Minryoku-Kyuyou and Seihi-Setsugen (Rest for Financial Resources of People and Reduction of Governme (民力休養・政費節減)

Minryoku-Kyuyou and Seihi-Setsugen referred to the policy pledge of Minto (general term of the political parties such as the Liberal Party and Progressive Party that conflicted with a han-dominated government when the Imperial Diet was inaugurated) in early the Imperial Diet of the Meiji Period. Seihi-Setsugen (Reduction of Government Expense) may also be written as Keihi-Setsugen (Budget Savings).

Minryoku-Kyuyou and Seihi-Setsugen asserted the reduction in the waste in the growing government's finances due to industrial advancement and the build up of armaments (Seihi-Setsugen and Keihi-Setsugen), and the alleviation of tax burden on people suffering from heavy taxation by a reduction of the land tax with a decrease of waste (Minryoku-Kyuyou) to reestablish lives of people.

Reduction of the land tax was increasingly asserted after 1880 when the principal members of Democratic-Rights Movement shifted to landowners and peasants, and it was aimed along with "Gaikou no Satsushin" (revamping of foreign diplomacy) and "Genron and Syukai no Jiyuu" (freedom of speech and assembly) also in Sandai Jiken Kenpakusyo (the petition of three major matters) in 1887. Since the political party called "Daido Kurabu" (Great Club) formed when Great Merger Movement disbanded in 1889 advocated "reconstructing finance and aiming for rest for laborers," it became a policy pledge that was shared by Minto, involving confronting Daido Kyowa Kai (later Constitutional Liberal Party) and the Constitutional Progressive Party. After the Imperial Diet was inaugurated, Minto specifically demanded the land tax reduction 2 to 2.5% of the land price and tried to decrease the budget of the House of Representatives. However, Minto could not realize their goal since the House of Peers was reluctant to reduce the tax. On the other hand, Rito (pro-government political parties) opposing Minto, did not generally disagreed with this principle and demanded to shift the land tax payday to the pre-harvest months (the burden on peasants would be reduced if rice is exchanged to cash while the rice price was high for paying tax), which was more feasible than reducing land tax.

However, the price of rice remained on an upward trend along with changes in the social structure around the time of the Japanese-Sino War, causing a phenomenon of burden reduction since the tax was still based on a relatively old land price. In addition, the expenditure was often reduced since repayment of bonds had a higher percentage of the annual government expenditure at that time, and some of the councilors of Minto called for budget distribution to their local public work projects, indicating a specific measure for expense savings could not be finalized even in Minto. Therefore, opinions for implementing this policy were polarized as well. In other words, while the landowners and peasants in eastern Japan demanded a reduction of taxation rate previously raised more than the shogunate and domain system after the land-tax reform, those of western Japan, whose previous taxation rate was relatively high and evaluated highly due to high yield demanded a reduction in the land price rather than the taxation rate (the land price used to calculate the land tax). Furthermore, business and industrial men around urban areas were frustrated by assertions of Minto calling only for the reduction in the land tax despite the fact that the fraction of business tax (Japan) on profits was higher than that for land tax, and established their own movement through Zaiseikakushin kai (conference on reform of financial affairs) and others.

Contrarily, the government planned to raise the land tax on the grounds that the taxation on landowners and peasants had been reduced. When the Second Matsukata's cabinet proposed this policy in 1898, heated arguments erupted between the government and Minto or landowners and peasants against commercial and industrial men, which caused a radical change in the composition of the political world such as the cooperative relationships between political parties and domain cliques.

[Original Japanese]