Fujiwara Chancellors and Imperial Regents, 858-1887; Prime Ministers of Japan, 1885-present

Regent, SesshôChancellor, KampakuDates
Fujiwara Yoshifusa858-872
Fujiwara Mototsune872-880
Fujiwara Mototsune880-890
Fujiwara Tadahira930-941
Fujiwara Tadahira941-949
Fujiwara Saneyori967-970
Fujiwara Saneyori969-970
Fujiwara Koretada970-972
Fujiwara Kanemichi972-977
Fujiwara Yoritada977-986
Fujiwara Kaneie986-990
Fujiwara Kaneie990
Fujiwara Michitaka990
Fujiwara Michitaka990-993
Fujiwara Michitaka993-995
Fujiwara Michikane995
Fujiwara Michinaga1016-1017
Fujiwara Yorimichi1017-1019
Fujiwara Yorimichi1019-1067
Fujiwara Norimichi1068-1075
Fujiwara Morozane1075-1086
Fujiwara Morozane1086-1090
Fujiwara Morozane1090-1094
Fujiwara Moromichi1094-1099
Fujiwara Tadazane1105-1107
Fujiwara Tadazane1107-1113
Fujiwara Tadazane1113-1121
Fujiwara Tadamichi1121-1123
Fujiwara Tadamichi1123-1129
Fujiwara Tadamichi1129-1141
Fujiwara Tadamichi1141-1150
Fujiwara Tadamichi1150-1158
Konoe Motozane1158-1165
Konoe Motozane1165-1166
Fujiwara Motofusa1166-1172
Fujiwara Motofusa1172-1179
Konoe Motomichi1179-1180
Konoe Motomichi1180-1183
Fujiwara Moroie1183-1184
Konoe Motomichi1184-1186
Kujô Kanezane1186-1191
Kujô Kanezane1191-1196
Konoe Motomichi1196-1198
Konoe Motomichi1198-1202
Kujô Yoshitsune1202-1206
Konoe Iezane1206-1221
Kujô Michiie1221
Konoe Iezane1221-1223
Konoe Iezane1223-1228
Kujô Michiie1228-1231
Kujô Norizane1231-1232
Kujô Norizane1232-1235
Kujô Michiie1235-1237
Konoe Kanetsune1237-1242
Konoe Kanetsune1242
Nijô Yoshizane1242-1246
Ichijô Sanetsune1246
Ichijô Sanetsune1246-1247
Kanoe Kanetsune1247-1252
Takatsukasa Kanehira1252-1254
Takatsukasa Kanehira1254-1261
Nijô Yoshizane1261-1265
Ichijô Sanetsune1265-1267
Regent, SesshôChancellor, KampakuDates
Konoe Motohira1267-1268
Takatsukasa Mototada1268-1273
Kujô Tadaie1273-1274
Kujô Tadaie1274
Ichijô Ietsune1274-1275
Takatsukasa Kanehira1275-1278
Takasukasa Kanehira1278-1287
Nijô Morotada1287-1289
Konoe Iemoto1289-1291
Kujô Tadamori1291-1293
Konoe Iemoto1293-1296
Takatsukasa Kanetada1296-1298
Takatsukasa Kanetada1298
Nijô Kanemoto1298-1300
Nijô Kanemoto1300-1305
Kujô Moronori1305-1308
Kujô Moronori1308
Takatsukasa Fuyuhira1308-1311
Takatsukasa Fuyuhira1311-1313
Konoe Iehira1313-1315
Takatsukasa Fuyuhira1315-1316
Nijô Michihira1316-1318
Ichijô Uchitsune1318-1323
Kujô Fusazane1323-1324
Takatsukasa Fuyuhira1324-1327
Nijô Michihira1327-1330
Takatsukasa Tsunatada1330
Takatsukasa Fuyunori1330-1333
Konoe Tsunetada1336-1337
Konoe Mototsugu1337-1338
Ichijô Tsunemichi1338-1342
Kujô Michinori1342
Takatsukasa Morohira1342-1346
Nijô Yoshimoto1346-1358
Kujô Tsunenori1358-1361
Konoe Michitsugu1361-1363
Nijô Yoshimoto1363-1367
Takatsukasa Fuyumichi1367-1369
