CONSTITUTION OF THE EMPIRE OF JAPAN, 1889
Imperial Oath Sworn in the Sanctuary in the Imperial Palace
We, the Successor to the prosperous Throne of Our
Predecessors, do humbly and solemnly swear to the Imperial
Founder of Our House and to Our other Imperial Ancestors that, in
pursuance of a great policy co-extensive with the Heavens and
with the Earth, We shall maintain and secure from decline the
ancient form of government.
In consideration of the progressive tendency of the course
of human affairs and in parallel with the advance of
civilization, We deem it expedient, in order to give clearness
and distinctness to the instructions bequeathed by the Imperial
Founder of Our House and by Our other Imperial Ancestors, to
establish fundamental laws formulated into express provisions of
law, so that, on the one hand, Our Imperial posterity may possess
an express guide for the course they are to follow, and that, on
the other, Our subjects shall thereby be enabled to enjoy a wider
range of action in giving Us their support, and that the
observance of Our laws shall continue to the remotest ages of
time. We will thereby to give greater firmness to the stability
of Our country and to promote the welfare of all the people
within the boundaries of Our dominions; and We now establish the
Imperial House Law and the Constitution. These Laws come to only
an exposition of grand precepts for the conduct of the
government, bequeathed by the Imperial Founder of Our House and
by Our other Imperial Ancestors. That we have been so fortunate
in Our reign, in keeping with the tendency of the times, as to
accomplish this work, We owe to the glorious Spirits of the
Imperial Founder of Our House and of Our other Imperial
We now reverently make Our prayer to Them and to Our
Illustrious Father, and implore the help of Their Sacred Spirits,
and make to Them solemn oath never at this time nor in the future
to fail to be an example to our subjects in the observance of the
Laws hereby established.
May the heavenly Spirits witness this Our solemn Oath.
Imperial Rescript on the Promulgation of the Constitution
Whereas We make it the joy and glory of Our heart to behold
the prosperity of Our country, and the welfare of Our subjects,
We do hereby, in virtue of the Supreme power We inherit from Our
Imperial Ancestors, promulgate the present immutable fundamental
law, for the sake of Our present subjects and their descendants.
The Imperial Founder of Our House and Our other Imperial
ancestors, by the help and support of the forefathers of Our
subjects, laid the foundation of Our Empire upon a basis, which
is to last forever. That this brilliant achievement embellishes
the annals of Our country, is due to the glorious virtues of Our
Sacred Imperial ancestors, and to the loyalty and bravery of Our
subjects, their love of their country and their public spirit.
Considering that Our subjects are the descendants of the loyal
and good subjects of Our Imperial Ancestors, We doubt not but
that Our subjects will be guided by Our views, and will
sympathize with all Our endeavors, and that, harmoniously
cooperating together, they will share with Us Our hope of making
manifest the glory of Our country, both at home and abroad, and
of securing forever the stability of the work bequeathed to Us by
Our Imperial Ancestors.
Preamble [or Edict) (Joyu)
Having, by virtue of the glories of Our Ancestors, ascended
the throne of a lineal succession unbroken for ages eternal;
desiring to promote the welfare of, and to give development to
the moral and intellectual faculties of Our beloved subjects, the
very same that have been favored with the benevolent care and
affectionate vigilance of Our Ancestors; and hoping to maintain
the prosperity of the State, in concert with Our people and with
their support, We hereby promulgate, in pursuance of Our Imperial
Rescript of the 12th day of the 10th month of the 14th year of
Meiji, a fundamental law of the State, to exhibit the principles,
by which We are guided in Our conduct, and to point out to what
Our descendants and Our subjects and their descendants are
forever to conform.
The right of sovereignty of the State, We have inherited
from Our Ancestors, and We shall bequeath them to Our
descendants. Neither We nor they shall in the future fail to
wield them, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution
We now declare to respect and protect the security of the
rights and of the property of Our people, and to secure to them
the complete enjoyment of the same, within the extent of the
provisions of the present Constitution and of the law.
The Imperial Diet shall first be convoked for the 23rd year
of Meiji and the time of its opening shall be the date, when the
present Constitution comes into force.
