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Encyclopedia > Government of Meiji Japan

In Meiji period Japan, the major institutional accomplishment after the Satsuma Rebellion was the start of the trend toward developing representative government. People who had been forced out or left out of the governing apparatus after the Meiji Restoration had witnessed or heard of the success of representative institutions in other countries of the world and applied greater pressure for a voice in government. The Meiji period (Japanese: 明治時代, Meiji-jidai) denotes the 45-year reign of the Meiji Emperor, running from 8 September 1868 (in the Gregorian calendar, 23 October 1868) to 30 July 1912. ... The Satsuma Rebellion (Seinan Sensō 西南戦争, Southwestern War) was a revolt of the Satsuma clan samurai against the Imperial Japanese Army. ... Representative democracy comprises a form of democracy and theory of civics wherein voters choose (in free, secret, multi-party elections) representatives to act in their interests, but not as their proxies—i. ... The Meiji Restoration (Japanese: 明治維新, Meiji-ishin), also known as the Meiji Ishin, Revolution or Renewal, was a chain of events that led to a change in Japans political and social structure. ...

A major proponent of representative government was Itagaki Taisuke (1837-1919), a powerful leader of Tosa forces who had resigned from his Council of State position over the Korean affair in 1873. Itagaki sought peaceful rather than rebellious means to gain a voice in government. He started a school and a movement aimed at establishing a constitutional monarchy and a legislative assembly. Itagaki and others wrote the Tosa Memorial in 1874 criticizing the unbridled power of the oligarchy and calling for the immediate establishment of representative government. Dissatisfied with the pace of reform after having rejoined the Council of State in 1875, Itagaki organized his followers and other democratic proponents into the nationwide Aikokusha (Society of Patriots) to push for representative government in 1878. In 1881, in an action for which he is best known, Itagaki helped found the Jiyuto (Liberal Party), which favored French political doctrines. In 1882 Okuma Shigenobu established the Rikken Kaishinto (Constitutional Progressive Party), which called for a British-style constitutional democracy. In response, government bureaucrats, local government officials, and other conservatives established the Rikken Teiseito (Imperial Rule Party), a progovernment party, in 1882. Numerous political demonstrations followed, some of them violent, resulting in further government restrictions. The restrictions hindered the political parties and led to divisiveness within and among them. The Jiyuto, which had opposed the Kaishinto, was disbanded in 1884, and Okuma resigned as Kaishinto president. Itagaki Taisuke (板垣 退助 1837–1919) was a Japanese politician who became a leader of the Freedom and Peoples Rights Movement (jiyu minken undo). ... Tosa is the name of several places in Japan: In Kochi Prefecture Tosa City. ... The Council of State is the name of an organ of government in many states, and especially in republics. ... A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchical government established under a constitutional system which acknowledges a hereditary or elected monarch as head of state. ... Chamber of the Estates-General, the Dutch legislature. ... ... This article is part of or related to the Liberalism series Categories: Politics stubs | Liberal related stubs | Historical liberal parties ... Okuma Shigenobu (大隈重信 Okuma Shigenobu 16 February 1838–10 January 1922) was a Japanese politician and the 8th (June 30, 1898–November 8, 1898) and 17th (April 16, 1914–October 9, 1916) Prime Minister of Japan. ...

Government leaders, long preoccupied with violent threats to stability and the serious leadership split over the Korean affair, generally agreed that constitutional government should someday be established. Kido Takayoshi had favored a constitutional form of government since before 1874, and several proposals that provided for constitutional guarantees had been drafted. The oligarchy, however, while acknowledging the realities of political pressure, was determined to keep control. Thus, modest steps were taken. The Osaka Conference in 1875 resulted in the reorganization of government with an independent judiciary and an appointed Council of Elders (Genronin) tasked with reviewing proposals for a legislature. The emperor declared that "constitutional government shall be established in gradual stages" as he ordered the Council of Elders to draft a constitution. Three years later, the Conference of Prefectural Governors established elected prefectural assemblies. Although limited in their authority, these assemblies represented a move in the direction of representative government at the national level, and by 1880 assemblies also had been formed in villages and towns. In 1880 delegates from twenty-four prefectures held a national convention to establish the Kokkai Kisei Domei (League for Establishing a National Assembly). Kido Takayoshi (木戸孝允), also referred as Kido Koin (1833-77) was a Japanese politician during the Late Tokugawa shogunate and the Meiji Restoration. ... The Council of Elders is the name given by several organizations to a group of people entrusted in some way with the organizations direction. ...

