ADVANTAGES

Japan held its first national elections on July 1, 1890, and 94% of those eligible voted. The Diet first met in November, and the House of Representatives had 300 seats. The two opposition parties had a majority because the revived Liberal party won 130 seats and the Progressives 41 while only 79 supported the Government. An Imperial Rescript made the cabinet ministers accountable to the Emperor instead of to the prime minister. The Diet cut the budget 11% by reducing salaries and the perquisites of officials. Prime Minister Yamagata tried to intimidate and bribe them, and eventually Itagaki and his Liberals restored about a quarter of the cuts. On December 6 Yamagata spoke before the House and argued that Japan’s independence should reach beyond its sovereign territory to “defend the line of advantage.” Thus more appropriations were needed for the Army and Navy. In 1891 Tokyo Imperial University professor Kume Kunitake published an article in which he described Shinto as the “survival of a primitive form of worship,” and he lost his job.

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