Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce

The Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce or Trade (農商務省, Nō-shōmu-shō) was a cabinet-level ministry in the government of the Empire of Japan from 1881-1925.[1] It was briefly recreated as the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce (農商省, Nōshō-shō) during World War II

Meiji-era picture postcard of the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce HQ in Tokyo


The original Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce was created on April 7, 1881, initially under the Meiji Daijō-kan Cabinet, and then re-established under the Meiji Constitution. It combined the Bureaus of Agriculture, Forestry, Natural History and post station maintenance which were formerly directly under the Prime Minister with the Bureau of Commerce formerly under the control of the Ministry of Finance. The new Ministry was tasked by the Meiji oligarchy with improving production of natural resources and promoting the rapid industrialization of Japan. Although nominally its duties included the protection of workers, in reality it served the needs of industry by guaranteeing a stable labor supply.[2] On December 25, 1885, with the abolishment of the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce gained the Bureau of Mines and the Bureau of Civil Engineering. On April 1, 1896 a decision was made to denationalize the iron and steel industry. All government-owned steel mills were divested to private enterprise by February 5, 1901.

The Ministry was instrumental in passing the Japanese Factory Act of 1903, which reformed and regulated labor conditions in factories. On April 1, 1925, the Ministry of Agriculture and Commence was divided into the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The division was a result of long-standing acrimony within the ministry between the “commerce” portion of the ministry, which sought expanded overseas trade, and the protectionist “agriculture” portion of the ministry which sought to ban imports of food, especially rice. In the aftermath of the Rice Riots of 1918, expanded imports of rice into Japan financially ruined many farmers, and the inherently conflicting goals of the two halves of the ministry became apparent.

However, during World War II, the Ministry of Munitions, Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Planning Board absorbed most of the functions of the Ministry of Commerce, and the vestigial remains were merged with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to re-establish the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce on November 1, 1943. In addition to promoting agriculture, the re-formed ministry was also in charge of distribution of rationed goods.

The Ministry was abolished on August 26, 1945, after the surrender of Japan by order of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers. In the post-war Showa Constitution, the ministries were again divided into the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Ministry of Commerce.

Ministers of Agriculture and Commerce (Meiji-Taisho)

1Tani Tateki1st Itō22 December 188526 July 1887
2Hijikata Hisamoto1st Itō26 July 188717 September 1887
3Kuroda Kiyotaka1st Itō17 September 188730 April 1888
4Inoue KaoruKuroda25 July 188823 December 1889
5Iwamura Michitoshi1st Yamagata23 December 188917 May 1890
6Mutsu Munemitsu1st Yamagata
1st Matsukata
17 May 189014 March 1892
7Kōno Togama1st Matsukata14 March 189214 July 1892
8Sano Tsunetami1st Matsukata14 July 18928 August 1892
9Gotō Shōjirō2nd Itō8 August 189222 January 1894
10Enomoto Takeaki2nd Itō
2nd Matsukata
22 January 189429 March 1897
11Ōkuma Shigenobu2nd Matsukata29 March 18976 November 1897
12Yamada Nobumichi2nd Matsukata6 November 189712 January 1898
13Itō Miyoji3rd Itō12 January 189826 April 1898
14Kaneko Kentarō3rd Itō26 April 189830 June 1898
15Ōishi Masami1st Ōkuma30 June 18988 November 1898
16Sone Arasuke2nd Yamagata8 November 189819 October 1900
17Hayashi Yūzō4th Itō19 October 19002 June 1901
18Hirata Tosuke1st Katsura2 June 190117 July 1903
19Kiyoura Keigo1st Katsura17 July 190322 September 1903
20Kiyoura Keigo1st Katsura22 September 19037 January 1906
21Matsuoka Yasukowa1st Saionji7 January 190614 July 1908
22Ōura Kanetake2nd Katsura14 July 190830 August 1911
23Makino Nobuaki2nd Saionji30 August 191121 December 1912
24Nakashōji Ren3rd Katsura21 December 191220 February 1913
25Yamamoto Tatsuo1st Yamamoto20 February 191316 April 1914
26Ōura Kanetake2nd Ōkuma16 April 19147 January 1915
27Kōno Hironaka2nd Ōkuma7 January 19159 October 1916
28Nakashōji RenTerauchi9 October 191629 September 1918
29Yamamoto TatsuoHara
29 September 191812 June 1922
30Arai KentarōKatō12 June 19222 September 1923
31Den Kenjirō2nd Yamamoto2 September 192324 December 1923
32Okano Keijirō2nd Yamamoto24 December 19237 January 1924
33Maeda ToshisadaKiyoura7 January 192411 June 1924
34Takahashi KorekiyoKatō11 June 19241 April 1925

Ministers of Agriculture and Commerce (World War II)

1Tatsunosuke YamazakiTōjō1 November 194319 February 1944
2Nobuya UchidaTōjō19 February 194422 July 1944
3Toshio ShimadaKoiso22 July 19447 April 1945
4Tadaatsu IshiguroSuzuki7 April 194517 August 1945
5Sengoku KotaroHigashikuni17 August 194526 August 1945

See also


  1. Campbell, Allen; Nobel, David S (1993). Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Kodansha. p. 1116. ISBN 406205938X.
  2. Harari. The politics of labor legislation in Japan. Page 41
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