Daijokan, Dajokan (highest organ of state power) (太政官)

Daijokan 太政官 (also known as Ooimatsurigotonotsukasa) was the highest organ of state power controlling jurisdiction, administration, and legislation of Japan under the Ritsuryo legal code system. The chief of the office was Daijodaijin. Usually, Sadaijin and Udaijin, both of which ranked next to Daijodaijin, filled the role of the chief of the office. The bureaus Shonagonkyoku and Benkan were placed under the Daijokan. Daijokan was also called Shoshosho or Tosho, its Tang name.

Dajokan was a government office established in the new Japanese government after the Meiji Restoration. It was established based upon the provisional constitution Seitaisho (in the fourth year of the Keio era, Dajokantasshi No. 331) promulgated on June 11, 1868. Under Dajokan, there were seven offices including Giseikan. After government organizational reform during the next year in 1869, Dajokan presided over the six ministries including the Minbusho. Later, the chief of the office Dajodaijin was established. In 1885, the Cabinet was established, and accordingly, Dajokan was abolished.


When the ritsuryo legal code system was introduced from China to ancient Japan, two main ministries, Jingikan, responsible for worship, and Daijokan, responsible for politics, were clearly separated. Daijokan was the highest organ of state power presiding over eight ministries of Nakatsukasasho, Shikibusho, Minbusho, Jibusho, Hyobusho, Gyobusho, Okurasho, and Kunaisho (Injikanrei). When sessho and kanpaku attended the government in place of the emperor during the Heian period, Daijokan still functioned as the highest organ of government, although its position was relatively lowered. When it came to the age of the warrior government, during the Kamakura period, Daijokan still functioned as an organ of government, but during the Muromachi period, the Daijokan gradually lost its essential power to become just a nominal title to indicate rank in the government. Daijokan was abolished as the ritsuryo system was abolished during the Meiji Restoration.

Daijokan system

As other governmental organizations under the ritsuryo legal code system, Daijokan was also divided into four ranks of kami, suke, jo, and sakan. The organization of Daijokan was divided into Giseikan as the policy-making branch, Shonagonkyoku, Sabenkankyoku, and Ubenkankyoku as bureaus, and Junsatsushi as the extraordinary inspector. Under these offices, there were eight ministries. Daijokan was established as an organization integrating the roles of two ministries in the Tang government, Monkasho, responsible for deliberation of imperial documents, and Shoshosho, responsible for administration, with two ministries of Shonagonkyoku, that functioned as Monkasho, and Benkankyoku, that functioned as Shoshosho; however, Giseikan functioned as a deliberation branch, the essential power of Shonagonkyoku was lost, while Benkankyoku, responsible for civil service, gained power to exert its influence on Geki, the office placed under Shonagonkyoku. When Gekikyoku was separated from Shonagonkyoku later, officials belonged to Shonagonkyoku, Sabenkankyoku, Ubenkankyoku, and Gekikyoku, were called Jokan. Local administrative officials, Chihokan, were placed under the joint control of Sabenkankyoku, and Ubenkankyoku.

Before the Heian period, Daijodaijin was not a standing position, as Sokketsu no Kan, but during the Heian period, it was established as a standing position.

An actual chief executive administrator.
Assistant to Sadaijin.
The reconstituted organization of Naishin, a post that existed before the Taihoritsuryo legal code, but not prescribed in the code. Naidaijin was established as a standing position of Ryogekan, a post that was not prescribed in the code.

It was abolished from the Taihoritsuryo legal code, but was restored as Ryogekan.

It was Ryogekan, and once reorganized in Kansatsushi but then restored.
It presided over Shonagonkyoku.

Sadaiben, Sachuben, Sashoben
They presided over Sabenkankyoku. They had four ministries under their command.

Udaiben, Uchuben, Ushoben
They presided over Ubenkankyoku. They had four ministries under their command.

