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House of Peers

House of Peers

This article is about the Japanese body. The British House of Lords is also known as the House of Peers for certain ceremonial purposes.
The French Chambre des pairs of the Bourbon Restoration is sometimes known as the "House of Peers" in English.

The was the upper house of the Imperial Diet as mandated under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan (in effect from 11 February 1889 to 3 May 1947).

Ito Hirobumi and the other Meiji leaders deliberately modeled the chamber on the British House of Lords, as a counterweight to the popularly elected House of Representatives (Shūgiin).

In 1869, under the new Meiji government, a Japanese peerage was created by an Imperial decree merging the former Court nobility (kuge) and former feudal lords (daimyo) into a single new aristocratic class called the kazoku.

A second imperial ordinance in 1884 grouped the kazoku into five ranks equivalent to the European prince (or duke), marquis, count, viscount, and baron. Although this grouping idea was taken from the European peerage, the Japanese titles were taken from Chinese and based on the ancient feudal system in China.

The House of Peers originally comprised:

  1. the Crown Prince from age of 18
  2. all imperial princes (shinnō) and lesser princes of the imperial blood (ō) over the age of twenty
  3. all princes and marquis over the age of 25 (raised to age 30 in 1925)
  4. 150 representatives elected from the ranks of counts, viscounts, and barons over the age of 25 (raised to age 30 in 1925), for seven year terms
  5. 150 additional members nominated by the Emperor, in consultation with the Privy Council
  6. 66 elected representatives of the 6,000 highest taxpayers, for seven year terms.

For the first session of the Imperial Diet (1889–1890), there were 145 hereditary members and 106 imperial appointees and high taxpayers, for a total of 251 members.

With the creation of new peers, additional seats for members of the former Korean aristocracy and five seats for representatives from the Gakushuin Peer's School, membership peaked at 403 seats by 1925. In its 92nd and final session, the number of members was 373.

Presidents of the House of Peers

Name Title Dates as President Sessions
1 Ito Hirobumi Count (hakushaku) 24 October 189020 July 1891 1
2 Hachisuka Mochiaki Marquis (kōshaku) 20 July 18913 October 1896 2–9
3 Konoe Atsumaro Prince (kōshaku) 3 October 18964 December 1903 10–18
4 Tokugawa Iesato Prince (kōshaku) 4 December 19039 June 1933 19–64
5 Konoe Fumimaro Prince (kōshaku) 9 June 193317 June 1937 65–70
6 Matsudaira Yorinaga Count (hakushaku) 17 June 193711 October 1944 71–85
7 Tokugawa Kuniyuki Prince (kōshaku) 11 October 194419 June 1946 86–89
8 Tokugawa Iemasa Prince (kōshaku) 19 June 19462 May 1947 90-92

After World War II, under the current Constitution of Japan, in effect from 3 May 1947, the unelected House of Peers was replaced by an elected House of Councillors.

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