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b. Rebuilding Political Parties and General Election

5-5 General Elections

The first postwar general election in Japan was held on 10 April 1946 (Showa 21). It was also the first to be carried out after the electaural law reforms of 17 December 1945 (Showa 20), granting all men and women aged 20 years and above the right to vote.

The election poster shown here includes text penned by the female author IKUTA Hanayo, and calls upon women to cast their votes.

The political parties reorganized before the election took place, but the purge of many politicians on the basis of the "Removal and Exclusion of Undesirable Personnel from Public Office" directive issued by GHQ on 4 January 1946 (Showa 21), dealt a heavy blow to every existing political party except the Japan Communist Party. This was especially the case of the Japan Progressive Party, which was primarily made up of former Yokusan (Imperial Assistance) legislators. In the end, the party that won the most seats in the first postwar election was the Japan Liberal Party, led by HATOYAMA Ichiro. Japan also saw the emergence of its first female legislators, with thirty nine women elected to the Diet.

The abovementioned directive, however, prevented HATOYAMA, the Party's leader becoming Prime Minister. YOSHIDA Shigeru who succeeded his as Party head, then formed a coalition cabinet with the Japan Progressive Party. The president of Toyo Keizai Shinposha (The Oriental Economist), ISHIBASHI Tanzan, had also run for office under the Liberal Party banner, but was unsuccessful. YOSHIDA, nonetheless, appointed as Finance Minister.

Poster from the First Postwar General Election

Poster from the First Postwar General Election
  • 1946 (Showa 21)
  • Constitutional Government Documents Collection, #1277
  • National Diet Library
"NDL Digital Collections"

House of Councilors Candidate Poster

House of Councilors Candidate Poster
  • 1947 (Showa 22)
  • Constitutional Government Documents Collection, #1312-16
  • National Diet Library
"NDL Digital Collections"

Draft of Election Campaign Speech

Draft of Election Campaign Speech
  • March 1946 (Showa 21)
  • Papers of ISHIBASHI Tanzan, #416-1
  • National Diet Library

Recommendation Letter

Recommendation Letter
  • March 1946 (Showa 21)
  • Papers of ISHIBASHI Tanzan, #418
  • National Diet Library
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