Online ISSN : 2424-2616
Print ISSN : 0018-2478
ISSN-L : 0018-2478
The House of Peers under the Second Okuma Cabinet
Kazunari Naito
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1995 Volume 104 Issue 9 Pages 1604-1630,1680-


The Saiwai-Club (which consisted mainly of bureaucrats) wielded power in the House of Peers through the Meiji era. The assimilation of the Kenkyukai party (which consisted mainly of peers) helped the process. However, the club's power leclined gradually from the Taisho political crisis to the establishment of the Hara Takashi Cabinet. Why? In this paper, I will discuss the movements of the Saiwai-Club and Kenkyukai party, paying close attention to the sinking fund problem of the early Taisho era. After the Taisho political crisis, the political world was split in two groups: supporters of the Second Okuma Cabinet and its opposition. During the Second Okuma Cabinet regime, leaders of the Saiwai-Club were also split in two biterly opposing groups. At the 37th session of the Diet, they vehemently opposed the government's policy concerning the sinking fund. Though the Second Okuma Cabinet lived on until a half year later, Genro Yamagata Aritomo Suggested its general resignation to mediate both groups and this helped their diminish the tension. Finally, the government and leaders of Saiwai-Club suggested a compromise, and most parties accepted it. However, it did not mean the dispute was solved completely. It often re-emerged in later sessions. In fact the Saiwai-Club declined due to dissent among their leaders. Baron-members in their party particularly tended keep their distance. Leaders of the Kenkyukai party also came to lose their trust, because they did nothing but following the Saiwai-Club party line. Many members (particularly the younger ones) wanted them to leave the Saiwai-Club, resulting in their fall from the leading position. Such a situation made them oppose government policy when the sinking fund problem occurred. They were urged by their leaders to accept compromise at last; but this did not mean that their feelings had changed. They continued to search for the chance to regain party leadership. As they had expected, they did become the new leaders a few years later. Their party came to grow as the Saiwai-Club decayed. As mentioned above, the ruling party changed from the Saiwai-Club to the Kenkyukai party during the Second Okuma Cabinet Period. This important trend laid the foundation for the structure of later governments and had much influence on the political history of the Taisho era itself.

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© 1995 The Historical Society of Japan
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