General elections were held for the first time in Japan on 1 July 1890. Voters elected 300 members of the House of Representatives of the Diet of Japan in what was the first example of a popularly elected national assembly in Asia (as the Ottoman Chamber of Deputies was elected indirectly).
All 300 seats to the House of Representatives of Japan
151 seats needed for a majority
The elections had limited suffrage, with only male citizens 25 years of age and over, who had paid 15 Japanese Yen or more in national taxes, and who had been resident in their prefecture for at least a year, qualified to vote. The number of eligible voters who met this requirement was 450,872 people out of a total Japanese population of 39,933,478 (1.13%). The high tax requirement meant that voter roles were heavily weighed towards rural landlords and urban entrepreneurs. In terms of social class, 91% were commoners, and 9% were ex-samurai. Residents of the prefectures in Honshū, Kyūshū and Shikoku participated; residents in Hokkaidō and Okinawa (as “territories”) were excluded from this election. About 95% of those eligible to vote actually cast ballots, although there was no penalty for not doing so.
Only male citizens 30 years of age and over, who were not members of the kazoku peerage or of the imperial family or its branches were allowed to become candidates for office in the lower house. The number of seats in the lower house was 300, divided into 214 single-seat districts and 43 two-seat districts, which were contested by 1,243 candidates. The election went smoothly and without violence reported.
|Source: Statistics Bureau of Japan|
Post-election composition by prefectureEdit
|Liberal||Taiseikai||Rikken Kaishintō||Kokumin Jiyutō||Ind.|
|Note: Party affiliation after the general election.|
The first Diet session was summoned on 25 November; the two opposing forces confronted each other for the first time in the arena of practical Japanese politics. The mintō (liberal parties), which included the Liberal Party, Rikken Kaishintō and their affiliates) held a combined strength of 171 seats, forming a majority.
- The First Japanese Election The New York Times, 31 July 1890
- Jansen. Cambridge History of Japan Vol. 5: The Nineteenth Century. Page 670.
- Meyer. Japan: A Concise History. Page 144
- Keane. Emperor of Japan:Meiji and his World. Page 435.
- Mason. Japan's First General Election, 1890.
- Jansen, Marius B. (1989). Cambridge History of Japan: Vol. 5: The Nineteenth Century. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-22356-3.
- Fraser, Andrew (1995). Japan's Early Parliaments, 1890-1905: Structure, Issues and Trends. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-03075-7.
- Keene, Donald (2005). Emperor Of Japan: Meiji And His World, 1852-1912. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-12341-8.
- Mason, R.H.P. (1969). Japan's First General Election, 1890. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-07147-X.
- Meyer, Milton Walter (1992). Japan: A Concise History. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-8226-3018-4.