Imperial Rescript on Education

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  • Promulgated: 1890/10/30

The Imperial Rescript on Education was a core document issued by the Meiji government which formed the foundations of aims and attitudes regarding public education in the Meiji through early Shôwa periods.

It was drafted with considerable influence from Imperial advisor Motoda Eifu, Inoue Kowashi, and Yamagata Aritomo and was promulgated on October 30, 1890, and copies immediately began to be distributed to public schools.[1] The Rescript declared a set of nationalistic core principles which would then be memorized by Japanese schoolchildren up through 1948, when it was repudiated by the National Diet. The Rescript employs Neo-Confucian justifications to suggest an unbroken Imperial Japanese past, emphasizing filial piety, the pursuit of learning and cultivation, the public good and common interests, and personal sacrifice for patriotic duty.

In discussions leading up to the drafting and promulgation of the Rescript, Nishimura Shigeki, a conservative scholar who advocated a Confucianist education (rather than one based more heavily or exclusively on Western modes and ideals), noted the Chinese examples of the Kangxi and Yongzheng Emperors' promulgations of the Six Courses in Morals as precedents in which textbooks on morality could be issued directly by the Imperial household. In the end, the Rescript was issued without the signatures or seals of any cabinet ministers, thus giving the impression that it came even more directly from the hand of the Meiji Emperor himself.


  • Conrad Schirokauer, David Lurie, and Suzanne Gay, A Brief History of Japanese Civilization, Wadsworth Cengage (2013), 187-188.
  • Marius Jansen, China in the Tokugawa World, Harvard University Press (1992), 69.
  • David Lu, Japan: A Documentary History, ME Sharpe (1997), 343-344.
  1. Takashi Fujitani, Splendid Monarchy, UC Press (1998), 84.