- Meiji Constitution
- The Constitution of the Empire of Japan (Dai nihon teikoku kempo) promulgated in 1889 was the result of seventeen years of secret drafts and debate over issues including religious freedom and the role of Shinto in relation to the state. The constitution, based on a final draft by Ito Hirobumi and Inoue Kowashi, incorporated a distinction between private religious belief and public religious activity proposed by Herman Roesler, a German legal advisor to the Japanese government. Article 1 proclaimed that 'the empire of Japan shall be ruled over by emperors of the dynasty, which has reigned in an unbroken line of descent for ages past', while Article 3 stated that 'the person of the emperor is sacred and inviolable'. Article 28 of the Constitution made the provision that 'Japanese subjects shall, within limits not prejudicial to peace and order, and not antagonistic to their duties as subjects, enjoy freedom of religious belief'. From the 1890's participation in civic Shinto ritual was increasingly viewed as a non-religious civic duty. Consequently, freedom to withdraw from Shinto rites was unconstitutional.
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Brian Bocking.