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Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce

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Title: Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce  
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Subject: Kōno Togama, Empire of Japan, Hijikata Hisamoto, Ministry of Home Affairs (Japan), Government Seal of Japan
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Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce

Meiji-era picture postcard of the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce HQ in Tokyo

The Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce (農商務省 Nōshōmushō) was a cabinet-level ministry in the government of the Empire of Japan from 1881-1925. It was briefly recreated as the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce (農商省 Nōshōshō) during World War II


The original Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce was created on April 7, 1881, initially under the Meiji Daijō-kan Cabinet, and then re-established under the Meiji Constitution. It combined the Bureaus of Agriculture, Forestry, Natural History and post station maintenance which were formerly directly under the Prime Minister with the Bureau of Commerce formerly under the control of the Ministry of Finance. The new Ministry was tasked by the Meiji oligarchy with improving production of natural resources and promoting the rapid industrialization of Japan. Although nominally its duties included the protection of workers, in reality it served the needs of industry by guaranteeing a stable labor supply.[1] On December 25, 1885, with the abolishment of the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce gained the Bureau of Mines and the Bureau of Civil Engineering. On April 1, 1896 a decision was made to denationalize the iron and steel industry. All government-owned steel mills were divested to private enterprise by February 5, 1901.

The Ministry was instrumental in passing the Japanese Factory Act of 1903, which reformed and regulated labor conditions in factories. On April 1, 1925 the Ministry of Agriculture and Commence was divided into the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The division was a result of long-standing acrimony within the ministry between the “commerce” portion of the ministry, which sought expanded overseas trade, and the protectionist “agriculture” portion of the ministry which sought to ban imports of food, especially rice. In the aftermath of the Rice Riots of 1918, expanded imports of rice into Japan financially ruined many farmers, and the inherently conflicting goals of the two halves of the ministry became apparent.

However, during World War II, the Ministry of Munitions, Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Planning Board absorbed most of the functions of the Ministry of Commerce, and the vestigial remains were merged with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to re-establish the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce on November 1, 1943. In addition to promoting agriculture, the re-formed ministry was also in charge of distribution of rationed goods.

The Ministry was abolished on August 26, 1945 after the surrender of Japan by order of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers. In the post-war Showa Constitution, the ministries were again divided into the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Ministry of Commerce.

Ministers of Agriculture and Commerce (Meiji-Taisho)

Name Cabinet From To
1 Tani Tateki 1st Itō 22 December 1885 26 July 1887
2 Hijikata Hisamoto 1st Itō 26 July 1887 17 September 1887
3 Kuroda Kiyotaka 1st Itō 17 September 1887 30 April 1888
Enomoto Takeaki Kuroda 30 April 1888 25 July 1888
4 Inoue Kaoru Kuroda 25 July 1888 23 December 1889
5 Iwamura Michitoshi 1st Yamagata 23 December 1889 17 May 1890
6 Mutsu Munemitsu 1st Yamagata
1st Matsukata
17 May 1890 14 March 1892
7 Kōno Togama 1st Matsukata 14 March 1892 14 July 1892
8 Sano Tsunetami 1st Matsukata 14 July 1892 8 August 1892
9 Gotō Shōjirō 2nd Itō 8 August 1892 22 January 1894
10 Enomoto Takeaki 2nd Itō
2nd Matsukata
22 January 1894 29 March 1897
11 Ōkuma Shigenobu 2nd Matsukata 29 March 1897 6 November 1897
12 Yamada Nobumichi 2nd Matsukata 6 November 1897 12 January 1898
13 Itō Miyoji 3rd Itō 12 January 1898 26 April 1898
14 Kaneko Kentarō 3rd Itō 26 April 1898 30 June 1898
15 Ōishi Masami 1st Ōkuma 30 June 1898 8 November 1898
16 Sone Arasuke 2nd Yamagata 8 November 1898 19 October 1900
17 Hayashi Yūzō 4th Itō 19 October 1900 2 June 1901
18 Hirata Tosuke 1st Katsura 2 June 1901 17 July 1903
19 Kiyoura Keigo 1st Katsura 17 July 1903 22 September 1903
20 Kiyoura Keigo 1st Katsura 22 September 1903 7 January 1906
21 Matsuoka Yasukowa 1st Saionji 7 January 1906 14 July 1908
22 Ōura Kanetake 2nd Katsura 14 July 1908 30 August 1911
23 Makino Nobuaki 2nd Saionji 30 August 1911 21 December 1912
24 Nakashōji Ren 3rd Katsura 21 December 1912 20 February 1913
25 Yamamoto Tatsuo 1st Yamamoto 20 February 1913 16 April 1914
26 Ōura Kanetake 2nd Ōkuma 16 April 1914 7 January 1915
27 Kōno Hironaka 2nd Ōkuma 7 January 1915 9 October 1916
28 Nakashōji Ren Terauchi 9 October 1916 29 September 1918
29 Yamamoto Tatsuo Hara
29 September 1918 12 June 1922
30 Arai Kentarō Katō 12 June 1922 2 September 1923
31 Den Kenjirō 2nd Yamamoto 2 September 1923 24 December 1923
32 Okano Keijirō 2nd Yamamoto 24 December 1923 7 January 1924
33 Maeda Toshisada Kiyoura 7 January 1924 11 June 1924
34 Takahashi Korekiyo Katō 11 June 1924 1 April 1925

Ministers of Agriculture and Commerce (World War II)

Name Cabinet From To
1 Tatsunosuke Yamazaki Tōjō 1 November 1943 19 February 1944
2 Nobuya Uchida Tōjō 19 February 1944 22 July 1944
3 Toshio Shimada Koiso 22 July 1944 7 April 1945
4 Tadaatsu Ishiguro Suzuki 7 April 1945 17 August 1945
5 Sengoku Kotaro Higashikuni 17 August 1945 26 August 1945

See also


  1. ^ Harari. The politics of labor legislation in Japan. Page 41
  • Harari, Ehud (1073). The Politics of Labor Legislation in Japan. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-02264-5. 
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