Japan Socialist Party (1906, Nihon Shakaito) (日本社会党 (1906年))

The Nihon Shakaito is a political party in the Meiji Period. It's known as Japan's first legal socialist party.

The first Saionji Cabinet was formed at the beginning of 1906; under the appeasement policy of the cabinet, there was a growing tendency among socialists to establish political parties. In January, 1906, the government approved the 'Nihon Heiminto' (Japan Commoner Party) founded by Kojiro NISHIKAWA and his comrades, which was followed by the formation of the 'Nihon Shakaito' with Toshihiko SAKAI as its main founding member; the next month these two parties joined together to form a new party retaining the party name Nihon Shakaito in February, 1906. The new party focused on legality with its slogan 'We advocate socialism within the limit of the Law'; the "Nikkan Heimin Shinbun" (Commoners' Daily News), which was first launched in the next year, 1907, was practically its official publication.

Immediately after its establishment, the Nihon Shakaito aggressively generated mass movements such as the one opposing the fare rise of the Tokyo Shiden (the streetcar network of Tokyo City). When Shusui KOTOKU returned from the United States of America influenced by Anarcho-syndicalism, an intense internal conflict was created between Kotoku and the opposing Tetsuji TAZOE's group over the Nihon Shakaito's policy and tactics; Kotoku advocated 'direct action' through the general strike whereas Tazoe advocated 'parliamentary tactics' and insisted on promoting the universal suffrage movement led by workers.

Meanwhile, the government could no longer resist the demand, presented by Aritomo Yamagata and others, for the government to crack down on socialism; consequently, the Saionji Cabinet issued a mandate of banning the Nihon Shakaito for the 'disturbance of peace and order,' and thus the socialist party was dissolved in February, 1907.

[Original Japanese]