The Interior

The legal cornerstone of the Empire of Japan

By William Wetherall

First posted 1 January 2007
Last updated 11 December 2021

Legal competency Price of admission Proof of prowess Meiji laws Postwar laws
Interior laws Family Register Law Marriage proclamation Penal Code Constitution Civil Code Nationality Law
Linguistic notes on "interior"The semantic range of "naichi" in formal and informal usage
Mixed-residence concerns Tsubouchi Shōyō 1886 Ōhashi Yasujirō 1886 Inoue Tetsuji 1889 Chitoshi's 1899 mixed-residence cartoon

Imperatives of legal competency

Japan is often regarded as a non-litigious society. I myself have sometimes said so -- in the belief that I was pointing out something useful to bear in mind when comparing Japan with the United States. However, the United States turns out to be excessively dependent on laws and regulations to the point that American society, meaning everyone who breathes within reach of the laws of the United States -- federal, state, and local -- cannot turn around without a lawyer, or a team of lawyers. You may even need a lawyer to help you deal with another lawyer -- and that is not a lawyer joke.

Japan, it turns out, is a fairly litigious society. It has had plenty of laws in the course of its history, and every major change in political order brought with it a change in laws if not also the legal system.

The transition from Tokugawa rule to Imperial rule in 1868 involved fundamental changes in both the legal system and laws. The new legal order had to accommodate not only domestic needs but also international demands.

Even the most cursory study of how Japan developed its legal competency during the Meiji period suggests the extent to which its political leaders, bureaucrats, and scholars absorbed state-of-the-art Euro-American legal theories -- and put them to practice.

Japan applied its legal competency first to the consolidation of its own prefectures, then to empire building -- first in the name of self-defense, then in the name of rescuing its neighbors from the jaws of Euro-American predators.


Price of admission

Japan had, of course, made formal written agreements with Chinese and Koreans, and with Europeans from Portuguese to Russians, before the middle of the 19th century. Demands to conform with the emerging Euro-American legal order, however, were not keenly felt until the arrival of Commodore Perry in 1853.

Perry failed to secure a treaty of commerce with the Ryukyu kingdom when he stopped at Naha, but the kingdom provide a coaling station, and the islands became a crucial base for Perry's squadron during the rest of his mission in East Asia.

Perry went on to Japan, where he made similar demands and left with the promise of returning the following year with a larger fleet. He did, and on Kaei 7-3-3 (31 March 1854) Japan and the United States signed the Treaty of Kanagawa, in which Japan agreed to open a number ports, provide coal, water, and provisions, and protect American citizens. In July, Perry concluded a similar compact with Ryukyu.

Britain, France, the Netherlands, and Russia signed similar treaties between 1854 and 1856. The most elaborate of these treaties was the 1855 Treaty of Shimoda signed with Russia, which involved agreements over the Kurile islands and Sakhalin.

Extraterritoriality as such did not begin until 1858, with the signing of commercial treaties, beginning with the United States, which permitted the establishment of foreign settlements under the jurisdiction of consulates and consular courts. The last treaty to extend such privileges with a "most favored nation" clause was signed with Austria-Hungary in 1869.

Japan endeavored to end these inequalities, and by 1894, beginning with Great Britain, it was signing new commercial treaties which provided for the end of foreign settlements, consular rights, and other special privileges in 1899. Not until then would Japan be regarded as legally competent in the eyes of Euro-American states.


Proof of prowess

However, long before Japan gained full membership in the family of nations setting the standards of international law, it was emulating these standards. While itself still under unequal treaties with a number of Euro-American states, Japan began to demand similar status in Korea and China.

Japan signed a treaty with the Ching Dynasty in 1871 concerning treatment of castaways, who were also the subject of a 1873 treaty with Korea. Then in 1876, Japan forced Korea to sign a treaty to open ports, allow Japanese to reside in the country, and allow Japan to try its own subjects in Japanese consular courts.


Meiji laws

Until 1868, Japan was neither a nation nor a state. The loose confederation of feudal domains that comprised Japan at the time could not be transformed into either a nation or a state overnight. The first task of the new Meiji government was to gain political control over what it considered the Japanese nation, meaning Japan's inherent islands and their inhabitants. Only then could a state evolve.

Nationhood meant consolidating the feudal domains into prefectures that constituted a single territory, and then nationalizing all local polities and their inhabitants under the banner of an evolving imperial state. Statehood meant enacting a world-class constitution and a body of laws through which the sovereign emperor and his proxies could govern the prefectures and their people.

It took only a few years to pass and implement a population registration law, but two decades to create a constitution, and another decade to settle on a civil code. The first nationality law did not come into force until 1899. Coincidentally, this was the year Japan terminated the extraterritorial treaties it had signed with the United States, Britain, and other countries that now regarded its polity as legally competent.

Most important laws come first

Is is commonplace today to believe that national laws rest on a constitution, and that constitutions rest on principles of justice. Historically, though, all consitutions reflect legal realities that existed when the constitutions were written. And in social practice, customary notions of right and wrong are often more persuasive than abstract notions of justice.

In Japan, too, people like to think that national laws, such as the Family Register Law (1872) and the Nationality Law (1899), are subordinate to the Constitution (1889). However, the Family Register Law was in operation eighteen years before the Constitution. And the Nationality Law (1899), based on family law and family registration practices, incorporated a proclamation which predated the Constitution by sixteen years.

In many respects, the Family Register Law, not the Constitution, is the most important law of the land. It's conception in 1871 (born in 1872) followed centuries of parish record-keeping that defined local variations in customary family law. The Constitution (1889), Civil Code (1896), and Nationality Law (1899) all rested firmly on the Family Register Law, in the sense that they reflected the principles of family law and social control that governed family registration.

Over the past century and several decades, since its start in 1872, the Family Register Law has been amended numerous times to facilitate changes, some very radical, in principles of family law and social control, including acquisition and loss of nationality. Such is the dependency of nationality law on family law, however, that changes in principles of family law are apt to trigger changes in nationality law.


Postwar laws

If Meiji laws evolved in the order of need to facilitate social control -- Family Registeration, Penal Code -- the order in which these laws were revamped after World War II reflects a somewhat less organic and more legalistic logic.

After World War II, from 14 August 1945, the day Japan accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration (Hirohito broadcast this fact on the 15th and military units were ordered to cease fire on the 16th) -- to 28 April 1952, when the terms of the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 8 September 1951 came into force, Japan's legal compentency as a sovereign state was virtually suspended. During this period, Japan did not exercise full legal control over its territory or its nationality, or over the status of foreigners in the country.

Many laws in Japan underwent major revisions when a new Constitution (1947), a new Family Register Law (1947), a revised Penal Code (1947), a revised Civil Code (1948), and a new Nationality Law (1950) were promulgated. Under the new constitution, "subjects" (shinmin) who had been affiliated with imperial Japan's prefectures became "people" (kokumin) of a non-imperial Japan.

Laws affecting aliens

During the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Japanese government also issued ordinances and passed laws concerning the legal status of imperial subjects who had been affiliated with Japan's non-prefectural territories, which it lost the moment it surrendered. As a result of laws Japan passed on the authority of peace treaties it signed in San Francisco and Taipei, people affiliated with the former subnations of Taiwan and Korea became "aliens" (gaikokujin).

For why Taiwanese and Chosenese were partly and then fully alienated from Japanese nationality, see Japanese nationality after World War II and Separation and choice.


Interior laws

The main legal territority of the Empire of Japan was the Interior, consisting of 47 prefectures from Hokkaidō to Okinawa. Karafuto joined the Interior as the 48th prefecture in 1943.

Laws enacted during the Meiji period, until the Sino-Japanese War in 1894-1895, were mostly laws that facilitated governing the prefectural Interior. Hokkaidō and Okinawa, which originated after the start of the Meiji period, were at times differently treated but were nonetheless parts of the prefectural Interior.

The need to govern non-prefectural territories, which came with their own laws and bureaucracies, began with the acquisition of Taiwan in 1895. Hence Article 1 of the 1898 Rules of Laws which stipulated that effectuation dates for laws might be different for Taiwan, Hokkaidō, and Okinawa (see 1898 Rules of Laws in the article on Status and applicable law in the Nationality and Empires sections of this website).

The need to govern Taiwan did not arise until after the Meiji Constitution came into force in 1890. Should Taiwan, ceded to Japan after the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, be governed like the prefectures? Or should it be governed as a separate entity?

The 1890 Constitution provided that the emperor's authority extended throughout the sovereign empire, whatever its boundaries. It also provided that the Imperial Diet had the power to consent to laws that the emperor would then sanction by promulgation.

