House of Peers (Japan)
|House of Peers |
Prince Fumimaro Konoe addressing the House of Peers in 1936, with the imperial throne in the background
|Established||6 March 1871|
|Disbanded||22 May 1947|
|Succeeded by||House of Councillors|
251 (1889) |
409 (at peak, 1938)
|National Diet Building, Tokyo|
In 1869, under the new Meiji government, a Japanese peerage was created by an Imperial decree merging the former Court nobility (kuge) and former feudal lords (daimyo) into a single new aristocratic class called the kazoku.
A second imperial ordinance in 1884 grouped the kazoku into five ranks equivalent to the European prince (or duke), marquis, count, viscount, and baron. Although this grouping idea was taken from the European peerage, the Japanese titles were taken from Chinese and based on the ancient feudal system in China.
In 1889, the House of Peers Ordinance established the House of Peers and its composition. For the first session of the Imperial Diet (1889–1890), there were 145 hereditary members and 106 imperial appointees and high taxpayers, for a total of 251 members.
With the creation of new peers, additional seats for members of the former Korean nobility and four seats for representatives from The Japan Imperial Academy, membership peaked at 409 seats by 1938. In its 92nd and final session, the number of members was 373.
After revisions to the ordinance, notably in 1925, the House of Peers comprised:
- The Crown Prince (Kōtaishi) and the Imperial Grandson and Heir Presumptive (Kōtaison) from the age of 18, with the term of office for life.
- All Imperial Princes (shinnō) and lesser Princes of the Imperial Blood (ō) over the age of 20, with the term of office for life.
- All Princes and Marquises over the age of 25 (raised to 30 in 1925), with the term of office for life.
- 18 Counts, 66 Viscounts and 66 Barons over the age of 25 (raised to 30 in 1925), for seven-year terms.
- 125 distinguished politicians and scientists over the age of 30 and nominated by the Emperor in consultation with the Privy Council, with the term of office for life
- 4 members of the Imperial Academy over the age of 30, elected by the academicians and nominated by the Emperor, for seven-year terms.
- 66 elected representatives of the 6000 highest taxpayers, over the age of 30 and for seven-year terms.
Presidents of the House of Peers
|No.||Name||Portrait||Title||Term of Office||Sessions|
|1||Itō Hirobumi||Count (hakushaku)||24 October 1890||20 July 1891||1|
|2||Hachisuka Mochiaki||Marquis (kōshaku)||20 July 1891||3 October 1896||2–9|
|3||Konoe Atsumaro||Prince (kōshaku)||3 October 1896||4 December 1903||10–18|
|4||Tokugawa Iesato||Prince (kōshaku)||4 December 1903||9 June 1933||19–64|
|5||Fumimaro Konoe||Prince (kōshaku)||9 June 1933||17 June 1937||65–70|
|6||Yorinaga Matsudaira||Count (hakushaku)||17 June 1937||11 October 1944||71–85|
|7||Tokugawa Kuniyuki||Prince (kōshaku)||11 October 1944||19 June 1946||86–89|
|8||Tokugawa Iemasa||Prince (kōshaku)||19 June 1946||2 May 1947||90–92|