When in the future it may become necessary to amend any of
the provisions of the present Constitution, We or Our successors
shall assume the initiative right, and submit a project for the
same to the Imperial Diet. The Imperial Diet shall pass its vote
upon it, according to the conditions imposed by the present
Constitution, and in no otherwise shall Our descendants or Our
subjects be permitted to attempt any alteration thereof.
Our Ministers of State, on Our behalf, shall be held
responsible for the carrying out of the present Constitution, and
Our present and future subjects shall forever assume the duty of
allegiance to the present Constitution.
CHAPTER I. THE EMPEROR
Article 1. The Empire of Japan shall be reigned over and
governed by a line of Emperors unbroken for ages eternal.
Article 2. The Imperial Throne shall be succeeded to by
Imperial male descendants, according to the provisions of the
Imperial House Law.
Article 3. The Emperor is sacred and inviolable.
Article 4. The Emperor is the head of the Empire, combining
in Himself the rights of sovereignty, and exercises them,
according to the provisions of the present Constitution.
Article 5. The Emperor exercises the legislative power with
the consent of the Imperial Diet.
Article 6. The Emperor gives sanction to laws, and orders
them to be promulgated and executed.
Article 7. The Emperor convokes the Imperial Diet, opens,
closes, and prorogues it, and dissolves the House of
Article 8. The Emperor, in consequence of an urgent
necessity to maintain public safety or to avert public
calamities, issues, when the Imperial Diet is not sitting,
Imperial ordinances in the place of law.
(2) Such Imperial Ordinances are to be laid before the
Imperial Diet at its next session, and when the Diet does not
approve the said Ordinances, the Government shall declare them to
be invalid for the future.
Article 9. The Emperor issues or causes to be issued, the
Ordinances necessary for the carrying out of the laws, or for the
maintenance of the public peace and order, and for the promotion
of the welfare of the subjects. But no Ordinance shall in any way
alter any of the existing laws.
Article 10. The Emperor determines the organization of the
different branches of the administration, and salaries of all
civil and military officers, and appoints and dismisses the same.
Exceptions especially provided for in the present Constitution or
in other laws, shall be in accordance with the respective
provisions (bearing thereon).
Article 11. The Emperor has the supreme command of the Army
Article 12. The Emperor determines the organization and
peace standing of the Army and Navy.
Article 13. The Emperor declares war, makes peace, and
Article 14. The Emperor declares a state of siege.
(2) The conditions and effects of a state of siege shall be
determined by law.
Article 15. The Emperor confers titles of nobility, rank,
orders and other marks of honor.
Article 16. The Emperor orders amnesty, pardon, commutation
of punishments and rehabilitation.
Article 17. A Regency shall be instituted in conformity with
the provisions of the Imperial House Law.
(2) The Regent shall exercise the powers appertaining to the
Emperor in His name.
CHAPTER II. RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF SUBJECTS
Article 18. The conditions necessary for being a Japanese
subject shall be determined by law.
Article 19. Japanese subjects may, according to
qualifications determined in laws or ordinances, be appointed to
civil or military or any other public offices equally.
Article 20. Japanese subjects are amenable to service in the
Army or Navy, according to the provisions of law.
Article 21. Japanese subjects are amenable to the duty of
paying taxes, according to the provisions of law.
Article 22. Japanese subjects shall have the liberty of
abode and of changing the same within the limits of the law.
Article 23. No Japanese subject shall be arrested, detained,
tried or punished, unless according to law.
Article 24. No Japanese subject shall be deprived of his
right of being tried by the judges determined by law.
Article 25. Except in the cases provided for in the law, the
house of no Japanese subject shall be entered or searched without
Article 26. Except in the cases mentioned in the law, the
secrecy of the letters of every Japanese subject shall remain
Article 27. The right of property of every Japanese subject
shall remain inviolate.
(2) Measures necessary to be taken for the public benefit
shall be any provided for by law.
Article 28. Japanese subjects shall, within limits not
prejudicial to peace and order, and not antagonistic to their
duties as subjects, enjoy freedom of religious belief.
Article 29. Japanese subjects shall, within the limits of
law, enjoy the liberty of speech, writing, publication, public
meetings and associations.
Article 30. Japanese subjects may present petitions, by
observing the proper forms of respect, and by complying with the
rules specially provided for the same.
