was conferred Baron), Toshitaka MIYAHASHI (who was adopted by the Miyahashi family and changed his family name to Keikoin) and Takafusa SHIJO (who was adopted by the Shijo family). It is said that he also had an illegitimate child by the name of Kansai NIJO.

Career of job grace

1824, was conferred and appointed as Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grace), Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) Sakonoe gon no shosho (Provisional Minor Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards) and Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) Ukonoe no Gon no chujo (Provisional Middle Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards).

1825, was conferred Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank).

1827, was conferred Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank).

1828, was appointed as Gon chunagon (Provisional Middle Councilor).

1831, was appointed as Gon Dainagon (Provisional Major Councilor).

1832, was conferred Junii (Junior Second Rank).

1838, was conferred Shonii (Senior Second Rank).

1859, was appointed as Naidaijin (Minister of the Interior).

1862, was conferred as Juichii (Junior First Rank) and appointed as Udaijin (Minister of the Right).

1863, was appointed as Sadaijin (Minister of the Left).

1864, was appointed as Kanpaku (chief advisor to the Emperor) and Toshi Choja (head of the Fujiwara clan).

1867, resigned from the post of Sadaijin and was appointed Sessho (regent).

[Original Japanese]