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Meibōka and the politics of localism in rural Japan Craig, Christopher Robin Jamie 2006

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M E I B O K A A N D THE POLITICS OF L O C A L I S M IN R U R A L J A P A N by CHRISTOPHER ROBIN JAMIE CRAIG B.A. , The University of British Columbia, 2004 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL F U L F I L L M E N T OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF M A S T E R OF ARTS in THE F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES (History) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A April 2006 © Christopher Robin Jamie Craig, 2006 11 Abstract The changes that transformed the political and economic centers of Japan so dramatically during the Meiji and Taisho periods were slower to take effect in the rural areas. In these regions tradition persisted alongside social and political change, the progress of which was regulated by traditional modes of life and forms of political organization. Continuing in their role as the political elites of the countryside in this new era were figures known as chihd meiboka. Having served as village leaders in the Tokugawa order, meiboka, which can be translated as 'local notables' or 'men of local influence,' were looked to by early Meiji leaders to ensure the maintenance of rural society in the years following the Restoration. The decades that followed saw cooperation and conflict between meiboka and government, and local notables came to occupy a distinct space in the political order as the point of contact between government and the rural public. Representing local interests, first in their interaction with bureaucratic political administrators and later with fledgling political parties, meiboka were able to organize and offer up the support of the rural public in exchange for government funds to be spent in and on their local areas. This paper will explore the nature of the interaction between meib5ka, the central and prefectural governments, and the rural public in order to examine the workings of their relationships to one another. This exploration will demonstrate that these relationships resulted in a system in which narrow local interests became the sole subject of dialogue between the public and those who represented them in government, and in which political ideology played a role of negligible importance. iii Table of Contents Abstract ii Table of Contents iii Acknowledgements iv Dedication v Introduction 1 Political Activities 4 Meiboka and the Central Government 18 Meiboka and the Rural Public 27 Conclusion 35 Bibliography 38 Acknowledgements I extend my thanks and appreciation to the faculty, staff, and my fellow students in the History Department at UBC. In particular I am indebted to Dr. William Wray, who has ushered me through this project from its very beginnings and without whom this paper would not have been possible. I am grateful to Dr. Timothy Brook for reading the manuscript and offering his invaluable insights. Thanks also are due to Abhishek Kaicker, Desmond Cheung and Tim Sedo for their unabashed offers of aid in reading this paper at various stages of its completion. Financial support for this paper was provided by the University of British Columbia and by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Special thanks are reserved for my wife, Noriko Sugino, whose support and encouragement, as well as her inestimable assistance, have been instrumental in bringing this project to fruition. Dedication To my wife 1 Introduction In 1907, Kamei Eizaburo, governor of Miyagi-ken, sat down to compose a telegram to be sent to Mexico. Although composed of but a single, brief sentence, the message was born of frustration and desperation on the part of the governor as a result of difficulties that had arisen in the construction of the Meiji Haisuiro ( ^ ? p # 7 , K 5 £ , Meiji Drainage Channel). The construction of the Haisuiro, begun two years earlier, represented the culmination of over two decades of research and planning, promising an end to the perennial problem of flooding in the Shinainuma region and opening the possibility of agricultural development on the wetlands located there. However, work on the project had ground to a halt soon after it was started, with doubts about the usefulness and even the possibility of the channel, as well as bruised personal feelings, leading to a fracturing of the tenuous solidarity that had existed between contractors, engineers, construction workers, and the surrounding public. Faced with both the resultant stalemate and the knowledge that, despite his powerful political position, he would be unable to restart work on the project, Kamei turned to the one man whose personal prestige in the region and personal history with the drainage project represented the only hope of bringing about a solution. Being committed to paper by the governor and relayed to the local telegraph station, the terse entreaty raced outward from Japan, exiting the home islands along the Kawasaki-Chichijima submarine cable that had been completed the previous year in order to link up with the American Pacific telegraph cable line. From Chichijima it followed this line, passing through Guam, Midway and Honolulu before reaching the American mainland at San Francisco. It entered the continental American system at San Francisco, being fed through to Galveston, Texas where it again dove over borders and under seawater to access the Mexican system in Vera Cruz and find its way to the man with whom the hopes of the governor lay.1 1 Jorma Ahvenainen, The Far East Telegraphs: The History of Telegraphic Communications between the Far East, Europe and America before the First World War (Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 1981), 188-189; B i l l , Glover, "Cable Timeline: 1845-1900," History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications [online] available http://atlantic-cable.com/Cables/CableTimeLine/indexl850.htm [March 15, 2006]; "The Commercial Pacific Cable Company," in History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications [online] available at http://www.atlantic-cable.com/CableCos/ComPacCable/ [March 22, 2 That man was Kamata Sannosuke. Having set off from Miyagi aboard the steamship Manshumaru in November of the previous year, Kamata had spent the weeks since his arrival in Mexico representing a group of Miyagi residents interested in immigration to Mexico in a series of meetings with the Japanese ambassador to that country and in tours to various potential sites for the building of a Japanese farm village for future immigrants. Although he had earlier served two consecutive terms as a member of the Imperial Diet in Tokyo, Kamata no longer had any formal position in the government of Japan. He had embarked on his journey as a private citizen, impelled by his personal concerns over and private interests in the problems of the immigrants, and it was as a private citizen that he was being contacted by the Miyagi governor. Despite the absence of a formal connection between the two men and the personal dedication he felt toward his work in Mexico, Kamata immediately appreciated the gravity of the governor's problem. As important as his mission in North America was, the telegram, which read simply "Dispute [over] the Shinainuma issue. Awaiting your mediation," overrode any concerns that may have remained for Kamata in Mexico, and he hastened back to Shinainuma to prevent the collapse of the project that had been the life's work of three generations of his family. 2 The Shinainuma telegram highlights the dual nature of Japanese political administration at the local level in the years before the Second World War. The changes that transformed the political and economic centers of Japan so dramatically during the Meiji and Taisho periods were slower to take effect in the rural areas. In these regions tradition persisted alongside social and political change, the progress of which was regulated by traditional modes of life and forms of political organization. While revolutionary changes altered central and prefectural governments at fundamental levels, 2006]; George Atcheson, Jr., "The Cable Situation in the Pacific Ocean, with Special Reference to the Far East," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 122 (1925); "Start of Direct Telegraph Communication with the US Using a Submarine Cable," A Chronology of Telegraph and Telephony [online] available at http://park.org/Japan/NTT/DM/html_ht/HT906020_e.html [March 22, 2006]. 2 "Shinainuma mondai funjo kika no assen o matsu." For information about the Kamata's mission in Mexico and the telegram see Chiiki Kasseika Sentaa, "Tabikasanaru Suigai kara Mura o Sukutta 'Waraji Soncho' Kamata Sannosuke," in Tsutaetai Furusato no 100 wa [online] available at http://www.chiiki-dukuri-hyakka.or.jp/info/online-book/furusatol00/html/furusato008.htm [January 26, 2006] and Kano Fuminaga, "Kamata Sannosuke: Futo Fukutsu Waraji Soncho," Watashi no Machi [online] available at http://www.mmjp.or.jp/k-land/kano/kasima26.htm [January 26, 2006]. 3 disposing of centuries-old institutions and forcing the adoption of previously unknown and untested replacements, local rural politics proved more resilient. Far from being erased and rewritten by the central authorities, rural modes of power and politics refused to disappear. This forced the political center to make attempts to integrate peripheral regions into the new nation with their systems and traditions of local politics largely intact. Although these systems would undergo gradual revision at the hands of national leaders, the early need to employ traditional modes of government was to have a significant impact on the shape of Meiji and subsequent local government systems and was to leave a lasting legacy for the interaction between localities and the central government. Among the most significant aspects of this legacy was the continuing ascendancy in local politics of men like Kamata Sannosuke. Figures like Kamata were known as chihd meiboka a term that can be translated as 'men of local influence' or 'local notables' and that refers to those residents of the countryside whose reputation with their neighbours, most commonly a result of wealth and a family history of leadership in the area, allowed them to exercise political influence. This influence had been an important element of local politics in the pre-Meiji era, enabling meiboka to assist in the maintenance of the rural communities that formed the smallest political unit of the countryside recognized by the Tokugawa bakufu. After the fall of the bakufu, the new Meiji authorities seized upon the utility of this role, and new systems of local government were created in Tokyo that assigned local notables an explicit place in the administration of the countryside. As greater degrees of popular participation were allowed in the evolving political system, first with the creation of prefectural assemblies and later with the establishment of the Imperial Diet, meiboka continued to enjoy unchallenged political influence in rural areas. Through successive stages of the development of the system of local politics, local notables were able to consolidate and strengthen their positions as the intermediaries between governmental authorities and the rural public. In achieving their political goals and in the exercise of their resultant influence, meiboka played a significant role in the development of the style of political interaction that characterized prewar Japan. As intermediaries, they were in contact both with those above and those below them in the political hierarchy of the time. This situation offered 4 unique opportunities to meiboka, allowing them the potential of exerting a degree of influence on the central