Imperial Household Agency Building on the grounds of the Imperial Palace in Chiyoda, Tokyo
|Formed||June 1, 1949|
|Headquarters||1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8111, Japan|
|Annual budget||¥17,766M(FY 2007)|
|Parent agency||Cabinet Office|
The Imperial Household Agency ( is an agency of the Kunai-ch?)government of Japan in charge of state matters concerning the Imperial Family, and also keeping of the Privy Seal and State Seal of Japan. From around the 8th century AD up to the Second World War, it was named the Imperial Household Ministry (. Kunai-sh?)
The agency is unique among conventional government agencies and ministries, in that it does not directly report to the Prime Minister at the cabinet level, nor is it affected by legislation that establishes it as an Independent Administrative Institution.
The Agency is headed by the Grand Steward and he is assisted by the Vice-Grand Steward. The main elements of the organization are:
The current Grand Steward is Shin'ichir? Yamamoto.
The Agency's headquarters is located within the grounds of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. The Agency's duties and responsibilities encompass the daily activities, such as state visits, organising events, preservation of traditional culture, administrative functions, etc., the agency is also responsible for the various imperial residences scattered throughout the country. Visitors who wish to tour the Tokyo Imperial Palace, the Kyoto Imperial Palace, the Katsura Detached Palace, and other sites, should register for guided tours with the agency first.
The Agency has responsibility for the health, security and travel arrangements of the Imperial family, including maintaining the Imperial line. The Board of the Chamberlains, headed by the Grand Chamberlain, manages the daily life of the Emperor and the Empress. It also keeps the Privy Seal and State Seal of Japan. A "Grand Master of the Board of the Crown Prince's Household" helps manage the schedules, dining menus, and household maintenance of the Crown Prince and his family.
The Imperial Household Agency can trace its origins back to the institutions established by the Taih? Code (or more formally "The Ritsury? Code of the Taih? period" (? Taih? Ritsury?)) promulgated in 701-702 AD. The Ritsury? system established the namesake Ministry of the Imperial Household ( which is a precursor to the present agency. The old code also gave rise to the Ministry of Ceremonial Kunai sh?) (Shikibu sh?) which has its legacy in the Board of Ceremonies ( under the current agency, and the Ministry of Civil Administration Shikibu shoku) (Jibu sh?) which oversaw the Bureau of Music ( Uta ry?) that would now correspond to the Agency's Music Department (. gakubu) The basic structures remained in place until the Meiji Restoration (1868).
The early Meiji government officially installed Imperial Household Ministry ( on 15 August 1869. Kunai sh?)[a] However, there is a convoluted history of reorganization around how the government bodies that correspond to constituent subdivisions of the current Agency were formed or empowered during this period.
The Department of Shinto Affairs ( Jingi kan) and later the Ministry of Shinto Affairs ( Jingi sh?) (1871-1872) were briefly in existence and placed in charge of, e.g., the Imperial mausolea under the Office of Imperial Mausolea (), one of the tasks designated to the Agency today.
Meanwhile, the Meiji government created the Board of Ceremonies ( in 1871, which was soon renamed Bureau of Ceremonies Shikibu-kyoku) (, Shikibu-ry?) in 1872. And by 1872 the Ministry of Shinto Affairs was abolished, with the bulk of duties moved to the Ky?bu sh? ( "Department (Ministry) of Religion and Education") and the administration of formal ceremonial functions transferred to the aforementioned Board/Bureau of the Ceremonies.[b]
The Bureau of the Ceremonies was initially under the sway of the Great Council of State (Daj? kan) but was transferred to the control of the Imperial Household Ministry in September 1877.  The Bureau underwent yet another name change to Board of Ceremonies ( in October 1884. Shikibu-shoku) Since then, the name remained unchanged and is, today, headed by the Master of Ceremonies.
An Imperial Order in 1908 confirmed that the Imperial Household Minister, as the chief official was then called, was responsible for assisting the Emperor in all matters concerning the Imperial House.
The ministry also oversaw the official appointments of Imperial Household Artists and commissioned their work.
