In January 1874, Japan’s first political party, Aikoku Kōtō (Public Party of Patriots), was established by Itagaki Taisuke, Gotō Shōjirō, Soejima Taneoi, and Etō Shinpei (also seen as Eto Shimpei), a year after they had gone into opposition following the political upheaval of 1873, when the governing alliance of senior officials split over a proposed military expedition against Korea. Gotō and Itagaki were among the leaders of the losing faction, most of whom had favored the expedition. They were also joined by Furusawa Shigeru, who had returned from studying in England. On January 17, they submitted the “Petition for the Establishment of a Popularly Elected Assembly” to the Sain (Left Council). The petition criticized the dictatorial politics of some senior officials and advocated the establishment of a popularly elected assembly in order to invigorate public discussion. Also printed in Nisshin Shinjishi (The reliable daily news), a newspaper published by John Reddie Black, the petition led to the Movement for Civic Rights and Freedom in Japan. Aikoku Kōtō was dissolved several months later. The final version of the “Petition for the Establishment of a Popularly Elected Assembly” is kept in the National Archives of Japan. Presented here are three draft versions of the document, held in the National Diet Library.
Associated Name: Etō, Shinpei, 1834-1874 | Furusawa, Shigeru, 1847-1911 | Gotō, Shōjirō, 1838-1897 | Itagaki, Taisuke, 1837-1919 | Taneoi, Soejima
References: Daniel A. Métraux, “Democratic Trends in Meiji Japan,” Education About Asia 16, no. 1 (Spring 2011).
Place: East Asia; Japan
Institution: National Diet Library