The legal solution to the political debate about Taiwan was that the Imperial Diet should delegate its legislative powers to the Governor-General of Taiwan, whose appointment was determined by imperially sanctioned, Diet-enacted laws. In other words, there would be two entities, two polities -- the prefectural Interior, directly governed by the Imperial Diet -- and Taiwan, directly governed by the Governor-General of Taiwan, who until 1921 was, by law, a military officer.

Multiple legal territories

From this point "Japan" as a sovereign state consisted of two subnations -- two legal polities -- the prefectures, called "naichi" (内地), meaning "interior territory" or "the Interior", and the territory of Taiwan, which became the first "gaichi" (外地) or "exterior territory".

Karafuto and Korea joined the list of exterior territories with the incorporations (nationalizations) of the southern half of Sakhalin as Karafuto in 1905 and Korea as Chōsen in 1910. Karafuto and Chōsen, like Taiwan, became parts of Japan's sovereign dominion, hence were on a par with the Interior as far as their status in international law was concerned.

Kwantung Province, which Russia governed as a leasehold from China, became an external territory of Japan in 1905, when Russia ceded its leasehold to Japan. As such, as a part of China leased to Japan, Kwantung Province became part of Japan's legal but not sovereign empire.

At the start of the Great War (World War I) in 1914, Japan -- as an Allied Power -- occupied Germany's Pacific islands. And after the war, the League of Nations mandated the former German islands to Japan's legal administration. The South Sea Islands, like Kwantung Province, was part of Japan's legal empire but not its sovereign dominion.

In other words, the Empire of Japan came to have six legal jurisdiction -- the Interior, Taiwan, Karafuto, Chōsen, Kwantung Province, and the South Sea Islands. All were under Japan's control and jurisdiction, but only the first four were parts of its sovereign territory. Hence only Interiorites, Taiwanese, Karafutoans, and Chosenese possessed Japan's nationality, an artifact of the affiliation of the population registers of these 4 territories with Japan's sovereign dominion.

English nomenclature

In English reports, "naichi" (interior territory) was usually called "Japan proper" and "Naimusho" (Ministry of interior affairs) was most often called "Home Ministry". Neither of these English renderings reflects the consistency of the "interior" metahpor in Japanese.

In English reports, "naichijin" (interior person) is usually reflected as "Japanese" though some people have rendered it "Japanese proper" -- as opposed to "Taiwanese" ("Formosans"), "Karafuto natives" ("Karafutoans"), and "Koreans" ("Chosenese"). In Japanese, however, all were subjects and nationals of Japan -- therefore "Nihonjin" -- and therefore "Japanese". This fact is easily lost when the formal descriptive language of the Empire of Japan is morphed into English expressions that reflect other standards of labeling legal entities and the legal statuses of their affiliates.


Family Register Law

Nationalizing inhabitants of a sovereign Japan began with the creation of a common domicile registration system throughout the country. Japan passed its first Family Register Law (Kosekihō) in 1871. The first registers were completed when the law came into force the following year.

Controlling a population through family registration already had a long history in Japan. Until the Meiji period, population registers had been used to keep track of lineage and relationships within a clan or family.

During the 17th century, a parish registration system was imposed on Buddhist temples, some of which had already been recording births, marriages, deaths, and other matters about local families. The parish registers were contrived to support temples, but also to ensure that families were not Christians or members of a proscribed Buddhist sect. Temples lost their legal status as registrars with the enforcement of the new law in 1872.

Fundamental law of land

The importance of the Family Register Law is reflected in the fact that it came a decade before the makeshift 1882 Penal Code, nearly two decades before the 1890 Constitution, and practically three decades before the 1898 Civil Code and the 1899 Nationality Law.

The Civil Code and Nationality Law presume the existence of family registers, which both record and facilitate the effects of these two laws in conjunction with the Family Register Law. The Nationality Law may even be seen as an extension of the principles of Japanese family law embodied in the Civil Code and reflected expressed through the Family Register Law.

See the sections on the Civil Code and the Nationality Law for more about their umbilical link with family registers.


Meiji Family Register Law

The Family Register Law was revised twice during the Meiji period, first in 1886 (Home Affairs Order Order No. 22) four years before the Constitution, and again in 1898 (Justice Ministry Order No. 5).

It was revised during the Taisho period in 1914 (Justice Ministry Order No. 7), enforced from the following year and ammended several times before the end of World War II.

1872 law

Promulgated Meiji 4-4-4 (22 May 1871)
Great Council of State Proclamation No. 170
Enforced from Meiji 5-2-1 (9 March 1872)

These registers were the first registers to be uniformally created throughtout the country. The unit of a register was a "houshold" (戸 ko) and the address of the "principal register" (本籍) was taken to be the "locality of the domicile" (住所地 jŭshochi).

Local leaders were responsible for dividing their localities into areas and register vital events, like birth and death, register new arrivals, and note those who left.

Registers were mainly of kin but others, who were being fostered, could be registerd as attached persons.

Registers also recorded the statuses of household members. Although outcaste statuses had been abolished, some early registers continued to identify people in ways that linked them with abolished statuses, hence archived registers of this vintage are sealed -- unavailable through ordinary over-the-country requests from descendants.

See 1872 Family Register Law: Japan's first "law of the land" for texts and translations of parts of the law and a breakdown of registered households by sex of head of household, and of people by sex, both by status (mibun).

1886 revisions

Family register recording format, promulgated 16 October 1886 (Interior Ministry Ordinance No. 20)

Family register handling and procedures, promulgated 16 October 1886 (Interior Ministry Ordinance No. 22).

Changed form of domicile address from building number (屋敷番 yashikiban) system to locality number (地番 chiban) system. Provisions were also introduced for striking or removing registers (除籍 joseki).

Provided for recording direct and collateral branches of families in same register with single head of household.

Older registers recreated to reflect newer format.

1898 revision

Promulgated 16 June 1898 (Law No. 12) and enforced from 16 July same year (Justice Ministry Ordinance No. 5 of 13 July 1898), the same day the 1898 Civil Code came into effect.

The content of family registers somewhat changed because of family law provisions in the Civil Code. The unit of registration became the "house" (家 ie, corporate family). A "status registry" (身分登記簿 mibun tōkibo) system was established, according to which one had to file notices reporting changes in status -- meaning birth, death, marriage, divorce, adoption alliances, among other events effecting register statuses.

A column was created to record the reason and date someone became head of household.

Registers entirely remade in order to accommodate new system.

1914 revision (effective 1915)

Law revising family registration law (戸籍法改正法律), promulgated 30 March 1914 (Law No. 26), enforced from 1 January 1915.

Family registration law enforcement detailed regulations (戸籍法施行細則), promulgated 3 October 1914 (Ministry of Justice Instruction No. 7), enforced from 1 January 1915

Column for date and reason someone because the head of household was abolished. This matter is entered in the matters of the head of household.

Status registry system is abolished. Content of entries more detailed. 1898 registers were not required to be remade. 1886 registers that had not yet been remade were remade according to 1915 system.

1915 Temporary Residence Law

The Temporary Residence Law (寄留法 Kiryūhō), Law No. 27 of 1914, was enforced from 1 January 1915, together with the 1914 revsisions to the Civil Code and Family Register Law. See 1915 Temporary Residence Law in the "Registration laws from 1886 to 1945" article in the "Nationality" section of this website for particulars.

15 October 1945 suspension of interactions

On 15 October 1945, a few weeks after Japanese authorities in Chosen surrended the territory to American forces in the south and Soviet forces in the north, and about one week before Taiwan would be surrended to ROC forces, the Ministry of Justice (司法省 Shihōshō) ordered the suspension of "Interactions [exchanges] of family registers of Interior / Exterior" -- according to Civil Affairs A No. 452, Civil Affairs Bureau, Director-General Reply (民事甲第452号民事局長回答 the following civil affairs reply.

This would appear to have ended the operation of laws which Japan had established to facilitate the uniform administration of civil affairs in the Interior, Taiwan, and Chosen -- to accommodate migration between territories, and marriages and adoptions between all Japanese subjects regardless of their territorial affiliation. However, the order suspended only register exchanges that were beyond Japan's jurisdiction -- meaning outside "Japan" as defined by GHQ/SCAP. Within "Japan" business continued as usual. Status acts involving interactions of Interior/Exterior registers would continue to be effected within "Japan" -- since local offices had copies of the family registers of locally registered Chosenese and Taiwanese, and Japan's laws continued to apply the laws and ordinances that governed private matters between Taiwan, Chōsen, and Naichi registrants.

This suspension of inter-territorial register actions especially inconvenienced individuals affiliated with different territories who wanted to marry or effect an alliance of adoption -- either of which, under Japanese law, would require that someone migrate from one register to another.