government and of shaping aspects of political life at the level of the rural public. However, while their influence on certain of the government's policies can be determined with some degree of confidence, the effects these figures had on the political culture of the rural public is more difficult to ascertain.3 In his study of the influence of the political activities undertaken by local notables in Kanagawa prefecture during the Meiji period, M . William Steele concludes that meiboka served as both an inspiration and a model for political participation to the larger mass of the rural public.4 However, these conclusions are based on events confined to one locality in a relatively short period in mid-Meiji. A more comprehensive consideration of the years from the Meiji Restoration through the first decades of the twentieth century in Kamata's Miyagi-ken and other locations throughout Japan paints a different picture. This paper will explore the nature of the interaction between meiboka, the central and prefectural governments, and the rural public in order to examine the workings of their relationships to one another. This exploration will demonstrate that these relationships resulted in a system in which narrow local interests became the sole subject of dialogue between the public and those who represented them in government, and in which political ideology played a role of negligible importance. Political Activities It was political activities more than anything else that defined meiboka as a stratum of rural society in the years before the outbreak of the Second World War. Through their access to the political system, they rose to local prominence in the early Meiji period and it would be through their political influence in the countryside that they would become the object of governmental and partisan attentions after the convening of the first Imperial Diet in 1890. Political activities can also serve as markers in a basic sketch of the evolution of meiboka as a stratum of society, helping to illustrate the ways 3 As Neil Waters has shown with his study of the ways in which early Meiji conscription efforts were thwarted by local notables in the Kawasaki region. See Neil L. Waters, Japan's Local Pragmatists: The Transition from Bakumatsu to Meiji in the Kawasaki Region (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983). 4 William M . Steele, "Political Localism in Meiji Japan: The Case of Yoshino Taizo," Asian Cultural Studies 18(1992): 142. 5 in which they helped to mould the local and national political systems in prewar Japan and the ways in which they in turn were moulded by the context of the times in which they lived. A n overview of the political lives of meiboka over the middle and late sections of the Meiji period demonstrates a clear movement from participation in nominally radical causes to quiet prosperity in secure roles as members of the political and business elites. In charting this evolution, Takaku Reinosuke finds that a typical meiboka participated in jiyu minken undo ( S S WrWSMi, Freedom and Popular Rights Movement) in the Meiji teens and the minto undo ( S ^ i S K l , Movement for Popular Political Parties) in the Meiji twenties, before serving as civic assembly chief, lower house representative, and manager of a variety of companies from the second half of the Meiji period.5 The jiyu minken and minto movements represent the political activities of local notables and rural elites prior to the opening of the first Imperial Diet and the institutionalization of a form of participatory national government. Participants in these movements placed themselves in an adversarial role relative to the central government and devoted their energies to the promotion of a series of reforms. These reforms were primarily focused on the promulgation of a constitution and the convening of a popularly elected national assembly in the first case, and the creation of popular parties that could stand against the bureaucratic faction controlling the government in the second. The jiyu minken undo has proven a tempting topic for Meiji historians, and interpretations of the movement as a whole have demonstrated a remarkable variety. At various times in the past, historians concentrating on the limited incidences of open rebellion to the Meiji government have identified the Popular Rights Movement as being the ideological inspiration for these outbreaks.6 They have understood the movement as being dedicated to the principles of constitutional democratic government, and being prepared to engage in revolution to realize its goals. These views, while providing compelling models with which to understand these Meiji uprisings, do little to explain the actions and goals of the vast majority that did not take part in such extreme actions. Nor 5 Reinosuke Takaku, Kindai Nihon no chiiki shakai to meiboka (Tokyo : Kashiwa Shobo, 1997), 145. For an example, see Roger Bowen, Rebellion and Democracy in Meiji Japan: A Study of Commoners in the Popular Rights Movement. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980). 6 can they account for the remarkable degree of quiescence of the meiboka as a class that was to characterize the following decade. More recently, however, scholars have re-evaluated the jiyu minken movement and its participants. Rather than being a frenzied group of political idealists, prepared to sacrifice their positions and even their lives in pursuit of Japanese democracy, Popular Rights activists ( § S WM.ffc,jiyu minken ke) are now understood to be a much more loosely-knit collectivity, comprised of large numbers of politically moderate meiboka and other rural elites. Neil Waters recognizes the artifice in the employment of the concept of Popular Rights for local political history, calling it "an umbrella-term that embraces petitions, journalistic activities, political speeches, and revolts during the early years of Meiji - all loosely linked by their shared opposition to the "absolutism" of the Meiji government."7 Waters does not deny that resistance to the central government took place, but he notes that such resistance most characteristically took the form of "selective opposition to specific government policies" such as the Matsukata Deflation and bans against free assemblies.8 Examining those involved in the Kawasaki region, Waters summarizes the mentality of the participants as follows: [To the 'leaders' of the jiyu minken undo,] the ideological principles of the movement served neither as an incentive to revolt nor as a blueprint to revolution, but as topics for calm discussion over tea, considered in the same manner and usually at the same time that they discussed business and recited haiku.. .the jiyu minken ke of the Kawasaki region never saw themselves as actual or potential spokesmen for an alternative, grass-roots system of political organization.9 Furthermore, the unity of the jiyu minken ke as a political activist group has also been called into question. The characteristic and unchanging pursuit of local interests has been found to have led to inimical conflicts among activists from the same prefectures.10 Pursuits of this type were directed at the securing of a finite amount of prefectural funding for one's own locality, and could not but lead to conflicts between the 7 Waters, Japan's Local Pragmatists. 4. 8 Waters, Japan's Local Pragmatists. 116. 9 Waters, Japan's Local Pragmatists. 84-85. 1 0 Richard Sims, Japanese Political History since the Meiji Renovation 1868-2000 (London: Hurst and Company, 2001), 57. 7 representatives of different localities. James McClain has shown this to be the case on the floor of the Fukui prefectural assembly, crediting "conflicting goals and personal rivalries" with the prevention of the formation of a united resistance to the governor's office.11 In Miyagi, the jiyu minken movement was of a character that falls somewhere between the traditional view of conflict and the more recent view of tranquility. Although there were no outbreaks of riot or uprising, Miyagi played host to extensive jiyu minken activity, with local notables promoting their political vision for the future individually and in newly-formed political societies, in public speech rallies, private meetings and the newly emerging mass press. In Miyagi, the initial sources of the movement were found in religious and educational institutions in Sendai, finding early promotion from the activities of both the faithful among the congregation of the city's Russian Orthodox Church and the teachers at the Sendai Shihan Gakko ( { l i l ' n W t Q ^ K , Seridai Normal School). These two disparate groups came together over a common concern for issues relating to political rights and freedoms, education, and local autonomy, and provided much of the early vigour of the movement through speech rallies and bulletins. The roots of the movement in Miyagi were to have a lasting influence, with teachers and school principals featuring prominently among participants. Wako Shoichiro was typical of these educators, emerging as an early leader of the movement and serving concurrently as an elementary school principal and the publisher of the Miyagi Nippo (iT^c 0 fR, Miyagi Daily Report), from which he criticized the government and made calls for democratic reforms.13 Alongside democratically-minded teachers and school officials, rural landlords in Miyagi also took up the banner of freedom and popular rights. These notables employed their prestige and local renown in service of the movement, creating a score of political societies (including the Kakumeisha [ i | B & % h , Crane Call Society]; Shintorisha [ i f l l x l i , Enterprising Society]; Miyagi Seidansha [ ' g ' ^ ^ i ^ t i , Miyagi Political Speech Society]; " James L. McClain, "Local Politics and National Integration: The Fukui Prefectural Assembly in the 1880s." MonumentaNipponica31. no. 1 (1976): 52. 1 2 Nobuo Watanabe and Kodama Kota, Miyagi-ken no rekishi (Tokyo: Yamakawa Shuppansha, 1999), 270. n Keiichi Murakami, "Taishoki ni okeru Miyagi-ken nogyo no shinten," in Sangyo, vol. 9 of Miyagi kenshi. ed. Nobuo Ito (Sendai: Miyagi Kenshi Kankokai, 1968): 207-208. 8 Tohoku Giseikai [J^fcHilEfc^, Tohoku Deliberative Politics Society]; Tdhoku Kaishinto [^^Ibf i iCi i^ , Tohoku Progressive Reform Party] among others) and holding dozens of speech meetings that were judged threatening enough to prefectural authorities to be broken up on a regular basis.14 As among meiboka jiyu minken ke in other regions, freedom and popular rights in Miyagi were associated above all with the creation of a constitution and a national elected assembly. Echoing the concerns of their peers, the Tdhoku no Minkai (MAt(Df3c^, T5hoku People's Association), a regional organization made up of representatives from the six prefectures of northern Honshu, produced a draft constitution providing for a unicameral legislature which they planned to release at their general meeting in late 1881.15 Constitutional concerns of this type were married early on to expressions of nationalism among Miyagi notables. From its inception, the Kakumeisha included pronouncements of patriotic fervour within its calls for participatory government and meiboka like Muramatsu Kameichiro worked their ways through local organizations before departing to join the Aikokusha ( S B I i , Patriotic Society) or similar national organizations.16 Although jiyu minken activism was quieted and eventually ended in Miyagi, this collapse was not the result of the type of disunity seen by McClain. Rather, it was a combination of stern oppression on the part of the government that stifled activism on the part of members of the prefectural assembly (J^^?, kenkai) and a context of new economic concerns and opportunities for Miyagi landlords. From the beginning of the jiyu minken movement in Miyagi, changes in the nature of the political relationship between the Miyagi kenkai and the centrally-appointed prefectural governor stood in the way of advocacy of freedom and popular rights. The sanshinpd ( H 0 f i £ , Three New Laws) passed by the central government between 1878 and 1880 and revised in 1881 greatly increased the power of the governor relative to the assembly and further circumscribed the already limited powers of the kenkai to influence policy through a 1 4 Miyagi-ken, 207. 