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The Imperial Household Law (1889)

Chapter I. Succession to the Imperial Throne

Chapter II. Ascension and Enthronement

Chapter III. Majority, Institution of the Empress and the Heir-Apparent

Chapter IV. Styles of Address

Chapter V. Regency

Chapter VI. The Imperial Governor
Chapter VII. The Imperial Family

Chapter VIII. Imperial Hereditary Estates

Chapter IX. Expenditures of the Imperial House

Chapter X. Litigation and Disciplinary Matters

Chapter XI. Imperial Family Council

Chapter XII. Supplementary Provisions

Additional Rules -- creation of princes as peers

Additional Rule -- marriages between females of the Imperial Family and members of the former Korean Royal Family


Chapter I. Succession to the Imperial Throne

Article I. The Imperial Throne of Japan shall be succeeded to by male descendants in the male line of Imperial Ancestors.

Article II. The Imperial throne shall be succeeded to by the Imperial eldest son.

Article III. When there is no Imperial eldest son, the Imperial Throne shall be succeeded to by the Imperial eldest grandson. When there is neither Imperial eldest son nor any male descendent of his, it shall be succeeded to by the Imperial son next in age, and so on in every successive case.

Article IV. For succession to the Imperial Throne by an Imperial descendant, the one of full blood shall have precedence over descendants of half blood. They succession to the Imperial Throne by the latter shall be limited to those cases only in which there is no Imperial descendant of full blood.

Article V. If there is no Imperial descendant, the Imperial Throne shall be succeeded to by an Imperial brother and by his descendants.

Article VI. If there is no such Imperial brother or descendent of his; the Imperial Throne shall be succeeded to by an Imperial uncle and his descendants.

Article VII. If there is neither such Imperial uncle nor descendant of his, the Imperial Throne shall be succeeded to by the next nearest member among the rest of the Imperial Family.

Article VIII. Among the Imperial brothers and the remoter relations, precedence shall be given, in the same degree, to the descendants of full blood, and to the elder over the younger.

Article IX. If the Imperial heir is suffering from an incurable disease of mind or body, or when any other weighty cause exists, the order of succession may be changed in accordance with foregoing provisions, with the advice of the Imperial Family Council with that of the Privy Council.

Chapter II. Ascension and Enthronement

Article X. Upon the demise of the Emperor the Imperial heir shall ascend to the throne and shall acquire the Divine Treasures of the Imperial Ancestors.

Article XI. The ceremonies of Enthronement shall be performed and a Great Enthronement Banquet (Daijosi) shall be held at Kyoto.

Article XII. Upon the ascension to the Throne, a new era shall be inaugurated, and the name of it shall remain unchanged during the whole reign in agreement with the established rule of the 1st year of Meiji.

Chapter III. Majority, Institution of the Empress and the Heir Apparent

Article XIII. The Emperor, the Kotaishi, and the Kotaison shall attain their majority at eighteen full years of age.

Article XIV. Members of the Imperial Family, other than those mentioned in the preceding article, shall attain their majority at twenty full years of age.

Article XV. The son of the Emperor who is heir apparent shall be called Kotaishi. In case there is no Kotaishi, the Imperial grandson who is heir apparent shall be called Kotaison.

Article XVI. The Institution of the Empress and that of Kotaishi or of Kotaison shall be proclaimed by Imperial Rescript.

Chapter IV. Styles of Address

Article XVII. The style of address for the Emperor, the Grand Empress Dowager, the Empress Dowager, and the Empress shall be "His," "Her" or "Your Imperial Majesty."

Article XVIII. The Kotasihi and his consort, the Kotaison and his consort, the shinnô and their consorts, and the naishinnô, the ô and their consorts, and the nyoô shall be styled "His," "Her," "Their," or "Your Imperial Highness" or "Highnesses."

Chapter V. Regency

Article XIX. When the Emperor is a minor, a Regency shall be instituted. When the Emperor is prevented by some permanent cause from personally governing, a Regency shall be instituted, with the advice of the Imperial Family Council and with that of the Privy Council.

Article XX. The Regency shall be assumed by the Kotaishi or the Kotaison , being of full age of majority.

Article XXI. When there is neither Kotashi nor Kotaison or when the Kotaishi or Kotaison has not arrived as his majority, the Regency shall be assumed in the following order:

1. A shinnô or an ô

2. The Empress

3. The Empress Dowager

4. The Grand Empress Dowager

5. A naishinnô or an nyoô

Article XXII. In case the Regency shall be assumed from among the male members of the Imperial Family, it shall be done in agreement with the order of succession to the Imperial Throne. The same applies to the case of female members of the Imperial Family.