Nijô Moroyoshi1369-1375
Kujô Tadamoto1375-1379
Nijô Morotsugu1379-1382
Nijô Yoshimoto1382-1387
Konoe Kanetsugu1387-1388
Nijô Yoshimoto1388
Nijô Morotsugu1388-1394
Ichijô Tsunetsugu1394-1398
Nijô Morotsugu1398-1399
Ichijô Tsunetsugu1399-1408
Konoe Tadatsugu1408-1409
Nijô Mitsumoto1409-1410
Ichijô Tsunetsugu1410-1418
Kujô Mistunori1418-1424
Nijô Mochimoto1424-1428
Nijô Mochimoto1428-1432
Ichijô Kaneyoshi1432
Nijô Mochimoto1432-1433
Nijô Mochimoto1433-1445
Konoe Fusatsugu1445-1447
Ichijô Kaneyoshi1447-1453
Nijô Mochimichi1453-1454
Takatsukasa Fusahira1454-1455
Nijô Mochimichi1455-1458
Ichijô Norifusa1458-1463
Nijô Mochimichi1463-1467
Ichijô Kaneyoshi1467-1470
Nijô Masatsugu1470-1476
Kujô Masamoto1476-1479
Konoe Masaie1479-1483
Takatsukasa Masahira1483-1487
Kujô Masatada1487-1488
Ichijô Fuyuyoshi1488-1493
Konoe Naomichi1493-1496
Ichijô Naomoto1497
Konoe Naomichi1513-1514
Takatsukasa Kanesuke1514-1518
Nijô Tadafusa1518-1525
Konoe Taneie1525-1533
Kujô Tanemichi1533-1534
Nijô Tadafusa1534-1536
Konoe Taneie1536-1542
Takatsukasa Tadafuyu1542-1545
Ichijô Fusamichi1545-1548
Nijô Haruyoshi1548-1553
Ichijô Kanefuyu1553-1554
Konoe Harutsugu1554-1568
Nijô Haruyoshi1568-1578
Kujô Kanetaka1578-1581
Ichiô Uchimoto1581-1584
Nijô Akizane1585
Toyotomi Hideyoshi1585-1591
Toyotomi Hidetsugu1591-1595
Kujô Kanetaka1600-1604
Konoe Nobutada1605-1606
Takatsukasa Nobufusa1606-1608
Kujô Tadasaka1608-1612
Takatsukasa Nobunao1612-1615
Nijô Akizane1615-1619
Kujô Tadasaka1619-1623
Konoe Nobuhiro1623-1629
Ichijô Kanetô1629
Ichijô Kanetô1629-1634
Nijô Yasumichi1635-1647
Kujô Michifusa1647
Ichijô Akiyoshi1647
Ichijô Akiyoshi1647-1651
Konoe Naotsugu1651-1653
Nijô Mitsuhira1653-1663
Nijô Mitsuhira1663-1664
Takatsukasa Fusasuke1664-1668
Takatsukasa Fusasuke1668-1682
Ichijô Fuyutsune1682-1687
Ichijô Fuyutsune1687-1689
Ichijô Fuyutsune1689-1690
Konoe Motohiro1690-1703
Takatsukasa Kanehiro1703-1707
Konoe Iehiro1707-1709
Konoe Iehiro1709-1712
Kujô Sukezane1712-1716
Kujô Sukezane1716-1722
Nijô Tsunahira1722-1726
Konoe Iehisa1726-1736
Nijô Yoshitada1736-1737
Ichijô Kaneka1737-1746
Ichijô Michika1746-1747
Ichijô Michika1747-1755
Ichijô Michika1755-1757
Konoe Uchizaki1757-1762
Konoe Uchizaki1762-1772
Konoe Uchizaki1772-1778
Kujô Naozane1778-1779
Kujô Naozane1779-1785
Kujô Naozane1785-1787
Takatsukasa Sukehira1787-1791
Ichijô Teruyoshi1791-1795
Takatsukasa Masahiro1795-1814
Ichijô Tadayoshi1814-1823
Takatsukasa Masamichi1823-1856
Kujô Naotada1856-1862
Konoe Tadahiro1862-1863
Nijô Naritoshi1863-1867
Nijô Naritoshi1867-1868
This wonderful list is entirely from The Princeton Companion to Classical Japanese Literature, by Earl Miner, Hiroko Odagiri, and Robert E. Morrell [Princeton University Press, 1985, 1988], p. 463-467.