1 5 The government repression that followed a murder and allegations of the involvement of Akita meiboka in planned rebellion in the Akita Incident prevented the release of the document. See Watanabe and Kodama, 272. ' 6 Watanabe and Kodama, 271; Miyagi-ken, Kindaishi. vol. 3 of Miyagi kenshi. ed. Ryoichi Koda (Sendai: Miyagi Kenshi Kankokai, 1964), 208. 9 rejection of the prefectural budget.17 Under the new rules, the governor had the right to dissolve the assembly and push forward his budget in the case of a deadlock between himself and the kenkai giin ( J ^ ^ i f l j i . , assemblymen), a right he employed readily during the 1880s. The resultant impotence had an immediate and negative effect on the political assertiveness of both the assemblymen and the larger jiyu minken community of which they were a part. The meetings of the assembly after 1880 featured much less commentary and debate on the part of the giin than had been seen in earlier years and coincided with a general decline in jiyu minken activity outside of the assembly hall . 1 8 The jiyu minken ideals of Miyagi notables were also tested by challenges and opportunities in the second half of the 1880s relating to the economic self-interest of the stratum of society from which meiboka came. At mid decade land tax revision (iftffl.Bx'IE, chiso kaisei) became a key issue among rural landlords (including the leaders and members of political societies and the assemblymen drawn from their ranks), displacing jiyu minken calls for reform at the centre of political movements.19 Freedom and popular rights faded to the background of the consciousnesses of the politically active in Miyagi, whose attentions were now focused on the drafting of petitions against the revision and futile appeals to the central government based on the difficulties of growing rice in the hostile climate of Tohoku. The energy that had been applied to the formation and maintenance of political societies advocating liberalization and democratization was increasingly directed toward organizations devoted to the repeal of the chiso kaisei. Landlords (i&^jinushi), notables, and politicians worked together in the creation of landlord associations (M3i^,jinushikai), the most prominent of which took as its headquarters the kenkai assembly hall itself.21 New alignments arose in this changed context that had been unthinkable in years past. Former conflicts were forgotten as 1 7 Kenji Ohara, Gikaishi - Genron hodo. vol. 4 of Miyagi kenshi. ed. Nobuo Ito (Sendai: Miyagi Kenshi Kankokai, 1982), 29-30. 1 8 Ohara, 33. 1 9 Ohara, 101; Miyagi-ken, 211. 2 0 Ohara, 101. 2 1 This was the Hichikashusei Seigan Junbi Iinkai ( ^ i & f i f H ^ j E f H l S l ¥ t i ? ? J | £ ) , which took up residence at the assembly hall in 1887 and involved not only Miyagi-based notables, but also many of those who had left Tohoku for Tokyo. See Ohara, 101. 10 advocates of both minto and rito bureaucratic parties) put aside their differences and stood behind the landlords who opposed the revision.2 2 The final factor that put an end to the Freedom and Popular Rights Movement in Miyagi demonstrates clearly the limits of democratic idealism and public-spiritedness among meiboka jiyu minken ke. This factor was to be found in the economic opportunities inherent in the land tax revision that became apparent in the years after the measure was passed. To an extent that was unknown in other areas of the country, Miyagi landlords were able to use the tax increases that came with the chiso kaisei to increase their exploitation of the tenant farmers who rented their lands. Rents were raised using higher tax levels as a justification, but to an extent that often went far beyond the increased tax costs. With the spread among landlords of this potential benefit of higher taxes came the final death of both the jiyu minken movement and the norm of adversarial relations between government and Miyagi meiboka.2 4 Less evanescent in nature than commitment to the ideals of Popular Rights was meiboka involvement in the nascent participatory forms of government of the time. Finding an early place in the selection and election of rural figures to posts within the village and town councils and assemblies, meiboka reached an early maturity as political agents in elections for prefectural assemblies in the 1880s and 1890s. They would successfully adapt this maturity for use in the national Diet elections that began in 1890, and would, by the beginning of the new century have established themselves as the brokers of rural political support. Prefectural assemblies were instituted across Japan in 1878 and presented local elites for the first time with the opportunity to exercise a direct and official influence on both government spending and taxation. This new form of political participation brought forth new modes of political organization. In order to maximize the potential for a forceful representation of elite interests in prefectural governments, patterns of behaviour developed that would minimize the uncertainties of the democratic process. These patterns were made possible by the voting restrictions which limited the franchise to those paying five yen or more in direct national taxes and preserved elite political 2 2 Ohara, 101. 2 3 Miyagi-ken, 211. 2 4 Miyagi-ken, 211. 11 leadership in rural areas.25 Assigning defence of local interests a value higher than that of democratic ideals (even such ideals as could be associated with the limited sort of democracy afforded by the taxpaying requirements of the time), meiboka in many areas across the country gathered prior to elections in order to select which candidates would be elected. The political manoeuvrings associated with kenkai politics gave notables early familiarity with the modes and means of building rural support networks (known as jiban i & M , constituencies) that would become of primary importance with the introduction of national participatory politics in 1890.26 They would then invoke their reputations and positions in rural society to advise the enfranchised on how to vote, and deliver their choices into the designated offices with a healthy majority. Ties to the fledgling political parties also allowed local notables to organize these choices with others beyond their own districts, as has been described by Takaku Reinosuke in his studies of the relations of the Osaka-based Rikken Seito and the Ehime branch of the Seiyukai with meiboka in the prefectural elections of the early Meiji period. In Miyagi, a higher tax qualification for voting rights in prefectural elections and a lack of coordination on the part of enfranchised meiboka resulted in a situation that differed in important ways from those in the areas of Japan examined by other scholars. While the Miyagi kenkai was established in the same year as others across the country, it stipulated payment of ten yen or more in prefectural or national taxes (as well as one year of continuous residence and an age of twenty years or over) as a requisite for voting rights.28 The Rules for Prefectural Assemblies (M^^^3^\,fukenkai kisoku), passed nationwide in 1878, included the same age and residential requirements but demanded annual tax payments of only 5 yen or more as the default for kenkai across the country. The higher tax requirement in Miyagi had the effect of limiting participation in — — 29 prefectural elections, even more strictly than in other areas of Japan, to the gono class. This limited franchise ensured that positions within the assembly were monopolized by Andrew Fraser, "Local Administration: The Example of Awa-Tokushima," in Japan in Transition from Tokugawa to Meiji. eds. Marius B. Jansen and Gilbert Rozman (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 127-28. 2 6 Takaku, 178. 2 7 Takaku, 159, 229. 2 8 Ohara, 24. 2 9 Ohara, 28. 12 the largest landlords (TvifezEi, daijinushi), whose influence in Miyagi was so clear to the prefectural government that provisions were made by which those whose landholdings exceeded 10,000 yen in value could be automatically 'elected' to district assemblies (M gunkai).30 Despite the greater limitation on the numbers of eligible voters in Miyagi, there seems to have been a lesser degree of coordination among those who were enfranchised. In the early years of the prefectural assembly, it was not uncommon for those who were elected (a situation that could and did come about as a result of write-in votes) to refuse the position upon the announcement of victory.31 It was problems of this nature that lay behind the institution of automatic elections of the type described above, taking place when the number of filled seats fell below one third of full strength.32 Involvement in prefectural and district assemblies established a model of rural political organization that meiboka would carry over into the new era beginning with the first Imperial Diet of 1890. The Diet gave national political parties their raison d'etre and sent them rushing to the countryside to seek the support of voters, who, because of voting restrictions, were composed almost exclusively of rural landowners. The possibilities of the new political context also excited notables across the country, breaking the period of stagnation (WM, teitai) that had fallen across rural politics since the decline of the jiyu minken movement and putting new fire into the minto movement.33 Meiboka responded to the overtures of political parties in a number of ways. Some embraced the organizations, becoming members and employing their local influence to win themselves seats in the Lower House and places of significance within the party structure. Others eschewed party membership, choosing instead to remain independent and offering the votes of those in their areas to the party that could promise them the greatest advantage for their home region. A third choice, and one that appealed to a large number of meiboka, was to establish a local political society. Societies such as these were often led by kucho (EB: , ward headman) and prefectural assemblymen, and through the prominence of their members were able to exercise an influence that was felt across the countryside.34 3 0 Miyagi-ken, 302-303. 3 1 Miyagi-ken, 338. 3 2 Miyagi-ken, 302-303. 3 3 Takaku, 146. 3 4 Steele, 143. 13 Common to all three strategies, however, were the new realities of meiboka seiji WiM J $ T / P , meiboka politics), which were characterized by the notables' maintenance of "the appearance of a 'people's party' while pushing forward in the pursuit of local interests."35 The continuity of these interests from kenkai to Shugiin ffiW$m, National Diet) can be seen in the continuing concern of both assemblies with issues of land tax reduction and the promotion of government spending in the localities. The institution of national participatory politics in the 1890s witnessed the genesis of a plethora of political societies and parties in Miyagi, peopled with notables and aiming at success in national elections and the placement of members in Diet seats in the capital. By the time of the first election in 1890, speech meetings and social gatherings sponsored by new political groups such as Miyagi Seikai (l^iffiMc.