However, municipal halls in prefectural localities had copies of the registers of resident Chosenese and Taiwanese. And it appears that status actions such as marriage, between Interior and Exterior subjects, continued to be duly recorded in accordance with the Civil Code and the Family Register Law.

The San Francisco Peace Treaty entered into force from 22:30 hours Japan Standard Time on 28 April 1952. Chosenese and Taiwanese lost their Japanese nationality, pursuant to the enforcement of the treaty, according to Civil Affairs A No. 438 of 19 April 1952, a notification issued by the Director-General, Civil Affairs Bureau of the Attorney General's Office.

Article 1(4) of the notification states that, after treaty effectuation, register migrations concomitant with status acts like an alliance or dissolution, or a marriage or divorce, will not be recognized.

Such migrations would effect the territorial status of those who migrated between territorial registers -- and would be tantamount to a change of nationality after the treaty came into effect. And from the moment the treaty came into effect, local officials had lost the authority to treat Chosenese and Taiwanese as Japanese -- hence could no longer move anyone from a local register to a Taiwan or Chosen register, or vice versa, as though all such registers were affiliated with Japan.

As stated in Article 1(5) of the Civil Affairs Bureau notification, Chosenese and Taiwanese, having become aliens, would have to naturalize according to Japan's Nationality Law if they wished to be Japanese. There was no need to state that Japanese who wished to become an ROK or ROC national were free to naturalize in those countries, under their laws -- and then renounce their Japanese nationality under Japan's laws.

Chosenese and Taiwanese could not have naturalized before 28 April 1952 because they were Japanese.

1948 Family Register Law (Law No. 224 of 1947)

The existing Family Register Law was promulgated in 1947 (Law No. 224) in conjunction with amendments (Law No. 222) to the 1898 Civil Code (Law No. 89 of 1896, and Law No. 9 of 1898)) and amendments (Law No. 223) to the 1898 Rules of Law (Law No. 10 of 1898). The amended versions of these three laws came into force from 1 January 1948.

The new Family Register Law abolished a number of measures going back to the Meiji and Taisho periods.

The "house" or "corporate family" unit was changed to a husband-wife (夫婦 fŭfu) unit that includes the children (子 ko) of the couple -- in effect a parent-child (親子 oyako) unit, though this term does not appear in the law.

The so-called "corporate family system" (家制度 ie seido), which was introduced in 1915, essentially codifying a number of common-law family law practices, was effectively abolished when the postwar Constitution came into effect from 3 May 1947.

1951 Resident Register Law (Law No. 218)
1967 Basic Resident Register Law (Law No. 81)
1994 Family Register Law revision

Family Register Law revised to accommodate computerization.


Postwar Family Register Law

1 January 1948

Law No. 224 of 1947 (22 December)
Enforced from 1 January 1948 (replacing 1872 law)

The new Family Register Law reflected the new constitutional right of adults to establish independent family registers.

The new law abolished the system of registration notifications in exterior registers. In other words, people in prefectural registers who, through marriage or adoption, would have had to migrate from an Interior register to an exterior (Taiwan or Chosen) register, could no longer do so. Similarly, people in exterior registers could no longer migrate to an Interior register because of changes in family status.

The postwar revision of the Family Register Law, coming as it did before the 1950 Nationality Law, still contained the provisions for aquisition of nationality through adoption or marriage.

Units of "family"

The Meiji Civil Code set legal standards for the so-called "corporate family" (家 ie) system. The 1948 Civil Code replaced this standard by what could be called a "nuclear family" standard. The principle of sharing a common family name (氏 shi) within the same registered principle register (本籍 honseki), however, remained unchanged.

The basic unit of household register thus changed from that of every single household (一戸) with a head of household (戸主) under the 1914 law, to that of a single couple (一の夫婦) and each child who shares their family name (氏を同じくする子) under the 1948 law, as follows (the structural translations are mine).

1914 Family Register Law


Article 9 (structural)
A family register shall be created for every single household with a head of household for persons who have established their principal register within the zone of a city, town, or village.

1948 Family Register Law


Article 9 (structural)
A family register shall be created for a single couple [husband-wife] who have established their principal register within the zone of a city, town, or village, and for each child which has the same family name as the couple.
However, when creating a new register for a person who has married a person who is not Japanese (hereafter called an "alien") or for a person who does not have a spouse, a register shall be created for the person and for each child with the same family name as the person.

Article 9 (received)
A family register shall be established for a husband and a wife, who establish their principal register within a district of a city, town, or village. and for each child who has the same family name as theirs. However, when newly establishing a family register for a person who is married to a person who is not a Japanese national (hereafter referred to as a "foreign national") or for a person who has no spouse, it shall be established for the person and for each child who has the same family name as the person.


Reflections of Nationality Law in Family Register Law, 1948 and 1985

1948 Family Register Law (1899 Nationality Law)
The Japan Year Book, 1946-48 (1949)

1985 Family Register Law (1985 Nationality Law)
EHS Law Bulletin Series (1988)


Chapter I
General Provisions

Chapter II
Census Register

Chapter III
Registration in Family-Register


Chapter I
General Provisions

Chapter II
Family Register

Chapter III
Registration in Family-Register

Chapter IV

Section XIV
Acquisition or Loss of Nationality

Article 102.   If an alien is to acquire Japanese nationality by reason of an adoption or a marriage, the original nationality of the acquisator of Japanese nationality shall be stated in the written notification of the adoption or of the marriage.

Derivative nationality, through adoption or marriage, was abolished by the 1950 the Nationality Law. In 1950, the above article was replaced by an entirely different article, which now reflects changes in the 1985 Nationality Law as well.

Article 103.   If an alien is to acquire Japanese nationality by reason of recognition, the original nationality of the recognized child shall be stated in the written notification of the recongition.

If the person who recognized a child is its father, the written notification shall state the nationality of its mother.

Derivative nationality, through recognition after the birth of a child, is no longer possible. Nationality through legitimation, in accordance with Article 3 of the present Nationality Law, are in Article 102 of the present Family Register Law.

Article 104.   A notification of naturalization shall be given within ten days of the day on which the license thereof was granted. . . . [rest omitted].

Provisions for making a notification of naturalization are in Article 102-2 of the present law.

Article 105.   A notification of loss of Japanese nationality of a person shall be given by the spouse or any of his relatives within the fourth degree of relationship within one month of the day on which he became aware of that fact, upon being annexed with a writing proving the loss of Japanese nationality. . . . [rest omitted].

Provisions for making a notification of loss of Japanese nationality are in Article 103 of the present law.

Article 106.   A notification of recovery of Japanese nationality shall be given within ten days of the day on which the license thereof was granted. . . . [rest omitted].

Provisions for making a notification of reacquisition of nationality are in Article 102 of the present law. Provisions for reacquisition are in Article 17 of the present Nationality Law.

Article 104, Article 105, and Article 106 now facilitate provisions made in the 1985 Nationality Law for reserving (retaining) nationality and declaring choice of nationality. Nationality reservation (retention) originated in 1924 revisions to the 1899 Nationality Law in response from pressure from the United States to resolve its concerns about American citizens who stood to become dual nationals should their Japanese parents register them in their family register. Today's nationality choice declaration was introduced from 1985 through revisions to the 1950 Nationality Law made in 1984.

Chapter IV

Section 14
Acquisition or Loss of Nationality

(Notification of acquisition of nationality)
[As amended on 25 May 1984 by Law No. 45]

Article 102.   A notification of acquisition of nationality in the case of the nationality which has been acquired in accordance with the provision of Article 3 paragraph 1 or Article 17 paragraph 1 or 2 of the Nationality Law (Law No. 147 of 1950) [ Note: i.e., by reason of legitimation or by reaquisition of nationality ] shall, within one month from the day of such acquisition (if a person is outside the country, within three months therefrom), be given by a person who has acquired the nationality.

2. The notification in writing shall state the following particulars and shall be accompanied by a document proving the acquisition of nationality. . . . [rest omitted].

Article 102-2.   A notification of naturalization shall be given by a naturalized person within a month from the date of public notice. With respect to the particulars to be stated in the notification in such case, the provision of paragraph 2 of the preceding Article shall apply mutatis mutandis.

(Notification of loss of nationality)
[As amended on 4 May 1950 by Law No. 148]

Article 103.   A notification of loss of nationality shall be given by the person to whom such matter occured, a spouse, or any relative within the fourth grade relatives, within one month from the day he or she has become aware of the fact of loss of nationality (if the person bound to give notification is outside the country on the day he becomes aware of the fact, within three months therefrom). . . . [rest omitted].

