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Original bungotai, followed by my translation into vernacular Japanese and English.


第二章
臣民権利義務

Shinmin kenri gimu

臣民の権利及び義務

Shinmin no kenri oyobi gimu

Rights and duties of the subjects

Chapter II of the Meiji Constitution established the concept of a "Japanese subject" (臣民), while leaving to the legislature the question of who is a subject and how one becomes one, and set forth the various rights and duties of subjects of the Japanese Empire.

Rights:
  • Access to public employment (Art. 19)
  • Freedom of movement (Art. 22)
  • Freedom from unlawful arrest, imprisonment, and trial (Art. 23)
  • Right to a lawful judge (Art. 24)
  • Freedom from entry and search of residence without consent (Art. 25)
  • Secrecy of communications (Art. 26)
  • Inviolacy of property (Art. 27)
  • Freedom of religion (Art. 28)
  • Freedom of expression in words or writing (Art. 29)
  • Freedom of the press (Art. 29)
  • Freedom of assembly and association (Art. 29)
  • Freedom of petition (Art. 30)
  • Duties:
  • Duty of military service (Art. 20)
  • Duty to pay taxes (Art. 21)
  • To a great extent, the rights set forth in Chapter II were illusory. First, all of Chapter II was subject to the "suicide clause" of Art. 31, which allowed the Emperor to override the provisions of Chapter II in case of "war or national emergency" (戦時又ハ国家事変), with both situations declarable at the whim of the Emperor or the government. Moreover, Art. 32 applied the provisions of Chapter II to military personnel only "accordingly" (準行), and to the extent that the constitutional provisions of Chapter II did not conflict with statutory (or even regulatory) provisions applicable to soldiers.

    To the extent that Art. 31 and 32 did not extinguish the rights set forth in Chapter II, the provisions creating the rights themselves allowed the government to respect subjects' constitutional rights only to the extent compatible with its own will. The bulk of the rights provided in Chapter II are subject to whatever limitations the legislature might decide to impose on them. See e.g. Art. 22, 23, 25, 26, 27 § 2, 29, 30. For example, Art. 25 grants subjects the right to be free of unconsented search and entry of their homes, "except in the cases provided by law" (法律ニ定メタル場合ヲ除ク外). Similarly, subjects are to be free from arrest, imprisonment, or trial "except as provided by law" (法律ニ依ルニ非スシテ), Art. 23, but the Constitution imposes no substantive requirements on laws authorising the arrest, imprisonment, or trial of Japanese subjects. The freedom of religion provided in Art. 28 is even more limited, and can be nullified not only based on an act of the legislature, but also based on "public order and morality (安寧秩序), a concept that remains undefined. The core rights of freedom of expression and of the press are also subject to limitation "by law." While Art. 30 guaranteed the right of petition, this right was limited not only by "other provisions of law" (別ニ定ムル所ノ規程) but also by the requirement that petitioning subjects show "proper deference" (相当ノ敬礼). The right of property stands alone as the most protected of all rights under the Meiji Constitution. While it, too, is subject to limitation (expropriation) by law, laws may only provide for expropriation (処分) "when the public interest makes it necessary" (公益ノ為必要ナル), Art. 27 § 2.

    第十八条

     日本臣民タル要件ハ法律ノ定ムル所ニ依ル

    Nippon shinmin taru youken wa houritsu no sadamuru tokoro ni yoru.

    日本臣民たる要件は法律の定めるところによる。

    Nippon shinmin taru youken wa houritsu no sadameru tokoro ni yoru.

    The requirements for being or becoming a Japanese subject shall be determined by law.

    第十九条

     日本臣民ハ法律命令ノ定ムル所ノ資格ニ応シ均ク文武官ニ任セラレ及其ノ他ノ公務ニ就クコトヲ得

    Nippon shinmin wa houritsu meirei no sadamuru tokoro no shikaku ni ouji hitoshiku bunbukan ni ninzerare oyobi sono ta no koumu ni tsuku koto o u.

    日本臣民は、法律及び命令で定める資格があれば、等しく文武官に任命され、その他の公務に就くことができる。

    Nippon shinmin wa, houritsu oyobi meirei de sadameru shikaku ga areba, hitoshiku bunbukan ni ninmei sare, sono ta no koumu ni tsuku koto ga dekiru.

