Hotobun (formal response speech to imperial rescript) Incident (奉答文事件)

The Hotobun Incident was an incident which occurred in 1903, as a chairman of the House of Representatives, Hironaka KONO read impeachment of the First Taro KATSURA Cabinet in Hotobun (formal response speech) to the imperial rescript at the opening of the Diet, and this led to the dissolution of the House of Representatives in the end.

On December 10, 1903, at the opening of the Diet, a chairman of the House of Representatives, Hironaka KONO broke with the precedent of the House and added an impeachment against the Cabinet into Hotobun to the imperial rescript, and he gained approval by the House.

In the first place, according to precedent, Hotobun by the House of Representatives to the imperial rescript granted on the opening day of the Diet, was to be presented the Imperial Court after its draft written by the chief secretary at the House of Representatives was conferred at the draft committee, asked the floor for its approval, and being passed.

At that time, relationship between Japan and Russia was at issue, and KONO really did make up his mind. KONO broke with the precedent and added words such as, 'Now the national prosperity meets a chance in a million, but the Cabinet doesn't follow this and the internal administration takes a stopgap policy so that we lose the chance in diplomacy' into Hotobun and impeached the Cabinet, so that he could let the Meiji emperor know of people's voice.

He first asked the secretary HAYASHIDA about the precedent of the House, then he made up his mind to seek for the way as long as an interpretation of the law allowed and he interpreted that drafts written by the chief secretary as precedent, Hotobun formed by the members of the House, and drafts by draft committee only remained as a reference for the chairman, so he took the approach with his draft which was mentioned above in his pocket, read this and asked for approval in the House. Members of the House who got used to precedent of drafts being made out only with moderate words showing loyalty and intention of meeting the imperial notion, might not have paid enough attention to the wording, they passed it by unanimity. Later, the members realized the wording, and Tetsuo USUI as a representative of 68 independents, Tomofusa SASA as a representative of 18 Imperial Party members, Tadasu KUWABARA as a representative of 33 Chusei-to Party members, Keizaburo UCHIYAMA as a representative of 25 Koyu Club members packed into the office of the House of representatives, and they claimed that the secretary's action was careless, and pressed the chairman for conferring it again, but both didn't respond. In the meantime, a visit to the Imperial Palace for presenting the chairman's Hotobun was scheduled on the following day, 11, at 11 in the morning, but all of a sudden at twilight, the Imperial Household Ministry announced that the visit should have been postponed, and on 11, dissolution of the Diet was ordered.

[Original Japanese]