State Seal of Japan

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The signature of Emperor Meiji and the State Seal of Japan

The Great Seal of Japan (Japanese: 国璽, formerly 國璽 kokuji) is the Japanese official seal of state. It is cubic. The characters 大日本國璽 (Great Japan Nation Seal) are carved in the archaic Chinese Seal script (篆書 tensho). When written vertically in two lines, the right-hand side is 大日本 (Dai Nippon) and the left-hand side is "國璽"(Kokuji).


The seal is made from pure gold, measures 3 suns (about 9 cm) and weighs 4.5 kg. Abei Rekido, the Kyoto-based master-hand of the seal, (安部井 櫟堂, 1805-1883) was ordered to produce the seal, and he manufactured it with the Privy Seal of Japan in one year in 1874. Although there was no character "帝" (imperial) in the seal text, since it was manufactured before Japan became formally known as 大日本帝国 (Dai Nippon Teikoku) by the Meiji Constitution, it was not reminted at the establishment of the Meiji Constitution. Under the Meiji Constitution, the case where the Privy Seal or State Seal is used had been defined on the official note formula (公文式: kōbunshiki 1886 - 1907) and the official formula code (公式令: kōreisiki 1907 - 1947). However, the code was abolished with enforcement of the Constitution of Japan, and there is currently no replacement statute. The State Seal is only used for certificate decoration (勲記: kunki).

It is stored in a specially designated leather bag. When used, a special ruler is used to make sure the seal is imprinted correctly, and cinnabar seal ink specially made in the national Printing Bureau is used so that it should not bend or shift.

Reproduction of the State Seal and the Privy Seal for unauthorized purposes are offenses punishable by two years or more of terminable penal servitude according to Article 164 the 1st clause of the criminal code.

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