Naikaku-kansei (Cabinet organization order) (内閣官制)

The term Naikaku-kansei refers in the broadest sense to the set of regulations for the Cabinet of Japan that govern its establishment, abolition, naming, organization, authority and so on, while more narrowly the term refers specifically to Imperial edict no. 135, a law passed in 1889.

The broadest sense of Naikaku-kansei includes the 1885 Dajokan Fukoku (a decree issued by the Grand Council of State) and Dajokan tasshi (proclamation by the Grand Council of State) no. 69, which were the first regulations governing the Cabinet system, and it also includes the Naikaku-shokken (Official powers of the Cabinet).

After the 1947 promulgation of the Constitution of Japan, the Cabinet Law (Act no. 5 of 1947) was enacted, which led to the Naikaku-kansei being abolished.

Prehistory of the Naikaku-kansei
The Daijokan (Grand Council of State) system was intended to make the political policies elucidated in the Charter Oath of 1868 a reality. However, this system, which concentrated all the state's legislative, judiciary and administrative functions in the Daijokan and gave broad authority to the Dajo-daijin (Grand Minister) was thought to be ill-suited for the political management of a modern nation; the High Chancellor's extensive responsibilities caused delays in the political management of the nation and invited confusion over who had responsibility for which tasks. It was at this point that the government recognized the necessity of creating a new set of regulations.

The 1885 Daijokan tasshi no. 69 and the Naikaku-shokken
In 1885 the government created a new system to manage the nation: a Cabinet as a collegiate body (as stipulated in the 1885 Daijokan tasshi no. 69).
The particulars were as follows:

The cabinet positions of High Chancellor, the Ministers of the Left and Right, the Councillors and the Lords of each Ministry were abolished, while the post of Prime Minister and that of the various government Ministers, namely of the Imperial Household, Foreign Affairs, the Interior, Finance, the Army, the Navy, Justice, Education, Agriculture and Commerce, and Communications and Transportation, were established.

A Cabinet consisting of the Prime Minister and the various Ministers (excluding the Imperial Household Minister) was formed.

These steps clarified the separation between the Imperial court and the government, and created the foundation of a governmental system in which each minister took a share of administrative responsibility. Hirobumi ITO, a former Councillor, was appointed as the first Prime Minister.

In addition, with passage of the Naikaku-shokken ("the powers of each Cabinet position," which had seven articles in all), put in place at the same time as the Daijokan tasshi no. 69, guidelines--mainly concerned with defining the limits of the Prime Minister's power--for the management of the Cabinet system were established. The Naikaku-shokken stipulated that the Prime Minister "shall report state affairs to the Emperor, receive the Emperor's instructions, and direct the course of policies as the first among ministers" (Article 2) and "maintain unity among the different branches of the administration" (Article 4); the Prime Minister, therefore, possessed extensive authority, at least formally. Yet in reality, given the context of feuding among the domainal cliques, it was quite difficult for the Cabinet to function effectively.

Text of the Law
The government posts of High Chancellor, the Ministers of the Left and Right, the Councillors and the Lords of each Ministry shall be abolished, and the posts of Prime Minister and the Ministers of each ministry, whom together shall form the Cabinet, shall be established (the 1885 Daijokan tasshi no. 69). The government posts of High Chancellor, the Ministers of the Left and Right, the Councillors and the Lords of each Ministry shall be abolished, and the posts of Prime Minister and the Ministers of Imperial Household, Foreign Affairs, the Interior, Finance, the Army, the Navy, Justice, Education, Agriculture and Commerce, and Communications and Transportation shall be established. The Cabinet shall be formed, and shall consist of the Prime Minister and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the Interior, Finance, the Army, the Navy, Justice, Education, Agriculture and Commerce, and Communication and Transportation.
The Naikaku-shokken
Article 1: The Cabinet shall be under the direct control of the Emperor, and when appropriate, the State Ministers shall advise the Emperor and shall have full responsibility for the outcome. Article 2: The Prime Minister shall report on the affairs of state to the Emperor, receive the Emperor's instructions and direct the course of policies as the first among ministers. Article 3: The Prime Minister shall be in charge of Cabinet meetings and direct the proceedings. Article 4: The Prime Minister shall oversee the entire administration and shall possess the right to demand an explanation of and investigate into each minister's performance. Article 5: Laws and ordinances shall be countersigned by the Prime Minister, and the work of each ministry shall be countersigned by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Minister of the ministry in question. Article 6: Any appointments or dismissals of Cabinet Ministers shall be reported to the Emperor by the Prime Minister, and the appointment or dismissal of the Prime Minister shall be reported to the Emperor by the ranking Minister of State. Article 7: In the event a Minister of State is incapacitated, a temporary order shall be issued assigning his or her duties to another Minister of State.

