389$ Kagoshima ken did hardly better with 0.4l?$ The number of electors in relation to the number of adult (i.e.

In document Japan's first general election, 1890 (Page 63-70)

over twenty-five) men was one in twenty-five; and for every hundred households, there were approximately six electors. Taking the population as a whole, there were eighty-seven persons for every one elector.^

3

Suematsu Kencho, Ni-ju-san Nen-no So-Senkyo, MBZ, vol.3, pp. 203-4 and 208-9.

The most disabling of these restrictions was undoubtedly the stipulation that in order to be allowed to vote a

person had to be paying at least ¥15 a year in direct national taxes. Though every other parliamentary country, with the

exceptions of Prance, Germany, and Switzerland, still had a tax qualification to limit its franchise in 1890, and there was no demand in Japan at that time for unrestricted manhood suffrage, the choice of ¥15 as the minimum requirement made the Japanese electorate inordinately small in proportion to the total population. When discussing the reasons for the choice, Kaneko confined himself to the remark that 1Prince

Q

Ito was always a believer in gradual advance.1^ Taxation in 1890 was levied either on land or on personal incomes, and the land-tax accounted for by far the greater part of the national revenues. So much so, that at the time in question there were approximately 500,000 people paying ¥15 or more a year in land-tax, but only 14,000 paying the same amount in income tax."^ This last point is an important one for understanding the overweening influence of the rural areas in the elections. It is less easy to understand why 5

Hayashida Kametaro, Meiji-Taisho Seikai Sokumen Shi, p.175. 10

Hayashida Kametaro. Shugi-in Giin Senkyo Ho Kaisei Iken, The Nation’s Friend (Kokumin-no Tomo), vol. 13, no.201, Sept. 1893, p*366. The statistics given by Hayashida

relate to 1892, but there could not have been much change between I890 and then*

60 t h e i n c o m e - t a x p a y e r s s h o u l d h a v e b e e n f u r t h e r d i s c r i m i n a t e d a g a i n s t by i m p o s i n g on them a minimum p e r i o d o f p a y m e n t o f t h r e e y e a r s a s o p p o s e d t o one y e a r . P o s s i b l y i t was b e c a u s e t h e a u t h o r i t i e s f e l t t h a t s i n c e t h e l a n d - t a x was t h e f i n a n c i a l l i f e o f t h e s t a t e , t h e f a r m e r s h a d t o be g i v e n t h e i m p r e s s i o n t h a t t h e y w e r e b e i n g t r e a t e d s l i g h t l y more f a v o u r a b l y t h a n t h e c i t y d w e l l e r s . The s m a l l s i z e o f t h e e l e c t o r a t e m e a n t t h a t t h e t o t a l num ber o f v o t e r s i n a n y p a r t i c u l a r c o n s t i t u e n c y was o f t e n c o u n t e d i n h u n d r e d s r a t h e r t h a n t h o u s a n d s . M o r e o v e r b e c a u s e t h e c o n s t i t u e n c i e s d i d n o t a l l h a v e t h e same number o f i n h a b i t a n t s , t h e n um ber o f v o t e r s d i f f e r e d v e r y s h a r p l y f r o m one c o n s t i t u e n c y t o a n o t h e r . F o r t h e E m p i r e a s a w h o l e , t h e a v e r a g e number o f v o t e r s p e r c o n s t i t u e n c y w o r k e d o u t a t 1 , 7 1 4 ; b u t e l e c t o r a l d i s t r i c t s w i t h f e w e r t h a n f i v e h u n d r e d v o t e r s w e re b y no means uncommon, e s p e c i a l l y i n t h e c i t i e s . I n Tokyo f o r i n s t a n c e , t h e c o n s t i t u e n c y w i t h t h e l a r g e s t number o f e l e c t o r s was N i h o n b a s h i w a r d , b u t e v e n i t c o u l d o n l y m u s t e r 6 0 4 . The N i n t h C o n s t i t u e n c y ( K o i s h i k a w a , U s h ig o m e , a n d Y o t s u y a w a r d s ) h a d o n l y 182 names on i t s e l e c t o r a l r o l l , a n d f o u r o t h e r m e t r o p o l i t a n c o n s t i t u e n c i e s h a d f e w e r t h a n t h r e e h u n d r e d . The r e a s o n s why Tokyo h a d s u c h a s m a l l s h a r e o f t h e e l e c t o r a t e w e r e t h a t t h e m a j o r i t y o f i t s c i t i z e n s d i d n o t own immovable p r o p e r t y w i t h i n t h e c i t y

and not many of them paid ¥15 or more a year in income-tax. In the provinces, as the franchise was tied to the amount paid in land-tax and so ultimately to the value of land, a given acreage in well-favoured regions would carry with it the right to vote whilst the same - or an even greater - area of land in less fertile parts would not. Three single-member constituencies - Fukushima ken Fifth Constituency, Shiga

ken Second Constituency, and Mie ken Third Constituency - had more than 4,000 voters. As opposed to this, three

other constituencies - Shimane ken Sixth Constituency (Oki islands), Nagasaki ken Sixth Constituency (Tsushima island), and Kagoshima ken Seventh Constituency (Oshima islands) - had fewer than 60 voters each.^1

The qualifications for candidates were similar to, but not identical with, those required of voters. To be eligible for election, a candidate had to be:- (i) a male Japanese subject, (ii) over thirty years old, and (iii) paying, and to have been paying for at least one year previous to the compilation of the electoral rolls, ¥15 or more per annum in direct national taxes in the fu or ken where he wished to be elected. (Once again, in the case of income-tax, the minimum time limit was extended to three years.) There was no residence qualification for candidates. In other ways,

_

Hayashida Kametaro, Shügi-in Giin Senkyo Ho Kaisei Iken, The Nation1s Friend (Kokumin-no Tomo), vol. 13, no.198, Aug. 1893, p.171.

