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Home Ministry
Agency overview
FormedNovember 10, 1873 (1873-11-10)
DissolvedDecember 31, 1947 (1947-12-31)
Superseding agencies
Jurisdiction Japan
HeadquartersChiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Parent agencyEmpire of Japan
Home Ministry (Naimu-shō) offices, Tokyo, pre-1923

The Home Ministry (内務省, Naimu-shō) was a Cabinet-level ministry established under the Meiji Constitution that managed the internal affairs of Empire of Japan from 1873 to 1947. Its duties included local administration, elections, police, monitoring people, social policy and public works. In 1938, the HM's social policy was detached from itself, then the Ministry of Health and Welfare was established. In 1947, the HM was abolished under the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers restoration, then its administrative affairs were proceeded to the National Police Agency, the Ministry of Construction, the Ministry of Home Affairs and so on. In 2001, the MOHA was integrated with the Management and Coordination Agency and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, then the Ministry of Public Management, Home affairs, Posts and Telecommunications was established. In 2004, the MPHPT changed its English name into the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. In other words, the MIC is the direct descendant of the HM.


Early Meiji period

After the Meiji Restoration, the leaders of the new Meiji government envisioned a highly centralized state to replace the old feudal order. Within months after Emperor Meiji's Charter Oath, the ancient ritsuryō structure from the late Heian period was revived in a modified form with an express focus on the separation of legislative, administrative, and judicial functions within a new Daijō-kan system.[1]

Having just returned from the Iwakura Mission in 1873, Ōkubo Toshimichi pushed forward a plan for the creation of an "Interior ministry" within the Daijō-kan modeled after similar ministries in European nations, headed by himself. The Home Ministry was established as government department in November 1873,[2] initially as an internal security agency to deal with possible threats to the government from increasingly disgruntled ex-samurai, and political unrest spawned by the Seikanron debate. In addition to controlling the police administration, the new department was also responsible for the Family register, civil engineering, topographic surveys, censorship, and promotion of agriculture. In 1874, administration of the post office was added to its responsibilities. In 1877, overview of religious institutes was added. The head of the Home Ministry was referred to as the "Home Lord" and effectively functioned as the Head of Government.

The Home Ministry also initially had the responsibility for promoting local industry,[3] but this duty was taken over by the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce in 1881.

Under the Meiji Constitution

In 1885, with the establishment of the cabinet system, the Home Ministry was reorganized by Yamagata Aritomo, who became the first Home Minister. Bureaus were created with responsibilities for general administration, local administration, police, public works, public health, postal administration, topographic surveys, religious institutions and the national census. The administration of Hokkaidō and Karafuto Prefectures also fell under the direct jurisdiction of the Home Ministry, and all prefectural governors (who were appointed by the central government) came under the jurisdiction of the Home Ministry. In 1890, the Railroad Ministry and in 1892, the Communications Ministry were created, removing the postal administration functions from the Home Ministry.

On the other hand, with the establishment of State Shinto, a Department of Religious Affairs was added to the Home Ministry in 1900. Following the High Treason Incident, the Tokko special police force was also created in 1911. The Department of Religious Affairs was transferred to the Ministry of Education in 1913.

From the 1920s period, faced with the growing issues of agrarian unrest and Bolshevik-inspired labor unrest, the attention of the Home Ministry was increasingly focused on internal security issues. Through passage of the Peace Preservation Law#Public Security Preservation Law of 1925, the Home Ministry was able to use its security apparatus to suppress political dissent and the curtail the activities of the socialists, communists and the labor movement. The power of the Tokkō was expanded tremendously, and it expanded to include branches in every Japanese prefecture, major city, and overseas locations with a large Japanese population. In the late 1920s and 1930s, the Tokkō launched a sustained campaign to destroy the Japanese Communist Party with several waves of mass arrests of known members, sympathizers and suspected sympathizers (March 15 incident).

In 1936, an Information and Propaganda Committee was created within the Home Ministry, which issued all official press statements, and which worked together with the Publications Monitoring Department on censorship issues. In 1937, jointly with the Ministry of Education, the Home Ministry administered the National Spiritual Mobilization Movement, and the Home Ministry assisted in implementation of the National Mobilization Law in 1938 to place Japan on a total war footing. The public health functions of the Ministry were separated into the Ministry of Health in 1938.