Although the government was not opposed to parliamentary rule, confronted with the drive for "people's rights," it continued to try to control the political situation. New laws in 1875 prohibited press criticism of the government or discussion of national laws. The Public Assembly Law (1880) severely limited public gatherings by disallowing attendance by civil servants and requiring police permission for all meetings. Within the ruling circle, however, and despite the conservative approach of the leadership, Okuma continued as a lone advocate of British-style government, a government with political parties and a cabinet organized by the majority party, answerable to the national assembly. He called for elections to be held by 1882 and for a national assembly to be convened by 1883; in doing so, he precipitated a political crisis that ended with an 1881 imperial rescript declaring the establishment of a national assembly in 1890 and dismissing Okuma.

Rejecting the British model, Iwakura Tomomi and other conservatives borrowed heavily from the Prussian constitutional system. One of the Meiji oligarchy, Ito Hirobumi (1841-1909), a Choshu native long involved in government affairs, was charged with drafting Japan's constitution. He led a Constitutional Study Mission abroad in 1882, spending most of his time in Germany. He rejected the United States Constitution as "too liberal" and the British system as too unwieldy and having a parliament with too much control over the monarchy; the French and Spanish models were rejected as tending toward despotism. Iwakura Tomomi (岩倉 具視 October 26, 1825-July 20, 1883) was a statesman who played an important role in the Meiji restoration, influencing opinions of the Imperial Court. ... The coat of arms of the Kingdom of Prussia, 1701-1918 The word Prussia (German: Preußen, Polish: Prusy, Lithuanian: PrÅ«sai, Latin: Borussia) has had various (often contradictory) meanings: The land of the Baltic Prussians (in what is now parts of southern Lithuania, the Kaliningrad exclave of Russia and... Born in Hagi, Yamaguchi, Prince Itō Hirobumi (伊藤 博文 Itō Hirobumi 16 October 1841–26 October 1909, also called Hirofumi/Hakubun and Shunsuke in his youth) was a Japanese politician and the countrys first Prime Minister (and the 5th, 7th and 10th). ... The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. ...

On Ito's return, one of the first acts of the government was to establish new ranks for the nobility. Five hundred persons from the old court nobility, former daimyo, and samurai who had provided valuable service to the emperor were organized in five ranks: prince, marquis, count, viscount, and baron. Ito was put in charge of the new Bureau for Investigation of Constitutional Systems in 1884, and the Council of State was replaced in 1885 with a cabinet headed by Ito as prime minister. The positions of chancellor, minister of the left, and minister of the right, which had existed since the seventh century as advisory positions to the emperor, were all abolished. In their place, the Privy Council was established in 1888 to evaluate the forthcoming constitution and to advise the emperor. To further strengthen the authority of the state, the Supreme War Council was established under the leadership of Yamagata Aritomo (1838-1922), a Choshu native who has been credited with the founding of the modern Japanese army and was to become the first constitutional prime minister. The Supreme War Council developed a German-style general staff system with a chief of staff who had direct access to the emperor and who could operate independently of the army minister and civilian officials. Daimyo Matsudaira Katamori visits the residence of a retainer. ... Japanese samurai in armour, 1860 photograph. ... The Cabinet(内閣, Naikaku) is the executive branch of the government of Japan. ... The Prime Minister of Japan (内閣総理大臣 Naikaku sōri daijin) is the English political nomenclature of the head of government of Japan. ... Supreme War Council was de-facto inner cabinet of Japan prior and during World War II. Among memberes were Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of War, the Minister of the Navy, the chiefs of the General Staffs of both the Army and the Navy. ... Yamagata Aritomo (山県 有朋; April 22, 1838–February 1, 1922) was a Japanese military leader and politician, and the fourth (December 24, 1889–May 6, 1891) and 11th (1898–1900) Prime Minister of Japan. ...

