The First MATSUKATA Cabinet (第1次松方内閣)


As the prime minister subsequent to Aritomo YAMAGATA (the First YAMAGATA Cabinet), such as Hirobumi ITO, Tsugumichi SAIGO and Akiyoshi YAMADA were lined up, but the imperial command for organizing the Cabinet was given to Masayoshi MATSUKATA on May 2. To organize the Cabinet, MATSUKATA stated that he could not take on it without full cooperation by predecessors and insisted on all the Cabinet members staying in the Cabinet as the condition to assume the prime minister. Thus, the members of the previous Cabinet were stayed on for a while. Therefore, this cabinet was ridiculed by Minto (political parties such as Liberal Party, Progressive Party and so on which conflicted with a han-dominated government when imperial Diet was inaugurated) such as "Power broke cabinet" and "Second-rate cabinet". Immediately after that, however, the Cabinet members announced their resignation one after another, and moreover, such as Minister of Foreign Affairs (Japan) and Minister of Home Affairs (Japan) announced resignation to take responsibility for Otsu Incident happened, and eventually, personnel was determined 1 month after establishment that all the Cabinet members except for 3 ministers (Minister of the Navy, Minister of Agriculture and Commerce and Minister of Communication) would be replaced. As a result, the situation was that the cabinet could be fallen at any time with no Cabinet member of genkun (the statesmen who contributed in Meiji Restoration) class left, and less than half of the Cabinet members from Satsuma and Choshu.

In the second Diet held in such situation, minto criticized the government, because they tried to increase the budget for navy without achieving the pledge of the previous government "Government cost-cutting". Sukenori KABAYAMA, Minister of the Navy, who was furious about this addressed so-called "reckless speech" to idle the House of Representatives, and MATSUKATA decided the first dissolution of the House of Representatives on December 25. On February 15, 1892, the next year, the second general election of members of the House of Representatives was held, but Yajiro SHINAGAWA, Minister of Home Affairs and Senichi SHIRANE, the vice-minister took the lead in extensive election interference then, and 25 people died and 388 people injured mainly among people related to minto. The Minister of Agriculture and Commerce, Munemitsu MUTSU protested against this by own resignation (MUTSU was an incumbent House of Representatives member before dissolution. He did not stand in this time, but commended his younger brother by courtesy, Kunisuke OKAZAKI (cousin) and Toru HOSHI), and SHINAGAWA also resigned.
(They gathered pro-government councilors to form National Association later.)
In the third Diet convened after election, minto impeached the government, and even the House of Peers (Japan) which should have been pro-government started to stand back from the MATSUKATA cabinet. In addition, in the prewar Ministry of Home Affairs (Japan), Taneomi SOEJIMA, the new Minister of Home Affairs, who tried to pursue responsibility for the election interference was forced to resign by maneuver of SHIRANE and the supporting group consisted of the local officials such as Yasukazu YASUBA and Mamoru FUNAKOSHI. In June, other Cabinet members submitted the letter of resignation one after another, and in July, replacement of SHIRANE, YASUBA and others was determined, and then on 27th of the same month, Military ministers who were negative to such punishment submitted the letters of resignation all together, which made MATSUKATA submit the letter of resignation.

Period being in office

May 6 - August 8
Period being in office 461 days.

Minister of State

Other personnel affairs

[Original Japanese]