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Evolution of the Meiji State

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b. Establishment of the Imperial Diet

2-12 Opening of the Imperial Diet

Interior of the Imperial Diet Building (first building) (Collection of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography)
Interior of the Imperial Diet Building (first building) (Collection of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography)

The first Imperial Diet started with an open conflict between the popular parties and the "rito" (parties supported by the Satsuma-Choshu clique), centered in budgetary cuts (demanded by the popular parties). The emergency motion from members of the Taiseikai (one of the rito), that "fixed expenditures" in the budget cannot be reduced without the prior conjent of the Government (Article 67, Meiji Constitution) applied in this instance. This motion found support from several people's party members, including UEKI Emori. The budget was passed with this support. It is believed that the motion succeeded in part because the people were mindful of the attention directed by Western powers toward Japan's success or failure as a constitutionally governed country.

In this letter to ITO Hirobumi, dated 23 February 1891 (Meiji 24), after the passage of the emergency motion, INOUE Kowashi relates the news of the unanimous signing of a document by all the twenty two former Aikoku Koto members, in which they agreed to split from the Liberal Party. INOUE exudes a sense of relief, writing, "I am astounded at the great fortune of the Meiji Government."

Letter from INOUE Kowashi to ITO Hirobumi

Letter from INOUE Kowashi to ITO Hirobumi
  • 23 February 1891 (Meiji 24)
  • Papers of ITO Hirobumi, Letter #84-248
  • National Diet Library
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