Article XXIII. A female member of the Imperial Family chosen to assume the Regency shall exclusively be one who has no consort.

Article XXIV. If, on account of the minority of the nearest member of the Imperial Family, or for some other cause, another member has to assume the Regency, the latter shall not, upon the arrival at the majority of the above-mentioned nearest related member, or upon the disappearance of the aforesaid cause, resign his or her post in favor of any person other than of the Kotaishi or of the Kotaison.

Article XXV. If a Regent, or one who should become such, is suffering from an incurable disease of mind or body, or when any other weighty cause exists therefore, the order of the Regency may be changed, with the advice of the Imperial Family Council and that of the Privy Council.

Chapter VI. The Imperial Governor

Article XXVI. When the Emperor is a minor, an Imperial Governor shall be appointed to take charge of his upbringing and of his education.

Article XXVII. In case no Imperial Governor has been nominated in the will of the preceding Emperor, the Regent shall appoint one, with the advice of the Imperial Family Council and that with of the Privy Council.

Article XXVIII. Neither the Regent nor any of his descendants can be appointed Imperial Governor.

Article XXIX. The Imperial Governor cannot be removed from his post by the Regent, unless upon the advice of the Imperial Family Council and upon that of the Privy Council.

Chapter VII. The Imperial Family

Article XXX. The term "Imperial Family" shall include the Grand Empress Dowager, the Empress Dowager, the Empress, the Kotaishi and his consort, the Kotaison and his consort, the shinnô and their consorts, the naishinnô, the ô and their consorts, and the nyoô.

Article XXXI. From Imperial sons to Imperial great-great grandsons, Imperial male descendants shall be called shinnô; and from Imperial daughters to Imperial great-great granddaughters, the Imperial female descendants shall be called naishinnô. From the fifth generation downward, male descendants shall be called ô and females nyoô.

Article XXXII. If the Imperial throne is succeeded to by a member of the branch line, the title of shinnô or naishinnô shall be specially granted to the Imperial brothers and sisters, being already ô and nyoô.

Article XXXIII. Births, naming, marriages and deaths in the Imperial Family shall be announced by the Minister of the Imperial Household.

Article XXXIV. Genealogical and other records relating to the matters, mentioned in the preceding Article, shall be kept in the Imperial Archives.

Article XXXV. The members of the Imperial Family shall be under the control of the Emperor.

Article XXXVI. When a Regency is instituted, the Regent shall exercise the power of control referred to the preceding Article.

Article XXXVII. When a member, male or female, of the Imperial Family is a minor and has been bereft of his or her father, officials of the Imperial Court shall be ordered to take charge of his or her upbringing and education. In certain circumstances, the Emperor may either approve the guardian chosen by his or her parent, or nominate one.

Article XXXIX. The guardian of a member of the Imperial Family must be himself a member thereof and of age.

Article XL. Marriages of members of the Imperial Family shall be restricted to the circle of the Imperial Family, or to certain noble families specially approved by Imperial Order.

Article XLI. Marriages of the members of the Imperial Family shall be subject to the sanction of the Emperor.

Article XLII. No member of the Imperial Family can adopt anyone as his son.

Article XLIII. When a member of the Imperial Family wishes to travel beyond the boundaries of the Empire, he shall first obtain the sanction of the Emperor.

Article XLIV. A female member of the Imperial Family, who is married to a subject, shall be excluded from membership in the Imperial Family. However, she may be allowed, by special grace of the Emperor to retain her title of naishinnô or nyoô, as the case may be.

Chapter VIII. Imperial Hereditary Estates

Article XLV. No land or other property that has been fixed, as Imperial Hereditary Estates shall be divided up and alienated.

Article XLVI. The landed or other property to be included in the Imperial Hereditary Estates, shall be settled by Imperial writ with the advice of the Privy Council, and shall be announced by the Minister of the Imperial Household.

Chapter IX. Expenditures of the Imperial House

Article XLVII. The expenditures of the Imperial House of all kinds shall be defrayed out of the National Treasury at a certain fixed amount.

Article XLVIII. The estimates and audit of accounts of the expenditures of the Imperial House and all other rules of the kind shall be regulated by the finance regulations of the Imperial House.

