General Election Law
The was a law passed in Taishō period
Taisho period
The , or Taishō era, is a period in the history of Japan dating from July 30, 1912 to December 25, 1926, coinciding with the reign of the Taishō Emperor. The health of the new emperor was weak, which prompted the shift in political power from the old oligarchic group of elder statesmen to the Diet...

Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, extending suffrage to all males aged 25 and over. It was proposed by the Kenseito
The was a political party in the Meiji period Empire of Japan.The Kenseitō was founded in June 1898, as a merger of the Shimpotō headed by Ōkuma Shigenobu and the Jiyūtō led by Itagaki Taisuke, with Ōkuma as party president. The merger gave the new party an overwhelming majority in the Lower House...

 political party and it was passed by the Diet of Japan
Diet of Japan
The is Japan's bicameral legislature. It is composed of a lower house, called the House of Representatives, and an upper house, called the House of Councillors. Both houses of the Diet are directly elected under a parallel voting system. In addition to passing laws, the Diet is formally...

 on 5 May 1925.


Meiji period
Meiji period
The , also known as the Meiji era, is a Japanese era which extended from September 1868 through July 1912. This period represents the first half of the Empire of Japan.- Meiji Restoration and the emperor :...

 Japan was dominated by the Meiji oligarchy
Meiji oligarchy
The Meiji oligarchy was the name used to describe the new ruling class of Meiji period Japan. In Japanese, the Meiji oligarchy is called the ....

, who viewed popular democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 and party politics
Party Politics
Party Politics is a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes papers in the field of Political Science. The journal's editors are David M Farrell and Paul Webb...

 with suspicion. However, after the promulgation of the Meiji Constitution
Meiji Constitution
The ', known informally as the ', was the organic law of the Japanese empire, in force from November 29, 1890 until May 2, 1947.-Outline:...

, limited suffrage was extended to male property holders, aged over 25 years, who paid more than 15 Yen in annual taxes for elections to the lower house
House of Representatives of Japan
The is the lower house of the Diet of Japan. The House of Councillors of Japan is the upper house.The House of Representatives has 480 members, elected for a four-year term. Of these, 180 members are elected from 11 multi-member constituencies by a party-list system of proportional representation,...

 starting in 1890. The number of voters who qualified under this restriction was around 450,000 (roughly 1 percent of the population). Over the next three decades, the number grew to around 3,000,000. Many executive and legislative positions in the Japanese government were appointive, rather than elected. Although seats in local, prefecture and the national (lower) assemblies were elected, the House of Peers
House of Peers (Japan)
The ' was the upper house of the Imperial Diet as mandated under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan ....

 was composed of both appointed and hereditary members, and prefectural governors were appointed by the central government and answerable only to the Home Ministry (Japan)
Home Ministry (Japan)
The ' was a Cabinet-level ministry established under the Meiji Constitution that managed the internal affairs of Empire of Japan from 1873-1947...

. City mayors were appointed by the prefectural governor, albeit from a list of names supplied by the city elected assembly.

Universal Suffrage Movement

Almost from the start of elections in Japan, popular movements arose to eliminate the tax-paying requirement, which effectively disenfranchised as large segment of the adult male population. In 1897, the was created to raise public awareness through discussion groups and periodicals. Diet members, mostly from liberal faction within the Diet, supported by the Jiyuto and its offshoots, presented bills to the Diet in 1902, 1903, 1908, 1909 and 1910. The movement finally appeared to succeed in March 1911, when its Universal Suffrage Bill was passed by the lower house only to be summarily rejected by the House of Peers.

Increased government hostility towards radical groups broadened in the 1910s, with the implementation of the Peace Preservation Law
Peace Preservation Law
The Public Security Preservation Laws were a series of laws enacted during the Empire of Japan. Collectively, the laws were designed to suppress political dissent.-the Safety Preservation Law of 1894:...

s and increased censorship and surveillance of suspected radical groups associated with leftist or labor movements. However, the movement for universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

 resurfaced in 1918-1919 with demonstrations held by student and labor associations and a sudden upsurge in interest by newspapers and popular journals. The opposition political parties, the Kenseikai
The was a short-lived political party in the pre-war Empire of Japan.The Kenseikai was founded on 10 October 1916, as a merger of the Rikken Doshikai , Chuseikai and the Koyu Kurabu...

 and Rikken Kokuminto
Rikken Kokuminto
The was a minor political party in the Empire of Japan. It was also known as simply the 'Kokumintō’.The Kokumintō was founded in March 1910, by a merger of the Kensei Hontō with a number of minor political parties and groups within the Lower House of the Japanese Diet, and was dominated by Inukai...

 jumped on the bandwagon, whereas the governmental Rikken Seiyukai
Rikken Seiyukai
The was one of the main political parties in the pre-war Empire of Japan. It was also known simply as the ‘Seiyūkai'Founded on September 15, 1900 by Itō Hirobumi , the Seiyūkai was a pro-government alliance of bureaucrats and former members of the Kenseitō. The Seiyūkai was the most powerful...

 still opposed.

The liberal parties favored an increase in the popular franchise to keep up with the world trend to democracy and to provide a safety valve for both urban and rural discontent. The more conservative parties, fearing that the increased voter base would favor their liberal opponents, resisted these proposals.

In 1924, a Kenseikai alliance with the Seiyukai scored a victory over the non-party government of Kiyoura Keigo
Kiyoura Keigo
was a Japanese politician. He was the 23rd Prime Minister of Japan from 7 January 1924 to 11 June 1924, during the period which historians have called the “Taisho Democracy”.- Early life :...

. Kenseikai leader Kato Takaaki
Kato Takaaki
Count was a Japanese politician and the 24th Prime Minister of Japan from 11 June 1924 to 28 January 1926. He was also known as Katō Kōmei.- Early life :...

 became Prime Minister of Japan
Prime Minister of Japan
The is the head of government of Japan. He is appointed by the Emperor of Japan after being designated by the Diet from among its members, and must enjoy the confidence of the House of Representatives to remain in office...

, and the Seiyukai was forced to accept the Kenseikai proposal on extending universal male suffrage to all male citizens over the age of 25 as the price for the coalition. The bill was passed in 1925, and came into effect for the 20 February 1928 elections.


The General Election Law was passed only after the Peace Preservation Law
Peace Preservation Law
The Public Security Preservation Laws were a series of laws enacted during the Empire of Japan. Collectively, the laws were designed to suppress political dissent.-the Safety Preservation Law of 1894:...

 was passed. Although more democracy was given, liberty (in terms of freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech) was limited at the same time. With the greatly increased voter base (approximately 12 million voters in 1925, or approximately 20 percent of the total population), the costs for elections rose considerably. Political candidates, in need of greater sources of funding, turned to the zaibatsu
is a Japanese term referring to industrial and financial business conglomerates in the Empire of Japan, whose influence and size allowed for control over significant parts of the Japanese economy from the Meiji period until the end of World War II.-Terminology:...

 and other sponsors who also had vested political interests.

In addition, women still did not have the right to vote.

See also

  • Japan general election, 1928
    Japan general election, 1928
    The 16th General Election of Japan of the House of Representatives was the first election in Japan after the diet passed the General Election Law. It was held on February 20, 1928. -Results:...

     In Japanese
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.