Rikken seiyukai (立憲政友会)

Rikken seiyukai was one of the two major political parties along with Rikken Minsei-to political party between the end of Meiji period and the early part of Showa period in Japan (September 15, 1900 - July 16, 1940 [the orthodoxy faction, the unificationists] / July 30, 1940 [the reformists]). The abbreviation is the Seiyu Party.


On September 15, 1900, Hirobumi ITO organized it as his ruling party since he became aware of the collapse of the doctrine of superiority and the necessity of party government. Ito himself became the first president of the party which was established on the initiative of the bureaucracy leaning toward Ito, Kensei Party (former Liberal Party), and Empire Party. Although the Emperor Meiji, who had distrust toward political parties, strongly opposed Ito's establishment of a political party, Ito insisted on the necessity of the political party within the diet which respect the emperor and the national interest, and then Ito gained the Emperor's acknowledgement.
(At this time, the Seiyu Party received the imperial donation of 20,000 yen through Ito.)
In October of the same year, he formed the fourth Ito Cabinet consisting mainly of the Seiyu Party. However, the study group (the House of Peers), which is the largest parliamentary faction in the House of Peers (Japan) and which still believed in the doctrine of superiority, not only passed a resolution to refuse Ito's request to join his party, but also rallied five factions (sawa kai, asahi kurabu, koshi kai, mokuyo kai, mushozoku dan) and rejected a tax-increase bill to raise military expenditure for the Boxer Rebellion in 1901, which forced the Ito Cabinet to resign en masse.

During the First Katsura Cabinet, which was formed after Ito's, Ito took both compromising and opposing policies toward the Cabinet and in 1902, the Seiyu Party occupied 190 seats and got a majority in the seventh general election of members of the House of Representatives. From within the Seiyu Party, criticism arose against Ito's autocratic political style as a president and in the following year, Aritomo YAMAGATA, who disliked party government, nominated Ito for Chairman of the Privy Council (Japan) to unseat him from the presidency of the party.
(In this process, both Kenjiro DEN who promoted compromise with the Katsura Cabinet and Yukio OZAKI who opposed to Den's idea were expelled from the party by their opponents.)
(This internal discord resulted in a loss of one third of the party members of the House of Representatives; they either left the party or were struck off the list.)

When Ito resigned his position as president and took office as Chairman of the Privy Council, the previous Chairman of the council, Kinmochi SAIONJI, took over the presidency. In 1904, the party supported the Katsura Cabinet on Russo-Japanese War. In 1906, the party produced two ministers of the First Saionji Cabinet. The long-standing insistence on railway nationalization was realized. During the Second Katsura Cabinet, which was formed next, the Seiyu Party remained as the ruling party and during the Second Saionji Cabinet, the party expanded its influence lead by Takashi HARA and Masahisa MATSUDA. Then, the party organized Constitution protection movement and overthrew the Third Katsura Cabinet (Taisho Coup). In 1913, the party became the ruling party of the First Yamamoto Cabinet. This period in which Saionji and Katsura took charge of the government alternately is referred to as Kei-En era (Katsura-Saionji era).

After Taisho Coup, Saionji, who was originally from court noble, took political responsibility and resigned office because he had refused Emperor Taisho's request to support the Third Katsura Cabinet. Matsuda became a hopeful candidate for the next presidency, but he died suddenly and Takashi HARA became the president in 1914. Riding the wave of Taisho Democracy, the Seiyu Party returned to the leading party in 1917 and after rice riot in 1918, Takashi HARA was nominated as shuhan (the head seat) and organized the first full-fledged party government in Japan in 1918.

After Takashi HARA was assassinated, Korekiyo TAKAHASHI was hastily invited to be the new president, for which the party split into two factions; one supporting Takahashi led by Sennosuke YOKOTA, and the other which opposed led by Takejiro TOKONAMI that separated from the party and organized the Seiyu-hon Party. Yokota and others took part in the second Constitution protection movement, and then joined the Takaaki KATO's three-party coalition Cabinet of Constitution protection.

In 1925, the former Minister of Army Giichi TANAKA became the president. Under Tanaka's leadership, the Seiyu Party gradually leaned toward pro-military conservatism. The Tanaka Cabinet, which was established in 1927, adopted the aggressive policy in China so-called Tanaka diplomacy and oppressed leftist movement, but the cabinet was forced to resign en masse concerning the management of Assassination of Sakurin CHO.

Although the Seiyu Party took charge of the government alternately with Rikken Minsei-to political party for the first several years of the Showa period, after Tsuyoshi INUKAI was assassinated in May 15th Incident in 1932, it was oppressed by the military and declined; the Seiyu Party suffered a devastating defeat in the 19th general election of members of the House of Representatives in 1936 including the president Kisaburo SUZUKI's failure. Furthermore, in 1939, the party split into two factions concerning the next president, either for Fusanosuke KUHARA or Chikuhei NAKAJIMA (mentioned later). In 1940, both factions dissolved and they took part in the new system movement, and then they joined the Imperial Rule Assistance Association.

Splitting problem of the Seiyu Party and dissolution

After Suzuki resigned his position as president in 1937, four members sat on the acting president committee: Ichiro HATOYAMA, Yonezo MAEDA, Toshio SHIMADA, and Chikuhei NAKAJIMA, but on April 30, 1939, Nakajima organized the Seiyu Party reform alliance and became the president. Meanwhile, Hatoyama and others who opposed president Nakajima worked on the former president Suzuki, who was sick in bed at that time, and appointed three new members for the acting president committee: Fusanosuke KUHARA, Chuzo MITSUCHI, and Kenkichi YOSHIZAWA. Hereby, the Seiyu party split into two factions: 'the orthodoxy faction' (also referred to as Kuhara faction: Hatoyama, Kuhara, Mitsuchi, Yoshizawa, and others) and 'the reformists' (also referred to as reform alliance or Nakajima faction: Nakajima, Maeda, Shimada, Shichiroku TANABE, and others). The orthodoxy faction appointed Kuhara to the president and the reformists invited Keisuke MOCHIZUKI and Tatsunosuke YAMAZAKI from the former Showa Party who had originally belonged to the Seiyu Party.
Also, Tsuneo KANEMITSU, Takeru INUKAI, and Masataka OTA did not belong to either the orthodoxy faction or the reformists when the party split and they became 'the neutral faction' (also referred to as Kanemitsu faction) and in the following year, that is in 1940, councilors of orthodoxy faction who supported expulsion of Saito concerning the issue of the expulsion of Takao SAITO of Minsei Party (civil administration party) from the House of Representatives became isolated in the faction and joined the neutral faction, and then the neutral faction renamed their faction 'the unificationists.'

However, on July 16 of the same year, the orthodoxy faction (66 members) and the unificationists (10 members) dissolved and on July 30, so did the reformists (97 members) and they all joined the Imperial Rule Assistance Association.

The splitting problem of this occasion may be regarded as the second splitting problem to distinguish it from the one caused by a conflict between Sennosuke YOKOTA and Takejiro TOKONAMI (establishment of the Seiyu-hon Party) at the end of Taisho period which is regarded as the first splitting problem. "History of Rikken seiyukai," which was completed in1943 after the party was dissolved, described Nakajima as the eighth official president because the reformists took control of the official publication of the party and the editorial department of the party history after the second split. Naturally, it is thought to be inappropriate in today's political history to regard only one of Nakajima and Kuhara as the official president.

Successive presidents

Presidents of Rikken seiyukai

Acting president committee members of Rikken seiyukai

Presidents of Rikken seiyukai reform alliance

Presidents of Rikken seiyukai orthodoxy faction

[Original Japanese]