Home Ministry

The Home Ministry (内務省, Naimu-shō) was a Cabinet-level ministry established under the Meiji Constitution that managed the internal affairs of Empire of Japan from 1873 to 1947. Its duties included local administration, elections, police, monitoring people, social policy and public works. In 1938, the HM's social policy was detached from itself, then the Ministry of Health and Welfare was established. In 1947, the HM was abolished under the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers restoration, then its administrative affairs were proceeded to the National Police Agency, the Ministry of Construction, the Ministry of Home Affairs and so on. In 2001, the MOHA was integrated with the Management and Coordination Agency and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, then the Ministry of Public Management, Home affairs, Posts and Telecommunications was established. In 2004, the MPHPT changed its English name into the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. In other words, the MIC is the direct descendant of the HM.

Home Ministry
Agency overview
FormedNovember 10, 1873 (1873-11-10)
DissolvedDecember 31, 1947 (1947-12-31)
Superseding agencies
Jurisdiction Japan
HeadquartersChiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Parent agencyEmpire of Japan
Home Ministry (Naimu-shō) offices, Tokyo, pre-1923


Early Meiji period

After the Meiji Restoration, the leaders of the new Meiji government envisioned a highly centralized state to replace the old feudal order. Within months after Emperor Meiji's Charter Oath, the ancient ritsuryō structure from the late Heian period was revived in a modified form with an express focus on the separation of legislative, administrative, and judicial functions within a new Daijō-kan system.[1]

Having just returned from the Iwakura Mission in 1873, Ōkubo Toshimichi pushed forward a plan for the creation of an "Interior ministry" within the Daijō-kan modeled after similar ministries in European nations, headed by himself. The Home Ministry was established as government department in November 1873,[2] initially as an internal security agency to deal with possible threats to the government from increasingly disgruntled ex-samurai, and political unrest spawned by the Seikanron debate. In addition to controlling the police administration, the new department was also responsible for the Family register, civil engineering, topographic surveys, censorship, and promotion of agriculture. In 1874, administration of the post office was added to its responsibilities. In 1877, overview of religious institutes was added. The head of the Home Ministry was referred to as the "Home Lord" and effectively functioned as the Head of Government.

The Home Ministry also initially had the responsibility for promoting local industry,[3] but this duty was taken over by the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce in 1881.

Under the Meiji Constitution

In 1885, with the establishment of the cabinet system, the Home Ministry was reorganized by Yamagata Aritomo, who became the first Home Minister. Bureaus were created with responsibilities for general administration, local administration, police, public works, public health, postal administration, topographic surveys, religious institutions and the national census. The administration of Hokkaidō and Karafuto Prefectures also fell under the direct jurisdiction of the Home Ministry, and all prefectural governors (who were appointed by the central government) came under the jurisdiction of the Home Ministry. In 1890, the Railroad Ministry and in 1892, the Communications Ministry were created, removing the postal administration functions from the Home Ministry.

On the other hand, with the establishment of State Shinto, a Department of Religious Affairs was added to the Home Ministry in 1900. Following the High Treason Incident, the Tokko special police force was also created in 1911. The Department of Religious Affairs was transferred to the Ministry of Education in 1913.

From the 1920s period, faced with the growing issues of agrarian unrest and Bolshevik-inspired labor unrest, the attention of the Home Ministry was increasingly focused on internal security issues. Through passage of the Peace Preservation Law#Public Security Preservation Law of 1925, the Home Ministry was able to use its security apparatus to suppress political dissent and the curtail the activities of the socialists, communists and the labor movement. The power of the Tokkō was expanded tremendously, and it expanded to include branches in every Japanese prefecture, major city, and overseas locations with a large Japanese population. In the late 1920s and 1930s, the Tokkō launched a sustained campaign to destroy the Japanese Communist Party with several waves of mass arrests of known members, sympathizers and suspected sympathizers (March 15 incident).

In 1936, an Information and Propaganda Committee was created within the Home Ministry, which issued all official press statements, and which worked together with the Publications Monitoring Department on censorship issues. In 1937, jointly with the Ministry of Education, the Home Ministry administered the National Spiritual Mobilization Movement, and the Home Ministry assisted in implementation of the National Mobilization Law in 1938 to place Japan on a total war footing. The public health functions of the Ministry were separated into the Ministry of Health in 1938.

