Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan

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The Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan (内大臣, Naidaijin) was an administrative post not of Cabinet rank in the government of the Empire of Japan, responsible for keeping the Privy Seal of Japan and State Seal of Japan. The modern office of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal was identical with the old Naidaijin only in name and should not be confused.[1] The office was abolished in 1945 after the Second World War.


Meiji period[edit]

The modern office of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal was formed in 1885, after the Meiji government established the Japanese cabinet; however, the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal was separate from the cabinet, and acted as a direct, personal advisor to the Emperor. He was also responsible for the administration of imperial documents such as rescripts and edicts. Petitions to the emperor and the court were also handled by the Lord Keeper's office, as well as the responses.

The Emperor meets with his Privy Council, which was created separately and three years after the office of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal. Ukiyo-e woodblock print by Yōshū Chikanobu, 1888

When the Privy Council was created in 1888, the Privy Seal retained his independent advisory role. The term "privy" in Privy Council and Privy Seal identifies a direct relationship of special trust.

In 1907, the post was expanded to become the Office of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal (内大臣府, Naidaijin-fu) with a chief secretary, three secretaries and six assistants in order to handle the increased workload with the passing of the genrō.

Shōwa period[edit]

After the start of Emperor Hirohito's reign in 1925, the office and position of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal became increasingly important, at the expense of the office of the Prime Minister. Political infighting within the Diet of Japan further boosted the power of the Lord Keeper. The holder of this position was able to strictly control who was allowed to have an audience with the emperor, as well as the flow of information.

The office of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal was officially abolished on 24 November 1945,[2] and the position itself was abolished with the promulgation of the new constitution in November 1946. Thus, former Grand Chamberlain Fujita Hisanori was the last Lord Keeper.[3]

Today, the seals are kept in the care of the Chamberlain of Japan.

List of Lord Keepers of the Privy Seal[edit]

Name Dates as Lord Keeper
Sanjō Sanetomi 22 December 1885 – 18 February 1891
Tokudaiji Sanetsune 21 February 1891 – 12 August 1912
Katsura Tarō 21 August 1912 – 21 December 1912
HIH Prince Fushimi Sadanaru 21 December 1912 – 13 January 1915
Ōyama Iwao 23 April 1915 – 10 December 1916
Matsukata Masayoshi 2 May 1917 – 18 September 1922
Hirata Tōsuke 19 September 1922 – 30 May 1925
Hamao Arata 30 March 1925 – 30 March 1925
Makino Nobuaki 30 March 1925 – 26 February 1935
Saitō Makoto 26 February 1935 – 26 February 1936
Ichiki Kitokurō 6 March 1936-6 March 1936
Yuasa Kurahei 6 March 1936 – 1 June 1940
Kido Kōichi 1 June 1940 – 24 November 1945
Fujita Hisanori 25 November 1945 - 2 November 1946

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.unterstein.net/or/docs/JapanPeers.pdf
  2. ^ http://www.ndl.go.jp/constitution/e/etc/glossary.html National Diet Library | Office of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal
  3. ^ John Dower, Embracing defeat, 1999, p.320


  • Takenobu, Yoshitaro. (1928). The Japan Yearbook; Complete Cyclopaedia of General Information and Statistics on Japan and Japanese Territories. Tokyo: The Japan Year Book Office. OCLC 145151778

External links[edit]