^, Miyagi Political Association), Miyagi Daidd Kurabu CU^Li\^\\^MM, Miyagi United Club), Kaishinto-affiliated Tdhoku Kurabu (MltWM$¥>, Tohoku Club), and the Nitto Kurabu ( 0 MW$k If!7), Japan Tohoku Club) had become commonplace both in Sendai and in the surrounding hinterlands.36 Even as these organizations emerged and entered into local competition with one another, national parties converged on Miyagi, seeking support from meiboka, both as voters and possible candidates. The larger political organizations quickly developed links to those that had originated in the area, sharing information and strategies and laying the foundations of expansive political networks. This trend saw the national Daido Kurabu strengthen its ties to Miyagi by sending members from its central committee to Sendai in February of 1892 to present seminars to shugiin and kenkai candidates on effective campaigning and the realities of the central government.37 Many among the notables of Miyagi made the move to national politics with little difficulty. In many cases a progression from positions in the district or prefectural assemblies or from backgrounds as village or town chief proved natural for Miyagi meiboka. In the first national election, three of the five candidates who were elected to represent Miyagi had earlier served on the prefectural assembly, translating their experience with local politics into campaign success that saw them finish with the three 3 5 " r g ^ j mwxr*mm L&a* h^n&mmm-t^. - Takaku, 147. 3 6 Ohara, 98. 3 7 Ohara, 98. 14 largest margins of victory in the prefecture.38 Working one's way up the political ladder starting with posts in local government and local assemblies continued to be the path to success in the Imperial Diet in Miyagi. Kamata Sannosuke himself stood as a signal example of this progression, beginning with an election to the Shida gunkai in 1894, moving on to become youngest person (at age 32) to be elected to the prefectural assembly in the following year, and eventually serving two terms in the Shugiin beginning in 1902.39 Some meiboka in Miyagi were also able to bypass the route through local politics and employ their local reputations to catapult them directly into the Imperial Diet. Tashiro Shinshiro won a seat in the Lower House in 1912 based on the local support he had built up through his dedication to the development of his home region and in spite of the fact that he had not yet served in any public office.40 Eventually, however, this mode of politics would lead to changes in the nature of local political participants. Scholars have noted that across the country, the "constituency politics" that both independent political societies and national political parties encouraged in the rural areas led to intensified competition between members of the rural elite, based on the promotion of the interests of their home regions.41 This stratum of society was never again to develop even the very limited degree of ideological unity it once held and, as a result, many figures from it left politics for good, focusing their energies elsewhere.42 Prominence in the business community came to have greater importance than the eminence of one's family name, and meiboka status was no longer limited to those with significant landholdings. This change reflected to a certain extent changes across generational lines within the meiboka stratum. Children of notables who had achieved their status through large landholdings or through the traditional place of their families in rural society increasingly took on roles as business managers and owners or as party 3 8 Endo defeated his nearest competitor 525 votes to 116, Musha 286 to 158, and Atami 737 to 428. See Nihon Kokusei Chosakai, Shugiin meikan: dai 1-kai 1890-nen-dai 34-kai 1976-nen sosenkyo (Tokyo: Kokusei Shuppanshitsu, 1977); Ohara, 98. 3 9 Chiiki Katsuseika Sentaa, "Tabi kasanaru suigai kara mura o sukutta 'waraji soncho' Kamata Sannosuke," Tsuetai furusato no 100-wa [online] available at http://www.chiiki-dukuri-hyakka.or.jp/info/online-book/mrusatol00/html/furusato008.htm [January 26, 2006]. 4 0 Hisashi Sasa, "Danseihen," in Jinbutsushi. vol. 29 of Miyagi kenshi. ed. Nobuo Ito (Sendai: Miyagi Kenshi Kankokai, 1986), 118. 4 1 See Michael Lewis, Becoming Apart: National Power and Local Politics in Toyama. 1868-1945 (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2000); James L. McClain, "Local Elites and the Meiji Transition in Kanazawa," Asian Cultural Studies 18 (1992); McClain, "Local Politics"; and Steele. 4 2 McClain, "Local Elites," 129-130. 15 politicians.43 At the same time, rural residents who had prospered in the new environment of the Meiji period stepped forward to fill some of the empty places in the political hierarchy.44 Although similar developments were to occur in Miyagi, an increase in competition was not seen everywhere in the immediate aftermath of the opening of the Imperial Diet. The economic dislocation of the years immediately preceding the opening had ensured that class homogeneity characterized the prefectural assembly after the beginning of representative national politics more than it had in earlier periods, a fact that resulted in higher attendance at kenkai meetings and less conflict on the assembly floor by the mid-1890s.45 However, even as tranquility settled upon the prefectural assembly, a new spirit of competition descended upon those engaging in politics beyond the borders of the prefecture. Although the months leading up to the first Shugiin election had witnessed the abandonment of long-held rivalries as new parties and societies were formed in advance of the coming contest, active campaigning began soon after with political speeches and rallies being held throughout the prefecture.46 As associations between local politicians and national parties grew in strength, political rivalries became more intense. Reacting to this intensity, in 1893 Jiyuto (Ft ft Ht, Liberal Party) national leaders Itagaki Taisuke and Shimada Saburo made a tour of Miyagi in order to build support for their party in the face of a significant challenge from the rival Kaishinto (Bfc i H ^ , Constitutional Progressive Party).4 7 The coming of political parties to the countryside promoted an increase in competition between meiboka in Miyagi. The courting of the support of meiboka and the votes which they could deliver to a candidate demanded promises of future spending in the home regions of the targeted notables, and "candidates vied with one another to give away just enough - but no more than was necessary - to secure the votes of their fellow men of influence."48 Economic rationality demanded that candidates build enough 4 J Lewis, 120. 4 4 Lewis, 50. 4 5 Ohara, 121, 123. 4 6 Takaku, 175; Ohara, 98. 4 8 CarolGluck, Japan's Modern Mvths: Ideology in the. Late Meii i Period (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), 66. 16 support through spending commitments to ensure a majority in the election while avoiding soliciting support beyond this mark and the attendant costs associated with it. In Miyagi, this type of political strategy appears in the national election results. Close races were common in all parts of the prefecture, and areas like District Four ( H 4 \K, dai-yon ku), in which contests were settled by less than one hundred votes in each of the third through sixth national elections, are indicative of meiboka throwing their influence behind competing candidates in a bid for scare governmental spending in their home regions. As in other parts of Japan, the move of meibSka into the world of business also affected politics in Miyagi. Beginning with his appointment to the Gohon town council (PT^, chokai) at the age of 26 in 1889, Takayama Zen'uemon moved outwards into prefectural politics based on his success as a moneylender and being one of the richest men in Miyagi . 4 9 More telling were developments in the prefectural assembly at the end of the Meiji period. In 1911, a great deal of public attention was directed at the fact that Sasaki Jubei, a prominent Sendai miso producer, entered the kenkai as a representative of the Sendai Shokokai ({liln1 ^ 1 ^ , Sendai Chamber of Commerce and Industry). This development marked an early direct entry of business into politics in Japan, and was soon to be echoed throughout the country.50 However, success in new businesses did not necessarily mark late Meiji notables in Miyagi as a breed distinct from their immediate predecessors. Ono Heihachiro, a politician who "served the world of local industry (i&jj MWif^l^M^k L / c ) " and eventually became manager of the prominent daily Toka Shinbun (M^^Jf Hfi, Eastern Splendour Newspaper), was himself the heir of a prominent Sendai samurai family and got his start in business through his involvement in the Miyagi Shizoku Kdgydkai ( ' g ' ^ d r ^ X ^ ^ , Miyagi Shizoku Industrial Association).51 Additionally, many of those Miyagi residents whose success in business and industry granted them status as notables and success as politicians were not involved with new industries or modern manufacturing. Traditional industries such as soy sauce and sake 4*Sasa,214. 5 0 Ohara, 182. 5 1 Sasa, 118. 17 brewing, as well as the production of miso noted above, continued to be a well-used avenue to local prestige and prominence well beyond the end of the Meiji period.5 2 The transformation of traditionally land-based meiboka into business elites also took place in Miyagi, but local circumstances led to its effect being muted relative to other areas of Japan. While Michael Lewis has documented the tendency of notables in Toyama to make the change from "rural landlords to urban owners of electric companies or party politicians," this was not always the case in Miyagi. 5 3 While this type of transformation was far from unknown in the region, with Ono's involvement in industry and Kan Kokufuku's early efforts to promote investment in mechanized silk-reeling standing out as two prominent examples, neither was it the dominant trend.54 Changes in the nature of landholding in the countryside came more slowly in Miyagi than they did elsewhere in Japan, a fact that kept many meiboka on the farm and away from full participation in the world of business. Even as landlords accumulated land and developed into daijinushi, these figures in Miyagi remained on the land, only coming to rent out the entirety of their landholdings in the process that saw gono in other parts of Japan become kiseijinushi (IrF^rlifilzE, parasitic landlords) and enter fully into the realm of urban business much later than their cousins in other regions.55 However, having established their place in the emerging prefectural and national political structures in much the same way as those in other prefectures across Japan, Miyagi meiboka stood as significant figures on the political landscape. Commanding the faith of prefectural government, the loyalty of the voters in their constituencies, and powerful influence over the unfranchised public of the countryside, Miyagi notables had by the first decade of the twentieth century reached the position from which they would exercise their most significant influence on the nature of prewar politics. Reaching both upwards and downwards in the political hierarchy, meiboka politics would define participatory democracy for the next generation and leave a lasting legacy on the Japanese system. The nature of this brand of politics and of the effects it had on the 5 2 Sato Yayoji's beginnings in soy sauce brewing and Monden Katsutaro's in sake carried them on to public prominence and office, the former as an prefectural assemblyman beginning in 1927 and the later as a village chief beginning in 1928. See Sasa, 120, 122. 5 3 Lewis, 120. 5 4 Sasa, 118; Miyagi-ken, 254. 5 5 Murakami, 56. 