Daigeki, Shogeki
They were secretaries belonging to Shonagonkyoku.

Daishi, Shoshi
They were secretaries belonging to Benkankyoku.

It temporarily conducted province inspections.

In ancient China, 'Taikaku' (or also pronounced Daikaku) was an organization that presided over eight ministries, and assisted the emperor in discussing government policies. When the ritsuryo legal code system was introduced to Japan and Daijokan was established to preside over the eight ministries, Giseikan, the policy-making branch of Daijokan, was especially called 'Taikaku' during Chinese Tang.
Taikaku' was handed over to the Dajokan system during the Meiji period, and in 1885, the Daijokan system was replaced by the cabinet system led by the Cabinet 'Naikaku,' derived from 'Taikaku.'


Dajokan, which was differentiated from the above-mentioned Daijokan by its pronunciation, was the highest administrative organ established in accordance with Seitaisho in 1868 when the Meiji Restoration took place. It had the functions of a legislative body, an administrative body, and a judiciary body. Although the name 太政官 under the ritsuryo system was adopted, Dajokan during the Meiji period underwent several reforms in the organization. Dajokan was abolished in 1885 when the Cabinet system started.

Organization of the new government after the Meiji Restoration.

During the period from 1868 to 1885, government organization did not remain stable as it was frequently reformed or broken up. An outline of the reformed government organization will be described below.

Three Posts

When a grand edict for the Restoration of Imperial Rule was issued on January 3, 1868, a new political system was urgently needed to replace the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), which still remained in power with its strong system. Then, the three posts to replace the bakufu, the seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians"), and the regents sessho and kanpaku were established: Sosai, which was held by Prince ARISUGAWA Taruhito; Gijo, which was held by ten members consisting of two members of the Imperial family, three court nobles, and the lords of the five domains Satsuma, Owari, Echizen, Hiroshima, and Tosa; and Sanyo, held by twenty members consisting of five court nobles, and three members from each of the above-mentioned five domains. In January 1868, seven branches Jingi, Naikoku, Gaikoku, Kairikugun, Kaikei, Keiho, and Seido were placed under the three posts so that the three posts and seven branches administered the government for the time.
In February, the seven branches were established as bureaus and a new bureau Sosaikyoku was added so, there were three posts and eight bureaus (Kairikugun branch was renamed Gunbokyoku.)
Fukusosai, meaning deputy Sosai, was established in the Sosaikyoku, and held by two of Gijo Tomomi IWAKURA and Sanetomi SANJO to assist the Sosai Prince Taruhito.


On June 11, 1868, Seitaisho (the fourth year of the Keio era, Dajokantasshi No. 331), which was drafted by Taneomi SOEJIMA and Takachika FUKUOKA and can be regarded as the Constitution, was promulgated under the name of Dajokan. Seitaisho prescribed that the form of the new government should be based on a Charter Oath of Five Articles 'the Gokajo no Goseimon' and defined Separation of Power, Election of Officials, and Local Administration units Fu, Han, and Ken. Based on Seitaisho, a new government system started on June 17. The new government aimed at establishing a firm control over the territorial lord's Daimyo and the Japanese people by organizing Dajokan for ruling over the entire state power, while securing Separation of Power inside the government to prevent an emergence of any autocratic power.

Seitai (the fourth year of the Keio era, Dajokantasshi No. 331)
All power and authority in the empire shall be vested in the Dajokan and thus the grievances of divided government shall be done away with and the power and authority of the Dajokan shall be divided into three powers; legislative, judicial, and executive and thus the grievances of bias shall be done away with. Legislative officials shall not be allowed to fill the positions of executive officials, and executive officials shall not be allowed to fill the positions of legislative officials; however, provisional tours of inspection in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka as well as the reception of missions from abroad shall be supervised by legislative officials.