The Naikaku-kansei (Imperial edict no. 135, of 1889)
In 1889, the Constitution of the Empire of Japan was promulgated. Under this constitution, the Emperor had the right of absolute sovereignty, and it was stated that "the respective State Ministers shall advise the Emperor, and shall be held responsible for the outcome of their advice" (first paragraph of Article no. 55). The 1889 constitution did not, however, include any regulations on the Cabinet. The executive power of the government was under the personal control of the Emperor, who was assisted by the Ministers of State, and so the Cabinet was originally established merely as a consultative body, within which Ministers of State engaged in discussion to ensure that their opinions were consistent with each other.

On December 24 of the same year (1889), the government promulgated the Naikaku-kansei (Imperial edict no. 135, of 1889), a set of guidelines for managing the Cabinet system. Although in terms of content the Naikaku-kansei largely continued along the same lines as those of its predecessor, the Naikaku-shokken, it did weaken the power and authority of the Prime Minister. The Naikaku-kansei stipulated that "as the head among the ministers, the Prime Minister shall report affairs of state to the Emperor, receive the Emperor's instructions, and maintain unity among the different branches of the administration" (Article no. 2), but the abovementioned "head" meant simply "prima inter pares" (first among equals).

Text of the Law
The Naikaku-kansei (Imperial edict no. 135, of 1889)
Article 1: The several Ministers of State shall form the Cabinet. Article 2: The Prime Minister, as the head among the ministers, shall report affairs of state to the Emperor, receive his instructions, direct the course of policies, and supervise each organ of the administration. Article 3: The Prime Minister has the right to cancel proceedings or orders of any organ of the administration and when necessary to request the Emperor make a decision. Article 4: Imperial edicts concerning laws and general administration shall be countersigned by the Prime Minister and the State Minister, and imperial edicts concerning each ministry's duties shall be countersigned by the Minister of State of the ministry in question.
Article 5: All the items described below shall be discussed at a Cabinet meeting:
1) Legislative bills and budget proposals
2) Foreign treaties and critical international matters
3) Imperial edicts concerning government-regulated organizations, regulations, or enforcement of laws
4) Inter-ministry disputes over authority
5) Popular petitions submitted by the Emperor or the Imperial Diet
6) Extrabudgetary expenditures
7) Any appointments or dismissals of imperial appointees or local governors
Note also that each minister shall handle the general tasks facing his or her ministry, while any important matters concerning high-level administration shall be discussed at a Cabinet meeting. Article 6: Each minister has the right to submit any matter for which he or she is responsible to the Prime Minister, and may request a Cabinet meeting. Article 7: In wartime, military strategy and orders shall be reported to the Emperor, and with the exception of any directives sent to the Cabinet by order of the Emperor, all such military decisions shall be reported to the Prime Minister by the Minister of the Army or Navy. Article 8: In the event the Prime Minister is incapacitated, a temporary order shall be issued assigning his or her duties to another Minister of State. Article 9: In the event the State Minister is incapacitated, either a temporary order shall be issued transferring his or her duties to another Minister of State or an order shall be issued assigning the tasks of his office to be managed by another State Minister. Article 10: Ministers of State not placed in charge of any ministries may be made members of the Cabinet by special order.

Amendment to the Naikaku-kansei (Imperial edict no. 7, of 1907)
The Naikaku-kansei was amended in 1907 with the abolition of the Kobunshiki (an Imperial edict) and the passage of the Koshikirei (an amended version of the Kobunshiki). In this amendment, the Chokurei fukusho kitei (an Imperial edict on the rules of countersignature), stipulated in Article 4 of the Naikaku-kansei, was moved to the Koshikirei, while the right of the Prime Minister to issue cabinet orders, as recorded in the Kobunshiki, was moved to the Naikaku-shokken. On this occasion, the rule that each minister could countersign laws and so forth by him or herself was abolished, and it was decided that all Imperial edicts had to be countersigned by the Prime Minister. Moreover, Article 4 section two clarified the extent of the Prime Minister's administrative power over local governments. Both of the above changes were enacted in order to strengthen the Prime Minister's power and authority.

Text of the Law
Amendment to the Naikaku-kansei (Imperial edict no. 7, of 1907)
The Naikaku-kansei was amended as follows:
Article 4: The Prime Minister has the right, either through his own authority or by special commission, to issue cabinet orders. Article 4, section two: The Prime Minister shall oversee and supervise the Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police (of Tokyo) and the Director-general and prefectural governor of the government of Hokkaido, but if any of the Prime Minister's orders or directives is found to be against regulations or considered harmful to the public interest or authority, it shall be suspended or revoked. Supplementary provision: This ordinance shall be in force from the date of its promulgation.