No. 428.
Mr. Bingham to Mr. Blaine.

No. 1388.]

Sir: Referring to my No. 1078, dated March 1, 1880 ( Foreign Relations for 1880, pages 683, 684), wherein I acquainted the Department of a change in the organization of His Imperial Japanese Majesty’s Government, I have now to report a further change made a few days since in the organization and personnel thereof. Mr. Okuma, formerly a member of the Daijo-Kuan, or imperial council, has resigned. The six sections formerly connected with the imperial council have been abolished, and instead thereof a bureau, called the sanji-in, has been created and made part of the imperial council.

This bureau is composed of the three chief ministers of state, Sanjo, Iwakura, and Arisugawa, and the thirteen privy councilors, the names of whom, as published in the Japan Weekly Mail of date the 22d instant, I herewith inclose, together with the notification of the constitution and rules for its government.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in 1338.—Extract from the Japan Weekly Mail, October 22, 1881.]

The changes in the personnel of the government consequent upon Mr. Okuma’s resignation, are as follows:

His excellency Oki Takato, previously president of the Genro-in (Senate), to be minister of justice.

His excellency Saigo Yoreinichi to be minister of agriculture and commerce, retaining his position as privy councilor.

His excellency Yawada Akiyoshi to be minister of the home department, retaining his position as privy councilor.

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His excellency Matsugata Masayoshi, previously minister of the home department, to be minister of finance and privy councilor.

His excellency Sano Tsunetami, formerly minister of finance, to be vice-president of the Senate.

His excellency General Oyama Iwao to be privy councilor, retaining his office as minister of war.

His excellency Admiral Kawamura to be privy councilor, retaining his office as minister of marine.

His excellency Fukuoka Takatada to be privy councilor, retaining his office as minister of education.

His excellency Yamao Yozo, previously minister of public works, to be a member of the sanji-in.

(N. B.—This sanji-in is a newly-created bureau, taking the place of the six sections formerly existing in the privy council. Its chief personnel will be the three ministers of state and the thirteen privy councilors. The laws of its constitution will be found below.)

His excellency Ito Hirobumi to be president of the sanji-in.

His excellency Tanaka Fujimaro, formerly minister of justice, to be vice-president of the sanji-in.

His excellency Sasaki Takayuki, previously vice-president of the Senate, to be privy councilor and minister of public works.

Mr. Kouo Toshikama, previously minister of agriculture and commerce, retires from the government.

Mr. Yoshikawa Akimasu, previously acting vice-minister of foreign affairs, becomes vice-minister of public works.

Mr. Shioda Saburo from chief secretary to be acting vice-minister of foreign affairs.

Mr. Iwamura Michitoshi, previously senator, to be president of the board of audit. The following notification has been issued by the Daijo-Kwan to the cities and prefectures:

Be it known hereby that the constitution and the rules for conducting business of the sanji-in (board of privy councilors) have been fixed as follows:


The sanji-in shall belong to the daijo-kwan and shall survey the formation of laws and regulation according to the cabinet orders.
The members of the sanji-in shall consist of one president, one vice-president, senators (whose number is not settled), assistant senators (whose number is not limited, and who rank between the fourth and seventh class), a non-commissioned senator, who is to be selected from among the secretaries of the departments. He must, however, also attend to the duties of his department. But in case of his being chief secretary of his department, he is exempt from this election, unless elected in a special meeting of the sanji-in, and a secretary who is to be selected from among the asisstant senators, and to work in the private office of the president.
A senator shall, according to the command of the president, appoint six subordinates as chiefs of the various sections which transact business under his superintendence.
An assistant senator shall be attached to each section to draw up propositions and read them in the assembly.
The busines to be transacted by the sanj-in shall be:
Laying down proposals, framing laws according to cabinet orders, or amending and forwarding their views on the same.
Reporting on laws and regulations which were brought forward for their consideration from other departments, and forwarding them to the cabinet with their views on them.
To investigate the propositions discussed in the Genro-in, and to give their opinion of them to the cabinet; they have power to order them to be rediscussed in the Genro-in, and to discuss themselves with the genro-in after being authorized by cabinet order.
To deliberate upon documents handed to them from the cabinet in reference to appeals from cities, prefectures, commissions, departments, and boards.
To examine the annual reports of the departments and reports of other descriptions.
Besides the above, the Sanji-in shall have:
To investigate the quarrels that take place between the legislative and executive officials, and the differences arising between the provincial governments and the assembly.
To give explanations to the cities, prefectures, commissions, departments, and boards on complicated questions which come from the above source.
The Sanji-in may call together all the senators to a meeting in the cabinet whenever it is found necessary to communicate their views to the cabinet.
A senator shall, in compliance with the cabinet order, appear in the Genro-in as commissioner of the cabinet, and consider upon the propositions made therein.
The following six sections will be established in the Sanji-in, namely:
  • Home bureau (for miscellaneous affairs of the Sanji-in).
  • Foreign sections (for diplomatic affairs).
  • Home sections (educational and home industrial affairs).
  • War sections (naval and military affairs).
  • Finance sections (national debt, revenue, outlay, and taxation).
  • Judicial sections (administrative justice, constitution of courts of justice, their power, and release of prisoners).
  • Legislative sections (civil litigation, penal code, commercial matters, &c.).
The assembly of the Sanji-in shall be divided into two branches, one general and one sectional. The latter decides in meetings which take place between the officials of any two sections on questions arising between them; the former in meetings of all the six sections in questions concerning them all.
Legislative matters appertaining to foreign treaties, the second item in article 9, and other matters deemed necessary by the president, shall be discussed in the general assembly.
When the president has declared his views in the sectional assembly he may convoke the general assembly to deliberate upon them.
When the president is absent, the vice-president shall assume his duties, and in case of both being absent, the president shall appoint a senator to act as procurator for him.
When the chief of the sectional assembly is absent he shall appoint one of his colleagues to represent him.
The president, or any senator representing him, shall have power to decide a question in case of an equal number of ballots on each side.
The members of the cabinet have the power to deliberate both in the general and sectional assembly.
Resolutions passed in the general assembly shall be forwarded to the cabinet in the name of the president. A proposal that is not submitted to the consideration of the general assembly shall, after being deliberated upon in the sectional assembly, be forwarded to the home bureau and from thence to the cabinet, signed in the name of the president.
In case of any error occuring in the documents thus transferred from and to the home bureau the secretary shall be responsible, and for the sectional assembly, its chief.