Sosai was abolished among the three posts while Prince ARISUGAWA Taruhito was staying in Edo, and two Fukusosai held the position of the virtual head of the government called Hosho. Giseikan that was responsible for legislation was made of Jokyoku consisting of Gijo and Sanyo, and Kakyoku consisting of representatives called Koshi from the domains. Five bureaus of Gyoseikan, Jingikan, Kaikeikan, Gunmukan, and Gaikokukan were responsible for administration; especially Gyoseikan, headed by Hosho, supervised the other four offices. Among the three offices in which three powers of the state were vested, Shihokan, that exercised judicial power, was under the supervision of Gyoseikan like the above-mentioned four bureaus, which made the independence of the Judiciary a mere formality. As two Hosho were members of Jokyoku of Giseikan, the status of Gijo, the Separation of Power, was merely nominal.

In 1869 after the Boshin War, surrender of domain registers was undertaken, and the domains became local administrative divisions of the government. Then, Minbukan, supervising the local administration, was separated from Kaikeikan. Subsequently, the Election of Officials was carried out according to Seitaisho so the conservative court nobles and lords were removed. As an inspector organization, Danjodai was established.

Dajokan System

On August 15, 1869, a new Dajokan system was introduced based upon government structure that underwent the above-mentioned reforms. The government organization based on Seitaisho that was created under the influence of the United States of America was abolished, and the government organization that was close to the old form and was based on the unity of religion and government called 'Saisei Icchi,' in principle, was adopted as the new system. The new government system took the form of two offices and six ministries such that Jingikan was restored to be placed above Dajokan at first, and six ministries of Minbusho, Okurasho, Hyobusho, Gyobusho, Kunaisho, Gaimusho were established, and other organizations including Jishoin, Danjodai, Shugiin, and Daigakko were also established. The new government system was characterized by placing the offices, to which three powers were vested, under Dajokan. Dajokan had 'the three posts,' consisted of Sadaijin, Udaijin, three Dainagon, and three Sangi, to take the command of the office. Those at the three posts took an oath of allegiance and fair administration to Emperor Meiji by putting their pledge called 'Sanshoku meiyaku' and 'Yakusoku shijo' into effect to the emperor. Along with the renewal, 'the chart of court ranks with posts and offices' was amended such that Sadaijin and Udaijin were given the title of Junior First Rank or Senior Second Rank, Dainagon was given the title of Junior Second Rank, Sangi and Kyo were given the title of Senior Third Rank, Taifu (also known as Tayu) was given the title of Junior Third Rank, Shoyu was given the title of Senior Fourth Rank, and Junior and Senior Ninth Ranks were added between Eighth Rank and the Starting Rank. In the appointment procedure, appointments of Fourth Rank and above were called Chokuju, those of Sixth Rank up to Fourth Rank were called Soju, and those of Seventh Rank and below were called Hanju, but they were immediately amended to Chokunin, Sonin, and Hannin with the court ranks remaining as they were.

Nevertheless, the major posts were monopolized by Imperial family members and the court nobles after all such that Udaijin were held by SANJO, Dainagon was held by IWAKURA and Sanetsune TOKUDAIJI, with a small number of members from samurai warrior families who were selected so, Sangi was held by Issei MAEBARA and Taneomi SOEJIMA, and Minbukyo was held by the former lord of Fukui domain, Yoshinaga MATSUDAIRA. The conservatives succeeded in their scheme of driving out those including Takayoshi KIDO, Toshimichi OKUBO, and Taisuke ITAGAKI to the sinecures of Jishoingakushi. IWAKURA opposed that and additionally appointed OKUBO and Saneomi HIROSAWA (Takayuki SASAKI was added later) to roll back the situation by consulting SANJO.