(Declaration of intention of reserving nationality)

Article 104.   The declaration of intention of reserving nationality as provided for in Article 12 of the Nationality Law shall, within three months from the date of birth, be made by a person who is able to give a notification of birth (excluding a person who is bound to give notification in accordance with the provision of Article 52 paragraph 3), giving notification to the effect that Japanese nationality is reserved. . . . [rest omitted].

(Declaration to choose Japanese nationality)
[As amended on 25 May 1984 by Law No. 45]

Article 104-2.   A declaration to choose Japanese nationality under the provision of Article 14 paragraph 2 of the Nationality Law shall be made by a person, who wishes to make such declaration, giving notification to that effect. . . . [rest omitted].

(Declaration to pending choice of nationality)
[As amended on 25 May 1984 by Law No. 45]

Article 104-3.   If the mayor of a city, town, or village considers at the time of conducting family-register affairs that a person, who is bound to choose nationality in accordance with the provision of Article 14 paragraph 1 of the Nationality Law, has not yet chosen it within the time limit prescribed in said paragraph, the mayor shall give notice of the same and registered locality of the person, and other matters prescribed by ordinance to the Director of the supervising Legal Affairs Bureau or the District Legal Affairs Bureau.

(Report of loss of nationality by government or public authority)
[As amended on 4 May 1950 by Law No. 148]

Article 105.   If a government or public authority who has learned in the performance of duties thereof that any person has lost his nationality, the authority shall, without delay, make report on the loss of nationality to the mayor of a city, town, or village which is the registered locality of such person, attaching the document proving the loss of nationality. . . . [rest omitted].

(Notification of loss of foreign nationality)
[As amended on 25 May 1984 by Law No. 45]

Article 106.   If a Japanese national having foreign nationality has lost his foreign nationality, the person shall give notification to that effect within one month from the day he has become aware of the fact of the loss (if the person is outside the country on the day he has become aware of the fact, within three months from such day). . . . [rest omitted].

Chapter V
Rectification of Census-Registration

Chapter VI
Miscellaneous Provisions

Chapter V
Rectification of Census-Registration

Chapter VI
Miscellaneous Provisions


Marriage Proclamation

14 March 1873

Promulgated Meiji 6-3-14 (14 March 1873)
Great Council of State Proclamation No. 103

Permitted marriage with aliens, and adopted-son and incoming-husband alliances with aliens.

Somewhat revised by law promulgaged on 9 July 1898 (Law No. 21)

Abolished 22 June 1950 by Ministry of Home Affairs (Odinance No. 69).


Penal Code

Japan already had an elaborate penal code when it set out to join the family of the nations that had come pounding on its doors in the middle of the 19th century. A 1882 updated version of the older code reflected newer ideas about crime and punishment. Not until the start of the 20th century, however, did Japan enact a totally new penal code.

Early Meiji penal codes

Entering the Meiji period, Japan had to facilitate the nationalization of Tokugawa penal codes, the application of which had varied somewhat under local authorities. It also had to bring its standards of judgment and punishment closer to par with those of the Euro-American states with which it had signed extraterritoriality treaties.

1871 and penal code and 1873 supplement

Drafting a new law would take many years. The short-term solution was to adopt parts of China's codes and adapt them to Japan's needs, in the light of Tokugawa practices. The result was a penal code called "Shinritsu kōryō" (新律綱領) or "Outline of new codes" -- more literally "New-measures main-parts [neck of main rope of fishing net]".

The "New codes" were promulgated by Great Council of State Proclamation No. 94 of Meiji 3-12-27 (16 February 1871). These codes were supplemented by "Kaitei ritsurei" (改定律例) or "Amended codes" -- more literally "Revised-determinations measures-rules" -- the result of Great Council of State Proclamation No. 206 of 13 June 1873.

"Measures" (律 ritsu) were standards or "codes" for judging violations of "ordinances" (令 ryō) or "laws" regarding all manner of matters, including family relations. They covered all manner of illegal behaviors grouped by subject.

One group of measures was called "Household and marriage measures" (戸婚律 ko-kon ritsu). The 1871 "New codes" contained 11 unnumbered articles covering offenses related to land and people. The 1873 "Amended codes" contained 13 numbered articles which augmented the articles in the 1871 law.

The term 戸婚律 goes back to the 7th-century Tang codes that inspired the 8th- and 9th-century ritsuryō (律令) codes in Japan, as well as the Ming and Ching codes in that more directly inspired the early Meiji penal codes.

The 1871 New codes, though written in Japanese, contains some kanbun or "Chinese-style text" punctuated to be read in Japanese. And the phrasing in many articles, while Japanese, reflects direct translation from Chinese. Though much of the terminology in the 1873 Amended codes remained Chinese, the syntax is much more Japanese.

The articles in the "Household and marriage" sections related to offenses regarding land and households. The administration and control of both territory and people were faciliated through household-based records concerning, on the one hand, field and forest ownership, cultivation, taxation, and leasing, and on the other birth, marriage, concubinage, adoption, death, and other family matters.

First Meiji Penal Code

1 January 1882

Promulgated 17 July 1880 (GCS Proclamation No. 36)
Enforced from 1 January 1882 (GCS Proclamation No. 36 of 1881)
Abrogated on 1 October 1908 (Law No. 45 of 1907).

The 1871 penal code its 1873 supplement were replaced from 1882 by the first "Penal code" (刑法 Keihō) by name. Promulgated by Great Council of State Proclamation No. 36 of 17 July 1880, this original Meiji law ccame into effect from 1 January 1882.

This penal code was revised in 1898 by Law No. 11 of that year.

Second Meiji Penal Code

1 October 1908

Promulgated 24 April 1907 (Law No. 45)
Enforced from 1 October 1908 (1908 Imperial Ordinance No. 163)
Current law, heavily revised in 1947 and 1995

Abolished 1st Meiji Penal Code of 1882

Heavily revised in 1947 and 1995.

Postwar revisions of Penal Code

15 November 1947

Revised 1908 Penal Code

Revisions promulgated 26 October 1947 (Law No. 124)
Revisions enforced from 15 November 1947 (Law No. 124)

This revision has often been revised, heavily in 1995



Japan has had two constitutions, commonly called the Meiji and postwar constitutions. The first came into effect in 1890 during the Meiji period (1868-1912). The second came into effect in 1947 during the Allied Occupation (1945-1952) after World War II.

Constitution of the Empire of Japan

29 November 1890

Promulgated 2 February 1889
Enforced from 29 November 1890

Replaced by 1947 Postwar [Showa] Constitution.

The 1890 constitution did not define the excent of the Great Empire of Japan (大日本帝国 Dai Nippon Teikoku) over which it declared that the emperor, sacred and inviolate, would reign for 10,000 generations. There are no references to the entities that constitute the empire. No mentions of prefectures, no mentions of municipalities.

The constitution invested the emperor with completely sovereignty (統治権 tōchiken), which meant virtually all powers of state. Article 5 gave the emperor legislative power (立法権 rippoken) with the consent (協賛 kyōsan) of the imperial diet (帝国議会 teikoku gikai). Article 6 gave the emperor the power to sanction (裁可ス seika su ) laws (法律 hōritsu) and order (命ス mei su) their promulgation and execution (公布及執行 kōfu oyobi shikkō).

The emperor could issue or cause the issue of ordinances (命令ヲ発シ又ハ発セシム meirei o hatsu shi [hasshi] mata wa hatsu seshimu [hasseshimu]) to facilitate the enforcement of a law, or to accommodate an emergency. However, no ordinance could change an existing law or create a law. Only diet consent, followed by imperial sanction, promulgation, and enforcement, could change a standing law or create a new law.

However, Article 76, the very last article, stated that all existing laws, regulations, and ordinances (法律規則命令 hōritsu kisoku meirei), by whatever name, will continue to be have effect (効力ヲ有ス kōryoku o yū su) -- so long as they did not conflict with the constitution.

It is this body of standing laws, which already exists when the constitution comes into force, that defines Japan as an entity consisting of prefectures, and customarily limits the reach of national laws to the prefectures.

Constitution of Japan

3 May 1947

Promulgated 3 November 1946
Enforced from 3 May 1947

Replaced 1890 Imperial [Meiji] Constitution

3 November, Emperor Meiji's birthday, is now celebrated as Culture Day.

The postwar constitution was drafted and approved under the direction and scrutiny of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, it is sometimes called the "MacArthur constitution". While some of its content does reflect standards imposed on Japan by GHQ/SCAP, the new constitution was passed by the Imperial Diet, and sanctioned and promulgated by the emperor, in accordance with the amendment provisions of the Meiji Constitution.

In fact, the Empire of Japan did not formally become Japan -- and the sovereignty of the emperor did not legally become the sovereignty of the people of Japan -- until the new constitution came into effect.

