The Strange Case of the Meiji Constitution

Most often the chart for the post-WW II Japanese Constitution is used as representative of the country. That of course has its own merits, but the chart for the Meiji Constitution was an attempt to combine elements of modernization in Japan while embedding absolute power to the Emperor. It was essentially a Constitutional Monarchy, but the Emperor was to be granted infallibility. There are many highly informative articles and resources and there’s no need for me to rehearse that here in depth, but the following article from Britannica serves as a helpful introduction.

Meiji Constitution, constitution of Japan from 1889 to 1947. After the Meiji Restoration (1868), Japan’s leaders sought to create a constitution that would define Japan as a capable, modern nation deserving of Western respect while preserving their own power. The resultant document, largely the handiwork of the genro (elder statesman) Itō Hirobumi,called for a bicameral parliament (the Diet)

Ito Hiribuni
Ito Hiribuni

with an elected lower house and a prime minister and cabinet appointed by the emperor. The emperor was granted supreme control of the army and navy. A privy council composed of the Meiji genro, created prior to the constitution, advised the emperor, You can read the details here

According to Nicholas Campion: “promulgation of the constitution took place during the day, and in the absence of accurate information [the chart] … is set for 12.00 noon LMT, for the capital, Tokyo.” (The Book of World Horoscopes,” p. 215. )

This has since been rectified to 12:53 PM, the time used for our chart. We now have a chart for February 11, 1889, Tokyo, Japan 12:43 PM*

The Moon has just parted from a square to Mars and is now Void of Course. She has also separated from a Trine to the Sun. This presents something of a dilemma.

It is not normal practise to start anything when the Moon is Void of Course, because nothing will come of it. Think of the Moon as a trigger. Her contacts with other planets and the Sun are what sets things into motion. It is equally hard to imagine that the Emperor and all his advisors forgot to consult an astrologer.

There is no definitive way of knowing for sure whether an astrologer was consulted or what he had in mind. I’m going to respect that and continue with the reading for the time being.

A Rising Moon chart would bestow power to the ordinary people, That isn’t what an Emperor wants, so perhaps catching her Void of Course  just after leaving a Trine with the Sun was thought to be a good idea.

The Moon always represents the people, even when Void of Course. I realize this is a different way of looking at things, but we cannot underestimate what’s going on here. That might have the effect of putting the people in thier place.

The Emperor is restoring himself with God-like status. There is no better place for the Sun god than in the Ninth House

Satsuma Samurai Fought for the Emperor during-Boshin War Period
Satsuma Samurai Fought for the Emperor during-Boshin War Period

Venus in the Eleventh House of the Good Spirit is helpful, but she is in her Fall in Aries. Mars in Pisces in the Tenth House is not auspicious, and even less so because he is weakened by sign and Sect. Mercury is also in the Tenth House in his worst possible manifestation – in his Fall and Retrograde. So is Saturn. Using other house systems such as Porphyry offers no relief from this disaster.

Jupiter has just left Sagittarius. Other than the Sun, which is after all in detriment, there is nothing to commend this chart. Yet the date and time are well established and moving the time backwards of forwards a bit isn’t going to make any significant difference.

Meiji Emperor (1868 - 1912)
Meiji Emperor (1868 – 1912)

What we can do is to monitor events after the fact until the end of WW II and assess exactly how this chart will play out. That is for another time. At this point, I’m inclined to take the view that the Void of Course Moon meant that the chart was completely ineffective. There has been at least one attempt to rectify this chart and the houses are a bit better but it isn’t really enough to change the overall effect. Also, the outer planets have been used to perform the rectification. In it, the Moon is no longer Void of Course, but is completing a rather nasty Square to Mars. The time is 10:44 am

After examining all the options I’m inclined to think that there was no chart drawn up. It’s too much of a stretch to imagine even a moderately competent astrologer drafting such a chart.

We are not left empty-handed, however. We still have a chart for the event. The Constitution remained valid until the end of WWII.

I must say I’m struck by the sense of hubris I find here, regarding the Solar placement we discussed and the language of the Constitution itself with regard to the Emperor. I think that sentiment is well-founded, albeit admittedly anachronistic

From there, we can read the chart as representing the Emperor out of touch with his own population as testified by the Moon. There are only minor receptions, all of which are unremarkable. For example, there is a mutual reception between Saturn in Leo and Sun in Aquarius. But Saturn is in detriment and retrograde. Of course, the separating opposition isn’t helpful either.

There is also that Partile Sextile of Mercury to Jupiter, but Mercury is Under the Beams, Retrograde and in his Fall. Jupiter is in the Eighth House and Disposited by Venus in her Fall. Everywhere you look reception is undermined.

Further, the Sun is made stronger by the presence of the Part of Spirit in the same degree of Aquarius in the House of the Sun God.  It looks like he would have a very difficult time communicating with other State

Katsura Imperial Palace
Katsura Imperial Palace

officials, including the military for the reasons described. The reception required is conspicuous in its absence.

2 thoughts on “The Strange Case of the Meiji Constitution

  1. Hello Peter :)

    Been following with interest.

    Perhaps there is real intention behind the VOC Moon. The Meiji period was, as you note, a period of conscious modernization (call it tehnological westernization). Inevitably it would invite social unrest and it did. Probably the intention was to keep this at the minimum.

    Modernization was inevitable for survival for the more traditional states in 19th century. Another example is the Ottoman Empire which had already begun its modernization programs in the 18th century. However, The Meiji chart  was an illumination for me about the Republic of Turkey chart (October 29th, 1923 at 20.30) with the VOC Moon in the 12th. The Republic planned and implemented a series of cultural reforms with minimal protest, considering how extensive they were. The basic one being secularization. It is only in our day that, with an Islamic minded government in power for 10 years now, this is being undermined.

    I don’t know if or expect there was any astrological consultation for the Turkish chart, but it is interesting

    Best wishes and looking forward to more.

    Behiye (Satis)


    1. Hello Behiye,

      I’m pleased to know you read my postings. I haven’t looked at the chart for Turkey, but will do so. I might e more amenable to the Void if Course Moon if there were other supportive elements in the chart., but there is virtually no reception and the condition of other luminaries and planets ranges from *not good* to *dire*.

      I recall seeing a picture of the last state astrologer for Turkey. I cannot recall the dates but I’m almost certain he was around in 1923.

      I hope all is well with you are yours,

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