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Sanjō Sanetomi

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Title: Sanjō Sanetomi  
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Subject: List of Prime Ministers of Japan, Hijikata Hisamoto, Nakaoka Shintarō, Gokoku-ji, 1891 in Japan
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Sanjō Sanetomi

Sanjō Sanetomi
三条 実美
Prime Minister of Japan
In office
25 October 1889 – 24 December 1889
Monarch Meiji
Preceded by Kuroda Kiyotaka
Succeeded by Yamagata Aritomo
Chancellor of the Realm of Japan
In office
13 September 1871 – 22 December 1885
Monarch Meiji
Preceded by Tokugawa Ienari
Succeeded by Position abolished
Personal details
Born (1837-03-13)13 March 1837
Kyoto, Tokugawa (now Japan)
Died 28 February 1891(1891-02-28) (aged 53)
Tokyo, Japan
Political party Independent

Prince Sanjō Sanetomi (三条 実美, 13 March 1837 – 28 February 1891) was an Imperial court noble and statesman at the time of the Meiji Restoration. He held many high-ranking offices in the Meiji government.


Born in Kyoto, Sanjō was the son of Naidaijin Sanjō Sanetsumu. He held several important posts in Court and became a central figure in the anti-Western, anti-Tokugawa Sonnō Jōi ("Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarian") movement.

When the coup d’etat of September 30, 1863 brought the more moderate Aizu and Satsuma factions into power, he fled to Chōshū. He returned to Kyoto after the resignation of Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu in 1867.

The first administrative offices (Sanshoku) of the Meiji government were established on January 3, 1868: the Sōsai (President), Gijō (Administration) and San'yo (Office of Councilors). These offices were abolished on June 11, 1868, with the establishment of the Daijō-kan (Grand Council of State). In the new Meiji government, Sanjō was head of the Gijo, Minister of the Right (右大臣) (June 11, 1868 - August 15, 1871), and Chancellor of the Realm (Daijō Daijin) (August 15, 1871 - December 22, 1885.

Sanjō was awarded Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum in 1882. On July 7, 1884, his title was changed to that of koshaku (prince) under the kazoku peerage system.

Sanjō served until the abolition of the daijōkan system in 1885. After the Cabinet system was established, he became Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal of Japan.

In 1889, when Prime Minister Kuroda Kiyotaka and his cabinet resigned en masse, Emperor Meiji only accepted Kuroda’s resignation and formally invited Sanjō to head the government. The Emperor refused to appoint a new prime minister for the next two months, making Sanjō the only Prime Minister of Japan (albeit interim) who also concurrently held the post of Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal.[1]

In 1890, he assumed a seat in the new House of Peers in the Diet of Japan established by the Meiji Constitution. On his death in 1891, he was accorded a state funeral. His grave is at the temple of Gokoku-ji in Bunkyo, Tokyo.


From the corresponding article in the Japanese WorldHeritage

  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (29 December 1876)
  • Grand Cordon of the Order of the Chrysanthemum (11 April 1882)
  • Prince (7 July 1884)

Order of precedence

  • Junior fifth rank (31 January 1850)
  • Fifth rank (4 July 1854)
  • Fourth rank (22 May 1855)
  • Senior fourth rank (29 January 1856)
  • Third rank (6 November 1862; degraded 1863, restored 2 January 1868)
  • First rank (12 June 1868)
  • Senior first rank (18 February 1891; posthumous)


  1. ^ After the Meiji Constitution was adopted in 1890, a new system was established: "In case of death, incapacitation, resignation or removal of the prime minister, a member of the cabinet shall serve as acting prime minister until the next prime minister is formally appointed." Today Sanjō’s government is generally regarded as continuation of Kuroda’s.


  • Beasley, William G. (1972). The Meiji Restoration. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804708159; OCLC 579232
  • Jansen, Marius B. and Gilbert Rozman, eds. (1986). Japan in Transition: from Tokugawa to Meiji. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691054599; OCLC 12311985
  • Keene, Donald. (2002). Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-12340-2; OCLC 46731178
  • Ozaki, Yukio. (2001). The Autobiography of Ozaki Yukio: The Struggle for Constitutional Government in Japan. [Translated by Fujiko Hara]. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691050959; OCLC 45363447

External links

  • National Diet Library biography and photo
  • Meiji Dignitaries is a portrait of Sanetomi and others from 1877
Political offices
Preceded by
Tokugawa Ienari
Chancellor of the Realm of Japan
Position abolished
Preceded by
Kuroda Kiyotaka
Prime Minister of Japan

Succeeded by
Yamagata Aritomo
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