Definition of people as sovereign nationals

While the Meiji Constitution had defined people who constituted Japan's demographic territory as "shinmin" (subjects, "loyal people") of a sovereign emperor, the new constitution defined them as sovereign "kokumin" (nationals, meaning "people of the country"). The new constitution also specifically prohibited discrimination on account of sex, race, social status, or family origin, which established the legal foundation for the elimination of gender discrimination in most laws.

See articles under Aliens & Constitution in "Nationality" section of this website.

Also see article on Japan under Race in constitutions in "Race" section of this website.


Meiji Civil Codes

Japan's Civil Code deals with the usual range of non-criminal and non-commercial matters. The family law provisions of the Civil Code, particularly the articles that define relationships between people -- parental, marital, and otherwise -- have a direct impact on family registration matters, including the determination of nationality.

The Family Register Law records the status of individuals, in relation to other individuals, in accordance with provisions in the Civil Code. Since only those who qualify for nationality according to the Nationality Law can be registered in a family register, local registrars must first confirm that parental relationships, as defined by the Civil Code, meet the criteria of the Nationality Law.

Quite a few people have criticized the Nationality Law for failure to extend nationality to children of surrogate mothers, for example, but this is really a matter of how the Civil Code defines parenthood. The same may be said for paternal recognition.

The Civil Code is the place where legislators have to redefine the rights a child to be recognized as the legal child of a woman or man, whether by biological or other ties. Then, and only then, can the Nationality Law and Family Register Law be made to operate differently.

1890 Civil Code

Fully promulgated 7 October 1890 (Law No. 98), modelled after the French civil code, but never enforced owing to controversy over its effects on family law. Some chapters had been imperially sanctioned on 27 March 1890 and promulgated on 21 April (Law No. 28). Commonly called the "Boissonade Civil Code" owing to its inspiration by the French legalist Gustave Emile Boissonade (1825-1910).

1898 Civil Code

16 July 1898

A heavily revised Civil Code, structured more like German law, was finally promulgated in two parts two years apart.

Books I-III promulgated 27 April 1896 (Law No. 89)
Books IV-V promulgated 21 June 1898 (Law No. 9)

Entire Civil Code enforced from 16 July 1898 (Law No. 9)

Revisions to the Family Register Law and several other laws were enforced from the same day.

Amended eight times between 1898 and 1941


Postwar Civil Code

1 January 1948

Heavily revised version of 1898 Civil Code

Amendments promulgated 22 December 1947 (Law No. 222)
Enforced from 1 January 1948

The new Civil Code eliminated the "house" (家 ie) as a legal entity, and with it the privileges of gender and sibling status that had defined the so-called "corporate family".


Meiji Nationality Law

1 April 1899

Promulgated 16 March 1899 (Law No. 66)
Enforced from 1 April 1899

Replaced by an entirely rewritten law in 1950.

An 1873 proclamation that provided for changes in the "status of being Japanese" through alliances of marriage or adoption between Japanese and aliens in effect defined "Japanese" as members of family registers -- a status acquired or lost by entering or leaving a register affiliated with Japan's sovereign territory. This essential definition of "Japanese" continues to be the foundation of nationality law in Japan.

Nationality Law in exterior territories

The 1890 Constitution provides that qualifications for being a subject of Japan shall be determined by a law or laws of the kind that would ordinarily be passed by the Diet and promulgated by the Emperor. However, treaties signed and ratified by Japan also have the status of laws in Japan, and hence treaty provisions for acquisition or loss of nationality come into effect according to stipulations in the treaty.

The two treaties Japan concluded with Russia in 1875 and 1905 concerning Sakhalin and the Kuriles both included provisions about change in subjecthood. The treaty Japan concluded with China in 1895 also included such provisions.


Postwar Nationality Law

1 July 1950

Law No. 147 of 1950 (4 May)
Enforced from 1 July 1950 (replacing 1899 law)

The 1950 Nationality Law, following the 1947 Constitution, uses "Japan national" (日本国民 Nihon kokumin) rather than "Japanese" (日本人 Nihonjin). Though the 1890 Constitution had used "Japan subject" (日本臣民 Nihon shinmin), the 1899 Nationality Law, following the 1873 proclamation, had used "Japanese" (日本人 Nihonjin).

The postwar law, while entirely rewritten and substantially simplified, did not change the notion of Japanese nationality as a civil status derived from membership in a family register affiliated with Japan. Nor did it change the basic rules of acquiring nationality at time of birth or through naturalization, which remained in line with most nationality laws in the world.

The most important changes in the new law were its elimination of nationality derived through marriage. This enabled Japanese women who married out to keep their Japanese nationality even if they gained a foreign nationality through marriage, but foreign spouses of Japanese would now have to naturalize if they wished to be Japanese. Nationality derived through adoption was also eliminated.

Nationality through legitimation and recognition was eliminted, but was partly permitted from 1985, and a Supreme Court decision in 2008 mandated a relaxation of the recognition rules from 2009.

One of the more important improvements in the 1950 law was the elimination of provisions in the 1899 law that restricted specific level political, bureaucratic, and military posts to persons who had not obtained their nationality through naturalization, or through being a child of a naturalized person, or through adoption by a Japanese whether as a child or husband. This meant that all such people became qualified for any official post, including Prime Minister.

1985 and 2009 revisions

Significantly revised from 1985 and 2009.

Interior Japanese remain Japanese



Linguistic notes on "interior"

The semantic range of the Sinific term "naichi" (内地) is very broad. Literally it means simply the "land" (地) which is "inside" (内 nai) -- "inner territory" -- "interior".

As an English metaphor, "interior" commonly refers to the "domestic" or "home" lands or affairs of a country -- as opposed to outside or foreign lands or its "external" or "foreign" affairs. But it can also refer to the "inland" parts of a country viewed from its coasts or borders. Among other meanings.

The term "naichi" is equally elastic. It can mean "home country" or "homeland" or "mainland" perceived as the main part of a country excluding its terriotrial possessions. Or it can mean the non-coastal "inland" or "hinterland" or "outback" or deeper, intermost lands (奥地 okuchi) of a country.

"hondo" and "hongoku"

Formally, "naichi" can refer to a country's "home" or "principle" or "proper" territory (本土 hondo, 本国 hongoku) as a matter of legal jurisdiction. Both "hondo" (本土) and "hongoku" (本国) have been used to refer to the principal national territory (国土 kokudo) of a country as opposed to a "dependency" (属国 zokukoku) or "colony" (植民地 shokuminchi).

In Okinawa, "hondo" is used to refer to the "mainland" of Japan other than Okinawa. "Hondo" can also refer more specificallyi to "Honshū" (本州) -- Japan's main island -- it's name meaning literally "main land" or "main province".

While "hongoku" is sometimes used to refer to the country of one's birth in the sense of "homeland", it is more commonly used in law to refer to the country of one's nationality as a matter of legal status regardless of where one is "from" as a matter of birth or migration. The concept of "home country law" (本国法 hongokuhō) is essential to the operation of laws of laws that determine which country's laws apply in matters involving people or entities of different nationalities.


The use of "naichi" (内地) in Okinawa -- but also in Hokkaido, and sometimes in other parts of Japan outside the main island of Honshū -- to refer to the rest of Japan regarded as the "mainland". "Naichimai" (内地米) refers either to rice produced in Japan as opposed to imported rice -- or, from the vantage point of Hokkaido, for example, rice produced in Honshō. In the same vein, Chinese "neide" (內地 WG nei-ti) is widely used to refer to the mainland of China from the viewpoint of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao and the like.

"Nihon naichi"

As noted many places elsewhere on this website, "Naichi" is commonly rendered "Japan proper" in English -- though this Anglo-esque expression distorts the Sino-Japanese metaphor. "Nihon naichi" (日本内地) -- meaning "Japan's interior" -- is also at times translated this way.

"Naichi" is more fashionably today likened to the "metropolitan" territory or "metropole" of the Empire of Japan. This, too, creates impressions that are not quite right, as very few parts of the Interior were truly "metropolitan" even for Interior subjects, and a number of places other parts of the Empire of Japan were also "metropolitan" hubs.

Originally, however, "Nihon naichi" (日本内地) and "Nihon no naichi" (日本の内地) referred to Japan as opposed to a foreign country. During the years that the the Empire of Japan included Taiwan, Karafuto, and Choōsen, it referred to the legal jurisdiction of the "Interior" apart from these territories -- which were part of Japan's sovereign dominion along with the Interior -- and Kwantung Provice and the South Seas Islands, which were part of Japan's larger legal empire.

"Naichi" is used in Japanese in reference to the "interiors" or other countries as well. "Chūgoku naichi" (中国内地) is more common than "Chūgoku no naichi" (中国の内地), while "Beikoku no naichi" (アメリカの内地) more likely than related expressions. In both cases, the meaning is simply "interior" in the sense of the "territory" or "land" inside the country.

