Mr. Swift to Mr. Blaine.

No. 146.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that the elections for members of the Diet took place throughout Japan on the 1st of July last. In the provinces and capital alike they passed off in the quietest and most orderly manner. I have delayed communicating the facts to you until now, with a view to give you reliable information as to the political complexion and character of the new legislative body.

According to the “law of elections,” persons registered as qualified electors and desiring to vote had to attend in person at the voting place. There, after identification by reference to the electoral list, each received a voting paper, upon which he inscribed the name of the person he voted for, then his own name and residence, finally affixing his stamp. This paper the elector placed in the ballot box with his own hands in the presence of the headman of the district, acting as manager, and of from two to five witnesses previously selected.

The polling commenced at 7 o’clock a.m., and at 6 o’clock p.m. was formally declared closed. The ballot boxes having been closed with two locks, one by the headman the other by the witnesses, were forwarded next morning to the district office of their respective localities.

As might, perhaps, have been foreseen, there are as yet, in Japan, no political parties in the sense the term is used in the United States. There are numerous political societies calling themselves parties, but which in the United States would rather be called “clubs” than “parties.” They are, as a rule, brought into existence by some prominent and active [Page 605] politician, and are, in fact, the following of his individual political views. They act under his leadership and are generally recognized as his “party.” This is the natural result of the political condition in Japan to-day. When the Diet meets and the living issues of the time come before that body for consideration, the present associations must, if parliamentary government is to succeed, disappear, and parties in the western sense of the word be formed for the purpose of carrying out principles and not the mere advancement of men.

The most complete returns attainable give the representation of the different parties in the Diet as per the accompanying paper marked “Election returns.” In regard to the term “Independents” used in that paper, it should be explained that independence of political parties is alone referred to. Men are described as “Independents” who have hitherto refrained from publicly avowing their allegiance to any political association. It is from members of this category that it is expected the Government will receive its strongest support; as they have always held aloof from parties inofposition, it is supposed that their sympathies are, as a rule, with the authorities.

I inclose herewith a very ably written article from the Japan Daily Mail of August 12, entitled “Political parties in the Diet,” which says about all there is to be said at this time upon that subject. As to the proposed alliance of the progressive parties spoken of in the latter part of that article, the following parties are referred to: The Daido party (“Party of Great Questions”), of which Count Goto, present minister of communications, is the leader, represented in the Diet by 54 members; the Kaishin-to (“Progressionists”), of which Count Okuma is the leader, represented in the Diet by 46 members; Aikokuko-to (“Patriotic Party”), of which Count Itagaki is the leader, represented in the Diet by 28 members; the Kyushu Shimpo-to (“Society of Fellow-Thinkers”), represented in the Diet by 13 members; the Jiyu-to (“Radicals”), of which Mr. Oi is the leader, with 17 members in the Diet; the Jichi-to (“Party of Self-Government”), of which Count Monye is the leader, represented in the Diet by 12 members; and the Koin Club, an offspring of the Daido, Aikokuko-to, and Jiyu-to parties, and represented in the Diet by 3 members.

An alliance between the parties named above could, in myofinion, not result in anything more than united action for a special object.

The law of meetings and political associations, promulgated July 25, 1890, I now inclose herewith.

The Diet is composed of 300 members, of whom 70 held official positions, either local or in the Central Government; 30 are farmers, 16 lawyers, 12 journalists, 8 merchants, 18 district headmen, 6 bankers, 4 school-teachers, 2 physicians, and 2 had been priests. The occupations of the remaining 130 are not given.

According to the constitution of Japan, the House of Peers consists of five classes of members:

  • First. Princes of the blood who have attained their majority.
  • Second. Princes (not of the blood) and marquises who have reached the age of 25.
  • Third. Counts, viscounts, and barons to the number of one-fifth of those orders, who have attained the age of 25 and shall have been elected by their peers.
  • Fourth. Members appointed by the Emperor to the number of not more than the noble members.
  • Fifth. One member elected, and to be approved and nominated by the Emperor, in each city and prefecture, from among and by the 15 [Page 606] male inhabitants of that city or prefecture who pay the highest amount of direct national taxes on land, industry, or trade.