Stretching from the time of Emperor Charles the Bald to President Andrew Johnson, this list, as few things can, provides a vivid testament to the continuity of custom and tradition in Japan. The offices, originally symbolic of the passing of real power from the Emperors to the Fujiwaras, later become largely symbolic themselves, as power passes to Cloistered Emperors, Shôguns, and even Regents of Shôguns.

Starting in 1158 individuals from branch lines of the Fujiwara appear in the offices. These are the "five regent families" (the gosekke -- Konoe, Kujô, Nijô, Takasukasa, & Ichijô), and they alone would soon be considered for these offices, with the sole exceptions of the two Toyotomis. Also, until very recently, wives for the Emperors were supposed to come from these families.

Down to 1267, the genealogy of the Fujiwara, with the beginning of the regent families, can be examined in a popup diagram. The genealogy is from the Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan, Volume 2 [Kodansha Ltd., 1983, p.369]. This is at present just the stetch of a diagram. The women near the top of the diagram are those who became consorts of Emperors. More women can be added and the Emperors identified to fill out the genealogy. Other Fujiwara, besides those who became Regents or Chancellors, can also be added.

The first Fujiwara is Kamatari. In 644, under the Empress Kôgyoku (642-645), he helped purge members of the Soga clan. With the Soga gone, Kamatari became the supporter of the new Emperor Kôtoku (645-654), ushering in the Yamato Period (645-711). Kôtoku granted Kamatari and his descendants the name Fujiwara. The family divides into a number of branches, the most important of which is the Hokke or Northern house. Yoshifusa (d.872) ushers in the heyday of the Fujiwara. With a sister and daughter married to Emperors, when his young grandson comes to the throne as the Emperor Seiwa, Yoshifusa inaugurates a Regency. Seiwa reigns but Yoshifusa rules. His nephew and adopted son Mototsune (d.891) refines and extends this system. First, an Emperor, like Seiwa himself, can be persuaded to retire, with a Regency then continuing for a new minor Emperor, in this case Yôzei (858). Or, as subsequently with Yôzei, the Regency may be ended but the arrangement of rule continued through a new office, that of Kampaku or Chancellor (in 880 or 882). This becomes the mechanism of Fujiwara power:  (1) Fujiwara mothers for the Emperors, (2) early retirement for Emperors, (3) Regencies for minor Emperors, and (4) the Chancellorship for Emperors between their minority and their retirement. This system continued to dominate the government until the Cloistered Emperors began excerising authority in their own right (with Shirakawa in 1086) and then, finally, when the war between the Taira and the Minamoto was ended at Dan-no-Ura in 1185 -- then the samurai Shôguns (or the Hôjô Regents) began exercising the real power of the government. Nevertheless, the institution of Regents, Chancellors, and even Cloistered Emperors continued down to the Meiji Restoration. Only Fujiwaras (and then the five regent families) were qualified for Imperial marriages, Regencies, or, except for the Toyotomis, the Chancellorship.