"naichi ryoko" (1870s)

The term "naichi" was familiar in Japan in the mid 19th century. By the early 1870s it was well established in expressions like "interior travel" (内地旅行 naichi ryokō), as the government considered the pros and cons of permitting foreigners travel outside the foreign settlements. In the 1880s the issue shifted to "interior mixed residence" (内地雑居 naichi zakkyo), referring to the freedom of aliens to live with Japanese outside the extraterritorial foreign settlements.

By the time the "mixed residence" debate spread in the popular press, not a few aliens were already traveling and even residing in parts of Japan. Aliens and Japanese were also legally marrying each other, and some marriages had resulted in changes of legal status -- some foreigners becoming Japnaese, some Japanese becoming foreigners.

The foreign settlement system ended with the end of extraterritoriality in 1899. By this time, however, aliens were fairly free to wander around and live wherever they wished and were welcome.

The idea of aliens freely traveling in Japan and comingling with Japanese was ran against the grain of mainstream thought at the start of the Meiji era. The furrier, smellier "outsiders" (外人 gaijin) or "outlanders" (外国人) known as "Euroamericans" (欧米人 Ōbeijin) or "West-ocean-ers" (西洋人 Seiyōjin), but also Chinese and others, had long been objects of curiosity, but they were to be kept at a comfortable and safe distance, in the manner of animals in cages or on leashes.

The company of elite aliens was coveted by Japanese who sought to learn about their languages and emulate their dress and manners as emblems of their own progressiveness. Clumsy and rowdy foreigners, and Japanese who excessively showed their foreign learnings and leanings, were easily lampooned by writers and cartoonists.

During the late Edo period -- and of course also at times before this -- aliens had occasionally been permitted to travel or even reside outside designated quarters, but generally not anywhere they pleased. Moreover, the treatment of aliens allowed to enter the country varied considerably with their country of origin. In Nagasaki, for example, Chinese in the Chinese quarter had more freedom of movement than Dutch on the island of Deshima, at a time when vessels flying other flags were generally not allowed to enter if even approach the bay.

Cavorting in designated pleasure quarters had also been permitted, as was the employment of women mostly from such quarters. But the casual lodging of aliens, much less cohabitation with aliens, had not been allowed. In fact, some early Meiji ordinances -- such as Tokyo's 1872 Ishiki kaii jorei concerning the policing of public order, safety, hygiene, and morality in the prefecture -- specifically proscribed mixed residence (see details in the Society section of this website).

In 1873, Foreign Minister Terashima Munenori (寺島宗則 1832-1893), who two years later negotiated the Treaty of Portsmouth with Russia, issued a notification on the government's position to not allow aliens to travel in the Interior (内地旅行不許可之議). But in May the following year (1874), the government issued an ordinance provisionally permitting aliens to travel (外国人内地旅行允準条例) [so-called "Interior travel regulations" (内地旅行規則)]. And in July the next year (1875), a system of licensing alien travel in the Interior was introduced. This sparks the start of the domestic travel industry for foreigners, and the development of resorts in areas where residents of the foreign settlements liked to vacation. (Miyazaki 2004, Ueda 2009).

"naichi" as a pronoun

More specific references to the above Meiji ordinances and related measures can be found through searches on the Dajokan server at the National Diet Library, which covers proclamations and other measures from Keio 3-10 (circa November 1867) to Meiji 19 (1886).

In addition to examples of "naichi" used as a compound, the Dajokan database includes materials in which "chi" is an object of "nai" when "nai" is bound to a preceding word. The graph 内 (nai, dai) was typically used to mark what was "within" something -- such as the "boundaries" (境 kyō kei) of an entity. For example, the phrase 神社境内地 (Jinja keidai chi) refers to the "land within the boundaries of a shrine".

As a graphic phrase, 日本国内 (Nihonkoku-nai) is comparable with 日本の国内 (Nihon no kokunai) or "within the country of Japan", and 日本国内地 (Nihon kokunai chi) is comparable with 日本の国内地 (Nihon no kokunaichi) and 日本国の内地 (Nihonkoku no naichi), either "the land within the country of Japan" or "the interior [territory] of Japan".

The graphs 内地 (naichi) thus have the capacity to be used as a pronoun referring to the lands or territory within an entity. The use of "naichi" as a pronoun for the territory of Japan, during the period when foreign settlements in the treaty ports were subject to extraterritoriality, especially in the early Meiji period when the movements of foreigners outside the treaty ports were restricted, suggests that "naichi" meant the parts of Japan outside the treaty ports. This would conform with the fifth of the five definitions of "naichi" in Morohashi's Dai Kan-Wa jiten (see below).

While the Meiji government had inherited a policy of reluctance to permit free travel, much less mixed residence, there it also inherited some precedents which it was diplomatically bound to accept. In 1861, for example, the governor of Nagasaki had allowed a Russian squadron to lodge in Japanese housing in the Inasa quarter of the town. This arrangement continued, and the Meiji government let it stand, even though the "maids" hired to tend to the foreigners who resided in "Russian village" (ロシア村) were essentially prositutes.

In 1873, the Meiji government proclamation allowed heads of household to apply for permission to form an alliance of marriage or adoption with a foreigner. The proclamation included criteria for the gain and loss of "status as a Japanese" through such alliances. This rules were based entirely on the conventions of family law that had governed status determinations in family matters for centuries. The 1873 marriage and adoption provision implicitly defined members of existing registers as "Japanese". This became the foundation of the definition of Japanese nationality in the 1899 Nationality Law, and continues to define Japanese nationality today.


Morohashi on "Naichi"

Morohashi Tetsuji's Dai Kan-Wa jiten (大漢和辞典) shows that "naichi" (内地) in Chinese usage goes back to China's earliest historical historical texts. This dictionary gives the following five meanings of the word. The translations, and transcriptions using present-day graphs and orthography, are mine (page 1054 of Volume 1 of 1994 3rd printing of 2nd edition of 1955 edition).

内地 naichi

1. 畿内の地。
Land within [capital] provinces.
〔史記〕[1st C BCE] [citation omitted]

2. 本国。
Main [principal, home, own] country.
〔北史〕[7th C] [citation omitted]

3. 本国内の土地。辺境に対していう。
Land within main country. Said as opposed to peripheral [frontier] regions.
〔後漢書〕[5th C] [citation omitted]
〔宋書〕[6th C] [citation omitted]

4. 新附の地に対して、旧来の地域をいう。
As opposed to newly attached [incorporated] lands, said of territory of old.

5. nei4 ti4 開港場以外の土地。
land outside [other than] open ports.

The 4th and 5th usages are more recent.

The 5th usage refers to situations in which a country which did not welcome unrestricted commerce with another country agreed, usually under pressure including at times military action, to open specific ports for use by foreign vessels and trading companies, often while continuing to limit access to the rest of the country.

The above "naichi" entry is followed by six main entries that begin with "naichi", including the following three.

内地米 naichi mai
interior rice.
Rice produced in Interior. Said as opposed to Chōsen rice / Taiwan rice et cetera outland [foreign] rice.
[See also comments elsewhere on this page.]

内地雑居 naichi zakkyo
interior mixed-residence
Said of outlanders [aliens, foreigners] being able to freely mixed-reside with [reside among] a country's people anywhere on any land of the [its] Interior.
[See also comments elsewhere on this page.]

内地植民 naichi shokumin
interior planting-of-people [colonization]
Within a country, the causing of part of the country's people to migrate [move and settle] to a yet-to-be-opened [undevelopled, unsettled] and population-thin [sparsely populated] area".

My thanks to Simon Nantais for a scan of the "naichi" entry in Dai Kan-Wa jiten.


Some sources

In addition to the noted (or linked) primary and secondary sources, the following two recent reports are especially interesting.

