The 1889 Japanese Constitution was Designed to Pacify the Opposition Without Deposing the Ruling Oligarchy

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The 1889 Japanese Constitution was Designed to Pacify the Opposition Without Deposing the Ruling Oligarchy

A. To a little extent, the granting of the constitution was to conciliate opposing parties existing in Japan which agitated for representative government. This was because:

(1) Ever since the split of the central government in 1873 (Korean Affair) Itagaki and his followers led a political agitation in favour of democratic institution to weaken the Satsuma-Choshu oligarchy. To conciliate the demands of the opposition:

(a) Government established a Senate (Genro-in ) and a separate court of justice (Daishin-in) and a Council of Governors to meet the charge against the high centralization of
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(2) Position and authority of government by 1889 was so strong that she was able to use various repressive measures to suppress opposition: e.g. Press Law of 1875, 1877, 1883. Law of Public Meetings and Associations of 1880. With so many obstacles on the activities of the opposition the political parties had therefore dissolved by the end of 1884, and a number of newspapers had to close down. Plots to overthrow the government and assassination were discovered by police. Large number of patriots were arrested, imprisoned and executed.

(3) Government was willing to give constitution, but was determined to make the decision itself and not to be forced by political agitators whom they considered irresponsible and inexperienced. Therefore constitution was given out of own initiative and plan, not out of the pressure from the opposition. The struggle between the political parties and the government leaders had not prevented the latter from carrying out their own plans for writing a constitution and introducing limited parliamentary government through which they could control.

(4) Therefore, Okuma although had helped to force the government in 1881 to promise the establishment was to be in 1890. This represented the gradualist view of the ruling oligarchy (e.g. Ito), not the radical view of the opposition which wanted immediate or the earliest
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