The members of this last class, 46 in number, were elected on the 10th of June, 1890. Since then 15 counts, 70 viscounts, and 20 barons have been elected by their orders.

The upper house consists, exclusive of the imperial family, of the following: Ten princes and 21 marquises, sitting by virtue of their titles; 15 counts, 70 viscounts, and 20 barons, elected by their orders; 46 members elected from the cities and prefectures.

There remain to be appointed by the Emperor 90 members, or a number equal to the whole number of the noble members, less 46, the number elected from the cities and prefectures and appointed by the sovereign. The upper house will therefore, when complete, consist of 272 members exclusive of the princes of the blood.

Only two of the present cabinet, Count Matsukata and Viscount Aoki, were elected by their orders to seats in the upper house. Count Ito, now out of office, was elected. Doubtless, Counts Okuma, Inonye, Yamagata, Yamada, Saigo, and many others who have held or are holding cabinet portfolios will be appointed by the Emperor. It was probably owing to the certainty of their appointment by the sovereign that more of the men who have taken so prominent and active a part in the advancement of Japan were not elected by their peers to seats in the upper house.

I have, etc.,

John F. Swift.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 146.]

Election returns.

Parties represented in the lower house of the Japanese Parliament:

Independents, 95 members. So called, but likely to amalgamate ultimately into the real Conservative party, possibly something like the English Conservatives.

Daido-Ha, 54 members; Aikokuko-to, 28; Jiyu-to, 17; Kyushu Shimpo-to, 13; Koin Club, 3; Various local factions, 17. These will inevitably amalgamate to form the Radical party.

Kaishin-to, 46 members. Originally Moderate Liberals. This party has no longer any raison d’être. It is almost sure to break up, a portion going over to the Radical camp and a portion to the Conservatives mentioned above.

Jichi-to, 12 members. This party has no raison d’être and must drift into the Conservative camp.

Various local factions which must drift into the Conservative camp, 15 members.

Total number of members of Parliament, 300.

[Inclosure 2 in No. 146.—From the Japan Daily Mail.]

Political parties in the Diet.

Writing under this heading the Koku-min-no-Tomo of the 3d instant reviews the position of the various political parties represented in the Diet. After reproducing statistical classifications of the members from four of the Tokio daily papers, the Hochi Shimbun, the Daido Shimbun, the Jiji Shimpo, and the Kokumin Shimbun, our contemporary proceeds to observe that, much as these papers differ in respect of the numerical strength of the several parties in the Diet, men capable of judgment seem to agree in assigning the largest number to the so-called “Independents,” who are followed in order by the Daido-ha, the Kaishin-to, and the Aikokuko-to. Thus, of all the parties, the Daido-ha has obtained the largest number of members. That it has been able to secure so many is attributed by our contemporary to the extremely [Page 607] favorable circumstances under which it was brought into existence. It was organized on a very broad basis, and at a moment when the old Jiyu-to had for sometime been dissolved, and the Kaishin-to was in a state of temporary torpor. When, further, it is remembered that the avowed object of the party was to attack the clan system of government, there is no wonder that it obtained the adhesion of all the politicians out of power and not belonging to the Kaishin-to. Thus the Daido Danketsu, as it was called before the breaking up of its ranks into three parties—the Aikokuko-to, the resuscitated Jiyu-to, and the Daido-ha—extended its influence over a wide area. Owing chiefly to these circumstances, the party succeeded in emerging from the late elections with much éclat, notwithstanding that its influence was weakened by the organization of the Aikokuko-to and the resuscitated Jiyu-to. Though numerically strong, the Daido-ha, as might be inferred from the manner in which it sprang into being, is not distinguished by any strong cohesion among the different elements composing it.

