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Taisho Democracy - Essay Example

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This paper responds to issues in the Taisho Democracy, particularly about the political parties and their importance in 1890-1925, the Rice Riots of 1918, and their impact on Japan's politics, and the so-called Taisho Democracy itself where the Japanese political system was becoming more "democratic" towards the latter part of this era…
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Taisho Democracy
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Taisho Democracy This paper responds to issues in the Taisho Democracy, particularly about the political parties and their importance in 1890-1925, the Rice Riots of 1918, and their impact on Japans politics, and the so-called Taisho Democracy itself where the Japanese political system was becoming more "democratic" towards the latter part of this era.
Political parties more important in the era 1890-1925. Political parties in the Meiji era were established to represent the voice of the people, to present platforms for political and economic reforms, as the government slowly progressed from an authoritarian government to a more democratic form of government. As what the Charter Oath stated, the affairs of the state would be decided based from the public opinion through deliberative assemblies. From an oligarch to the present, because of the participation of the parties, the Japan government has evolved into as what the CIA Factbook defines the present-day Japanese government as a Constitutional Monarch with a Parliamentary government (2007).
For example, the Constitutional Liberal Party that was established in 1890, had a list of items that were to be studied and deliberated upon (Diet 2006). A few items found in the list are revisions of the Newspaper and Assembly Ordinances, the expansion of the franchise, the restoration of Japans right to impose customs duties, the expansion of educational opportunities, the creation of a business tax, and the reduction of land taxes which indicate the orientation of the party at that time (Diet 2006).
In the opening of the Diet on 25 November 1890, popular political parties argued between the Satsuma-Choshu group on the issues regarding budgetary cuts. The budgetary cuts cannot be applied without the consent of the government. The active participation of parties during this time made the motion successful.
Within its reign, the Taisho democracy, just like any other government eras, experienced disturbances as well. A popular disturbance is the Rice Riots of 1918. As the Japanese government sent soldiers to aid in the occupation of the Trans-Siberian railway during the Russian Civil Revolution, supply of rice was being sent to Siberia. Because of this, demand for rice exceeded the supply resulting in the increase of prices which tightened the livelihood of the people.
Rice Riots of 1918. Mr. Den Kenjiro, a Communications Minister wrote in his diary of a Rice Riot that happened in Kobe on 12 August. He mentioned the Suzuki Cooperation and the Kobe Shinbun (Kobe newspaper) company headquarters were burned down in protest. The riots first started in Toyama Prefecture and eventually spread out across the country. The Masake Terauchi administration has collapsed, the prime minister and his cabinet resigned from their positions to take the responsibility.
Democratic while being an Authoritarian. The government progressed in becoming a democratic government. The political situation became more and more liberal. The cabinet is “party based”, the implementation of Universal Manhood Suffrage Law grants voting rights for all adult males, although the poor and the victims of the Kanto earthquake were an exception, and the Peace Preservation Law was also passed as a counter measure for communism (Diet 2006). Political parties were persistent in presenting their proposals for the general public.
Despite the progression, hierarchical transfer of power is from the Emperor to the heir. The final decision still lies with the Emperor, whether it is for the welfare of the constituents or not. On the other hand, the military influence during the late 1920’s became increasingly influential. Because of these, the government still retains an authoritarian character.
Works Cited
Modern Japan in Archives. 2006. National Diet Library. 19 December 2007. The World Factbook. 13 December 2007. Central Intelligence Agency. 22 December 2007.
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