18 prewar Japanese political system can be seen in the manners in which meiboka interacted politically with both the central and prefectural governments and the rural public. Meiboka and the Central Government The relationship between meiboka and the prewar central government in Tokyo (as well as its representatives in the prefectural bureaucracies) was one that saw a great deal of inconsistency and contradiction. Cooperation occurred alongside conflict, as elite residents of the countryside and governmental authorities in the capital both pursued their own sometimes compatible but often inimical interests and goals. In the initial years following the Meiji Restoration, meiboka and the central government often played roles that were complementary in nature, with meiboka giving their support to the new government in exchange for a greater role in local administration. Even during subsequent periods in which cooperation between the government and local notables was limited, meiboka demonstrated their understanding of the workings of the new system by trading their support and cooperation, or at least their acquiescence, for government funding of local interests and development. It was from this compromise between government and meiboka that the latter's lasting influence on prewar popular political consciousness began. In reconciling their interests as a social stratum with those of the central government, meiboka first engaged in the style of political activity that would define rural society for decades to come. This style assigned regional interests as conditio sine qua non for rural support of both government and political parties. From the birth of the Meiji government, those holding the reigns of power in Japan recognized the importance of rural elites. Meiboka, as figures of wealth, respect, and influence in the countryside, had the potential both to be the instrument through which government policies were to take root throughout the nation, or to be the driving force behind potentially insurmountable resistance in the rural public. The early Meiji period saw the expression of both of these roles at various times. With local notables initially cooperating with government efforts to establish itself throughout the regions of the country, confrontation and hostility came increasingly to characterize relations between Meiji administrators and the rural elite during the 1880s. At this time, jiyu 19 minken activists often stood in opposition to government policies in the prefectural and town assemblies, vigorously defending the interests of their communities and demanding an enhanced role in the administration of the country. Following conflicts that saw the employment of heavy handed measures of repression against local politicians and activists, a form of reconciliation was reached with the convening of the Imperial Diet in 1890, and with this meiboka finally "accommodated themselves to the designs of their rulers."56 Smaller, but no less important, changes in the way in which local notables interacted with the government accompanied these large-scale transformations. The experience obtained in the pursuit of local interest allowed meiboka to develop a degree of canniness in relation to the workings of the national government, and set precedents for political behaviour that would continue to be applied in the years that followed. Michael Lewis has demonstrated how, in Toyama, advocacy of programs of river conservation (an issue of no small importance in that coastal area) led to patterns of political behaviour that persisted beyond the achievement of the movement's goals in the institution of the River Law and made a lasting imprint on the ways in which the region and its notable leaders interacted with the central authorities.57 Meiboka also exploited their place in local administration in order to change the nature of the positions they occupied. This resulted in a consistent strengthening of the power of the offices of town and village heads, and an increase in the recompense for positions in local government that had formerly been designated as honorary.58 The official place meiboka held in the systems of local government dictated by the Meiji authorities can be divided into two periods. The first of these represents a period of nearly constant change and experimentation on the part of the central government as it sought the best way in which to integrate rural localities into the national political system. This stage was characterized by a series of attempted and abandoned revisions of systems of local government on the part of Meiji planners and bureaucrats and by a continuation of traditional modes of authority at the rural level. The second period begins with the realization of Yamagata Aritomo's vision of local 5 6 Waters, Japan's Local Pragmatists. 222. 5 7 Lewis, 75. 5 8 Takaku, 209, 245. 20 government in the institution of the four codes of local government over the years 1888-1890. These laws created a new stability in local administration, one which would survive without dramatic change into the Second World War, both giving local administrators a greater degree of security and authority and tightening their links with the central government. Central government officials in the period immediately following the Meiji Restoration initially looked to traditional forms of local government to administer rural areas. Much of the motivation behind this decision lay in the desire on the part of the Meiji leaders to direct the popular antipathy that was bound to accompany many of their reforms away from the central government toward those who were directly responsible for administering them on the local level. 5 9 This application of traditional forms was never intended to be permanent, however, and it would not be long before the Meiji government would begin to make attempts at institutional reform.60 These attempts took on a number of forms throughout the 1870s and 1880s, creating significant changes in the officially recognized forms of local government, but often doing little to change the actual practice of it. Many of the government reforms took aim at the traditional administrative units of the countryside and of the leadership of these units. Traditional counties known as gun were officially abolished in the early 1870s, and attempts were made to replace them with new units of administration. These units included kosekiku household registry districts, and large and small districts ( ^ / h K , daishoku). Along with these changes in administrative divisions came changes in the titles of local leadership. These reforms often changed little in rural areas, however. Gun survived in the local consciousness and when new administrative boundaries proved inconvenient, local leaders simply disregarded them and "met in more customary forums."61 Government attempts to reform local political offices proved likewise ineffectual. Newly created positions were most often filled by the very same men who had held the traditional offices they replaced.62 Government officials charged with the 5 9 Andrew Fraser, "Local Administration: The Example of Awa-Tokushima," in Japan in Transition from Tokugawa to Meiji. ed. Marius B. Jansen and Gilbert Rozman (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 126. 6 0 Waters, Japan's Local Pragmatists. 224. 6 1 Waters, "Local Leadership," 73-74. 6 2 Sims, 41; Baxter, 102-03. 21 task of filling the new posts recognized that effective administration dictated that locally recognized leaders be employed. Accordingly, they assigned the new posts to figures from the traditional rural leadership, often choosing men who would probably have been selected by rural residents themselves.63 When outsiders to the local system were appointed from above, they found it necessary to develop links with the traditional leadership of the regions. Former holders of the abolished offices of nanushi (^i, village headman) and toshiyori (^ W, village elder) represented figures whose support was essential for the effectiveness of the newly appointed administrators.64 The central government also looked to the wealthy and notable of the countryside in the early Meiji period to be the agents through which government visions of modernization and the development of internationally competitive industry could be realized. This realization was often one that was reached only after failure reminded central authorities of the limits of their power and influence. In 1879, representatives of the central government in Tokyo approached district chief of Miyagi-gun and meiboka Kan Kokufuku to request his help in soliciting funds for the development of local industry. Having failed to realize the goals they had set for local investment in a model silk spinning factory that was to be established in the region, they turned to Kan in the hopes that the respect and local prestige that had placed him in the office of guncho would enable him to encourage investment among the same notables and landlords who had proven unmoved by the government's overtures. Kan proved successful in his promotion of the silk industry among the notables of the area, and was to go on to resign his position in the lower government to take up his new responsibilities as the head of the company he had helped to establish, Miyagi Boseki Kabushikigaisha (l^^WMkffi^l^ Ii, Miyagi Spinning Company).65 Experiments in local administration of variable success ended with the implementation of the system of local government that emerged from a program of legal reforms enacted over the years 1878 to 1890 by Okubo Toshimichi and Yamagata Waters, Japan's Local Pragmatists. 69. 6 4 Waters, Japan's Local Pragmatists. 71. 6 5 See Miyagi-ken 254; Tohoku Denryoku, "Sankyozawa hatsudensho," Sangyo gijutsu isan tanbo (2003) [online] available at http://www.gijyutu.com/ooki/tanken/tanken2003/sankyozawa/sankyozawa.htm [March 20, 2006]. 22 Aritomo and their respective staffs. These reforms succeeded in many ways that previous attempts had not. They recognized the existence of traditional modes of politics, opening a forum for the voicing of local concerns even as they subordinated them to the central government through an expansion of the powers of prefectural bureaucrats.66 Changes of this type were effected through the implementation of new administrative codes beginning in 1878. At this time the Sanshinpo (H0ffe , Three New Laws) were passed, providing for new organization of rural and urban districts, new rules for prefectural assemblies, and new regulations for local tax respectively. These were followed by revisions to the assembly regulations that strengthened governors relative to kenkai in 1880 and 1881 in response to boisterousness among prefectural assemblymen across the country. The cementing of the local order was completed by the end of the decade with the institution of Yamagata's City and Town & Village codes in 1888 and County Code and the Code for Urban and Rural Prefectures two years later. Together this program of reforms recognized local patterns of authority, but reduced the number of official participants by consolidating towns and villages in a process known as gappei (a* merger). They formalized the existence of local assemblies, giving rural elites "a formal channel.. .to influence the process of government in their own area," at the same time as they ensured "tighter central control by bringing the prefectural government's direct influence to the administrative village rather than to the gun"61 Though effective in many of their goals, the reforms of 1878-90 did not bring about a complete change in the structure of rural society. Even after 1890, "traditional wards and villages ... continued to survive as informal subunits (aza, buraku), and the plans of government leaders to pool their common property failed in the face of ingrained local particularism."68 Yamagata's final vision of local self-government was dedicated to the goal of eliminating the potential threat represented by figures of local power left outside of the system of government. Albert Mosse, a German advisor employed by Yamagata, defined this goal clearly, stating that men of power and ability excluded from official positions "often become the instigators of anti-government activities."69 This sort of anti-6 6 Lewis, 29. 