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kazoku

in Japan, the unified, crown-appointed aristocracy of the period 1869-1947, which replaced the feudal lords. The kazoku ("flower family") class was created in 1869 as part of the Westernizing reforms of the Meiji Restoration. In this class the old feudal lords (daimyo) and court nobles (kuge) were merged into one group and deprived of territorial privileges. In 1884 the kazoku was reorganized into a European-style peerage, with the ranks of prince, marquis, count, viscount, and baron. Membership was opened to those who performed distinguished public service. After 1889 this class composed the upper house of the Japanese legislature. The kazoku was abolished by the constitution of 1947.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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