Our contemporary divides these elements into three classes: first, the center, which is composed of men more distinguished for audacity in changing with the changes of the times than for devotion to any particular cause or principle; secondly, the right wing, which contains men professing liberal principles; and thirdly, the left wing, which leans to conservatism. The Kokumin-no-Tomo admires the consummate skill of the center in maintaining apparent harmony among these incongruous elements. The Tokio Journal, however, shares the common belief that the Daido-ha is not destined to retain long its present influence. The right wing may readily be detached by Count Itagaki if only he sees his way to assume an attitude of greater liberality, while it would be easy for Viscount Tani to obtain the adhesion of the left wing. Thus the only portion of the party likely to remain true to its leader will be the wary center. Moreover, those members of the Daido-ha who are of the provinces of the northeast—and they form the majority of the party—are not, according to the view of the Kokumin-no-Tomo, by any means ardent in their attachment to Count Goto; neither are they as ambitions of political distinction as the members of the center. Our contemporary is persuaded to believe that, for the present at least, the members of the Daido-ha in the northeast will maintain an independent political organization of a liberal tendency after the fashion of the Shimpo-to of Kyushu. As yet, however, the Daido-ha may justly be proud of the number of gifted members in its ranks. Especially in political maneuvers its members are far ahead of even those among the Kaishin-to, noted for their sagacity. In literary talent Mr. Suehiro Jukyo is most distinguished; in business capacity, Mr. Oye Taku; in political experience, Mr. Hironaka; in legal ability, Mr. Suematsu (hitherto Komyoji) Saburo; and in boldness, Mr. Suzuki Shoji.

The Tokio Journal is sure that the members of the Daido-ha will distinguish themselves in the Diet more for skill in taking advantage of every turn of affairs than for constancy to any fixed policy. As to the resuscitated Jiyu-to, our contemporary observes that its influence in the Diet will be comparatively weak. But its membeis will not be disconcerted by this, as they have not been very solicitous of obtaining seats in the legislature. The Kokumin-no-Tomo, however, thinks it a very lamentable fact that the leader of the party, Mr. Oi Kentaro, was declared disqualified for sitting in the Diet. Among the members, the more celebrated are Messrs. Nakae Tokusuke, formerly editor of the Osaka Shinonome Shimbun; Shi-mazu Tadasada, president of the Nagano prefectural assembly; and Arai Shogo, of the “Osaka Affair” fame. The party will be unable to wield any formidable influence in the Diet, but as an adjunct to some of the larger parties it is certainly not to be slighted. Its closest affinities will probably be with the Aikokuko-to, concerning the future prospects of which our contemporary seems to entertain a highly favorable opinion. Its numerical strength in the Diet is not as great as that of the Daido-ha, but it is far stronger than the latter in respect of cohesion and combination. Its distinctive characteristic is sincere devotion to its political creed. From this point of view, the actions of its representatives in the Diet may be too scrupulous and unbending, but they will never, the Kokumin predicts, beofen to a charge of inconstancy or tergiversation. The courageous Mr. Hayashi Yuzo, the solid Mr. Kataoka Kenkichi, the businesslike Mr. Takenouchi Tsuna, the logical Mr. Uyeki Emori, and the experienced Mr. Sugita are the more distinguished members. There is one circumstance, however, which our contemporary regrets for the sake of the party, namely, that the majority of its members are of Tosa origin. It has thus a somewhat exclusive appearance, and may on that account fail to find favor with the inhabitants of other localities.

The Tokio Magazine recommends Count Itagaki and his followers to take suitable measures to obviate this unfavorable impression. With regard to the Jichi-to, the Kokumin-no-Tomo observes that it is not by any means strongly represented in the Diet. Some people believe that it will be led in the lower house by Mr. Mutsu and in the upper by Viscount Aoki. Our contemporary is of opinion that this party labors under three serious disadvantages: first, its aristocratic associations; secondly, [Page 608] its Choshu clan tendency; and thirdly, its “odor of silver” (love of money). It is not destined, we are told, to grow powerful, and our contemporary doubts very much whether a man of Mr. Mutsu’s penetration really contemplates identifying himself with such a party. The Hoshu-to and the Kyushu Shimpo-to are nearly equally represented in the Diet, and must not be overlooked in any forecast of the political situation, because they are both rich in talented members. Mr. Kawashima Jun, of Kagoshima, Mr. Matsuda Masahisa, of Saga, and Mr. Yamada Buho of Kumamoto, are the most conspicuous members of the Kyushu Shimpo-to. The Hoshu-to can, on the other hand, boast of such distinguished names as those of Messrs. Sugiura Juko, Oyagi Biichiro, Motoda Hajime, and Sasa Tomofusa. Our contemporary persists in calling these persons Conservatives, though some of them strongly object to the title. With reference to the Kaishin-to, the Kokumiu-no-Tomo observes that its failure to obtain a majority, or at least the largest relative number of members in the Diet, is the more significant, as it has endeavored ever since its first appearance to enlist the sympathies of men certain to possess the franchise. The cause of the failure is ascribed to its unfortunate record with regard to the question of treaty revision last year. It is to be regretted that men like Messrs. Koizuka Ryu, Tsunoda Shimpei, Kato Masanosuke, Sunagawa Yushun, Yamada Ichiro, Ichishima Kenkichi, and Hadano Denzaburo were defeated at the late elections. Further, whatever may have been the cause of his decision, it is to be sincerely regretted, for the sake of the Kaishin-to, that Mr. Yano Fumio has retired from political life.

