The Constitutional Experiment and the Beginning of Compromise Politics, 1890–1905
The introduction of the Meiji constitution was regarded by contemporaries as an event of major significance in Japanese political history. What it would lead to, however, was by no means certain. Fundamentally different perspectives still divided the political parties and the established government leaders. Whereas the former saw themselves as the representatives of the people and condemned those in power as han cliques, the latter believed that their achievements entitled them to claim that they alone could be entrusted with the nation’s destiny. Within a decade, however, the oligarchs were to retreat from their high-handed insistence that cabinets must transcend any connection with parties, while for their part the latter were to abandon their frontal attack on the government and pursue more limited ends.
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