The maintenance of titular authority while real power is exercised elsewhere becomes a striking characteristic of Japanese government. The assumption by Hideyoshi of the office of Chancellor represented a moment when a traditional office might have been revived with real authority; but then Ieyasu was content to return the Kyôto government to its traditions, while taking for himself the Shôgunate -- from which he quickly retired (1605) but continued to direct events, like the reduction of Osaka Castle in 1615. The Fujiwara regent families thus played out the roles created by Yoshifusa and Mototsune all the way to 1867.

The difference between titular and real power, however, continues as a serious question into the 20th century. Were Emperors like Meiji and Hirohito constitutional figureheads or active and involved rulers? The forms of Japanese government served to enclose and obscure the authority they may actually have been exercising. This is of interest with Meiji but becomes a most important question with Hirohito, whose involvement and responsibility for the policies and actions of the Japanese government leading up and into World War II are a matter now hotly disputed. The post-war representation was that he had always been, consciously, a British style Monarch who merely reigned. Only on the rarest of occasions would he even express an opinion, and he only directed specific policy in one case, when he ordered the War to be ended. Subsequently, charges have been made that the Emperor actually masterminded all of Japanese aggression, directing policy and commanding actions as much as Hitler or Mussolini. This seemed rather wild at the time, but subsequent research has seemed to show that Hirohito, at least, was rather more involved in things than the official story allowed. Be that as it may, the very uncertainty of it is of a piece with Japanese history -- even as we see exactly six hundred years (1267-1867) of relatively powerless Fujiwaras in the table.

In August 1854 the Shogunate decided that Japanese ships would fly a flag with a red sun (the , "circle of the sun") on a white background. This then became the modern flag of Japan.

Prince Arisugawa TaruhitoSôsai, President, 1868-1869
Sadaijin, Minister of the Left, 1880-1885
Sanjô SanetomiUdaijin, Minister of the Right, 1868-1874, Dajô-daijin, Prime Minister, 1874-1885
Iwakura TomomiPrime Minister, 1874; Udaijin, Minister of the Right, d.1883
Theoretically, there might be a continuous succession from the Edo Chancellors to modern Prime Ministers; but it took a little while to get the forms of a modern Government organized, so there is not formally a modern cabinet with a "President of Ministers" until 1885. However, when the proclamation of the resumption of Imperial Rule was made on 4 January 1868, and the Shogunate and Regency abolished, the office of Sôsai, "President," was created and conferred on an Imperial Prince, Arisugawa Taruhito (1835-1895). This clearly made Prince Taruhito the formal Head of Government, and it was not simply a figurehead position, since the Prince subsequently became commander of the armies that subdued Tokugawa resistance and occupied Edo. However, the office of Sôsai was then abolished in May 1869. This left the question Who was the Head of Government? The recent Emperor of Japan, Meiji and His World, 1952-1912 by Donald Keene [Columbia University Press, 2002] leaves this matter rather obscure. Keene says that in August 1869 Sanjô Sanetomi (1837-1891) was appointed "minister of the right" (Udaijin) one of the old Imperial Court offices copied from the Chinese Court [p.183]. However, one of the next references to Sanjô is as "prime minister," in the context that he was replaced, because of illness, by Iwakura Tomomi (1825-1883) [p.234]. This seems to have only been a temporary replacement, because Sanjô is again referred to as Prime Minister in the discussion of subsequent events. Iwakura is himself called "minister of the right" [pp.254 & 267]. In the index, Sanjô is identified as "vice president" [p.911] and Iwakura as "assistant president" [p.894]. Keene does not give or discuss the Japanese versions of these titles, or when Sanjô would have been elevated to Prime Minister. I have been able to resolve some of these interesting ambiguities. The Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Japan, by E. Papinot [1910, Charles E. Tuttle, 1972] says that Sanjô became Prime Minister, Dajô-daijin (again a Court title), in 1874 [p.539 -- Udaijin in 1868]. Iwakura's stint is not mentioned; and this still leaves a gap between 1869-1874 for who would have been Dajô-daijin or, in some other sense, Head of Government. Perhaps Sanjô, as Minister of the Right, was informally Head of Government, accounting for Keene's vagueness. What we certainly see happening in this, with the abandonment of the Shogunate and the Fujiwara office of Chancellor, Kampaku, is the reemergence of the offices of the Yamato Court. The Prime Ministership, Dajô-daijin, is supposed to have been created in 671 or 702. Thus, the lapse of the Fujiwara and Bakufu regimes leaves the Yamato offices as the default form of government. Then, in 1885, the government was reorganized, Court offices like Dajô-daijin, "minister of the right," or "minister of the left" were abolished, and Itô Hirobumi (1841-1909) became Prime Minister, Sôri-daijin, in an explicitly European style Cabinet (Naikaku). Thus, the precedent of European government now replaces that of the Yamato and Heian Court.