In 1940, the Information and Propaganda Department (情報部, Jōhōbu) was elevated to the Information Bureau (情報局, Jōhōkyoku), which consolidated the previously separate information departments from the Imperial Japanese Army, Imperial Japanese Navy and Foreign Ministry under the aegis of the Home Ministry. The new Jōhōkyoku had complete control over all news, advertising and public events.[4] In February 1941 it distributed among editors a black list of writers whose articles they were advised not to print anymore.[5]

Also in 1940, with the formation of the Taisei Yokusankai political party, the Home Ministry strengthened its efforts to monitor and control political dissent, also through enforcement of the tonarigumi system, which was also used to coordinate civil defense activities through World War II. In 1942, the Ministry of Colonial Affairs was abolished, and the Home Ministry extended its influence to Japanese external territories.

Post-war Home Ministry and dissolution

After the surrender of Japan, the Home Ministry coordinated closely with the Allied occupation forces to maintain public order in occupied Japan.

One of the first actions of the post-war Home Ministry was the creation of an officially sanctioned brothel system under the aegis of the "Recreation and Amusement Association", which was created on August 28, 1945. The intention was officially to contain the sexual urges of the occupation forces, protect the main Japanese populace from rape and preserve the "purity" of the "Japanese race".[6] However, by October 1945, the scope of activities of the Home Ministry was increasingly limited, with the disestablishment of State Shinto and the abolishment of the Tokkō, and with censorship and monitoring of labor union activities taken under direct American supervision. Many of the employees of the Home Ministry were purged from office.

The American authorities felt that the concentration of power into a single ministry was both a cause and a symptom of Japan's pre-war totalitarian mentality, and also felt that the centralization of police authority into a massive centrally controlled ministry was dangerous for the democratic development of post-war Japan.

The Home Ministry was formally abolished on 31 December 1947, and its functions dispersed to the Ministry of Home Affairs (自治省 Jiji-shō), now the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Ministry of Health and Welfare (厚生省 Kōsei-shō), now the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, National Public Safety Commission (国家公安委員会 Kokka-kōan-iinkai), Ministry of Construction (建設省 Kensetsu-shō), now the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.[7]

Lords of Home Affairs

NameDate in officeDate left office
1Ōkubo Toshimichi29 November 187314 February 1874
2Kido Takayoshi14 February 187427 April 1874
3Ōkubo Toshimichi27 April 18742 August 1874
4Itō Hirobumi2 August 187428 November 1874
5Ōkubo Toshimichi28 November 187414 May 1878
6Itō Hirobumi15 May 187828 February 1880
7Matsukata Masayoshi28 February 188021 October 1881
8Yamada Akiyoshi21 October 188112 December 1883
9Yamagata Aritomo12 December 188322 December 1885

