House of Peers
|Established||6 March 1871|
|Disbanded||2 May 1947|
|Succeeded by||House of Councillors|
|1946 House of Peers election|
|National Diet Building, Tokyo|
The House of Peers (貴族院, Kizoku-in) was the upper house of the Imperial Diet as mandated under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan (in effect from 11 February 1889 to 3 May 1947).
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 (daimyos) 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 aristocrats, 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. Itō Hirobumi and the other Meiji leaders deliberately modeled the chamber on the British House of Lords, as a counterweight to the popularly elected House of Representatives (Shūgiin).
In 1889, the House of Peers Ordinance established the House of Peers and its composition. For the first session of the Imperial Diet (November 1890–March 1891), there were 145 hereditary members and 106 imperial appointees and high taxpayers, for a total of 251 members. In the 1920s, four new peers elected by the Japan Imperial Academy were added, and the number of peers elected by the top taxpayers of each prefecture was increased from 47 to 66 as some prefectures now elected two members. Inversely, the minimum age for hereditary (dukes and marquesses) and mutually elected (counts, viscounts and barons) noble peers was increased to 30, slightly reducing their number. By 1938, membership reached 409 seats. After the addition of seats for the Empire's colonies Chōsen (Japanese colonial name of Korea) and Taiwan (Japanese name of Formosa) during the last stages of WWII, it stood at 418 at the beginning of the 89th Imperial Diet in November 1945, briefly before Douglas MacArthur's "purge" barred many members from public office. In 1947 during its 92nd and final session, the number of members was 373.
After revisions to the Ordinance, notably in 1925, the House of Peers comprised:
After World War II, the United States occupied Japan and undertook widespread structural changes to progress the principles of what it felt were democratization and demilitarization, which included extensive land reform that stripped the nobility of their land and therefore a major source of income. A new constitution was also written by the occupants, the current Constitution of Japan, in effect from 3 May 1947, which required the mostly unelected House of Peers be replaced by an elected House of Councillors.
|No.||Name||Portrait||Title||Term of office||Sessions|
|Took office||Left office||Time in office|
|1||Itō Hirobumi||Count (hakushaku)||24 October 1890||20 July 1891||269 days||1|
|2||Hachisuka Mochiaki||Marquis (kōshaku)||20 July 1891||3 October 1896||5 years, 75 days||2–9|
|3||Konoe Atsumaro||Prince (kōshaku)||3 October 1896||4 December 1903||7 years, 62 days||10–18|
|4||Tokugawa Iesato||Prince (kōshaku)||4 December 1903||9 June 1933||29 years, 187 days||19–64|
|5||Fumimaro Konoe||Prince (kōshaku)||9 June 1933||17 June 1937||4 years, 8 days||65–70|
|6||Yorinaga Matsudaira||Count (hakushaku)||17 June 1937||11 October 1944||7 years, 116 days||71–85|
|7||Tokugawa Kuniyuki||Prince (kōshaku)||11 October 1944||19 June 1946||1 year, 251 days||86–89|
|8||Tokugawa Iemasa||Prince (kōshaku)||19 June 1946||2 May 1947||317 days||90–92|
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