Itô HirobumiDecember 1885-April 1888
Kuroda KiyotakaApril 1888-December 1889
Yamagata AritomoDecember 1889-May 1891
Matsukata MasayoshiMay 1891-August 1892
Itô HirobumiAugust 1892-September 1896
Matsukata MasayoshiSeptember 1896-January 1898
Itô HirobumiJanuary 1898-June 1898
Ôkuma ShigenobuJune 1898-November 1898
Yamagata AritomoNovember 1898-October 1900
Itô HirobumiOctober 1900-June 1901
Katsura TarôJune 1901-January 1906
Saionji KimmochiJanuary 1906-July 1908
Katsura TarôJuly 1908-August 1911
Saionji KimmochiAugust 1911-December 1912
Katsura TarôDecember 1912-February 1913
Adm. Yamamoto
February 1913-April 1914
Ôkuma ShigenobuApril 1914-October 1916
Gen. Terauchi MasatakeOctober 1916-September 1918
Hara TakashiSeptember 1918-November 1921, assassinated
Takahashi KorekiyoNovember 1921-June 1922
Adm. Katô TomosaburôJune 1922-September 1923
Adm. Yamamoto
September 1923-January 1924
Kiyoura KeigoJanuary 1924-June 1924
Katô TakaakiJune 1924-January 1926
Wakatsuki ReijirôJanuary 1926-April 1927
Gen. Tanaka GiichiApril 1927-July 1929
Hamaguchi OsachiJuly 1929-April 1931, assassinated
Wakatsuki ReijiroApril 1931-December 1931
Inukai TsuyoshiDecember 1931-May 1932, assassinated
Adm. Saitô MakotoMay 1932-July 1934
Adm. Okada KeisukeJuly 1934-March 1936,
attempted assassination,
Ni-niroku Jiken, "2/26 Incident"
Hirota KôkiMarch 1936-February 1937
Gen. Hayashi SenjûrôFebruary 1937-June 1937
Konoe FumimaroJune 1937-January 1939
Hiranuma KiichirôJanuary 1939-August 1939
Gen. Abe NobuyukiAugust 1939-January 1940
Adm. Yonai MitsumasaJanuary 1940-July 1940
Konoe FumimaroJuly 1940-October 1941
Gen. Tôjô HidekiOctober 1941-July 1944
Gen. Koiso KuniakiJuly 1944-April 1945
Adm. Suzuki KantarôApril 1945-August 1945,
survivor of "2/26 Incident"
Higashikuni NaruhikoAugust 1945-October 1945
Shidehara KijûrôOctober 1945-May 1946
Yoshida ShigeruMay 1946-May 1947
Katayama TetsuMay 1947-March 1948
Ashida HitoshiMarch 1948-October 1948
Yoshida ShigeruOctober 1948-December 1954
Hatoyama IchirôDecember 1954-December 1956
Ishibashi TanzanDecember 1956-February 1957
Kishi NobusukeFebruary 1957-July 1960
Ikeda HayatoJuly 1960-November 1964
Satô EisakuNovember 1964-July 1972
Tanaka KakueiJuly 1972-December 1974
Miki TakeoDecember 1974-December 1976
Fukuda TakeoDecember 1976-December 1978
Ôhira MasayoshiDecember 1978-July 1980
Suzuki ZenkoJuly 1980-November 1982
Nakasone YasuhiroNovember 1982-November 1987
Takeshita NoboruNovember 1987-June 1989
Uno SosukeJune 1989-August 1989
Kaifu ToshikiAugust 1989-November 1991
Miyazawa KiichiNovember 1991-August 1993
Hosokawa MorihiroAugust 1993-April 1994
Hata TsutomuApril 1994-June 1994
Murayama TomiichiJune 1994-January 1996
Hashimoto RyûtarôJanuary 1996-July 1998
Obuchi KeizôJuly 1998-April 2000
Mori YoshirôApril 2000-April 2001
Koizumi JunichiroApril 2001-September 2006
Abe ShinzoSeptember 2006-September 2007
Yasuo FukudaSeptember 2007-September 2008
Taor AsoSeptember 2008-September 2009
Yukio HatoyamaSeptember 2009-June 2010
Naoto KanJune 2010-September 2011
Yoshihiko NodaSeptember 2011-December 2012
Shinzô AbeDecember 2012-September 2020
Yoshihide SugaSeptember 2020-present
Since Japan adopts a Constitution patterned after that of Prussia, the Prime Minister is not necessarily accountable to the Diet, but to the Emperor. What ended up happening is that, rather than choosing the other ministers, the Prime Ministers themselves were often those acceptable to the Army and the Navy, who scorned civilian authority and exercised vetoes on the rest of the Government. This ultimately had disastrous consequences, promoting militarism, military rule, and then wars of aggression.

