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Evolution of the Meiji State

HOME > Evolution of the Meiji State > b. Establishment of the Imperial Diet > Selection of Members of the House of Representatives and the House of Peers

b. Establishment of the Imperial Diet

2-11 Selection of Members of the House of Representatives and the House of Peers

Article introducing MUTSU Munemitsu in the (Shugiin Giin Shozo fu Shoden), supplement to the Mainichi Shinbun issue of July 10, 1890, or Meiji 23 Constitutional Government Documents Collection, #1342
Article introducing MUTSU Munemitsu in the "Shugiin Giin Shozo fu Shoden", supplement to the Mainichi Shinbun issue of July 10, 1890, or Meiji 23 Constitutional Government Documents Collection, #1342

The first House of Representatives election was held on 1 July 1890 (Meiji 23), with 300 seats to be filled. The franchise was limited to males, with only some one percent of the total population eligible to vote. The Agriculture Minister in the first Yamagata Cabinet, MUTSU Munemitsu, won a seat from his home region of Wakayama.

Meanwhile, the House of Peers (Kizoku) Act had been proclaimed on the same day as the Constitution, and the selection of its members also went forward. The Nobility (Kazoku) Act of 1884 (Meiji 17) had established five ranks of nobility, prince, marquis, count, viscount, and baron. [The ranks was conferred to 500 men chosen from the old court nobility, the former daimyo, and samurai who had served the emperor]. Unlike the members of the House of Peers from the imperial family, and those who were princes and marquises, who automatically took their seats without needing to be selected, all the members from the three lower ranks, count, viscount, and baron, selected through a mutual voting system (i.e., those of the same aristocratic rank held an election among themselves, to select the limited number of seats allocated to each rank to serve as Members of House of Peers). In addition, the House of Peers also included several imperially appointed members, based on recommendations from the Cabinet, as well as several of the highest paying taxpayers (also selected through a mutual voting system).

The documents above include a list of all the viscount candidates, along with a voting ballot, that were sent to TOKI Yorioki, daimyo of the Ueda-Numata fief until the 1868 Imperial Restoration, and later invested with the title of viscount in 1884. (He was, however, not among those selected to serve). The first election of count, viscount, and baron members to the House of Peers took place on 10 July 1890 (Meiji 23), with 15 counts, 70 viscounts, and 20 barons being selected. Once the composition of the membership of both houses was decided, the first session of the Imperial Diet was convened on 25 November 1890 (Meiji 23), marking the birth of the Imperial Diet in Japan.

House of Representatives Member Certificate

House of Representatives Member Certificate
  • 12 July 1890 (Meiji 23)
  • Papers of MUTSU Munemitsu, #108-66
  • National Diet Library
"NDL Digital Collections"

List and Ballot of Viscount Candidates for Election to the House of Peers

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