Sanjō Sanetomi

Prince Sanjō Sanetomi (三条 実美, 13 March 1837 – 18 February 1891) was a Japanese Imperial court noble and statesman at the time of the Meiji Restoration. He held many high-ranking offices in the Meiji government.

Sanjō Sanetomi
三条 実美
Sanetomi Sanjo formal.jpg
Prince Sanetomi Sanjo,c. late 1800s
Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal
In office
22 December 1885 – 18 February 1891
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byTokudaiji Sanetsune
Prime Minister of Japan
In office
25 October 1889 – 24 December 1889
Preceded byKuroda Kiyotaka
Succeeded byYamagata Aritomo
Chancellor of the Realm of Japan
In office
13 September 1871 – 22 December 1885
Preceded byTokugawa Ienari
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Personal details
Born(1837-03-13)13 March 1837
Kyoto, Japan
Died18 February 1891(1891-02-18) (aged 53)
Tokyo, Japan
Political partyIndependent
Japanese name
Kanji三条 実美


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 shōgun 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 Dajō-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 (Dajō-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 dajōkan 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 Bunkyō, Tokyo.


From the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia

  • 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 precedenceEdit




  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.
  2. ^ "Sanjō genealogy". Reichsarchiv (in Japanese). Retrieved 14 October 2017.


External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Chancellor of the Realm of Japan
Position abolished
Preceded by
Prime Minister of Japan

Succeeded by