Article 31. The provisions contained in the present Chapter
shall not affect the exercises of the powers appertaining to the
Emperor, in times of war or in cases of a national emergency.
Article 32. Each and every one of the provisions contained
in the preceding Articles of the present Chapter, that are not in
conflict with the laws or the rules and discipline of the Army
and Navy, shall apply to the officers and men of the Army and of
CHAPTER III. THE IMPERIAL DIET
Article 33. The Imperial Diet shall consist of two Houses, a
House of Peers and a House of Representatives.
Article 34. The House of Peers shall, in accordance with the
ordinance concerning the House of Peers, be composed of the
members of the Imperial Family, of the orders of nobility, and of
those who have been nominated thereto by the Emperor.
Article 35. The House of Representatives shall be composed
of members elected by the people, according to the provisions of
the law of Election.
Article 36. No one can at one and the same time be a Member
of both Houses.
Article 37. Every law requires the consent of the Imperial
Article 38. Both Houses shall vote upon projects of law
submitted to it by the Government, and may respectively initiate
projects of law.
Article 39. A Bill, which has been rejected by either the
one or the other of the two Houses, shall not be brought in again
during the same session.
Article 40. Both Houses can make representations to the
Government, as to laws or upon any other subject. When, however,
such representations are not accepted, they cannot be made a
second time during the same session.
Article 41. The Imperial Diet shall be convoked every year.
Article 42. A session of the Imperial Diet shall last during
three months. In case of necessity, the duration of a session may
be prolonged by the Imperial Order.
Article 43. When urgent necessity arises, an extraordinary
session may be convoked in addition to the ordinary one.
(2) The duration of an extraordinary session shall be
determined by Imperial Order.
Article 44. The opening, closing, prolongation of session
and prorogation of the Imperial Diet, shall be effected
simultaneously for both Houses.
(2) In case the House of Representatives has been ordered to
dissolve, the House of Peers shall at the same time be prorogued.
Article 45. When the House of Representatives has been
ordered to dissolve, Members shall be caused by Imperial Order to
be newly elected, and the new House shall be convoked within five
months from the day of dissolution.
Article 46. No debate can be opened and no vote can be taken
in either House of the Imperial Diet, unless not less than
one-third of the whole number of Members thereof is present.
Article 47. Votes shall be taken in both Houses by absolute
majority. In the case of a tie vote, the President shall have the
Article 48. The deliberations of both Houses shall be held
in public. The deliberations may, however, upon demand of the
Government or by resolution of the House, be held in secret
Article 49. Both Houses of the Imperial Diet may
respectively present addresses to the Emperor.
Article 50. Both Houses may receive petitions presented by
Article 51. Both Houses may enact, besides what is provided
for in the present Constitution and in the Law of the Houses,
rules necessary for the management of their internal affairs.
Article 52. No Member of either House shall be held
responsible outside the respective Houses, for any opinion
uttered or for any vote given in the House. When, however, a
Member himself has given publicity to his opinions by public
speech, by documents in print or in writing, or by any other
similar means, he shall, in the matter, be amenable to the
Article 53. The Members of both Houses shall, during the
session, be free from arrest, unless with the consent of the
House, except in cases of flagrant delicts, or of offenses
connected with a state of internal commotion or with a foreign
Article 54. The Ministers of State and the Delegates of the
Government may, at any time, take seats and speak in either
CHAPTER IV. THE MINISTERS OF STATE AND THE PRIVY COUNCIL
Article 55. The respective Ministers of State shall give
their advice to the Emperor, and be responsible for it.
(2) All Laws, Imperial Ordinances, and Imperial Rescripts of
whatever kind, that relate to the affairs of the state, require
the countersignature of a Minister of State.
Article 56. The Privy Councillors shall, in accordance with
the provisions for the organization of the Privy Council,
deliberate upon important matters of State when they have been
consulted by the Emperor.
CHAPTER V. THE JUDICATURE
Article 57. The Judicature shall be exercised by the Courts
of Law according to law, in the name of the Emperor.
(2) The organization of the Courts of Law shall be
determined by law.
Article 58. The judges shall be appointed from among those,
who possess proper qualifications according to law.
(2) No judge shall be deprived of his position, unless by
way of criminal sentence or disciplinary punishment.