During the period, the issue of merging Minbusho and Okurasho emerged. On October 23, 1868, the ministries were merged for the purpose of integrating the tax collection and finance systems, and Yoshinaga MATSUDAIRA, the Minbukyo, held the position of Okurakyo, and Shigenobu OOKUMA, the Okurataifu, held the position of Minbutaifu. That was the scheme of the young officials of Kaimeiha faction including OOKUMA and Hirobumi ITO, the Okurashoyu, whom Takayoshi KIDO, who urged the need of establishing a centralized government, supported. OKUBO and others, in alliance with other Sangi and local officers, opposed the movement by insisting that the newly merged ministry possessed authority more so than the Dajokan, and demanded the expulsion of OOKUMA and ITO and the separation of the ministry. Then in August 6, 1870, OKUBO led the decision to separate the ministry. In the end, however, the factions compromised on that matter and on December 12, 1870, they decided to merge the Minbusho and Okurasho again on September 11, 1871 in exchange for the separation of the Kobusho, that was specialized in promoting industry. It is considered that the compromise was made because OKUBO recognized the importance of a centralized government in the process of promoting Haihanchiken, the abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures, and agreed on the policy of KIDO and others; separation of the part that specialized in the promotion of industry divided the power concentrated in the new merged ministry; and the OKUBO's faction wanted to avoid an all-out conflict with the young officials of the Kaimeiha faction who were to lead the future government. In 1871, there was a behind-the-scenes movement toward achieving Haihanchiken in the government and troops were called out from the three domains of Satsuma, Choshu, and Tosa to form Goshinpei, the army under the command of the government, and Takamori SAIGO and Taisuke ITAGAKI, who returned to their birthplaces, were called back to the government.

Government organization after Haihanchiken

On August 29, 1871, Haihanchiken was carried out. During the same period, the government carried out several reforms establishing the Shihosho and Monbusho ministries, then the central government Seiin, the advisory council Sain, and the coordinating organization Uin were established, and Jingikan was raised to the ministry Jingisho. Personnel changes took place at the same time; Sanetomi SANJO took office as Dajodaijin, SAIGO, KIDO, OOKUMA, and ITAGAKI took office as Sangi, and IWAKURA and Hirofusa MADENOKOJI remained in the government, but the other court nobles and lords were dismissed from offices and the traditional court lady system of the Imperial Court was abolished. The court rank system was replaced by the official rank system, in which civil officials third grade and above and military officers fourth grade and above were called Chokuninkan, the officials and officers seventh grade and above were called Soninkan, and those eighth grade and below were called Hanninkan. There, the basic form of the Dajokan system during the Meiji period in which the Emperor led the whole government from the Dajokan inclusive by attending his business in person and making decisions by himself with the three ministries assisting him in directing Sangi and Kyo (i.e., Sangi and Kyo did not take responsibilities of assisting the Emperor); and the origin of the domain clique called Hanbatsu formed by the members of Satsuma, Choshu, Tosa, and Hizen domains were established.

Government organization in the eighth year of the Meiji era

January, 1875, the eighth year of Meiji, Toshimichi OKUBO and Hirobumi ITO, who were Sangi, asked Takayoshi KIDO and Taisuke ITAGAKI, who had resigned after a debate about conquering Korea, to return to the government as Sangi at a meeting in Osaka. In February of the same year, the two parties agreed to gradually transform Japan into a constitutional monarchy and decided on the two persons returning to the government. The Imperial edict Rikken Seitai no Shosho (Dajokanfukoku No. 58) was issued on April 14, 1875, whereby the base of the separation of powers was formed such that placed Dajokan and Seiin to take responsibility for administration, Genroin, and Chihokankaigi to take responsibility for legislation, and Daishinin to take responsibility for jurisdiction. This system continued until it was replaced by the Cabinet system in 1885.

Law under the Dajokan system

Laws like the Dajokanfukoku and Dajokantasshi during this period are considered still effective today, unless the laws established thereafter are inconsistent with them. It is considered that laws recognized as under the Constitution of the Great Empire of Japan are effective today, unless they are inconsistent with the Constitution of Japan.

[Original Japanese]