    All Japanese subjects who fulfil the requirements set forth by laws and orders shall have equal ability to become military and literary officers, or to obtain other public employment.

    第二十条

     日本臣民ハ法律ノ定ムル所ニ従ヒ兵役ノ義務ヲ有ス

    Nippon shinmin wa houritsu no sadamuru tokoro ni shitagai heieki no gimu wo yuusu.

    日本臣民は、法律の定めるところに従い、兵役の義務を有する。

    Nippon shinmin wa, houritsu no sadameru tokoro ni shitagai, heieki no gimu wo yuusuru.

    All Japanese subjects shall have the duty of military service as provided by law.

    第二十一条

     日本臣民ハ法律ノ定ムル所ニ従ヒ納税ノ義務ヲ有ス

    Nippon shinmin wa houritsu no sadamuru tokoro ni shitagai nouzei no gimu wo yuusu.

    日本臣民は、法律の定めるところに従い、納税義務を有する。

    All Japanese subjects shall have the duty to pay taxes and duties as provided by law.

    第二十二条

     日本臣民ハ法律ノ範囲内ニ於テ移住及移転ノ自由ヲ有ス

    Nippon shinmin wa houritsu no han’i-nai ni oite ijuu oyobi iten no jiyuu wo yuusu.

    日本臣民は、法律の範囲内に、移住及び移転の自由を有する。

    Nippon shinmin wa, houritsu no han’i-nai ni, ijuu oyobi iten no jiyuu wo yuusuru.

    All Japanese subjects shall have the freedom of movement and migration, within the limits provided by law.

    第二十三条

      日本臣民ハ法律ニ依ルニ非スシテ逮捕監禁審問処罰ヲ受クルコトナシ

    Nippon shinmin wa houritsu ni yoru ni arazu shite taiho kankin shinmon shobatsu wo ukuru koto nashi.

    法律の定めるところによらなければ、如何なる日本臣民を逮捕し、監禁し、審問し、又は処罰することができない。

    Houritsu no sadameru tokoro ni yoranakereba, ikanaru Nippon shinmin wo taiho shi, kankin shi, shinmon shi, mata wa shobatsu suru koto ga dekinai.

    Except as provided by law, no Japanese subject may be arrested, imprisoned, tried, or punished.

    第二十四条

     日本臣民ハ法律ニ定メタル裁判官ノ裁判ヲ受クルノ権ヲ奪ハルゝコトナシ

    Nippon shinmin wa houritsu no sadametaru saibankan no saiban wo ukuru no ken wo ubawaruru koto nashi.

    日本臣民は、法律で定める裁判官の裁判を受ける権利は掠奪されない。

    Nippon shinmin wa, houritsu de sadameru saibankan no saiban wo ukeru kenri wa ryakudatsu sarenai.

    No Japanese subject shall be deprived of the right to a trial before a lawful judge.

    二十五条

     日本臣民ハ法律ニ定メタル場合ヲ除ク外其ノ許諾ナクシテ住所ニ侵入セラレ及捜索サルヽコトナシ

    Nippon shinmin wa houritsu ni sadametaru baai wo nozoku hoka sono kyodaku naku shite juusho wo shinnyuu serare oyobi sousaku saruru koto nashi.

    法律で定める場合を除く他、日本臣民の住所は承諾なしに侵入され、及び捜索されない。

    Houritsu de sadameru baai wo nozoku hoka, Nippon shinmin no juusho wa shoudaku nashi ni shinnyuu sare, oyobi sousaku sarenai.

    Except in the cases provided by law, the residences of Japanese subjects shall not be entered or searched without constent.

    第二十六条

     日本臣民ハ法律ニ定メタル場合ヲ除ク外信書ノ祕密ヲ侵サルゝコトナシ

    Nippon shinmin wa houritsu ni sadametaru baai wo nozoku hoka shinsho no himitsu wo okasaruru koto nashi.

    法律に定める場合を除く他、日本臣民はその信書の秘密が侵されない。

    Houritsu ni sadameru baai wo nozoku hoka, Nippon shinmin wa sono shinsho no himitsu ga okasarenai.

    Except as provided by law, the secrecy of Japanese subjects’ communications shall be inviolate.

