The Rescript on Education of the Meiji Emperor

meiji.gif (13646 bytes) Emperor Meiji, who reigned from 1866 to 1912, completed the Meiji Restoration of Japan in 1868. This began the "modern era" of Japan and ended nearly 700 years of the military rule which included the feudal Tokugawa shogunate. Besides ending the era of the Samurai, Emperor Meiji was keenly interested in the establishment of a national education system. His edict on education was also designed to promote morality in order to build modern Japan. The Imperial Rescript on Education (shown at left) was issued to illustrate the moral principles that each citizen to follow.

It is interesting to identify the passages that Prof. Henry S. Okazaki used in his Mokuroku. I leave this exercise to the reader.

Note: A "rescript" is an answer from an emperor, pope, etc. when formally consulted by particular persons on some difficult question; hence, an edict or decree. (Source:

Rescript on Education by Emperor Meiji
Oct. 30, 1890

Translation - Imperial Rescript on Education of the Emperor Meiji:

Know ye, Our subjects:

Our Imperial Ancestors have founded Our Empire on a basis broad and everlasting and have deeply and firmly implanted virtue; Our subjects ever united in loyalty and filial piety have from generation to generation illustrated the beauty thereof. This is the glory of the fundamental character of Our Empire, and herein also lies the source of Our education.

Ye, Our subjects, be filial to your parents, affectionate to your brothers and sisters; as husbands and wives be harmonious, as friends true; bear yourselves in modesty and moderation; extend your benevolence to all; pursue learning and cultivate arts, and thereby develop intellectual faculties and perfect moral powers; furthermore advance public good and promote common interests; always respect the Constitution and observe the laws; should emergency arise, offer yourselves courageously to the State; and thus guard and maintain the prosperity of Our Imperial Throne coeval with heaven and earth.

So shall ye not only be Our good and faithful subjects, but render illustrious the best traditions of your forefathers. The Way here set forth is indeed the teaching bequeathed by Our Imperial Ancestors, to be observed alike by Their Descendants and the subjects, infallible for all ages and true in all places.It is Our wish to lay it to heart in all reverence, in common with you, Our subjects, that we may thus attain to the same virtue.

The 30th day of the 10th month of the 23rd year of Meiji.
(October 30, 1890)

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