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RELATED TOPIC:
THE EMPEROR

RELATED TOPIC:
THE PRIME MINISTER

RELATED TOPIC:
THE JAPANESE BUREAUCRACY

RELATED TOPIC:
INTEREST GROUPS IN JAPANESE POLITICS

RELATED TOPIC:
ELECTION LAWS

RELATED TOPIC:
THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM

 
THE GOVERNMENT OF MODERN JAPAN:
THE JAPANESE DIET (PARLIAMENT)

History of the Japanese Parliament
Parliament Video Clip

Gerald L. Curtis :: It probably will come as a surprise to many people to learn that Japan has one of the oldest parliaments in the world. The Japanese parliament goes back to 1889, when it was first created, and to 1890 when the first elections were held for the Japanese parliament.

So that one of the interesting and complicating features of modern Japanese political life is that many of the traditions, many of the ways of doing things in the Japanese parliament, go back to this old tradition of almost a hundred years, influenced heavily by Prussia and by other European models.

In a period that was called the Meiji Period, the Japanese decided that they needed to adopt at least the forms of modern political life that were common in Western Europe in order to convince the Europeans that Japan was a civilized country and deserved to be treated as an equal. And so in the 1870s, after the so-called "Meiji Restoration" — when the feudal period that was called Tokugawa was ended in 1868 — for the next decade or so young Japanese leaders traveled around Europe and the United States studying the political systems, the constitutions, the education systems, all aspects of life in modern Europe and the United States.

In fact, the name for the Japanese parliament in English is the "Diet," and the Diet comes from the Prussian term and reflects the history of Japanese parliamentary development from this period and the influence particularly of Prussia and other European countries on Japan.