Privy Seal of Japan

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Privy seal of Japan (天皇御璽)

The Privy Seal of Japan is the Emperor of Japan's official seal. It is square and its inscription "天皇御璽" is written in the seal script (篆書:tensho). It has two lines of vertical writing. On the right-hand side is "天皇" (Tenno, "Emperor") and on left-hand side is "御璽" (Gyoji, "honorable seal"). The seal is printed on Imperial rescripts, appointment documents, documents of general power of attorney, proclamation of sentences of law, government ordinances, treaties, instruments of ratification, ambassadors' credentials, documents of the Prime Minister or Chief Justice, and also written appointments of dismissal.


The history of the Privy Seal of Japan dates back to the Nara period. Although it was originally made from copper, it was manufactured from stone in 1868 (Meiji) and later, was made from pure gold. The present Privy Seal is pure gold and is about 3 sun (about 9 cm) in size and weighs 4.5 kg. The master-hand of the seal was Abei Rekido (安部井 櫟堂; 1805-1883), of Kyoto. He was commissioned to manufacture the State Seal of Japan within one year, in 1874 (Meiji 7). When not in use, the seal is kept in a leather bag. The seal is used with special cinnabar seal ink specially made in the National Printing Bureau.

If the State Seal or the Privy Seal are illegally reproduced, the penalty is at least two years of penal servitude according to Article 164 the 1st clause of the criminal code.

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