General Election Law

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The General Election Law(普通選挙法,Futsū Senkyo Hō) was a law passed in Taishō period Japan, extending suffrage to all males aged 25 and over. It was proposed by the Kenseitō political party and it was passed by the Diet of Japan on 5 May 1925.

Japan Country in East Asia

Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south.

The Kenseitō was a political party in the Meiji period Empire of Japan.

National Diet legislature of Japan

The National Diet is Japan's bicameral legislature. It is composed of a lower house called the House of Representatives, and an upper house, called the House of Councillors. Both houses of the Diet are directly elected under parallel voting systems. In addition to passing laws, the Diet is formally responsible for selecting the Prime Minister. The Diet was first convened as the Imperial Diet in 1889 as a result of adopting the Meiji Constitution. The Diet took its current form in 1947 upon the adoption of the post-war constitution, which considers it the highest organ of state power. The National Diet Building is in Nagatachō, Chiyoda, Tokyo.

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Background

Meiji period Japan was dominated by the Meiji oligarchy, who viewed popular democracy and party politics with suspicion. However, after the promulgation of the Meiji Constitution, limited suffrage was extended to male property holders, aged over 25 years, who paid more than 15 Yen in annual taxes for elections to the lower house starting in 1890. The number of voters who qualified under this restriction was around 450,000 (roughly 1 percent of the population). Over the next three decades, the number grew to around 3,000,000. Many executive and legislative positions in the Japanese government were appointive, rather than elected. Although seats in local, prefecture and the national (lower) assemblies were elected, the House of Peers was composed of both appointed and hereditary members, and prefectural governors were appointed by the central government and answerable only to the Home Ministry (Japan). City mayors were appointed by the prefectural governor, albeit from a list of names supplied by the city elected assembly.

Meiji oligarchy ruling class of Meiji period Japan

The Meiji oligarchy was the new ruling class of Meiji period Japan. In Japanese, the Meiji oligarchy is called the domain clique.

Democracy system of government in which citizens vote directly in or elect representatives to form a governing body, sometimes called "rule of the majority"

Democracy is a system of government where the citizens exercise power by voting. In a direct democracy, the citizens as a whole form a governing body and vote directly on each issue. In a representative democracy the citizens elect representatives from among themselves. These representatives meet to form a governing body, such as a legislature. In a constitutional democracy the powers of the majority are exercised within the framework of a representative democracy, but the constitution limits the majority and protects the minority, usually through the enjoyment by all of certain individual rights, e.g. freedom of speech, or freedom of association.

The Constitution of the Empire of Japan, known informally as the Meiji Constitution, was the constitution of the Empire of Japan which had the proclamation on February 11, 1889, and had enacted since November 29, 1890 until May 2, 1947. Enacted after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, it provided for a form of mixed constitutional and absolute monarchy, based jointly on the Prussian and British models. In theory, the Emperor of Japan was the supreme leader, and the Cabinet, whose Prime Minister would be elected by a Privy Council, were his followers; in practice, the Emperor was head of state but the Prime Minister was the actual head of government. Under the Meiji Constitution, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet were not necessarily chosen from the elected members of the group.

Universal Suffrage Movement

Almost from the start of elections in Japan, popular movements arose to eliminate the tax-paying requirement, which effectively disenfranchised a large segment of the adult male population. In 1897, the Universal Suffrage League(普通選挙期成同盟会,Futsu Senkyo Kisei Dōmeikai) was created to raise public awareness through discussion groups and periodicals. Diet members, mostly from liberal faction within the Diet, supported by the Liberal Party of Japan (Jiyuto) and its offshoots, presented bills to the Diet in 1902, 1903, 1908, 1909 and 1910. The movement finally appeared to succeed in March 1911, when its Universal Suffrage Bill was passed by the lower house only to be summarily rejected by the House of Peers.

Increased government hostility towards radical groups broadened in the 1910s, with the implementation of the Peace Preservation Laws and increased censorship and surveillance of suspected radical groups associated with leftist or labor movements. However, the movement for universal suffrage resurfaced in 1918-1919 with demonstrations held by student and labor associations and a sudden upsurge in interest by newspapers and popular journals. The opposition political parties, the Kenseikai and Rikken Kokumintō jumped on the bandwagon, whereas the governmental Rikken Seiyūkai still opposed.

Peace Preservation Law series of laws during the Empire of Japan (1925-1945)

The Public Security Preservation Laws, commonly referred to as the Peace Preservation Laws, were a series of laws enacted from 1894 to 1925 during the Empire of Japan. Collectively, the laws were designed to suppress political dissent.

Universal suffrage Political concept

The concept of universal suffrage, also known as general suffrage or common suffrage, consists of the right to vote of all adult citizens, regardless of property ownership, wealth, income, race, or ethnicity, subject only to minor exceptions. In its original 19th-century usage by political reformers, universal suffrage was understood to mean only universal manhood suffrage; the vote was extended to women later, during the women's suffrage movement.

Kenseikai

The Kenseikai was a short-lived political party in the pre-war Empire of Japan.

The liberal parties favored an increase in the popular franchise to keep up with the world trend to democracy and to provide a safety valve for both urban and rural discontent. The more conservative parties, fearing that the increased voter base would favor their liberal opponents, resisted these proposals.

In 1924, a Kenseikai alliance with the Seiyukai scored a victory over the non-party government of Kiyoura Keigo. Kenseikai leader Katō Takaaki became Prime Minister of Japan, and the Seiyukai was forced to accept the Kenseikai proposal on extending universal male suffrage to all male citizens over the age of 25 as the price for the coalition. The bill was passed in 1925, and came into effect for the 20 February 1928 elections.

Kiyoura Keigo Japanese politician

Count Kiyoura Keigo was a Japanese politician. He was the 23rd Prime Minister of Japan from 7 January 1924 to 11 June 1924, during the period which historians have called the "Taishō Democracy".

Katō Takaaki Japanese politician

Count Katō Takaaki was a Japanese politician, diplomat, and the 14th Prime Minister of Japan from 11 June 1924 until his death on 28 January 1926, during the period which historians have called "Taishō Democracy". He was also known as Katō Kōmei.

Prime Minister of Japan Head of government of Japan

The Prime Minister of Japan is the head of government of Japan and the commander-in-chief of the Japanese Armed Forces. The Prime Minister is appointed by the Emperor of Japan after being designated by the National Diet and must enjoy the confidence of the House of Representatives to remain in office. He is the Chairman of the Cabinet and other Ministers of State serve at the pleasure of the Prime Minister. The literal translation of the Japanese name for the office is Minister for the Comprehensive Administration of the Cabinet.

Criticisms

The General Election Law was passed only after the Peace Preservation Law was passed. Although more democracy was given, liberty (in terms of freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech) was limited at the same time. With the greatly increased voter base (approximately 12 million voters in 1925, or approximately 20 percent of the total population), the costs for elections rose considerably. Political candidates, in need of greater sources of funding, turned to the zaibatsu and other sponsors who also had vested political interests.[ citation needed ]

<i>Zaibatsu</i> industrial and financial business conglomerate in the Empire of Japan

Zaibatsu is a Japanese term referring to industrial and financial business conglomerates in the Empire of Japan, whose influence and size allowed control over significant parts of the Japanese economy from the Meiji period until the end of World War II. They were succeeded by the Keiretsu in the second half of the 20th century.

In addition, women still did not have the right to vote.[ citation needed ]

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