Minto (literally, the peoples party) (民党)

Minto is the general term of the political parties such as the Liberal Party (in the Meiji period) and the Constitutional Progressive Party and so on which promoted the Movement for Democratic Rights in the Meiji Period. It was used mainly between the establishment of the Imperial Diet and the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, but was used to the Taisho period with the meaning of "the Parties of the People's Representatives" afterwards.


Winning majority in the first general election of the members of the House of Representatives in 1890, the parties demanding the democratic rights such as the Liberal Party (it was split then and reunited through the Great Merger Movement) and the Constitutional Progressive Party and etc. thought that the public was on their side and strengthened the attitude toward the han-dominated government (the members of former Choshu and Satsuma domains who played major part in the Meiji Restoration and had power after the restoration) which suppressed them and toward other conservative parties (the Taiseikai Group and so on) regarded as the followers of the government. They used the word "minto" to call themselves with the consciousness that they were the real representatives of the people, and they regarded their opponents as the group having a cozy relationship with the government officials and despised the group by calling it "rito" (literally, the parties of the government officials, it is the discriminatory term used by the members and supporters of minto). According to the opinion of Shusui KOTOKU, who wrote the biography of Chomin NAKAE, Nakae first used the words "Minto and Rito" in "Rikken Jiyu Shinbun" (the Constitutional Liberal Press) which was the publication of the Liberal Party (in Japan) and the Constitutional Liberal Party (the party for the reunification of the Liberal Party between 1890 to 1898 in Japan, later renamed "the Liberal Party") and the words spread out later.

With the slogan "Recovery of the National Power and Reduction of the Administrative Expenditure," Minto showed a strong attitude toward the government which advocated the doctrine of detachment. On the other hand, the government planned to destroy Minto by interfering in the second general election of the members of the House of Representatives in 1892 on a large scale but ironically led to its own defeat.

However, because the Liberal Party entered into cooperative relationship with the Second Ito Cabinet about the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 and the revision of unequal treaties, the Progressive Constitutional Party cooperated with Rito and attacked them and appeared in Minto. The practical coalition cabinet was formed as the Progressive Party (in the Meiji Period) which was the Constitutional Progressive Party (the Showai Cabinet (Sho was defined as Masayoshi MATSUKATA while Wai was Shigenobu OKUMA)) in the Second Matsukata Cabinet, and the Liberal Party attacked them. Not only Minto but also Rito, which was Minto's opponent at the beginning, was shaken by this situation, and the movement to reorganize political parties which Minto and Rito put into confusion increased.
Although there were some politicians such as Tsuyoshi INUKAI (a member of the non-reform group in the Constitutional National Party who later found the Club of Innovation) and others who associated the word "Minto" with representatives of people, but the word "Minto" faded away as the movement to reorganize political parties concentrated on two major parties called the Constitutional Party of Political Friends consisting of the Liberal Party and government officials under Hirobumi ITO the Constitutional Association of Friends (it became the Constitutional Association afterwards and changed into the Constitutional Democratic Party) with the Constitutional Progressive Party and the group of Taro KATSURA,

[Original Japanese]