In 1940, the Information and Propaganda Department (情報部, Jōhōbu) was elevated to the Information Bureau (情報局, Jōhōkyoku), which consolidated the previously separate information departments from the Imperial Japanese Army, Imperial Japanese Navy and Foreign Ministry under the aegis of the Home Ministry. The new Jōhōkyoku had complete control over all news, advertising and public events.[4] In February 1941 it distributed among editors a black list of writers whose articles they were advised not to print anymore.[5]

Also in 1940, with the formation of the Taisei Yokusankai political party, the Home Ministry strengthened its efforts to monitor and control political dissent, also through enforcement of the tonarigumi system, which was also used to coordinate civil defense activities through World War II. In 1942, the Ministry of Colonial Affairs was abolished, and the Home Ministry extended its influence to Japanese external territories.

Post-war Home Ministry and dissolution

After the surrender of Japan, the Home Ministry coordinated closely with the Allied occupation forces to maintain public order in occupied Japan.

One of the first actions of the post-war Home Ministry was the creation of an officially sanctioned brothel system under the aegis of the "Recreation and Amusement Association", which was created on August 28, 1945. The intention was officially to contain the sexual urges of the occupation forces, protect the main Japanese populace from rape and preserve the "purity" of the "Japanese race".[6] However, by October 1945, the scope of activities of the Home Ministry was increasingly limited, with the disestablishment of State Shinto and the abolishment of the Tokkō, and with censorship and monitoring of labor union activities taken under direct American supervision. Many of the employees of the Home Ministry were purged from office.

The American authorities felt that the concentration of power into a single ministry was both a cause and a symptom of Japan's pre-war totalitarian mentality, and also felt that the centralization of police authority into a massive centrally controlled ministry was dangerous for the democratic development of post-war Japan.

The Home Ministry was formally abolished on 31 December 1947 under the Removal of Restrictions on Political, Civil, and Religious Liberties. Its functions were dispersed to the Ministry of Home Affairs (自治省 Jiji-shō), now the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Ministry of Health and Welfare (厚生省 Kōsei-shō), now the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, National Public Safety Commission (国家公安委員会 Kokka-kōan-iinkai), Ministry of Construction (建設省 Kensetsu-shō), now the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.[7]

Lords of Home Affairs

Name Date in office Date left office
1 Ōkubo Toshimichi 29 November 1873 14 February 1874
2 Kido Takayoshi 14 February 1874 27 April 1874
3 Ōkubo Toshimichi 27 April 1874 2 August 1874
4 Itō Hirobumi 2 August 1874 28 November 1874
5 Ōkubo Toshimichi 28 November 1874 14 May 1878
6 Itō Hirobumi 15 May 1878 28 February 1880
7 Matsukata Masayoshi 28 February 1880 21 October 1881
8 Yamada Akiyoshi 21 October 1881 12 December 1883
9 Yamagata Aritomo 12 December 1883 22 December 1885