(3) Rules for disciplinary punishment shall be determined by
Article 59. Trials and judgments of a Court shall be
conducted publicly. When, however, there exists any fear, that
such publicity may be prejudicial to peace and order, or to the
maintenance of public morality, the public trial may be suspended
by provisions of law or by the decision of the Court of Law.
Article 60. All matters that fall within the competency of a
special Court, shall be specially provided for by law.
Article 61. No suit at law, which relates to rights alleged
to have been infringed by the illegal measures of the
administrative authorities, and which shall come within the
competency of the Court of Administrative Litigation specially
established by law, shall be taken cognizance of by Court of Law.
CHAPTER VI. FINANCE
Article 62. The imposition of a new tax or the modification
of the rates (of an existing one) shall be determined by law.
(2) However, all such administrative fees or other revenue
having the nature of compensation shall not fall within the
category of the above clause.
(3) The raising of national loans and the contracting of
other liabilities to the charge of the National Treasury, except
those that are provided in the Budget, shall require the consent
of the Imperial Diet.
Article 63. The taxes levied at present shall, in so far as
they are not remodelled by a new law, be collected according to
the old system.
Article 64. The expenditure and revenue of the State require
the consent of the Imperial Diet by means of an annual Budget.
(2) Any and all expenditures overpassing the appropriations
set forth in the Titles and Paragraphs of the Budget, or that are
not provided for in the Budget, shall subsequently require the
approbation of the Imperial Diet.
Article 65. The Budget shall be first laid before the House
Article 66. The expenditures of the Imperial House shall be
defrayed every year out of the National Treasury, according to
the present fixed amount for the same, and shall not require the
consent thereto of the Imperial Diet, except in case an increase
thereof is found necessary.
Article 67. Those already fixed expenditures based by the
Constitution upon the powers appertaining to the Emperor, and
such expenditures as may have arisen by the effect of law, or
that appertain to the legal obligations of the Government, shall
be neither rejected nor reduced by the Imperial Diet, without the
concurrence of the Government.
Article 68. In order to meet special requirements, the
Government may ask the consent of the Imperial Diet to a certain
amount as a Continuing Expenditure Fund, for a previously fixed
number of years.
Article 69. In order to supply deficiencies, which are
unavoidable, in the Budget, and to meet requirements unprovided
for in the same, a Reserve Fund shall be provided in the Budget.
Article 70. When the Imperial Diet cannot be convoked, owing
to the external or internal condition of the country, in case of
urgent need for the maintenance of public safety, the Government
may take all necessary financial measures, by means of an
(2) In the case mentioned in the preceding clause, the
matter shall be submitted to the Imperial Diet at its next
session, and its approbation shall be obtained thereto.
Article 71. When the Imperial Diet has not voted on the
Budget, or when the Budget has not been brought into actual
existence, the Government shall carry out the Budget of the
Article 72. The final account of the expenditures and
revenues of the State shall be verified and confirmed by the
Board of Audit, and it shall be submitted by the Government to
the Imperial Diet, together with the report of verification of
the said board.
(2) The organization and competency of the Board of Audit
shall of determined by law separately.
CHAPTER VII. SUPPLEMENTARY RULES
Article 73. When it has become necessary in future to amend
the provisions of the present Constitution, a project to the
effect shall be submitted to the Imperial Diet by Imperial Order.
(2) In the above case, neither House can open the debate,
unless not less than two-thirds of the whole number of Members
are present, and no amendment can be passed, unless a majority of
not less than two-thirds of the Members present is obtained.
Article 74. No modification of the Imperial House Law shall
be required to be submitted to the deliberation of the Imperial
(2) No provision of the present Constitution can be modified
by the Imperial House Law.
Article 75. No modification can be introduced into the
Constitution, or into the Imperial House Law, during the time of
Article 76. Existing legal enactments, such as laws,
regulations, Ordinances, or by whatever names they may be called,
shall, so far as they do not conflict with the present
Constitution, continue in force.
(2) All existing contracts or orders, that entail
obligations upon the Government, and that are connected with
expenditure, shall come within the scope of Article 67.
(The above is the semi-official translation, which appeared in H.
Ito, Commentaries on the Constitution of the Empire of Japan,
trans. M. Ito, 1889.)