62

too, the regulations for candidates were slightly less rigid than might have been expected or, indeed, deemed

advisable. Candidates for election did not have to pay any deposit to be forfeited if they failed to secure more than a stipulated share of the votes; and the law did not place them under any restraints with regard to election expenses as opposed to bribes. Moreover, candidates were free to

stand for election regardless of whether or not they had been formally authorized by a political party or had been favoured with any kind of organized local support. Thus, the Law of Election was somewhat deficient in safeguards against irresponsible or reckless candidatures.

Certain categories of persons were absolutely disqualified on professional grounds from standing for election. These

were members of the Imperial Household Department, judicial officers, auditors employed by the Government, revenue

officials, members of the police force, and also Shinto priests, Buddhist clergy, and teachers of religion. Local government officials were not allowed to contest seats in areas under their own jurisdiction.

The ban on the Buddhist clergy was not without

repercussions. There were cases of priests renouncing their 12

vocation to take part in the election. According to a

IF“

Suematsu Kencho, Ni-ju-san Nen-no So-Senkyo, MBZ, vol.3, p.216. Also report on the Osaka fu campaigns in TNNS (Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun) for 20-6-90.

n e w s p a p e r a r t i c l e w r i t t e n i n J u l y 1 8 9 0 , p e t i t i o n s f o r t h e r e s t o r a t i o n o f t h e c l e r g y ’ s r i g h t t o be e l e c t e d h a d b e e n s u b m i t t e d t o t h e S e n a t e s i n c e t h e p r o m u l g a t i o n o f t h e Law o f E l e c t i o n w i t h s u c h r e g u l a r i t y t h a t , f o r t h e c o n v e n i e n c e o f t h e p e t i t i o n e r s , a s p e c i a l i n t e r - d e n o m i n a t i o n a l c o r r e s p o n d e n c e room h a d b e e n s e t up a t t h e Komyo t e m p l e i n t h e S h i b a w a r d 13 o f To ky o. One o f t h e s e p e t i t i o n s , r e c o r d e d a few d a y s l a t e r a s h a v i n g b e e n h a n d e d i n t o t h e P r i v y C o u n c i l , o r i g i n a t e d i n two v i l l a g e s i n Yamaguchi p r e f e c t u r e a n d c a r r i e d 168 s i g n a t u r e s . 1 ^ A p a r t f r o m p e t i t i o n s , t h e B u d d h i s t p r i e s t s w e r e c a p a b l e o f a d o p t i n g more q u e s t i o n a b l e m e t h o d s t o d e f e n d t h e i r i n t e r e s t s . I n t h e s p r i n g o f 1 8 8 9 , a n o r g a n i z a t i o n known a s t h e Sonno H o b u t s u D a i d ö d a n ( C o n f e d e r a t i o n f o r H o n o u r i n g t h e E m p e r o r a n d R e v e r i n g t h e Buddha ) was f o r m e d , i n c l u d i n g i n i t s r a n k s b o t h p r i e s t s a n d l a y - b e l i e v e r s , a n d s p r e a d t o

e v e r y p r o v i n c e . I n some p l a c e s , t h e more f e r v e n t members o f t h i s o r g a n i z a t i o n u s e d v i o l e n c e i n a n a t t e m p t t o p r e v e n t C h r i s t i a n s o r n o n - b e l i e v e r s f r o m b e i n g e l e c t e d t o t h e t ow n a n d v i l l a g e a s s e m b l i e s . Though t h i s v i o l e n c e d i d n o t a l w a y s a c h i e v e i t s o b j e c t i v e , i t was s u f f i c i e n t l y s u c c e s s f u l t o s u g g e s t s u d d e n l y t o a n u m be r o f c a n d i d a t e s i n t h e g e n e r a l 13 TNNS 1 - 7 - 9 0 . ( T M S a b b r e v i a t i o n f o r Tokyo N i c h i N i c h i S h i m b u n . ) 1 4 TKNS 3 - 7 - 9 0 .

64

election of the following year the wisdom of enrolling

themselves in the Sonnö Hobutsu Daidodan, or buying Buddhist family altars if they did not already have them, or helping the Buddhist priests to write their sermons. To disturbances of this sort, in favour of the restoration of the right to be elected, some, but not all, of the leaders of the sects

were prepared to turn a blind eye. Those who were not willing to condone violence suggested at a conference of

representatives from a number of sects, held in Tokyo during April 1890, that the clergy should make every effort to

bring about by peaceful means the election of those candidates

18

who were known to be believers in Buddhism. J

In addition to forbidding candidatures by persons

belonging to the categories listed above, the Law of Election also withheld from certain other classes of people both the right to be elected and the right to vote. These were

lunatics, idiots, undischarged bankrupts, members of the armed services not on the retired or temporarily retired lists, heads of noble families, and persons who had been deprived of their public rights or whose public rights had been suspended. Those who had undergone imprisonment for one year or more were also in danger of losing their electoral rights, as the lav/ stated that three years had to pass after

the completion or pardon of their sentences before they were entitled to vote or be elected. The same rule was enforced v/ith respect to persons who had been punished for gambling. Finally, anybody against whom a criminal charge had been laid, and who was in detention or on bail, could not elect or be elected until the completion of the

In document Japan's first general election, 1890 (Page 63-70)