When finally granted by the emperor as a sign of his sharing his authority and giving rights and liberties to his subjects, the 1889 Constitution of the Empire of Japan (the Meiji Constitution) provided for the Imperial Diet (Teikoku Gikai), composed of a popularly elected House of Representatives with a very limited franchise of male citizens who paid ¥15 in national taxes, about 1 percent of the population; the House of Peers, composed of nobility and imperial appointees; and a cabinet responsible to the emperor and independent of the legislature. The Diet could approve government legislation and initiate laws, make representations to the government, and submit petitions to the emperor. Nevertheless, in spite of these institutional changes, sovereignty still resided in the emperor on the basis of his divine ancestry. The new constitution specified a form of government that was still authoritarian in character, with the emperor holding the ultimate power and only minimal concessions made to popular rights and parliamentary mechanisms. Party participation was recognized as part of the political process. The Meiji Constitution was to last as the fundamental law until 1947. 上諭 - The Emperors words 上諭 - The Emperors words 御名御璽 - Imperial Signature and Seal 本文 - text The Constitution of the Empire of Japan(大日本帝國憲法), more commonly known as the Imperial or Meiji Constitution, was the fundamental law of the Empire of Japan from 1889 until 1947. ... refers to either the historic institution of the Reichstag in Germany, or Diet of Japan. ... The House of Representatives (衆議院; Shugi-in) is the lower house of the Diet of Japan. ... Japanese 10 yen coin (obverse) showing Phoenix Hall of Byodoin Yen is the currency used in Japan. ... The House of Peers (貴族院 Kizokuin) was the upper house of the Imperial Diet under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan (in effect from 11 February 1889 to 3 May 1947). ...

The first national election was held in 1890, and 300 members were elected to the House of Representatives. The Jiyuto and Kaishinto parties had been revived in anticipation of the election and together won more than half of the seats. The House of Representatives soon became the arena for disputes between the politicians and the government bureaucracy over large issues, such as the budget, the ambiguity of the constitution on the Diet's authority, and the desire of the Diet to interpret the "will of the emperor" versus the oligarchy's position that the cabinet and administration should "transcend" all conflicting political forces. The main leverage the Diet had was in its approval or disapproval of the budget, and it successfully wielded its authority henceforth. Categories: Election related stubs | Elections in Japan ...

In the early years of constitutional government, the strengths and weaknesses of the Meiji Constitution were revealed. A small clique of Satsuma and Choshu elite continued to rule Japan, becoming institutionalized as an extraconstitutional body of genro (elder statesmen). Collectively, the genro made decisions reserved for the emperor, and the genro, not the emperor, controlled the government politically. Throughout the period, however, political problems were usually solved through compromise, and political parties gradually increased their power over the government and held an ever larger role in the political process as a result. The Genro (元老) were retired elder Japanese statesmen, who served as informal advisors to the emperor, during the Meiji and Taisho periods in Japanese history. ...