6 7 Waters, Japan's Local Pragmatists. 84, 118. 6 8 Fraser, 114. 6 9 Quoted in Sims, 62-63. 23 government activity was associated with democratic movements, and the new forms of local self government were designed explicitly to "eliminate the space for the appearance of democracy ( g ; 3 £ ± l i (D&m L T < < ^ 5 t f 3 ) . " ? 0 Yamagata's own vision of his system of self-government was as something that was "like the conscription system,... a safely apolitical means of national integration."71 While democratic reforms did continue to take place in Japan subsequent to the implementation of Yamagata's vision of local self-government, it is clear that this strategy was not entirely successful. In addition to the continuation of traditional districts in the lives of the rural public, the quasi-political position of patron associated with large landlords continued to function and grew to create an alternative form of local administration in rural areas. Land accumulation among the rich in the Miyagi countryside created a situation in which the influence of the newly emerging kyodaijinushi ( ^ T v i f i i , giant landlords) over their tenants often extended over more than one area, making them de facto administrators of extensive parts of the countryside and presenting a challenge to 79 the administrative bodies established by the central government. It is important to note, however, that despite the existence of this type of potential challenge, never again were the rural elites to take a leading role in a potentially revolutionary movement like the jiyu minken undo. While the acute awareness of the potential for conflict with local political elites felt by Yamagata and his ilk was a signal feature of government attitudes, particularly in the early Meiji years, such conflict as did occur was decidedly limited in scope and was largely finished by the last decade of the nineteenth century. The early years of the Meiji period hosted conflicts that had been inherited from the preceding bakumatsu era. These conflicts had featured animosity between rural notables and samurai administrators in the earlier period, and they continued with the Meiji authorities filling the role left vacant by the samurai with the collapse of the bakufu.73 Helping to carry the conflict into the new era were associations of wealthy farmers known as chihd minkai (i&^f J3c:=c, Local 7 0 Hisao Ishikawa, "Meiyoshoku Jichi no Rinen to Jittai: Meiji Chiho Jichi Seido Ron ni Kansuru Ichi Shiten," Nihonshi Kenkyu 247 (1983): 139. 7 1 Gluck, 192. 7 2 As was the case with the Sasaki family in Oyanagi. See Miyagi-ken, 254. 7 3 Marius B. Jansen and Gilbert Rozman, "Overview," in Japan in Transition from Tokugawa to Meiji. eds. Marius B . Jansen and Gilbert Rozman (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 11. 24 People's Associations) or chihd gikai (MJfWi^, Local Congresses) that from the early 1870s assumed the role of critics of government and government policies. 7 4 These groups were in turn succeeded by the newly formed prefectural assemblies of the 1870s. From their earliest beginnings these elected bodies assumed a confrontational stance in relation to the centrally appointed prefectural governors and made concerted efforts to interfere with the normal running of the government. Drawing particular ire from the local notables who comprised these assemblies was any legislation dealing with maintenance of or increases in taxation levels.75 Defence of local interests of this type formed an important part of the background of the jiyu minken undo, and the rhetoric of democratic ideals came to be associated with demands for tax cuts and increased governmental support of particular rural areas. Nor was the central government a passive observer of the conflicts between prefectural assemblies and governors. Concerned with the potential for the formation of links between members of the prefectural assemblies and the antigovernment Jiyuto ( § ft Freedom Party), Meiji central authorities gave their full support to prefectural governors. Along with this support came the granting of extraordinary powers to limit participation in the prefectural assemblies and to dissolve the assemblies at will, placing bureaucratically appointed governors in a position of pronounced advantage relative to their elected opponents. This was not an advantage which governors were reluctant to employ. In Miyagi, Governor Masanao Matsudaira displayed his early willingness to dissolve the assembly in 1884, when he did so over the kenkai's refusal to give approval for three construction projects that the governor had proposed. These prefecture-level conflicts were to continue past 1890. Although much of the popular rights rhetoric was abandoned with the onset of local self-government and the establishment of the Imperial Diet, conflicts between governors and prefectural assemblies continued throughout the 1890s. Now, however, promotion of local and personal interests was attached to proclamations of dedication to the national interest. The mood of the times had changed, and "attaining local ends demanded that regional 7 4 McClain, "Local Politics," 54. 7 5 Sims, 49. 7 6 He had also dissolved the assembly three years earlier over a petition to the Home Ministry proposed by assemblymen . See Ohara, 29-30, 33. 25 elites make their cause appear as selflessly nationalistic as possible." Thus it was that, while it was still possible for Miyagi branches of Jiyuto and Shinpoto to join forces in order to protest increases in the land tax and the revision of land values in 1898, they now had to do so using the rhetoric of the national good.7 8 This type of discourse was to continue to be a key feature of the demands of meiboka, both within and outside of such formal government institutions as prefectural assemblies, and was to define the character of the politics of regional interest for the remainder of the prewar period. Despite the attention given to the jiyu minken undo and similar movements, cooperation between meiboka and government was much more characteristic of their relationship in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries than open conflict. There was a great deal of overlap in the goals of both, and it is clear that "the interests of both the Meiji government and of local political leaders, even those few with party affiliations, were frequently identical."79 Regional development and modernization topped these shared goals, and it was in the interests of both parties to cooperate in their pursuit. In Miyagi, meiboka proved eager to join the government in efforts to promote local development. With their social positions in their home areas granting them access to a degree of public support that was denied the bureaucratic government of the prefecture, notables were able to embark on projects of local development even when they lacked government funding. This was the case with Kamata Sannosuke and the Meiji Haisuiro project. As the heir to a family of prominent landlords in the Shinainuma area, Kamata had both an unambiguous interest in increasing the productiveness of the area's farmland and the confidence of the people of the area, many of whose families were likely connected to his own through traditional ties of patronage and quasi-kinship. It was these resources that enabled Kamata to bring together the diverse residents of the area and convince them to look beyond their conflicting personal interests in pursuit of the project and it was these resources to which Governor Kamei sought access when he sent the telegram to Kamata in Mexico. Nor was Kamata's an isolated case. Notables from the length and breadth of Miyagi devoted their time, skills, influence, and money to projects of local development. 7 7 Lewis, 38. 7 8 Ohara, 137. 7 9 Waters, Japan's Local Pragmatists. 114. 26 Ogata Yasuhei used the economic and social resources granted him as heir to a wealthy family of sake producers to engage in energetic promotion of the construction of the railway in the prefecture. Even as jiyu minken advocates entered into conflict with the government on the floor of the kenkai and in public speech rallies, Ogata worked tirelessly in concert with the prefectural government to ensure the building of the railway. To this end he gave freely of his time, money and influence, personally researching the area that would best suit construction, using a significant fraction of his personal fortune to buy the land and donate it to the government, and meeting with the various local opponents to construction in order to convince them of its benefits.80 Miyagi notables continued to follow the examples of men like Kamata and Ogata well into the new century, with figures like Hayakawa Tomohiro and Sato Yayoji devoting themselves to the building of roads, rails and bridges into the Taisho and Showa periods.81 Kamei's recognition of the important role that could be played by meiboka like Kamata was shared by Miyagi governors throughout the years before the Second World War. Governor Chikarashi Yuichiro, recognizing the continuing value of meiboka to local development in the late Taisho period, based his plans for the promotion of economic development in Miyagi on cooperation with the notables in the Chosonkaichokai ( B p f T T c i l : ^ , Association of Town and Village Assembly Heads). Recognizing local economic development as a continuing concern of local elites, Chikarashi understood the desires of the meiboka and the government to be as one and sought to combine the resources of the two groups.82 In the years that followed the settlement of the issue of local self-government, meiboka and the central government (through its prefectural governors) came to appreciate their mutual utility and the interests they shared in common. This lesson was made all the more explicit to notables by the difficulties faced by those figures who stood in opposition to the central government. The adoption of'supple strategies,' characterized by a political and ideological flexibility in pursuit of local interests, occurred as a result of the realization that direct resistance to government policies tended "Sasa, 201. 1 Sasa, 124, 120. 2 Sasa, 108. 27 to crystallize official government opposition.83 Meiboka learned to balance their interests with those of the government, growing skilled at soliciting funds for local spending from the government at the same time as they cemented their ties with residents of the rural 84 community. This arrangement proved to be mutually beneficial to both rural elites and the central government. As meiboka used government funding to enhance both their business and industrial interests and their eminence in their local communities, the government saw the remote provinces of Japan grow more dependent on the direct support of the central administration.85 The net results of this trade-off were an ending to "serious opposition to central policies" on the part of local notables, the sacrifice of any form of "genuine autonomy" that might have existed at the prefectural level, and the creation of a system of local interest politics that was "bereft of any sort of political 86 idealism." They were to form the heart of the enduring legacy of rural politics in the prewar period. The new style of interaction between meiboka and government had much to do with changes in the nature of local notables. Increasing involvement in the development and ownership of local industry heightened meiboka interest in securing government funding for local infrastructure in the 1890s. These included "government subsidies for the development of roads, waterways, railways, harbours, schools, experimental stations and other vital elements of the local economic substructure." As we will see, this realignment of interests on the part of local rural elites was to filter down to the general rural public by means of local bonds of respect and influence, and would in turn help to determine the character of rural interests among all classes in the prewar period. Meiboka and the Rural Public Much of the influence that meiboka enjoyed with the central government and the national political organizations was derived through the connections they held with their neighbours, both franchised and unfranchised. It was this influence that made meiboka 8 3 Lewis, 7. 