Ministers of Home Affairs

Name Cabinet Date in office Comments
1 Yamagata Aritomo 1st Itō 22 December 1885  
2 Yamagata Aritomo Kuroda 30 April 1888  
3 Yamagata Aritomo 1st Yamagata 24 December 1889 Concurrently Prime Minister
4 Saigō Tsugumichi 1st Yamagata 17 May 1890  
5 Saigō Tsugumichi 1st Matsukata 6 May 1891  
6 Shinagawa Yajirō 1st Matsukata 1 June 1891  
7 Soejima Taneomi 1st Matsukata 11 March 1892  
8 Matsukata Masayoshi 1st Matsukata 8 June 1892 Concurrently Prime Minister & Finance Minister
9 Kōno Togama 1st Matsukata 14 July 1892  
10 Inoue Kaoru 2nd Itō 8 August 1892  
11 Nomura Yasushi 2nd Itō 15 October 1894  
12 Yoshikawa Akimasa 2nd Itō 3 February 1896 Concurrently Justice Minister
13 Itagaki Taisuke 2nd Itō 14 April 1896  
14 Itagaki Taisuke 2nd Matsukata 14 April 1896  
15 Kabayama Sukenori 2nd Matsukata 20 September 1896  
16 Yoshikawa Akimasa 3rd Itō 12 January 1898  
17 Itagaki Taisuke 1st Ōkuma 30 June 1898  
18 Saigō Tsugumichi 2nd Yamagata 8 November 1898  
19 Suematsu Kenchō 4th Itō 19 October 1900  
20 Utsumi Tadakatsu 1st Katsura 2 June 1901  
21 Kodama Gentarō 1st Katsura 15 July 1903 Concurrently Minister of Education
22 Katsura Tarō 1st Katsura 12 October 1903 Concurrently Prime Minister
23 Yoshikawa Akimasa 1st Katsura 20 February 1904  
24 Kiyoura Keigo 1st Katsura 16 September 1905 Concurrently Minister of Agriculture & Commerce
25 Hara Takashi 1st Saionji 7 January 1906 Concurrently Minister of Communications
26 Hirata Tosuke 2nd Katsura 14 July 1908  
27 Hara Takashi 2nd Saionji 30 August 1911  
28 Ōura Kanetake 3rd Katsura 21 December 1912  
29 Hara Takashi 1st Yamamoto 20 February 1913  
30 Ōkuma Shigenobu 2nd Ōkuma 16 April 1914 Concurrently Prime Minister
31 Ōura Kanetake 2nd Ōkuma 7 January 1915  
32 Ōkuma Shigenobu 2nd Ōkuma 30 July 1915 Concurrently Prince Minister
33 Ichiki Kitokurō 2nd Ōkuma 10 August 1915  
34 Gotō Shinpei Terauchi 9 October 1916  
35 Mizuno Rentarō Terauchi 24 April 1918  
36 Tokonami Takejirō Hara 29 September 1918  
37 Tokonami Takejirō Takahashi 13 November 1921  
38 Mizuno Rentarō Katō Tomosaburō 12 June 1922  
39 Gotō Shinpei 2nd Yamamoto 2 September 1923  
40 Mizuno Rentarō Kiyoura 7 January 1924  
41 Wakatsuki Reijirō Katō Takaaki 11 June 1924  
42 Wakatsuki Reijirō 1st Wakatsuki 30 January 1926 Concurrently Prime Minister
43 Osachi Hamaguchi 1st Wakatsuki 3 June 1926  
44 Suzuki Kisaburō Tanaka 20 April 1927  
45 Tanaka Giichi Tanaka 4 May 1928 Concurrently Prime Minister
46 Mochizuki Keisuke Tanaka 23 May 1928  
47 Adachi Kenzō Hamaguchi 2 July 1929  
48 Adachi Kenzō 2nd Wakatsuki 14 April 1931  
49 Nakahashi Tokugorō Inukai 13 December 1931  
50 Inukai Tsuyoshi Inukai 16 March 1932 Concurrently Prime Minister
51 Suzuki Kisaburō Inukai 25 March 1932  
52 Yamamoto Tatsuo Saitō 26 May 1932  
53 Fumio Gotō Okada 8 July 1934  
54 Shigenosuke Ushio Hirota 9 March 1936 Concurrently Minister of Education
55 Kakichi Kawarada Hayashi 2 February 1937  
56 Eiichi Baba 1st Konoe 4 June 1937  
57 Nobumasa Suetsugu 1st Konoe 14 December 1937  
58 Kōichi Kido Hiranuma 5 January 1939  
59 Naoshi Ohara Abe 30 August 1939 Concurrently Minister of Health
60 Hideo Kodama Yonai 15 January 1940  
61 Ejii Yasui 2nd Konoe 22 July 1940  
62 Hiranuma Kiichirō 2nd Konoe 21 December 1940  
63 Harumichi Tanabe 3rd Konoe 18 July 1941  
64 Hideki Tōjō Tōjō 18 October 1941 Concurrently Prime Minister, Minister of Munitions
65 Michio Yuzawa Tōjō 17 February 1942  
66 Kisaburō Andō Tōjō 20 April 1943  
67 Shigeo Ōdachi Koiso 22 July 1944  
68 Genki Abe Suzuki 7 April 1945  
69 Iwao Yamazaki Higashikuni 17 August 1945  
70 Zenjirō Horikiri Shidehara 9 October 1945  
71 Chūzō Mitsuji Shidehara 13 January 1946  
72 Seiichi Ōmura 1st Yoshida 22 April 1946  
73 Etsujirō Uehara 1st Yoshida 31 January 1947  
Tetsu Katayama Katayama 24 May 1947 Acting; concurrently Prime Minister
74 Kozaemon Kimura Katayama 1 June 1947 Office abolished 31 December 1947


  1. ^ Ozaki, p. 10.
  2. ^ Beasley, The Rise of modern Japan, pp.66
  3. ^ Samuels, Rich Nation Strong Army. pp.37
  4. ^ Ben-Ami Shillony, Politics and Culture in Wartime Japan, 1999, p.94
  5. ^ Ben-Ami Shillony, Politics and Culture in Wartime Japan, p.95
  6. ^ Herbert Bix, Hirohito and the making of modern Japan, 2001, p. 538, citing Kinkabara Samon and Takemae Eiji, Showashi : kokumin non naka no haran to gekido no hanseiki-zohoban, 1989, p.244 .
  7. ^ Beasley, The Rise of modern Japan, pp.229