It is also unfortunate that Mr. Hatoyama, who is reported—though incorrectly, we (Japan Mail) believe—to have intimate connections with the Kaishin-to, was unable to obtain a seat in the Diet. Equally regrettable is the absence from the list of the elected of the name of Mr. Kato Takaaki, a confidential lieutenant of Count Okuma, though it should be observed that he made no attempt to canvass. Still, the Kaishin-to, with Messrs, Shimada Saburo, Ozaki Yukio, Fujita Mokichi, and Inukai Ki, at its head, is by no means an unimportant factor in the Diet. Its organization may appear to outsiders firm and strong, but those well acquainted with its affairs seem to doubt this, and even question wnether it will be able to hold its different sections in the bonds of discipline in the Diet. Last year, when the question of treaty revision was agitating the public mind, the two great organs of the party, the Hochi Shimbun and the Mainichi Shimbun, were observed to adopt different and conflicting lines of argument on some important points. For instance, when Count Okuma endeavored to conciliate Count Ito and his followers by promising that the judges of foreign origin mentioned in the diplomatic note should be naturalized in Japan, the Hochi supported its leader, while the Mainichi argued as if little or no importance attached to the naturalization jiroviso. However, the Kokumin hopes that the leaders of the party, taught by the experience of last year, may take precautions against a repetition of such fatal errors. As to the so-called “Independents,” our contemporary ridicules the notion attributed to some of them, of forming themselves into a distinct party on an independent platform; for the “Independents,” though spoken of as one class, are an extremely heterogeneous body, being composed of men of all kinds of political creeds, from extreme conservatism to extreme radicalism.

Lastly, as to the proposed alliance of the progressive parties, the Kokumin-no-Tomo considers that the settlement of this question will decide the political situation for the present, at least since a union of all the parties would mean 173 votes in a house of 300. Many persons doubt whether the Daido-ha will join the alliance, but, even excluding that party, and supposing that one-fourth of the “Independents” are won over, there still remain 135 votes, a formidable number when we consider that the rest of the house is divided into several separate parties. Our contemporary does not believe that the alliance, even if successfully formed, will last long; neither does it believe that the existing parties will long remain in their present condition. A time will come when entirely new parties with intelligible platforms will be formed out of the present associations, the latter being only provisional in their nature. At present the best course for the progressive parties to adopt, in the opinion of the Kokumin, is union, for thus and thus alone will they be able to effect what they desire to accomplish in the coming Diet. Union, however, does not look at all as probable now as it did a fortnight ago.

[Page 609]
[Inclosure 3 in No. 146.—From the Japan Daily Mail.]

Law of meetings and political associations.

Law No. 33.

We hereby give our sanction to the present regulations relating to the law of meetings and political associations (Shukwai oyobi Seisha-ho), and order the same to be promulgated.

(His Imperial Majesty’s sign manual.)

(Great seal.)

Dated July 25, 1890.


Count Yamagata Aritomo,
Minister President of State.

Count Saigo Tsukumichi,
Minister of State for Home Affairs.