The Imperial Household Office ( was a downgraded version of the ministry, created pursuant to Imperial Household Office Law Kunai-fu) (?) Law No. 70 of 1947 during the American Occupation of Japan. Its staff size was downscaled from 6,200 to less than 1,500, and the Office was placed under the Prime Minister of Japan.[c]
In 1949, Imperial Household Office became the Imperial Household Agency (the current name), and placed under the fold of the newly created Prime Minister's Office ( S?rifu), as an external agency attached to it.
The Agency has been criticized for isolating members of the Imperial Family from the Japanese public, and for insisting on hidebound customs rather than permitting a more approachable, populist monarchy. These criticisms have become more muted in recent years; Emperor Akihito has himself done much to make the Japanese monarchy less aloof.
Prince Naruhito, in May 2004, criticised the then-Grand Steward of the Imperial Household, Toshio Yuasa, for putting pressure on Princess Masako, Naruhito's wife, to bear a male child. At a press conference, Naruhito said that his wife had "completely exhausted herself" trying to adapt to the imperial family's life, and added "there were developments that denied Masako's career (up to our marriage) as well as her personality." It has officially been stated that Masako is suffering from an "adjustment disorder", but there has been extensive speculation in the press that she is suffering from clinical depression as a result of her treatment by Imperial Household officials.
Increasingly in recent years, the Agency's prevention of archaeological research regarding a large number (more than 740) of Kofun Period tombs putatively designated as "imperial" has come under criticism from academics. Such research, particularly on the ancient tombs in the Kansai region of western Japan, has the potential to yield a great bounty of information on the origins of Japanese civilization. The possibility that such finds could verify theories of formative civilizational ties with contemporary civilizations in China and the Korean Peninsula, with commensurate influence on thought about the origins of the Imperial Household itself, is generally considered to be the greater part of the jealousy with which the agency guards its authority over this large number of tombs (many of which are likely imperial only in name), and prevents scientific inquiry into these sites.
The Grand Steward is vested with comprehensive control over administrate activities within the agency, and supervisory authority over the service performance of the staff (8-3). He is empowered to interact with the Prime Minister on matters pertaining to the agency's authorized duties, either requesting the issuance of Cabinet Office ordinances (8-3), or notifying him on pertinent matters (8-4). He has the authorization to hand down orders or directives to staff members of government organs under the agency's direct control (8-6), and may also request the Commissioner General of the National Police Agency to take appropriate measures regarding administrative duties that involve the civilian Imperial Guard (? K?g? Keisatsu).
The Grand Stewardship is a post customarily filled by former administrative vice-ministers (?permanent secretaries) at one of several internal affairs (home affairs) type ministries and agencies, or someone with a closely approximating curriculum vitae (e.g., Superintendent General of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department), after having served as Vice-Grand Steward.
|Number||Name||term of office||ex-service||Remarks|
|Grand Stewards of the Imperial Household Office|
|1||Matsudaira Yoshitami||3 May 1947 - 5 Jun 1948||Imperial Household Ministry|
|2||Tajima Michiji||5 Jun 1948 - 31 May 1949||Civilian||cont.|
|Grand Stewards of the Imperial Household Agency|
|1||Michiji Tajima||1 Jun 1949 - 16 Dec 1953||Civilian|
|2||Takeshi Usami||16 Dec 1953 - 26 May 1978||Home Ministry|
|3||Tomohiko Tomita||26 May 1978 - 14 Jun 1988||National Police Agency|
|4||Sh?ichi Fujimori||14 Jun 1988 - 19 Jan 1996||Ministry of Welfare, Environment Agency|
|5||Sadame Kamakura||19 Jan 1996 - 2 Apr 2001||National Police Agency|
|6||Toshio Yuasa||2 Apr 2001 - 1 Apr 2005||Ministry of Home Affairs|
|7||Shingo Haketa||1 Apr 2005 - 1 Jun 2012||Ministry of Health|
|8||Noriyuki Kazaoka||1 Jun 2012 - 26 Sep 2016||Ministry of Construction|
|9||Shinichir? Yamamoto||26 Sep 2016 -||Ministry of Home Affairs|
?()( ?)?Reprint 2002 ISBN 978-4-876-44081-8
In addition to the Office of Propaganda, the Department of Shinto had the function of caring for Imperial mausolea