Privy Council Meeting


This woodblock print, dated October 1888, depicts a meeting of the Japanese Privy Council, which was established in 1888 for the purpose of deliberating drafts of a constitution. The idea of writing a constitution had been discussed, both within and outside the government, from the very outset of the Meiji era (i.e., from 1868), which returned Japan to imperial government after the Tokugawa shogunate. However, the detailed work on a draft constitution that led directly to the Meiji constitution did not begin in earnest until around 1886 (Meiji 19). Itō Hirobumi (1841–1909), Japan’s first prime minister, supervised the work. A clean copy of the constitution reflecting the debate on each provision was presented to the Privy Council by Itō in March 1889 (Meiji 21) and it became law the following year. The print is by Yōshu Chikanobu (1838–1912) who, along with other artists in the 1870s and 1880s, began to produce kaika-e (prints that documented Japan's modernization and Westernization) as well as prints of more conventional subjects.

Last updated: January 8, 2018