  • Article 1. “Political meetings” in this law mean meetings assembled in public for the delivery of lectures and the discussion of matters relating to politics, whatever such meetings may be called; “political associations” include all organized bodies with objects relating to politics, whatever names such associations may bear.
  • Art. 2. Each political meeting shall be arranged for by a projector. When it has been decided to hold a meeting, the projector shall intimate the fact to the police station of the district where the place of meeting is 48 hours before theofening of the meeting. On such intimation being made, the police station shall at once acknowledge its receipt of the same. The place and date, the name of the projector of the meeting, as well as the names, residences, and ages of the speakers or lecturers, shall be mentioned in the above letter of intimation (todokesho), and the signature and seal of the projector shall be affixed to the same. The effect of the intimation (todoke-ide) shall cease if the meeting be notofened within 3 hours after the period mentioned in the same.
  • Art. 3. No person other than adult male subjects of Japan in the possession of public rights (koken) can be the projector of a political meeting.
  • Art. 4. Soldiers of the army or seamen of the navy, on service, or with the first and second reserves when mobilized, police officials, instructors and students of Government, public, and private schools, infants, and women are not permitted to assemble in political meetings. In the case of meetings which may beofen to make preparations for the election of members of an assembly organized by law, the restrictions of this article shall not apply to those who have the right of electing or of being elected during the 30 days which precede the date of voting.
  • Art. 5. No foreigner can speak or lecture in political meetings.
  • Art. 6. No political meeting can be held in the open air.
  • Art. 7. Should it be intended to assemble in public or to hold a procession in theofen air, the projector of the same shall intimate the place of assembly, the date, and the road through which it is intended to pass, to the police station of the district, 48 hours beforehand and obtain permission for the same. This regulation shall not, however, apply to festivals, religious celebrations, or clubs, the games of students, or other occasions which are recognized by custom and usage. Police stations may not give permission should injury to peace and order be apprehended. Police stations may prohibit meetings and movements of crowds in theofen air in any case, should the same be deemed injurious to peace and order.
  • Art. 8. No meeting or movement of a crowd (procession) in the open air is allowable during the time from theofening till the close of the houses, within a radius of 3 miles of the Imperial Diet. The additional sentence of paragraph 1, article 7, shall also be applied in the case of this article.
  • Art. 9. A police station may detail constables in uniform who shall attend political meetings and regulate the same.
  • Projectors of political meetings shall supply to the police attending the meetings any seats demanded by them, and shall answer whatever questions relating to such meetings may be asked by them. The attendance and superintendence of the police referred to in the first paragraph of this article may take place in the case of meetings deemed to be injurious to peace and order.
  • Art. 10. No person can attend any assembly carrying arms or lethal weapons. Persons who carry arms in accordance with regulations are, however, excepted.
  • Art. 11. No meetings are permitted to be held where speeches are delivered to shield criminals, or to protect or congratulate persons guilty under the criminal law, or persons pendente lite of a criminal court, or to instigate the commission of crime.
  • Art. 12. Police officers may challenge any who willfully conduct themselves in a tumultuous or turbulent manner, and, if such do not observe their orders, may expel them from the hall.
  • Art. 13. Police officers may order the dissolution of a meeting in the following cases:
    When the existence of the meeting is a contravention of any of the provisions of this law.
    When article 11 is contravened, or the meeting is deemed to be injurious to peace and order.
    In the latter case the speech or discussion of a particular person may be suspended without entirely suspending the proceedings.
    When the attendance of the police isofposed, or their seats are not provided at their request, or their questions are not answered.
    When the persons assembled are tumultuous and do not become quiet when ordered to do so.
    When a number of persons contravene articles 4 and 10 and do not observe the orders of the police to leave the hall.
  • Art. 14. Should political meetings be held without the communication mentioned in article 2 being made, the projectors shall be punished by fines of not less than 10 yen and not more than 100 yen, and the persons who lease the hall shall be similarly punished.
  • Art. 15. Should the information mentioned in article 2 be false, projectors shall be punished as prescribed in the previous article.
  • Art. 16. Any person who contravenes article 3, or who assembles in contravention of article 4, and any projector who does not prohibit them from doing so, shall be punished by fines of not less than 2 yen and not more than 20 yen.
  • The penalty on projectors who contravene article 5 shall be similar to that in the last paragraph.