Ministers of Home Affairs

NameCabinetDate in officeComments
1Yamagata Aritomo1st Itō22 December 1885 
2Yamagata AritomoKuroda30 April 1888 
3Yamagata Aritomo1st Yamagata24 December 1889Concurrently Prime Minister
4Saigō Tsugumichi1st Yamagata17 May 1890 
5Saigō Tsugumichi1st Matsukata6 May 1891 
6Shinagawa Yajirō1st Matsukata1 June 1891 
7Soejima Taneomi1st Matsukata11 March 1892 
8Matsukata Masayoshi1st Matsukata8 June 1892Concurrently Prime Minister & Finance Minister
9Kōno Togama1st Matsukata14 July 1892 
10Inoue Kaoru2nd Itō8 August 1892 
11Nomura Yasushi2nd Itō15 October 1894 
12Yoshikawa Akimasa2nd Itō3 February 1896Concurrently Justice Minister
13Itagaki Taisuke2nd Itō14 April 1896 
14Itagaki Taisuke2nd Matsukata14 April 1896 
15Kabayama Sukenori2nd Matsukata20 September 1896 
16Yoshikawa Akimasa3rd Itō12 January 1898 
17Itagaki Taisuke1st Ōkuma30 June 1898 
18Saigō Tsugumichi2nd Yamagata8 November 1898 
19Suematsu Kenchō4th Itō19 October 1900 
20Utsumi Tadakatsu1st Katsura2 June 1901 
21Kodama Gentarō1st Katsura15 July 1903Concurrently Minister of Education
22Katsura Tarō1st Katsura12 October 1903Concurrently Prime Minister
23Yoshikawa Akimasa1st Katsura20 February 1904 
24Kiyoura Keigo1st Katsura16 September 1905Concurrently Minister of Agriculture & Commerce
25Hara Takashi1st Saionji7 January 1906Concurrently Minister of Communications
26Hirata Tosuke2nd Katsura14 July 1908 
27Hara Takashi2nd Saionji30 August 1911 
28Ōura Kanetake3rd Katsura21 December 1912 
29Hara Takashi1st Yamamoto20 February 1913 
30Ōkuma Shigenobu2nd Ōkuma16 April 1914Concurrently Prime Minister
31Ōura Kanetake2nd Ōkuma7 January 1915 
32Ōkuma Shigenobu2nd Ōkuma30 July 1915Concurrently Prince Minister
33Ichiki Kitokurō2nd Ōkuma10 August 1915 
34Gotō ShinpeiTerauchi9 October 1916 
35Mizuno RentarōTerauchi24 April 1918 
36Tokonami TakejirōHara29 September 1918 
37Tokonami TakejirōTakahashi13 November 1921 
38Mizuno RentarōKatō Tomosaburō12 June 1922 
39Gotō Shinpei2nd Yamamoto2 September 1923 
40Mizuno RentarōKiyoura7 January 1924 
41Wakatsuki ReijirōKatō Takaaki11 June 1924 
42Wakatsuki Reijirō1st Wakatsuki30 January 1926Concurrently Prime Minister
43Osachi Hamaguchi1st Wakatsuki3 June 1926 
44Suzuki KisaburōTanaka20 April 1927 
45Tanaka GiichiTanaka4 May 1928Concurrently Prime Minister
46Mochizuki KeisukeTanaka23 May 1928 
47Adachi KenzōHamaguchi2 July 1929 
48Adachi Kenzō2nd Wakatsuki14 April 1931 
49Nakahashi TokugorōInukai13 December 1931 
50Inukai TsuyoshiInukai16 March 1932Concurrently Prime Minister
51Suzuki KisaburōInukai25 March 1932 
52 Yamamoto TatsuoSaitō26 May 1932 
53Fumio GotōOkada8 July 1934 
54Shigenosuke UshioHirota9 March 1936Concurrently Minister of Education
55Kakichi KawaradaHayashi2 February 1937 
56Eiichi Baba1st Konoe4 June 1937 
57Nobumasa Suetsugu1st Konoe14 December 1937 
58Kōichi KidoHiranuma5 January 1939 
59Naoshi OharaAbe30 August 1939Concurrently Minister of Health
60Hideo KodamaYonai15 January 1940 
61Ejii Yasui2nd Konoe22 July 1940 
62Hiranuma Kiichirō2nd Konoe21 December 1940 
63Harumichi Tanabe3rd Konoe18 July 1941 
64Hideki Tōjō Tōjō18 October 1941Concurrently Prime Minister, Minister of Munitions
65Michio YuzawaTōjō17 February 1942 
66Kisaburō AndōTōjō20 April 1943 
67Shigeo ŌdachiKoiso22 July 1944 
68Genki AbeSuzuki7 April 1945 
69Iwao YamazakiHigashikuni17 August 1945 
70Zenjirō HorikiriShidehara9 October 1945 
71Chūzō MitsujiShidehara13 January 1946 
72Seiichi Ōmura1st Yoshida22 April 1946 
73Etsujirō Uehara1st Yoshida31 January 1947 
Tetsu KatayamaKatayama24 May 1947Acting; concurrently Prime Minister
74Kozaemon KimuraKatayama1 June 1947Office abolished 31 December 1947


  1. Ozaki, p. 10.
  2. Beasley, The Rise of modern Japan, pp.66
  3. Samuels, Rich Nation Strong Army. pp.37
  4. Ben-Ami Shillony, Politics and Culture in Wartime Japan, 1999, p.94
  5. Ben-Ami Shillony, Politics and Culture in Wartime Japan, p.95
  6. Herbert Bix, Hirohito and the making of modern Japan, 2001, p. 538, citing Kinkabara Samon and Takemae Eiji, Showashi : kokumin non naka no haran to gekido no hanseiki-zohoban, 1989, p.244 .
  7. Beasley, The Rise of modern Japan, pp.229


  • Beasley, W.G. (2000). The Rise of Modern Japan: Political, Economic, and Social Change since 1850. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-23373-6.
  • Samuels, Richard J (1996). Rich Nation, Strong Army:National Security and the Technological Transformation of Japan. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-312-23373-6.
  • Sims, Richard (2001). Japanese Political History Since the Meiji Renovation 1868–2000. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-23915-7.
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