Pre-World War II Prime Ministers who were assassinated are in boldface. Also highlighted are Prince Konoe, a familiar Fujiwara name, who committed suicide after the War rather than be tried as a war criminal, and General Tôjô, who attempted suicide for the same reason but failed, was convicted, and was hung.

Tôjô, it might be noted, resigned in 1944 after the loss of the Battle of the Philippine Sea, after which the Japanese realized that nothing could hold off the Allied advance on Japan.

Unlike Germany, where the Nazi government simply ceased to exist and the Allies divided and directly ruled Germany, a formal Japanese Government never ceased to exist during the Allied Occupation. A new Constitution was written, and Prime Minister Katayama was the first to govern under it. Now the Emperor had no theoretical power at all, not even as much as the Queen of England. He was no longer the Sovereign, and Japan was no longer an Empire. The Prime Minister was responsible to the Diet.

The Emperor is now just the "Symbol of the State," which is a status otherwise unheard of in the history of government. Although the reactionaries who want the Emperor restored as Sovereign have frightening purposes, it is also true that Japan will never return to being a "normal" country until its Consitution is commensurable with traditional norms of government, and Japan again has a proper Army and Navy, another goal of the reactionaries that would be reasonable if their purposes, again, could pass scrutiny.

Most Post-War Prime Ministers (since 1955) have been from the Liberal- Democratic Party, which people like to say is neither liberal nor democratic. Instead, Diet seats have tended to become hereditary, and Japanese government often seems to be little more than a system of influence-peddling. Consequently, corruption and bribery scandals are commonplace. Such a scandal led to the downfall of the familiar 1980's Prime Minister Nakasone, who got to preside over Japan's greatest period of world economic domination.

The 1990's were less good for Japan, whose prosperity turned out to be a little too much of a speculative bubble, with a great deal of capital based on inflated real estate values and fraudulent loans. Since almost nobody really believes in laissez-faire anymore, it always takes a long time for the economy to shake stuff like that off.

This list was originally based on the list of Japanese Prime Ministers at the Mizuho Financial Group site, which is now gone, and on the list in The Making of Modern Japan by Marius B. Jansen [Belknap Press, Harvard University Press, 2000], updated from news sources and Wikipedia.

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