NATIONAL DIET BUILDING
The National Diet Building (国会議事堂
Kokkai-gijidō) is the place in which both the houses of the Diet of
Japan are held. It is located in 1-chome, Nagatacho,
Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.
Sessions of the House of Representatives take place in the left side and sessions of the House of Councillors in the right side.
The Diet Building was completed in 1936 and is constructed entirely out of Japanese building materials.
National Diet Building - History
The construction of the building began in 1920; however, plans for the building date back to the late 1880s. The Diet met in temporary structures for the first fifty years of its existence because there was no agreement over what form its building should take.
National Diet Building - Picture by Chris73
National Diet Building - Early designs
German architects Wilhelm Bockmann and Hermann Ende were
invited to Tokyo in 1886 and 1887 respectively. They drew up two plans for a
Diet building. Bockmann's initial plan was a masonry structure with a dome
and flanking wings, similar to other legislatures of the era, which would
form the core of a large "government ring" south of the Imperial Palace.
However, Japan was experiencing public resistance to Foreign Minister Inoue
Kaoru's internationalist policies, and so the architects submitted a more
"Japanese" design as well, substituting traditional Japanese architectural
features in many portions of the building. Ende and Bockmann's Diet Building
was never built, but their other "government ring" designs were used for the
Tokyo District Court and Ministry of Justice buildings.
In 1898, Prime Minister Ito Hirobumi interviewed American Ralph Adams Cram, who proposed a more "Oriental" design for the building, featuring tiled roofs and a large enclosure of walls and gates. The Ito government fell as Cram was en route to the United States, and the project was dropped.
National Diet Building - First building (1890) and second building (1891)
With an internal deadline approaching, the government
enlisted Ende and Bockmann associate Adolph Stegmueller and Japanese
architect Yoshii Shigenori to design a temporary structure. The building, a
two-story wooden structure in European style, opened in November 1890 on a
site in Hibiya.
An electrical fire burned down the first building in January of 1891, only two months later. Another Ende and Bockmann associate, Oscar Tietze, joined Yoshii to design its replacement. The second building was larger than the first, but followed a similar design: it housed the Diet until 1925.
National Diet Building - Current building
In 1910, the Finance Ministry started a commission in an
attempt to take control over the new Diet Building design from the Home
Ministry. Prime Minister Katsura Taro chaired the commission, which
recommended that the new building adopt Italian Renaissance architecture.
This conclusion was criticized by many who thought that choice to be too
The ministry sponsored a public design competition in 1918, and 118 designs were submitted for the new building. The first prize winner, Watanabe Fukuzo, produced a design similar to Ende and Bockmann's.
The Diet Building was eventually constructed with a floor plan based on Watanabe's entry. The roof and tower of the building were inspired by another entrant, third prize winner Takeuchi Shinshichi, and are believed to have been chosen because they reflected a more "modern" hybrid architecture than the purely European and East Asian designs proposed by other architects.