Republican Speech Affair (共和演説事件)

The Republican Speech Affair was an event that the speech, which Education Minister Yukio OZAKI of the first Okuma Cabinet (the Wai-han Cabinet) made on August 21, 1898, caused a trouble and triggered a collapse of the Cabinet.

The course of the event

OZAKI spoke at the tea party of the Imperial Education Society on August 21, 1898 as follows. The public think of the U.S. like the origin of the mammonism, but there is nobody in the U.S. who became a President because he has money. Until now, more poor men became Presidents. Although there is no consideration to implement a republican government in Japan, even if it is possible, probably Mitsui and Mitsubishi will become a presidential candidate. Such a thing cannot be done in the U.S. His speech, in effect, criticized the trend of the Zaibatsu (company syndicate)-oriented, venal money politics which had been prevailing at that time.

However, this was criticized by the Imperial Household Ministry first as 'insulting words' under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan, and then by the House of Peers and the Privy Council which were critical of the Wai-han Cabinet, the first party cabinet. Not only Toru HOSHI, an influential politician of the former Liberal faction of the ruling Constitutional Party, had a secret connection with Taro KATSURA, an Army Minister, to exclude OZAKI, but Tokyo Nichinichi Newspaper, owned by Miyoji ITO who was a sworn ally of Hirobumi ITO who hated the Wai-han Cabinet, launched attacks on OZAKI.

OZAKI visited the Imperial Palace on September 6 to apologize to the Emperor Meiji, and asked Prime Minister Shigenobu OKUMA persistently to resign together. As the Emperor expressed no-confidence on him on October 22 of that year, he was forced to resign on October 24.

While the confliction over the successor between the both former Progressive and the former Liberal factions (Japan) became worse, it could not reach a compromise, Prime Minister OKUMA recommended Tsuyoshi INUKAI for the successor from the Progressives on his own authority. On the other hand, three days later, October 27 the day of the inauguration ceremony, the Minister of Home Affairs Taisuke ITAGAKI reported his objection to the throne, and three ministers of the former Liberal Party including ITAGAKI resigned on the following day. Moreover, the ruling Constitutional Party was split, and the Wai-han Cabinet collapsed on October 31. The Constitutional Party was soon divided in the Constitutional Party centering on the former Liberal faction and the True Constitutional Party centering on the former Progressive faction.

[Original Japanese]