Abstract

Universal suffrage was enacted into law in Japan in 1925 under a coalition government formed the previous year by the two major parties, Kenseikai and Seiyūkai. The law abolished an existing tax qualification for voting, expanding the electorate from three million to twelve and one-half million adult males. The Kenseikai had endorsed universal suffrage in late 1919, after an internal debate which began about a year earlier. The Seiyūkai by contrast accepted universal suffrage only in 1924, after several years of expressly rejecting it. This article traces the stages whereby these parties became committed to the legislation, and also examines the reaction to the issue on the part of other elements which had at least a potential voice in this legislation: the nonparty cabinets which governed from 1922 to 1924, the privy council, the House of Peers, and the genro, or elder statesmen.

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