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Japanese party government before World War Two

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While political parties were introduced to Japan during the Meiji Restoration, Japanese party government before World War Two never was the dominant factor as in parliaments under the Westminster system. The first party cabinet was formed in 1900, but Emperor Hirohito advised abandoning them after the March 1931 incident. Cabinets had varied in having military or party leadership. The last parties dissolved themselves in 1940.

After the Restoration, Taisuke Itagaki, along with Sojiro Goto, Taneomi Soejima, Shinpei Eto and Shigeru Furusawa, formed Aikoku Koto (Public Party of Patriots), in 1874. It advocated a directly elected parliamentary system, but dissolved itself several months later. It was a predecessor of the Freedom and People's Rights Movement, and then the Liberal Party.[1]

In 1882, Shigenobu Okuma founded the Rikken Kaishinto party (Constitutional Reform Party). This party, however, was not to have any governing role on its own. It was, however, an ancestor of Kenseito, an operational constitutional party.

Compromise

With Taisuke Itagaki, Okuma cofounded the Kenseito (Constitutional Government Party) in 1898. It soon split into factions, the members of the old Liberal Party retaining the Kenseito , and the old Shinpoto (Progressive Party) faction calling itself the Kensei Honto (Real Constitutional Party). Nevertheless, Kenseito was a working party. [2]

The Seiyukai party, formed in 1900 by Hirabumi Ito, combined Ito's faction of government with the more liberal group under Itagakai. By 1918, Yoshimichi Hara founded a government because he controlled a Diet majority, not that he was simply the Emperor's choice.[3]

Ideologies

While the parties were more or less democratic, this did not equate to liberal. Even so, there were national leaders, such as Emperor Hirohito, that preferred a unified authority to parties.

Even the liberal parties often had nationalistic and imperialistic views. [4]

End of party government

After the May 15 incident of 1931, in which radical young officers assassinated the Prime Minister, Hirohito and his advisers chose to move away from party government to help stabilize the situation.[5] During the second Konoe government in 1940, the political parties dissolved themselves. [6]

References

  1. , 1-9 White Paper for Establishment of Popularly elected Assembly, Modern Japan in Archives: Initial Steps toward a Constitutional State, National Diet Library
  2. 2-18 Birth of the "Waihan" (OKUMA-ITAGAKI) Cabinets, National Diet Library
  3. Edwin O. Reichshauer (1977), The Japanese, Harvard University Press, p. 251
  4. William Theodore De Bary (2005), Sources of Japanese tradition: From earliest times to 1600, Columbia University Press, p. 826
  5. Herbert P. Bix (2001), Hirohito and the making of modern Japan, Harper Perennial, ISBN 978-0060931308, pp. 252-254
  6. David Bergamini (1971), Japan's Imperial Conspiracy, Morrow, p. 715