- 公益財団法人 史学会
- 史学雑誌 (ISSN:00182478)
- vol.115, no.6, pp.1041-1078, 2006
The present article attempts to clarify the birth of monarchical constitutionalism on the occasion of a debate over a popularly elected parliament in 1874, by focusing on Motoda Nagazane (or Eifu) 元田永孚, who was Emperor Meiji's tutor in Confucianism. The introduction of a constitutional polity in the absence of a government not only displayed the strong character of a modernization measure and was thought to realize a political society supported by the masses and open public opinion, but also a parliament, constitution and separation of the legislative and administrative branches of government were expected to solve real problems that existed in local administration and politics at the time. The article begins with an examination of the actions taken by the Governor of Fukushima Prefecture Yasuba Yasukazu 安場保和 in order to clarify the era's parliamentary movement against the background of local administration and to argue that the fair and just nature (ko 公) of a constitutional polity was thought to be identical to traditional Confucian political ideals. Secondly, the introduction of a constitutional polity at that point in time was not the result of power politics fought along vertical, class lines, but was rather a specific political expression of what the Restoration bureaucracy thought desirable. On the other hand, the introduction of such a polity under well-meaning auspices from above also meant that the bureaucracy did not always seek broad pluralistic opinions on the subject, but rather tended to make policy decisions in a more theoretical manner. The 1874 debate over a popularly elected parliament brought the issue of mass popular political participation to the forefront in terms of "joint rule by king and citizen." It was here that Motoda Eifu suggested that in a monarchical state it was necessary to make a distinction between "public opinion" and "the just argument," arguing that it was the monarch who should employ the latter. Any parliamentary system in which the monarch enjoys ultimate prerogative, moreover, demands that the monarch have the ability to exercise that prerogative properly, which necessitated the development of a system of imperial advisors and educators. At that time there was also the idea that the position of senior political advisor (genro 元老) should be created outside of the cabinet to perform such a function. Motoda, on the other hand, reformed such an idea based on the necessity of a monarch performing his duties with the final say within a constitutional polity. This is why it can be said that both monarchical constitutionalism and the establishment of the emperor's prerogative within it was born out of the 1874 debate over a popularly elected parliament.