  • Projectors who cause persons prohibited from assembling in a political meeting to so assemble by enticing or inducing them shall be liable to punishment one degree heavier than that mentioned in paragraph 1 of this article.
  • Art. 17. Projectors and speakers who contravene article 6 shall be punished by minor imprisonment for not less than 11 days and not more than 6 months, or by fines of not less than 5 yen and not more than 50 yen.
  • Art. 18. For contraventions of article 7, projectors or instigators shall be punished by fines of not less than 10 yen and not more than 100 yen.
  • Art. 19. For contraventions of article 8, projectors and instigators shall be punished by minor imprisonment for not less than 11 days and not more than 6 months, or by fines of not less than 10 yen and not more than 100 yen.
  • Art. 20. Contraventions of article 10 shall be punished by minor imprisonment for not less than 11 days and not more than 6 months; projectors who fail to prohibit such contravention shall be similarly punished.
  • Art. 21. Contraventions of article 11 shall be punished by fines of not less than 20 yen and not more than 200 yen, or by minor imprisonment for not less than 1 month and not more than 6 months.
  • Art. 22. Persons who refuse to leave a meeting when ordered to do so, or who refuse to obey the orders of the police dissolving a meeting, shall be punished by minor imprisonment for not less than 11 days and not more than 6 months, or by fines of not less than 2 yen and not more than 20 yen.
  • Art. 23. Political associations shall be controlled by officials (yakunin). Each political association shall intimate its name, its officials, and members to the police station of the district where its office is situated, through the medium of its officials, within 3 days after its formation. The same process is necessary when any change occurs in the matters to be reported as above. Police stations shall at once intimate the receipt of the information above mentioned. Officials shall answer whatever questions relating to the association the police may ask.
  • Art. 24. When a political association shallofen a meeting for the delivery of political speeches, article 2 shall be observed. Meetings held at fixed times, and the places and speakers of which are settled beforehand, need not be reported to the police when intimation has been made of the first meeting, always provided such intimation be made 48 hours before the first meeting. Should changes occur in the matters to be reported, article 2 shall be observed.
  • Art. 25. Soldiers or seamen on service, or in the first or second reserve when the same are mobilized, police officials, instructors, and students of Government, public, and private school, infants, women, and males who do not possess public rights may not become members of political associations.
  • Art. 26. Foreigners are prohibited from becoming members of political associations.
  • Art. 27. Political associations may not use marks or flags.
  • Art. 28. Political associations may not influence the public by issuing documents or sending deputies, or establish branch offices, or combine and correspond with other political associations.
  • Art. 29. No political association is permitted to establish rules making members of any assembly organized by law responsible for their utterances or votes outside said assembly.
  • Art. 30. Should any political association be deemed injurious to peace and order, the minister of state for home affairs may suspend or prohibit it; should such association fail to dissolve when ordered, the offenders shall be punished by minor imprisonment for not less than 2 months and not more than 2 years, or by fines of not less than 20 yen and not more than 200 yen.
  • Art. 31. Should the necessary report (todokeide) of a political association be omitted, or the questions of the police be not answered, in contravention of article 23, the officials shall be punished by fines of not less than 10 yen and not more than 100 yen.
  • Should the information mentioned in article 23 be false, or a false answer be given to any question, punishment one degree heavier than that mentioned in the last paragraph shall be inflicted.
  • Art. 32. Persons who have become members of any political association, or officials who have caused them to do so, in contravention of article 25, shall be punished by fines of not less than 2 yen and not more than 20 yen. Officials who contravene article 26 shall be similarly punished.
  • Art. 33. Persons who use marks or flags, in contravention of article 27, as well as officials of the association concerned, shall be punished by fines of not less than 2 yen and not more than 20 yen.
  • Art. 34. For contraventions of article 28 the offending officials or deputies shall be punished by minor imprisonment for not less than 1 month and not more than 1 year, or by fines of not less than 5 yen and not more than 50 yen.
  • Art. 35. Persons who are actually officials of associations or projectors of meetings, shall be conjointly responsible as officials or projectors, without respect to the name used, whether such name be that of one person or of several and other persons.
  • Art. 36. Offenses against this law shall not be treated under the rule as to simultaneous offenses (suzai guhatsu).
  • Art. 37. The period of prescription for prosecutions under this law shall be 6 months.
  • Art. 38. Meetings regulated by laws and ordinances shall not be dealt with under this law.