8 4 Lewis, 8. 8 5 Lewis, 8. 8 6 Lewis, 76. 8 7 Sims, 70. 28 valuable to the central government in the early part of the Meiji period and it was this influence that made them of key importance to political parties in the second half of the Meiji period and beyond. After the establishment of the Imperial Diet in 1890, the interactive links between meiboka and the rural public acted to arrest the development of political ideologies and consciousness among members of the rural communities. In actively propagating a system in which the rural public identified their political interests solely with the recognition of their locality in government fiscal policy, meiboka stifled consciousness of political ideologies and alternatives and created a context in which the people of the countryside felt little i f any connection to developments in the form and philosophy of government. From the beginnings of early forays into democratic government at the local level, meiboka assumed positions of prominence and authority. Continuing in their roles as the interpreters of local needs and the shapers of local opinion, roles which they had held in the Edo period, Meiji-era notables assumed a controlling role in the selection processes of local government and became a medium between the voting public and the democratic institutions that defined them as such. In the immediate wake of the Meiji Restoration, meiboka were chosen by the central government to be the agents through which new governmental policies would be instituted at the local level. This placed local notables at the junction between the central and the local, enabling them to both influence and be influenced by the two spheres. From these roots, meiboka were able to cement their control of local offices, retaining the ability to choose candidates of their liking even after the institution of the nominal democracy represented by prefectural assemblies in the 1880s and the opening of the Imperial Diet in 1891.88 In the first elections of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth centuries, this dominant influence was based on the direct connections between notables, candidates, and the enfranchised public. Carol Gluck describes the form that these early elections took: The several hundred voters in a given rural district consisted of the local notables (yushisha, meiboka), who were also the village officials, the professionals, the entrepreneurs, or the native sons who had achieved some success in Tokyo and returned, sometimes just to stand for election. When candidates debated or McClain, "Local Politics," 58-59. 29 slandered one another and voters gathered to pre-select a candidate, they often knew the men of whom they spoke, if not in person, at least by name or reputation - so tight and narrow a social stratum did they represent. The newspapermen who reported the electoral activities were by virtue of family or achievement linked to this same group89 In the years that followed the various expansions of the franchise that took place, rural voters looked to the meiboka for advice, trusting in their experience with elections and both their definition of local interests and their commitment to defend them. This trust resulted in a very undemocratic form of democracy, in which voters most commonly went to the polls with their vote having been decided for them beforehand by a notable member of their community. Meiboka built jiban in this way; theirs to commit to a candidate with the understanding of the voters that such a commitment would be in the interests of the local good. This prominence and influence continued into the period of the Imperial Diet, enabling meiboka to attract the attentions of the parties through their ability to deliver blocs of rural votes and ensure the election of favoured candidates to the Lower House. The success with which local candidates were able to call meiboka and their jiban to their sides is evident in the national election results in Miyagi. Within these records, those candidates who most effectively appealed to the influential in their ridings stand out as they appear year after year with their seats in the Imperial Diet confirmed time and again. A politician who demonstrated this type of success early on was Musha Denjiro, who was selected by the voters in his riding as their representative in each of the first four national elections. Musha's ability to rally the meiboka of his riding behind him impressed the national political parties, prompting the Jiyuto to add him to their ranks by the time of his third victory in 1894. Later success through the mobilization of notables and their jiban is apparent in the political careers of Shuto Rikuzo, who served in eight cabinets from 1894 to 1915, and Fujisawa Ikunosuke, who captured his seat in each of the elections between 1898 and 1917, winning by results of 299 votes to 3 and 1587 to 16 over his nearest competitors in the elections of 1904 and 1898.90 Results such as these 8 9 Gluck, 68. 9 0 Nihon Kokusei Chosakai, Shugiin meikan: dai 1-kai 1890-nen - dai 34-kai 1976-nen sosenkyo (Tokyo: Kokusei Shuppanshitsu, 1977). 30 were dependent upon a candidate's ability to gain the support of the meiboka in his riding, thereby bringing together enough jiban to propel him to victory in an election.91 Rural voters gave their support to meiboka because of the intermediary position the latter figures held in relation to the central government. As figures who bridged the gap between centre and periphery, local notables were able to communicate rural needs and wishes to the government in a way that was not possible for the larger mass of voters. In periods when reforms came from the central authorities on a regular basis, and the possibility of popular influence over the nature of these reforms was minimal, the direct connections that meiboka had to prefectural and the central governments through their positions as government functionaries made them figures of no small significance. As all enfranchised voters in the first decades of prefectural and national elections were landholders of some magnitude, they could be confident that the interests of meiboka were not far removed from their own. In Miyagi, this commonality of interest was seen both in the promotion of regional development pursued by men such as Kamata, Ogata, Hayakawa, and many others and in the active opposition by meiboka and the candidates they sent to the prefectural and national assemblies to land tax revision throughout the 1880s and 1890s. Efforts of these types, whether in concert with or opposition to bureaucratic government, worked to tighten the bonds of loyalty and respect between rural voters and meiboka. At the same time as they created a new relevance for themselves with their franchised neighbours, meiboka continued to be entwined in a variety of informal and traditional links with the unfranchised members of the rural community. It was this relationship that the government sought to exploit when it made meiboka the instruments of reform at the local level and when it looked to them to oversee projects of infrastructural and industrial development. Both government officials and the unfranchised in the countryside defined meiboka in terms of the public service that could be expected from them, envisioning them as characterized by "impartial, generous, and 9 1 Joji Watanuki, "Social Structure and Voting Behavior," in The Japanese Voter (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991), 49-54. For a postwar example of a postwar rural election campaign that bears much in common with its prewar predecessors, see Gerald L. Curtis, Election Campaigning Japanese Style (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1983). 31 [providing] selfless service to the polity." In many ways, the relationship between meiboka and the unfranchised public was of an even more direct character than that shared by notables with either their franchised neighbours or the political authorities and parties, having its roots in both tradition and direct personal ties. The connection between meiboka and their unfranchised neighbours that existed at the onset of the Meiji era was largely based on traditions of social order and ideas of societal propriety and justice. The parochial outlook of villagers and townspeople in the Edo era continued into the early Meiji, making direct connections with others in the local community of much greater significance than abstract ideas of governance in relation to the central authorities, whether domainal or national.93 This mentality was further strengthened in the early Meiji period by the plethora of local reforms initiated by the new central authorities. These worked to tighten local bonds that could act to "insulate any one unit from capricious or arbitrary action from above."94 Meiboka, as the elite members of the villages, stood at the apex of authority and respect in these enclosed communities. The respect they commanded was justified in the village mentality by the traditional role of rural elites in aiding local material conditions and acting to prevent disorder and dissatisfaction in their home regions.95 The continuation of early modern traditions of paternal and familial relations between rural landlords and their tenants in Miyagi made these relations particularly strong in the area, and was likely a factor behind the dedication to the disenfranchised shown by some Miyagi notables. Meiboka in Miyagi demonstrated significant commitment to the well-being of the common people of the countryside, engaging in a range of activities that made manifest the understanding among the people of notables as the guardians of the public good. As in other parts of the country, the rural elites of Miyagi came to the aid of their neighbours and tenants in times of rural crisis. When disastrously poor harvests threatened to devastate the less affluent farmers of Kuriharagun in 1902, the district chief took it upon himself to coordinate and collect relief for the poor from his jinushi neighbours to enable those suffering to make it Gluck, 202. Waters, Japan's Local Pragmatists. 218. Waters, "Local Leadership," 59. Lewis, 104-06. 32 through the crisis and aided recovery by employing the disadvantaged in the reconstruction projects that were instituted in the wake of the famine.96 In a similar display of public spirit, Kamata Sannosuke responded to an outbreak of smallpox in his home village of Kimatsuka in 1884 by paying to have a shipment of vaccine rushed out to the isolated area and later using his own funds to move a doctor out from the Kanto region and set him up with a practice in the rural community.97 The promotion of the public good engaged in by Miyagi meiboka could also be unambiguously directed towards the benefit of middle- and lower-class farmers. Osuga Inken, who pursued a living as a poet and educator as he served in the honorary post of guncho, promoted education and sericulture in his home area in the final decades of the nineteenth century as methods by which local farmers could improve their lives. 