After the bitter political rivalries between the inception of the Diet in 1890 and 1894, when the nation was unified for the war effort against China, there followed five years of unity, unusual cooperation, and coalition cabinets. From 1900 to 1912, the Diet and the cabinet cooperated even more directly, with political parties playing larger roles. Throughout the entire period, the old Meiji oligarchy retained ultimate control but steadily yielded power to the opposition parties. The two major figures of the period were Yamagata Aritomo, whose long tenure (1868-1922) as a military and civil leader, including two terms as prime minister, was characterized by his intimidation of rivals and resistance to democratic procedures, and Itō Hirobumi, who was a compromiser and, although overruled by the genrō, wanted to establish a government party to control the House during his first term. When Ito returned as prime minister in 1898, he again pushed for a government party, but when Yamagata and others refused, Ito resigned. With no willing successor among the genrō, the Kenseito (Constitutional Party) was invited to form a cabinet under the leadership of Okuma and Itagaki, a major achievement in the opposition parties' competition with the genrō. This success was short-lived: the Kenseito split into two parties, the Kenseito led by Itagaki and the Kensei Honto (Real Constitutional Party) led by Okuma, and the cabinet ended after only four months. Yamagata then returned as prime minister with the backing of the military and the bureaucracy. Despite broad support of his views on limiting constitutional government, Yamagata formed an alliance with Kenseito. Reforms of electoral laws, an expansion of the House to 369 members, and provisions for secret ballots won Diet support for Yamagata's budgets and tax increases. He continued to use imperial ordinances, however, to keep the parties from fully participating in the bureaucracy and to strengthen the already independent position of the military. When Yamagata failed to offer more compromises to the Kenseito, the alliance ended in 1900, beginning a new phase of political development. The First Sino–Japanese War was a war fought between Japan and Qing China between August 1, 1894 and April 1895 // Genesis of the War Korea under the Joseon Dynasty had traditionally been a tributary state of the Qing dynasty. ...

Ito and a protégé, Saionji Kimmochi (1849-1940), finally succeeded in forming a progovernment party—the Seiyokai (Association of Friends of Constitutional Government)—in September 1900, and a month later Ito became prime minister of the first Seiyokai cabinet. The Seiyokai held the majority of seats in the House, but Yamagata's conservative allies had the greatest influence in the House of Peers, forcing Ito to seek imperial intervention. Tiring of political infighting, Ito resigned in 1901. Thereafter, the prime ministership alternated between Yamagata's protégé, Katsura Taro (1847-1913; prime minister 1901-5 and 1908- 11), and Saionji (prime minister 1905-8 and 1911-12). The alternating of political power was an indication of the two sides' ability to cooperate and share power and helped foster the continued development of party politics. Kinmochi Saionji Saionji Kinmochi (西園寺 公望 Saionji Kinmochi October 23, 1849–November 24, 1940) was a Japanese politician and the 12th (January 7, 1906–July 14, 1908) and 14th (August 30, 1911–December 21, 1912) Prime Minister of Japan. ... Katsura Taro Marquess Katsura Taro (æ¡‚ 太郎 Katsura Tarō), (1848-01-04–1913-10-10) was a Japanese soldier, politician and Prime Minister of Japan. ...

The Meiji era ended with the death of the emperor in 1912 and the accession of Crown Prince Yoshihito as emperor of the Taishō period (1912-26). The end of the Meiji era was marked by huge government domestic and overseas investments and defense programs, nearly exhausted credit, and a lack of foreign exchange to pay debts. The beginning of the Taisho era was marked by a political crisis that interrupted the earlier politics of compromise. When Saionji tried to cut the military budget, the army minister resigned, bringing down the Seiyokai cabinet. Both Yamagata and Saionji refused to resume office, and the genro were unable to find a solution. Public outrage over the military manipulation of the cabinet and the recall of Katsura for a third term led to still more demands for an end to genro politics. Despite old guard opposition, the conservative forces formed a party of their own in 1913, the Rikken Doshikai (Constitutional Association of Friends), a party that won a majority in the House over the Seiyokai in late 1914. Yoshihito (嘉仁), the Taishō Emperor (大正天皇), (August 31, 1879–December 25, 1926, r. ... The Taishō period (Japanese: 大正時代, Taishō-jidai, period of great righteousness) is a period in the history of Japan dating from 30 July 1912 to 25 December 1926. ...


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Meiji government - definition of Meiji government in Encyclopedia (925 words)
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Meiji Japan established a constitution in 1889 modeled on a political theory of a German, Lorenz von Stein, who held that a monarchy existed to arbitrate between groups with competing interests, to prevent the exploitation of the weak by the strong.
Japan was proving its perceived superiority militarily, and in 1876 Korea signed a treaty, drafted by the Japanese, that granted the Japanese in Korea extraterritoriality, exemption from tariffs and recognition of Japanese currency at ports of trade.
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