Genkun (元勲)

Genkun (the statesmen who contributed to Meiji Restoration) refer to the politicians who made considerable achievements in the overthrow of the Shogunate and the Meiji Restoration, played an important role in the Meiji Government, and were from Kinno-no-Shishi (a royalist).

In a narrow sense, it refers to 9 people: Sanetomi SANJO, Tomomi IWAKURA, Takayoshi KIDO, Takamori SAIGO, Toshimichi OKUBO, Hirobumi ITO, Kaoru INOUE, Aritomo YAMAGATA and Kinmochi SAIONJI (however, Takamori SAIGO, who retired from public life for a long time and initiated Seinan War, might come into question). After the republican-style Councillor-Cabinet System of the Meiji Government was established on June 25, 1871, Genkun who survived the Restoration and were from Satsuma, Choshu, Tosa or Hizen, were assigned to be Sangi (a councillor) which was practically the highest position.

Among the 9 people, the latter four people lived long until the period under the Meiji Constitution: Hirobumi ITO, Kaoru INOUE, Aritomo YAMAGATA and Kinmochi SAIONJI. Since the society had already changed drastically toward the Restoration at that time, being Genkun became really rare and valuable, and thus the word Genkun became popular in the newspapers and books as a word indicating that they were historically and socially important like God.