9 8 Sentiments of this type were sometimes seen on a wider scale in the activities of the kenkai. In 1884, the members of the Miyagi assembly rose in opposition to the governor, demanding payment for members of the rural public who were pressed into service for public works. In the face of their advocacy, Governor Matsudaira withdrew his initial threat to dissolve the assembly over the matter and agreed to the demands of the assemblymen.99 The personal connection and responsibility felt by notables in connection with their home regions also lay behind their efforts at local improvement and well-being. Aonuma Hikoji rejected an imperial appointment to the Upper House in order to promote development in his home village of Arao, coming to support much of the infrastructure of the village with his personal funds.100 Implicit at all times and explicit at moments of distress in the relationship between local notables and the greater mass of the rural public was the threat of the direction of public anger against meiboka and their property. The actualization of this threat, while existing outside the norms of everyday existence, was not unknown or even exceptionally rare. It was made necessary by the gulf that existed between the definitions of the local good that were held by meiboka and the rural public and demonstrated the limits of the elite sense of paternalistic obligation. Traditional conceptions of community 9 6 Murakami, 119. 9 7 Chiiki Katsuseika Sentaa. 9 8 Sasa, 133. 9 9 Ohara, 33. 33 died hard in the countryside, and ideas of social obligation retained a prominent position in the thinking of rural residents. Continuing across the Ishin divide into the Meiji and Taisho periods, the expectation remained among members of the rural community that meiboka and other elites "should and would help the discontented when problems arose."101 In the popular conception, the increased contact between local elites and the new Meiji government actually marked an increase in the responsibilities of the former party. "Grain shortages, high prices, and political maladministration" could all trigger the ire of rural residents, and the objects of their hostilities were the local notables who represented the closest link to the government.102 Although uprisings and riots on scales seen in more volatile areas of the country did not occur in Miyagi during the Meiji and early Taisho periods, this can not be taken as indicative of a lack of the potential for unrest in the area. In 1918 as the Rice Riots ( 7 ^ ISJlfj, Kome Sodo) spread across the country, disorder and violent public protest settled upon Miyagi as well. Recourse to the early modern forms of violence known collectively as uchikowashi ffi'hWk L, smashings) and explicit reference to Edo-era conceptions of the leaders of rural uprisings as gimin (ills!;, martyrs) on the part of rioters during the unrest demonstrated that traditions of collective protest and violence had never been absent from the countryside103 In this context, it can be understood that rural uprising, though absent from the Miyagi historical record, was not similarly absent from the thoughts of the rural public or the rural elites. In addition to marking a degree of charity and the influence of paternalistic traditions, instances in which Miyagi meiboka acted in the interests of their less-advantaged neighbours must be seen as activities that were engaged in with the knowledge that they could serve to forestall popular unrest. The threat of public anger served to reinforce the commitment of meiboka to the achievement of local ends and to add a further pillar of support to the system of regional interest-driven politics that characterized political interaction in prewar Japan. In addition to the advantages government funds offered to the business and industrial ventures of local notables and rural elites, they also proved able to quell dissent among the less 1 0 1 Lewis, 119. 1 0 2 Lewis, 111. l 0 3 For a description of the riots in Miyagi see Watanabe and Kodama, 276-277. 34 advantaged. Infrastructure projects meant local jobs, new rail lines afforded new opportunities, and the building of schools could work to the advantage of all rural residents. The benefits of these were not shared equally by all members of the community, but the lower strata of the village and town communities came more and more to associate their needs with those of their wealthier neighbours. This was, in part, a result of the growing integration of the political and economic centres and communities of the outlying prefectures. The economic dependency on the centre that meiboka helped to promote when they aligned their interests with those of the government served to make more immediate the connection between the public and public spending. As old ways of life were eliminated in the rush to modernity, members of the public often found themselves dispossessed and without a livelihood. They took up new positions in public work projects, in newly-established public institutions, and in the new enterprises of the business elite, which themselves were often reliant on government funds for start-up capital and improvements to local infrastructure. In this way, the interests of meiboka and the larger rural public converged, and the regional interests catered to by governments and political parties came to take on a more homogenous character. Although differences continued to exist between the interests of the local elites and those of public, the larger convergence of these interests and the growing dependency on the centre weakened the power of popular unrest. Groups whose interests were threatened by the economic and political activities of meiboka tended to be more isolated, and lacked the ability to draw on the support of the less privileged public as a whole. These trends could be seen early on in Miyagi, as opposition to developmental projects weakened and vanished over time. Ogata Yasuhei's advocacy of rail expansion can be seen in this light, with his successful overcoming of local opposition to the project in concert with local officials representing an early example of a possibly forceful association of the interests of the public with those of the rural elite. 1 0 4 Similar instances in which public opposition to industrial and infrastructural development were overcome through the intervention of notables were to follow. In one example, Hayakawa Tomohiro, who was initially frustrated by popular opposition to harbour development See Sasa, 201. 35 projects that he was advocating, later proved more successful with his infrastructural initiatives and was able to successfully complete river improvements and road systems that proved of benefit to the emerging business communities of Sendai and Shiogama.1 0 5 By the time of these developments in the late Meiji and early Taisho periods, the rural public in Miyagi and across Japan had come to place its interests squarely in line with those of chiho meiboka. Understanding politics to be centred on the pursuit of local interests, and trusting their notable neighbours to best lead their community in this pursuit, the rural public, both franchised and unfranchised, placed their support behind rural elites and kept their attention focussed on the local community. Conclusion Kamata Sannosuke was able to salvage some of the Shinainuma project through his expedient return, and the final form of the haisuiro managed to allow for the reclamation of a significant amount of the wetlands that the notable and his ancestors had envisioned. The reputation of Kamata in the community and the respect shown him by his neighbours only grew after this success, and in 1909 he responded to their "strong wishes" and relocated to the village of Kashimadai in order to serve as soncho.1 0 6 He engaged in his duties in this position with gusto and an unusual degree of dedication, forsaking all financial recompense and personal luxury for the next 38 years until his death and earning the nationally known nickname of waraji soncho (jph CfchS:, grass slippers village head, referring to the simple attire he wore during these years). In this role, Kamata came to occupy a place in the national memory of Japan, representing the popular ideal of the local notable perhaps better than any other. In this way, he can be remembered as an embodiment of the local benefit that was understood to be inherent to meiboka. However, outside the confines of this rural dream, the larger implications of the local interest based politics that emerged from the activities and place of notables within the Japanese political order were to have significant effects. Sasa, 124. MSlV "> (Tsuyoi nagai)," Chiiki Katsuseika Sentaa. 36 The institution of universal male suffrage in March 1925 marked a very different type of change at that time than it would have forty years earlier. Interest politics had become firmly embedded in all regions of the country, and ties of dependency ensured that the public of these regions were more tightly bound to the centre than they had been at any other time. Far from marking the victory of democracy as characterized by the rhetoric of the jiyu minken activists of half a century earlier, universal suffrage instead served to offer the public a more direct avenue to appeal to the government for support and funding for their home regions. The political parties had defined themselves by the pursuit of local interests, distinguished not by any ideological program but rather by connections with the meiboka of one locality or another. The democracy created by universal suffrage no longer represented a threat to the political and economic elites of the country. Meiboka played an important role in the evolution of this system. Aligning their interests with those of the central government at the turn of the century, meiboka defined the relationship between the rural regions and central political notions based on regional interests. In the quest for rural support, political parties dedicated themselves to the satisfaction of these interests, removing ideology from their programs. The influence of meiboka also spread downward into their communities. As local notables profited from government spending in their home regions, the dependency on the centre that this spending created served to align the interests of the public with those defined by local elites. Those who held interests that were inimical to the interests of meiboka found themselves isolated and without support, and faced defeat and forcible integration into the new order. Political interaction with the central government was now based entirely on the regional interest, and political ideology was absent from the rural consciousness. This absence would have important ramifications in the years leading up to the Second World War. The collapse and suppression of political parties in the 1930s would alter the ways in which communities would interact with the central government, but their interests remained the same. Regional interests would continue to define the political goals of the localities throughout the prewar period, and would exercise an important influence in government policy prior to and during the War. Political ideology was gone from these regions, eliminated where it had existed and prevented from 37 developing where it had not, and would not become a concern again until after the end of the War and massive reforms in both central politics and rural social structure. 38 Bibliography Ahvenainen, Jorma. The Far East Telegraphs: The History of Telegraphic Communications between the Far East. Europe and America before the First World War. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 1981. Arima, Manabu. "Mura no naka no minto to rito: Kindai Nihon no chiiki, senkyo, seito." In Chiikishi no kanosei: chiiki. 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