70th Anniversary Commemorative Exhibit "A Treasure Box of Books - The 70-year History of the National Diet Library and Its Collections"

Part 2 Chapter 2 Section 3 Birth of the Constitution

The Constitution is also studied in middle and high school classes. This section introduces several exhibit materials related to the Constitution of the Empire of Japan promulgated in 1889 and the Constitution of Japan promulgated in 1946.

100 Rikken Seitai Chosa ni tsuki Tokuha Riji Oshu Haken no Chokusho, March 3, 1882 [Ito Hirobumi papers (1), Document: 209]

Digital Collections

In March 1882, Ito Hirobumi was dispatched to Europe by an imperial order, and carried out a survey of constitutional systems in several European countries, including Germany and Austria, for over a year. The ordered survey items included 31 sections.

Photo of the exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of parliamentary government
[Kondo Hideaki papers: 17-2]

Origins of prized materials

Today, the National Diet Library Modern Japanese Political History Materials Room includes a number of important materials formerly possessed by people such as Meiji Era veteran statesmen.
This imperial writ (exhibition material 100), once owned by Ito Hirobumi, is one such material.
The discovery of the material was related to activities working to compile and investigate the history of constitutional politics before World War II. The results of the survey saw the light of day at the exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of parliamentary government, held in 1940. This imperial edict was also exhibited, however at the time there was hesitation to display imperial edicts, and it is said that the Imperial Household Ministry checked the edict before it was exhibited.
After the war, Okubo Toshiaki (historian and grandson of Okubo Toshimichi), who participated as one of the members of the survey compiling the 50 years of history of the House of Peers, and others, fearing the loss of historical materials, submitted a petition to the Diet, and this led to the Modern Japanese Political History Materials collection section which was established immediately after the National Diet Library was established, becoming the Modern Japanese Political History Materials Room.

101 Dai Nihon Teikoku Kenpo (Josha Sangatsu an) (Constitution of the Empire of Japan (clean copy), March Proposal), March 1888 [Ito Hirobumi papers (1), Document: 233]

Digital Collections

The black ink on the bottom right of the cover reads "Hirobumi". Ito Hirobumi returned from Europe in 1883, and worked with other relevant parties to draw up the draft of the Constitution. It is said that Ito took this clean draft to the Privy Council and wrote in additions in pencil.

102 Kogi note (Ei futsu doku kenpo) by HAMAGUCHI Osachi, lecture by SUEOKA Seiichi, 1892-1893 [Hamaguchi Osachi papers: 12]

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These are the notes of Hamaguchi Osachi, who later became the 27th prime minister, from when he was at Imperial University. The lecturer of the course was constitutional scholar Sueoka Seiichi (Professor of the Law College of the Imperial University) who departed at the same time as Ito Hirobumi's constitutional survey, and studied in Germany and Austria. The displayed section shows writing about the establishment of the French Constitution. There is an index on the left side.

103 Ellerman Notes on Minutes of Government Section, Public Administration Division Meetings and Steering Committee Meetings between 5 February and 12 February inclusive, 1946 [Alfred Hussey Papers; Constitution File No.1, Doc. No.7]

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Alfred Hussey, who preserved the documents, was one of the principle members of the committee in charge of creating the constitutional draft for the General Headquarters of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (GHQ/SCAP). The displayed section is the minutes of a Bureau of Civil Administration meeting. It also includes a proposal that the Diet be a unicameral system.

104 Nihonkoku Kenpo (kanpo gogai) (The Constitution of Japan (The Official Gazette, a Special Edition), November 3, 1946 [Irie Toshio papers: 46]

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The Constitution of Japan was promulgated on November 3, 1946. The exhibit material was once held by Irie Toshio, who was the Director General of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau at the time, and features the signatures of Yoshida Shigeru and other involved parties.

105 Shonen Shojo no Tame no Kenpo no Ohanashi by KANAMORI Tokujiro, illustrated by YOSHIZAWA Renzaburo et al., Sekaisha, 1949 [32-K-1]

This is a book in which Kanamori Tokujiro, who participated in meetings during the establishment of the Constitution of Japan as a minister of state in the first Yoshida Shigeru cabinet and would later become the first Director General of the National Diet Library, explains the new constitution for children with illustrations. The beginning text reads, "This is not an amusing manga. It is a book I wrote seriously about the spirit of the difficult to understand constitution."

The writing style of Kanamori Tokujiro

The First Director General of the National Diet Library, Kanamori Tokujiro, had a very dignified career history, serving as Director General of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau in the Okada Keisuke cabinet before World War II, and as the minister of state in charge of constitutional law in the first cabinet of Yoshida Shigeru after the war.
Despite this history, Kanamori's style of writing was much different than what one might expect, being very plain and easy to read. Among the exhibited materials one can see even in the Shonen Shojo no Tame no Kenpo no Ohanashi, written for children, the efforts he took to try and convey things in an easy to understand manner in how he compares the separation of the 3 branches of government to the "splitting of sunlight into the colors of red, yellow, and blue when passed through a prism". In light of this one understands why Kanamori was commissioned to write so many essays.