No. 385.
Mr. Bingham to Mr. Fish.

No. 238.]

Sir: His Majesty the Mikado has been pleased to summon the representatives of the people of Japan by proclamation, which the “Nichi Nichi Shimbun,” native journal, not inaptly designates as the “Mikado’s address to the nation.”

I have the honor to inclose herewith a translation of this proclamation as published in the “Japan Weekly Mail,” of date the 19th instant, (inclosure 1.)

You will observe His Majesty declare it to be his wish that the representatives of his subjects should determine upon such measures as may be thought necessary for the welfare of the people and for the advancement of the empire.

It will not escape your notice that this address is in full accord with the decree of His Majesty issued on the 14th of April last, a translation of which I had the honor to transmit in my dispatch No. 219, of date April 20, 1875.

Since writing the foregoing, I have received from Mr. Thompson, interpreter of the legation, a translation made by him of this proclamation and also of the regulations prescribed by His Majesty the Mikado for the government of the gi in, or representatives of the people, as the same appear in the official journal, of date the 18th instant, entitled Nisshin-Shinjishi, or Daily Record, printed and published in Tokei, (inclosure 2.)

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 238.—Translation.]

The Mikado’s address to the nation.

The “Nichi Nichi-Shimbun” gives the following text of His Majesty the Mikado’s address to the nation on the occasion of the approaching opening of the meeting of the provincial authorities:

“In accordance with the oaths we took upon ascending our imperial throne, we now summon to their deliberations the representatives of our subjects.

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“It is our wish that they should amply discuss and determine upon such new measures as may be thought necessary for the welfare of the people, and thus facilitate the administration of our domestic concerns, and, further, that government and governed may he of one mind, and that the voice of the latter may thus find access to ourselves.

“It is hoped that all men may feel a due sense of the duties they owe to the state, and that the chief magistrates of cities and provinces will maturely consider and weigh well such projects as may he submitted to them for promoting the welfare and advancement of our empire. The deliberations of the assembly shall be guided by the rules made for its constitution and such by-laws as are now made known.”

[Inclosure 2 in No. 238.—Translation.]

The Emperor’s proclamation as published in the “Nisshin-shinjishi,” (or “Daily Record,”)being the official paper, of date June 18, 1875.

His Majesty wishes to build upon the principles to which he solemnly swore when he first ascended the throne, by degrees to extend the same, to summon together the representatives of the people of the whole country, with public and united deliberation to establish laws, to reconcile the higher and lower ranks, to open up a way by which the will of the people may find expression, make the people of the whole country contented each one with his own occupation, and to make each one know that it is his proper duty to bear the weight of the government, (country;) hence he summons together the chief officers of the provinces, and makes them consult together instead of the people, and publishes the regulations of the gi-in.

Let each official respect this.


This deliberative assembly is one in which the chief officers of the provinces discuss affairs, and is ordinarily to be opened once every year. In case an extra session is called for, special proclamation of the time of such assembly will be made beforehand. If the principal officer cannot be present, he should send the next in rank to represent him.
When the assembly opens, the heads of each department, or their representatives, should be present in the gi-in, sit with the assembly, and take part in the discussion, but are not to be counted in the number of those who decide a matter.
Time of opening and closing.
His Majesty shall attend in person and conduct the ceremony.
If there is an inquiry by the Emperor, he shall either send down a bill or send a deputy to make known his will.
Every bill shall be presented for discussion by the chairman, and, when it is decided, it shall be sent in to the Emperor. The Emperor himself is to judge whether it is to be adopted or not.
The object of the deliberation is to consider what is convenient or inconvenient in the administration of government; hence it is important that each one should express his opinion fully, act with deliberation and moderation, consider all sides, and avoid conflict.
The decision of questions discussed is to be by a majority; when equally divided, the chairman is to decide.
Each official is fully to express his opinion in the assembly, but is not to carry his views to the extreme, even when provoked.
If the discussion of the gi-in on a question proposed by the Emperor does not suit the times, he may withdraw it, but “may not withdraw a bill under discussion which is to be referred to him.
(The tenth being the same as the fifth article, is to be omitted.)
The power of choosing a chairman is to be in the assembly of officials, but until suitable regulations are made the Emperor himself will appoint him.
The duties of Chairman are, to observe the rules of the gi-in, to keen the members in order, raise discussions on questions proceeding from or, referable to the Emperor, pay attention to the discussion of members, decide questions when the body is equally divided, but he is not to give utterance to his own views in the assembly.