Miyazaki 2002


Miyazaki Chiho
Fubyōdō jōyaku-ka ni okeru naichi zakkyo mondai no ichi kōsatsu:
Roshia kantai to Inasa ni okeru "kyoryūchigai zakkyo" mondai
[ A consideration of the problem of mixed residence in the interior under the unequal treaties:
The Russian squadron and the problem of "mixed residence outside the settlements" in Inasa ]
< Japanese Policy on Mixed Residence under the Unequal Treaties:
The Russian Squadron and Mixed Residence in Inasa >
Forum of International Development Studies
Number 27, August 2004
Pages 71-91

Ueda 2009


Ueda Takuji
Dai-ni-ji Sekai Taisen izen no Nihon no rizooto (gaijin hishochi) ni tsuite
[ On resorts (outsider [foreigner] avoid-the-heat [summering] places) in Japan before the Second World War ]
< On Summer Resorts (for foreigners) in Japan before WWII >
Nagoya University of Foreign Studies, School of Contemporary International Studies
Bulletin, Number 5, March 2009
Pages 89-127


Tsubouchi 1886 Tsubouchi Shoyo, Naichi zakkyo / Mirai no yume
Tokyo: Banseido, 1886
Copped from Waseda University Library
Ohashi 1886 Ohashi Yasujiro et al., Naichi zakkyo ron
Tokyo: Gangando, 1886
Copped from antiquarian book seller


Mixed residence concerns

The issue of whether to accommodate the desires of treaty foreigners to reside in the Interior, jowel to jowel with Japanese, was an issue from the time Japan began to sign extraterritorial treaties in the late 1850s, down to the end of extraterritoriality in 1899. The 1880s and 1890s witnessed the hottest debates, as serious movements to eliminate extraterritoriality got underway. Here I will introduce a handful of writings on the subject of mixed residence.

Tsubouchi Shōyō's Dreams of future (1886)

From April to September in 1886, Banseido (晩青堂) in Tokyo serialized, in 10 folio volumes, a commentary by the translator, literary critic, and novelist Tsubouchi Shōyō (坪内逍遙 1859-1935) called Naichi zakkyo / Mirai no yume (内地雑居 未来之夢) -- a portrayal literally of "A dream of the future" in which foreigners and Japanese would be "residing together in the Interior". Published the following year in a single volume, its illustrations, by Inano Yoshitsune (稲野年恒 1858-1907), caricaturized aliens mixing with Japanese. The work immediately followed the serialization of Tsubouchi's famous essay, published between September 1885 and April 1886, on the essence of the novel (see "Minor stories" and style: The essence of "shōsetsu" and news nishikie on the News Nishikie website of Yosha Bunko).

Ōhashi Yasujirō's On Interior mixed residence (1886)

December 1886 also saw the publication, by Gangandō (巌々堂) in Tokyo, of a compact volume, running about 150 pages cover to cover, called Naichi zakkyo ron (内地雑居論) or "On mixed-residence in the Interior", edited by Ōhashi Yasujirō (大橋安次郎) and others, most famously the journalist, politician, and Christian convert Shimada Saburō (島田三郎 1852-1923), who proposed the volume and contributed an article. The collection included opinion pieces which had been published in the Mainichi shinbun, and three essays chosen by Shimada from submissions he solicited in a contest. One of the essays was by the budding journalist Murai Yutaka (村井寛), better known later as the novelist Murai Gensai (村井弦斎 1864-1927). The book is introduced by a calligraphic attributed to Katsu Kaishū (勝海舟 1823-1899).

Shimada begins his introduction to Naichi zakkyo ron (1885) with a paraphrase of Fukuzawa Yukichi's provocative remark to the effect that "letting outsiders [foreigners] of [with] 100-years of training [practice] reside-mixed [live together] with Japan people [Japanese] who do not have [lack] [even] simple [coarse] experience is tantamount to making maidens [virgins] cohabit with Benkei" (page 1). He then reviews how he went about soliticiting and selecting the essays in the volume.

At the time such books appeared, Japan was under a number of extraterritoriality treaties, and most aliens were supposed to reside in the "foreign settlements" that had been established in treaty ports. The notion of aliens freely living among Japanese, outside the trading ports, had long been controversial. But co-residence would be inevitable under equal treaties that reciprocated some degree of freedom of travel and activity.

Extraterritoriality in Japan would not end until 1899. The year 1886 happens to fall midway between the 1873 Great Council of State proclamation that permitted some aliens to become Japanese through marriage or adoption, and the 1899 Nationality Law. The 1899 law not only continued to faciliate becoming Japanese through marriage or adoption, but had provisions for foreigners to naturalize. And, like the 1873 proclamation, the 1899 law referred to people who possessed Japan's nationality as "Japanese" (Nihonjin 日本人).


Inoue Tetsuji's On Interior mixed residence (1889)

Permitting foreigners to freely reside in Japan would lead to
their domination of Japan and the ruin of the Japanese race
Inoue Tetsujiro, On Interior mixed residence, 1889
Permitting foreigners to freely reside in Japan would lead to
their domination of Japan and the ruin of the Japanese race

Interior mixed-residence 内地雑居 Naichi zakkyo
Japan person (Japanese) 日本人 Nihonjin / our-country-people (Our nationals) 我邦人 waga hōjin / nationals 国民 kokumin / people 人民 jinmin
outlanders (foreigners) 外国人 / overseaers (foreigners) 海外人 kaigaijin / different-country people (foreigners) 異邦人 ihōjin
people from various Euroamerican countries 欧米各国の人 Ōbei kakukoku no hito / Euroamericans 欧米人 Ōbeijin
Europe-country-people (Europeans) 欧州人 Ōshūjin / Europe people (Europeans) (欧人 Ōjin / western oceaners (westerners) 西洋人 seiyōjin)

mixing together [mixing] of races 人種混合 jinshu kongō / Japan [Japanese] race 日本人種 Nihon jinshu
racial collision 人種衝突 inshu shōtotsu / racial pathology 人種病理 jinshu byōri
barbarian races 野蛮人種 yaban jinshu / natives of America 米国の土人 Beikoku no dojin

内地雑居 / 未來のポンチ繪
Naichi zakkyo / Mirai no ponchi-e
[ Cartoon of future with mixed-residence in the Interior ]
Low resolution image of triptych in Yosha Bunko

For print particulars and other comments see
NZMnPe / Foreigners off the leash of extraterritoriality
under "Society / Foreigners" on the News Nishikie website

Inoue Tetsuji, Naichi zakkyoron, 1889
Image cropped from scans of a copy downloaded from
National Diet Library Digital Library

Inoue 1888

Inoue Tetsuji (1888)

(表) 井上哲二郎 (著)
(叙、奥付) 井上哲次郎
内地雑居論 (全)
叙 (3)、本文 (84)、奥付 (1)、出版物広告 (1)

Inoue Tetsujirō (author)
Naichi zakkyoron (zen)
[On Interior mixed residence (complete)]
Tōkyō: Tetsugaku Shoin
Printed 30 August 1889
Published 2 September 1889
Preface (3), Text (84), Colophon (1), publication ads (1)
Price 20-sen

The above bibliographic particulars, and the citations in this review, are based on scans of the entire volume, including the colophon, available through the National Diet Library's Digital Library from the Meiji Era (近代デジタルライブラリー).

Inoue Tetsuji (哲次郎 1856-1944), a staunch supporter of imperial rule and critic of Christianity, became the first Japanese professor of philosophy at Tokyo Imperial University upon returning from his studies in Germany from 1884-1890. The preface, dated 16 June 1889 in Berlin (伯林 Berurin), shows 哲次郎 rather than 哲二郎 for Tetsujirō -- as does the colophon, which states that Inoue was a Fukuoka prefecture commoner (福岡県平民 Fukuoka-ken heimin). He was born and raised in Chikuzen province (筑前国 Chikuzen no kuni), which became part of Fukuoka during the early 1870s when the provinces were prefecturized.

Inoue's booklet has 12 chapters, the first an introduction (緒論), the last a conclusion (結論). Chapters 2-7 make the main points -- which essentially argue that allowing foreigners of the Euroamerican kind to freely live in Japan on a par with Japanese would spell the ruin of the Japanese race.

Chapter 2: Tochi o genshuku suru koto
Land available to Japanese and their descendants would shrink. Not just one or two, but several thousand or several tens of thousands of foreigners would buy and monopolize the land now occupied by Japanese.

Chapter 3: Kyōsō ni haigoku suru koto
Smaller, weaker Japanese would lose in competition with larger, stronger foreigners.

Chapter 4: Kaku jinshu kongō no tame gōdōryoku o ushinau koto
Japanese would lose their strength of unity on account racial mixing.

Chapter 5: Rippō-jō konnan o shōzuru koto
Mixed-residence would engender legal difficulties as "different-country-people" (異邦人 ihōjin) or "overseas-people" (海外人 kaigaijin) engineered legal changes advantageous to their mores and customs (風俗習慣 fūzoku shūkan), and unfavorable to those of "our-country-people" (我邦人 waga hōjin) or "nationals" (国民 kokumin).

Chapter 6: Jinkō genshō no koto
The population, which exceeded 38,000,000 in 1887, would decrease due to the decline in fertility that would follow the arrival of a more robust population.

Chapter 7: Jinshu metsubō no koto
In the competition between the various tribes and races (諸部族諸人種の相競争 sho-buzoku sho-jinshu no sōkyōsō), nationals would perish as a race, just as other races had fallen into ruin when dominated by the white race (白哲人種 hakutetsu jinshu).