    第二十七条

     日本臣民ハ其ノ所有権ヲ侵サルゝコトナシ

    Nippon shinmin wa sono shoyuuken wo okasaruru koto nashi.

    日本臣民は、その所有権を侵されない。

    Nippon shinmin wa, sono shoyuuken wo okasarenai.

    The property of Japanese subjects shall be inviolate.


     公益ノ為必要ナル処分ハ法律ノ定ムル所ニ依ル

    Koueki no tame hitsuyou naru shobun wa houritsu no sadamuru tokoro ni yoru.

    公益のために必要となるときの処分は、法律の定めるところによる。

    Koueki no tame ni hitsuyou to naru toki no shobun wa, houritsu no sadameru tokoro ni yoru.

    The disposition of property, when the public interest makes it necessary, shall be provided for by law.

    第二十八条

     日本臣民ハ安寧秩序ヲ妨ケス及臣民タルノ義務ニ背カサル限ニ於テ信教ノ自由ヲ有ス

    Nippon shinmin wa annei chitsujo wo samatagezu oyobi shinmin taru no gimu ni sekazaru kagiri ni oite shinkyou no jiyuu wo yuusu.

    日本臣民は安寧秩序を妨害しなくて、臣民の義務を懈怠しない限り、宗教の自由を有する。

    Nippon shinmin wa annei chitsujo wo bougai shinakute, shinmin no gimu wo ketai shinai kagiri, shuukyou no jiyuu wo yuusuru.

    Japanese subjects shall have the freedom of religion to the extent that this does not interfere with public order and morality or the fulfilment of their duties as subjects.

    第二十九条

     日本臣民ハ法律ノ範囲内ニ於テ言論著作印行集会及結社ノ自由ヲ有ス

    Nippon shinmin wa houritsu no han’i-nai ni oite genron chosaku inkou shuukai oyobi kessha no jiyuu wo yuusu.

    法律の範囲内に、日本臣民は言論、著作、出版、集会、及び結社の自由を有する。

    Houritsu no han’i-nai ni, Nippon shinmin wa genron, chosaku, shuppan, shuukai, oyobi kessha no jiyuu wo yuusuru.

    Within the limits provided by law, Japanese subjects shall have the freedom of speech, publication, press, assembly, and association.

    第三十条

     日本臣民ハ相当ノ敬礼ヲ守リ別ニ定ムル所ノ規程ニ従ヒ請願ヲ為スコトヲ得

    Nippon shinmin wa soutou no keirei wo mamori betsu ni sadamuru tokoro no kitei ni shitagai seigan wo nasu koto wo u.

    日本臣民は、相当の敬礼を守り、別に定めるところの規定に従い、請願することができる。

    Nippon shinmin wa, soutou no keirei wo mamori, betsu ni sadameru tokoro no kitei ni shitagai, seigan suru koto ga dekiru.

    Japanese subjects shall be permitted to petition for redress of grievances, while observing proper deference and acting in accordance with other provisions of law.

    第三十一条

     本章ニ掲ケタル条規ハ戦時又ハ国家事変ノ場合ニ於テ天皇大権ノ施行ヲ妨クルコトナシ

    Honshou ni agetaru jouki wa senji mata wa kokkajihen no baai ni oite Tennou taiken no sekou wo samataguru koto nashi.

    本章に揚げる条規は、戦時、又は国家事変の場合に、天皇がその大権を施行することを妨げない。

    Honshou ni ageru jouki wa, senji, mata wa kokkajihen no baai ni, Tennou ga sono taiken wo sekou suru koto wo samatagenai.

    Nothing in this Chapter shall be construed to prevent the exercise of the Emperor’s inherent powers in time of war or national emergency.

    第三十二条

     本章ニ掲ケタル条規ハ陸海空軍ノ法令又ハ紀律ニ牴触セサルモノニ限リ軍人ニ準行ス

    Honshou ni agetaru jouki wa rikukuukaigun no hourei mata wa kiritsu ni teishoku sezaru mono ni kagiri gunjin ni junkou su.

    本章に揚げる条規は、陸海空軍の法令又は紀律に抵触しない限り、軍人に準用する。

    The provisions of this Chapter shall apply accordingly to soldiers to the extent that they do not conflict with applicable laws and military regulations.

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