Chapter X. Litigation and Disciplinary Matters

Article XLIX. Litigation between members of the Imperial Family shall be decided by judicial functionaries specially designated by the Emperor to the Ministry of the Imperial Household, and execution issued after Imperial sanction thereto has be obtained.

Article L. Civil actions brought by private individuals against members of the Imperial Family shall be decided in the Court of Appeal in Tokyo. Members of the Imperial Family shall, however, be represented by attorneys, and no personal attendance in the Court shall be required of them.

Article LI. No members of the Imperial Family can be arrested, or summoned before a Court of Law, unless the sanction of the Emperor has be first obtained thereto.

Article LII. When a member of the Imperial Family has committed an act derogatory to his (or her) dignity or when he has exhibited disloyalty to the Imperial House, he shall by way of disciplinary punishment and by order of the Emperor, be deprived in whole or part of the privileges belonging to him as member of the Imperial Family, or shall be suspended therefrom.

Article LIII. When a member of the Imperial Family acts in way tending to the squandering of his (or her) property, he shall be pronounced incapable by the Emperor, prohibited from administering his property, and a manager shall be appointed therefore.

Article LIV. The two foregoing Articles shall be enforced upon the advice of the Imperial Family Council.

Chapter XI. The Imperial Family Council

Article LV. The Imperial Family Council shall be composed of the male members of the Imperial Family who have reached the age of majority. The Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, the President of the Privy Council, the Minister of the Imperial Household, the Minister of State for Justice, and the President of the Court of Causation shall be ordered to take part in the deliberations of the Council.

Article LVI. The Emperor personally presides over the meetings of the Imperial Family Council, or directs one of the members of the Imperial Family to do so.

Chapter XII. Supplementary Provisions

Article LVII. Those of the present members of the Imperial Family of the fifth generation and downwards, who have already been invested with the title of shinnô, shall retain the same as heretofore.

Article LVIII. The order of succession to the Imperial Throne shall in every case related to the descendants of the direct lineage. There shall be no admission to the line of succession of anyone, as a consequence of being an adopted Imperial son, Koyoshi or heir to princely house.

Article LIX. The grades of rank among the shinnô and ô shall be abolished.

Article LX. The family rank of shinnô and all usage conflicting with the present law shall be abolished.

Article LXI. The property, annual expenses, and all other rules concerning the members of the Imperial Family shall be specially determined.

Article LXII. When in the future it shall become necessary to amend or make addition to the present law, the matter shall be decided by the Emperor, with the advice of the Imperial Family Council and with that of the Privy Council.


Additional Rules (promulgated in 1904)

Article I. The ô may be created peers, either by order of the Emperor or at their own wishes, with family names granted by the Emperor.

Article II. The ô may, with the sanction of the Emperor, become heirs of peers or be adopted as their sons with a view to becoming their heirs.

Article III. All consorts, lineal descendants and their wives of the ô who have been excluded from membership of the Imperial Family for the reason stated in the two foregoing Articles, are also excluded from membership in the Imperial Family as members of the families of the ô who have become subjects. The rule does not, however, apply to those female members of the Imperial Family who have married other members of the Imperial Family or their lineal descendants.

Article IV. A member of the Imperial Family, who has been deprived of the privileges belonging to him as a member of the Imperial Family, may be excluded from membership in the Imperial Family and placed in the rank of subjects by order of the Emperor. The consort of a member of the Imperial Family who has been excluded from membership in the Imperial Family and placed in the rank of subjects in accordance with the foregoing Article, is also excluded from membership in the Imperial Family and placed in the rank of subjects.

Article V. In the cases mentioned in Articles I, II and IV (of the present set of additional rules), the matter shall be decided with the advice of the Imperial Family Council and that of the Privy Council/

Article VI. The members of the Imperial Family, who have been excluded from membership in the Imperial Family, cannot be reinstated as members of the Imperial Family.

Article VII. Regulations pertaining to the legal status of the members of the Imperial Family and the limits of their competence, other than those provided for elsewhere in the present law, shall be defined separately. Regarding affairs in which are involved the interests of a members of the Imperial Family and a subject or subjects and in which different regulations apply to the respective parties, such regulations such apply.

Article VIII. The provisions of laws and ordinances designated as applied to the members of the Imperial Family shall apply to them only in cases where no particular regulations are specifically provided for in the present law or such regulations are issued in accordance with the present law.


Additional Rule (promulgated in 1920)

A female member of the Imperial Family can marry a male member of the Ozoku or Kozoku (former Royal Family of Korea).