Terms for countries

Japan is of course at times "Japan" (日本 Nihon) but often more intimately "our country" (我邦 waga kuni) and occasionally more formally "Japan country" (日本国 Nihonkoku).


Inoue wrote of the "Interior" (内地 naichi) in and of itself, as well as to "Japan's interior" (日本の内地) or "Japan Interior" (日本内地). More concrete, he referred to "our Japan land" (我日本の土地 waga Nihon no tochi) or "our land" (我土地 waga tochi) or just "land" (土地 tochi) -- "land" as something that could be bought up (買込む kaikomu) and possessed (占有 senyū), thus making it unavailable to the descendants of Japanese. There were not yet many emigrants leaving Japan to settled on land elsewhere, but Inoue envisioned as shortage of land in Japan for use by Japanese should wealthy foreigners be allowed to buy up land that was part of Japan's national territory.

The Sinific term "naichi" (内地) had a number of meanings. Most commonly, though, it referred to the parts of a country other than its trading ports, or parts other than its outlying provinces or islands. Inoue's "Interior" (内地 Naichi) referred to all parts of Japan's sovereign dominion, meaning its prefectures, as by then (1889) all territories that were part of Japan had been prefecturized. There was as yet no Taiwan (1895), no Karafuto (1905), and no Chōsen (1910), which would rank with the Interior as parts of the sovereign dominion, though be governed as distinct legal territories within Japan. The parts of Japan that were legally distinct from the Interior were referred to as "gaichi" (内地), and in principle they were governed by authorities who were independent of the Interior Ministry (内務省) -- to keep a more complex story simple.

Mixed residence

The keyword in the title -- "Interior mixed-residence" (内地雑居 Naichi zakkyo) -- naturally appears with great frequency. It is generally used as a standalone subject or topic, but is also used as an object, such as of "permit [allow]" (許す yurusu). It is also used attributively, such as in the expression "Interior mixed-residence public [official] permission [authorization]" (内地雑居公許 Naichi zakkyo kōkyo), which would be an inevitable consequence of revising the [extraterritorial] treaties which had been in effect for the past three decades or so.

Terms for people

Japanese are of course "Japan-people" (日本人 Nihonjin) but also "our-country-people" (我邦人 waga hōjin), nationals (国民 kokumin), and at times "people" (人民 jinmin). He does not speak of "subjects" (臣民 shinmin), whicl

Foreigners are variously "outlanders" (外国人), "overseaers" (海外人 kaigaijin) or "different-country people" (異邦人 ihōjin) -- when not more specifically "people from various Euroamerican countries" (欧米各国の人 Ōbei kakukoku no hito) or "Euroamericans" (欧米人 Ōbeijin) -- or "Europeans" as either "Europe-country-people" (欧州人 Ōshūjin) or "Europe people" (欧人 Ōjin) -- and at times "western oceaners" or "westerners" (西洋人 seiyōjin).

At times Inoue specified nationalities, such as the "wealthy of England, America, et cetera" (英米などの豪富が潮々 Ei-Bei nado no gōfu" among the aliens who would "invade the Interior" (内地に侵入する Naichi ni shinyū suru). Or "English and Germans" (英独人 Ei-Doku-jin)ドイツ


Racially, as a consquence of the "mixing together [mixing] of races" (人種混合 jinshu kongō), the "Japan [Japanese] race" (日本人種 Nihon jinshu) stands to lose its mores, religion, and language (風俗言語宗教 fūzoku gengo shūkyō) -- its mores-language system (風俗言語制度 fūzoku-gengo seido) -- its language, mores, and physical features (原語風俗体貌 gengo fūzoku taibō) -- its "spirituality" (心性 shinsei) -- its "history" (歴史 rekishi) -- the "mores, history, and religion of the nation" (国民の風俗歴史宗教 kokumin no fūzoku rekishi shūkyō) -- if precedents in other countries matter.

Inoue, in the course of his studies in Germany, has absorbed a considerable amount of German and other European writing on race -- and what other contemporary writers in Japan referred to as "racial collision" (人種衝突 jinshu shōtotsu) -- and he cites many examples from European soureces. It comes down to a question of "racial pathology" (人種病理 jinshu byōri) that spelled the ruin of many "barbarian races" (野蛮人種 yaban jinshu) when subjected to domination by other races, including "natives of America" (米国の土人 beikoku no dojin).

Qualifications for being a national

Chapter 12 summarizes his argument that "mixed residence" would transform the "constitution [quality] of being nationals [the nation] of the Japan [Japanese] nation [nation of Japan]" (日本国民の国民たる体質 Nihon kokumin no kokumin taru taishitsu) -- and make Japan a common-living-place of myriad-country-people [a place where nationals of many countries would co-reside]" (日本国をして頓に万国人の共住地となさしむ Nihonkoku o shite tomi ni bankokujin no kyōjūchi to nasashimu). Were this to happen, it would be a greater [weightier] matter [for Japan] than the Constitution (憲法 Kenpō) or the National Diet (国会 Kokkai).

Immediately following this remark about the Constitution and National Diet, Inoue makes the following assertion about the qualifications for being a national of Japan (Inoue 1889:70, my transcription and structural translation). Note that the text, typical of many at the time, has no paragraphing or periods within chapters, but only commas. The commas function as both phrase and clause separators, and "sentences" (including the last in each chapter) generally end with a "shūshikei" (終止形) or "final" or "conclusive" conjugation form (e.g., なり nari, あり ari, べし beshi).

"Grounds for being being a national of the nation"


Though the Constitution and National Diet will engender [give rise to, bring about, cause] salient changes-movements [changes [movements] in the qualifications of [for being] a national of the nation, [such changes] are absolutely not to extend [amount] to transforming the the grounds for being a national of Japan, like Interior mixed-residence [would transform the constitution of Japanese were it be permitted].

I am not entirely confident I have captured the intent of Inoue's assertion correctly. The Constitution had been promulgated on 11 February 1889 and would come into force on 29 November the following year. The first National Diet would convene on 25 November 1890 following the first elections of the House of Representatives in June and the House of Peers in July, and would formally called into session on 29 November when the Constitution came into force.

Article 18 of the Constitution required that conditions for being a Japan [Japanese] subject (日本臣民) be determined by a statute, which would be the business of the National Diet. The first such law would be the Chapter 3, concerning "National status" (国民分限), of the first Civil Code (民法 Minpō), which would not be promulgated until 6 October 1890 -- but would never be enforced owing to controversy unrelated to the "national status" provisions. An entirely revised and complete Civil Code would not be in operation until 1898 -- but without provisions for nationality.

The "national status" provisions of the aborted 1890 Civil Code were entirely reworked into what was promulgated on 16 March 1899 and enforced from 1 April 1899 as "Nationality Law" (国籍法 Kokusekihō) -- on the eve of the end of extraterritoriality later that year. The law used the term "Nihonjin" (日本人) rather than "Nihon Shinmin" (日本臣民) as used in the Constitution, or "Kokumin" (国民) as had been used in the aborted 1890 law.

The 1899 Nationality Law, as its names in Japanese implies, spoke of "kokuseki" (国籍) rather than "kokumin bungen" (国民分限) to refer to what the 1873 proclamation on alliances of marriage or adoption spoke of as the "status of being Japanese" (日本人タルノ分限 Nihonjin taru no bungen). The term "kokuseki" orginated as a translation of the German term "Staatsangehorigkeit" meaning "state affiliation" -- as opposed to "Volksangehorigkeit" meaning an association with a Volk or ethnic entity. The term "kokuseki" exploited the long-standing use of "seki" or "register" (籍) to imply a "status" based on "belonging" to, being "affiliated" or "associated with, anything from a village or country, to a school or company or military organization. The word was first used with the intent of incorporating it into Japanese law, in the phrase "qualifications of being a national" (国民タル資格 kokumin taru shikaku), in an unadopted 1887 proposal for a Constitution.

The Nationality Law continued the provisions for becoming Japanese through alliances of marriage or adoption, which had been introduced in 1873, and added provisions for acquiring nationality through naturalization. Otherwise, it codified customary family law provisions for gaining status as a Japanese through birth into a Japanese family register, primarily through a Japanese father, but secondarily through a Japanese mother, and through having been bron in Japan if both of one's alien parents were stateless, or if both parents were unknown.

The law also specified a number of higher officers and posts that naturalized persons and their first-generation descendants would hot be allowed to hold without approval of the National Diet and an Imperial ordinance to santion the Diet's approval. I would guess that the law relieved Inoue of any anxiety he might have had that aliens would be treated on a par with Japanese, or otherise be in a position to legally hijack the country.