Kyuchu Sekiji (Order of Precedence in the Imperial Court of Japan) (宮中席次)
Kyuchu Sekiji is the order of precedence at official events in the Imperial Court.
Before the Meiji period, there was the 'Traditional Kyuchu Zaji: Traditional Order of Precedence at the Imperial Court' organized by the Kugyo (the top court officials). Refer to the following section 'Traditional Kyuchu Zaji: Traditional Order of Precedence in the Imperial Court' for further information.
The order of precedence similar to Kyuchu Sekiji existed from the Meiji period. Then it was systematized according to the enactment of the Koshitsu Giseirei (act that sets the ceremonies of the Imperial Court, crests of Imperial family, banners, seating arrangement in Imperial ceremonies, etc) in 1926, which is known as 'Kyuchu Sekiji' before World War II.
Originally, it was just an order of precedence at the court functions but later it started to have political meanings in events that the top Cabinet member serve as the Acting Prime Minister. When a person held several ranks, the order of precedence was determined according to the highest one. For example, although Kinmochi SAIONJI was ranked as the first Daikuni (Supreme order), the fourth Genro (elder statesman), the seventh ex-Prime Minister with courteous reception (ex-Prime Minister receives the same treatment as his previous post according to his contribution) and the 16th Koshaku (duke), only the first Daikuni was applied to his precedence.
In December 1945 after World War II, there were a few amendments to Kyuchu Sekiji such as raising the rank of both chairmen of the Kizokuin (House of Peers) and House of Representatives to the sixth; but with the enforcement of the Constitution of Japan the following year, the ranking was abolished. However, looking at the order of precedence of the government officials and diplomats at official functions in the Imperial Palace today, it is clear that the rule of the order of precedence in the Imperial Court is still used on the whole.
Traditional Kyuchu Zaji: Traditional Order of Precedence in the Imperial Court
Before the Meiji period, there was an order of precedence called 'Kyuchu Zaji' which was used among the society of court nobles. In this traditional order of precedence, there were perpetual discrepancies between previous and actual precedence, which caused numerous disputes. One of the purposes of the Kinchu narabini kuge shohatto (a set of regulations that applied to the emperor and the Kyoto nobles) enacted by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA was to put an end to the disputes over the order of precedence at the Imperial Court.