With the abolition of the Tokugawa Shogunate on January 3, 1868, the Imperial Court was in an urgent need of creating a new political structure in place of the former Tycoon Government. In the eastern part of Japan at that time, however, remnants of the Shogunate were still rebelling against the Imperial Court. Moreover, among the Imperial Court's allies the two leading factions, i.e. the pro-coalition Federalists represented by the clans of Tosa and Owari, and the anti-Tokugawa Unionists of Satsuma and Choshn had been antagonizing each other since the Imperial Restoration Coup D'etat. Under such circumstances, the search of Japanese leaders for an ideal polity was one of split-up endeavor among the different political ideologies, and their efforts merely resulted in an elementary stage of development in the form of the vague and general statement of future policy. This statement is known as the Gokajo no Seimon (the Charter Oath) of the Meiji Emperor, which was formula,ted on April 6, 1868. The Gokajo no Seimon, as shown by its Article One, seemingly expresses an intention to adopt a democratic polity, but its content is altogether one of extreme ambiguity. Soon after this, another guidance to the future state was promulgated as the Seitaisho (the Organic Act) on June 11, 1868. This document, as compared with the Gokajo no Seimon, adovocates more specifically such political principles of modern and democratic nature as separation of powers, public election of government officials, respect for public deliberate judgment, etc. In reality, however, what was set forth in the Seitaisho had not been the least observed and its principles never put into practice. With gradual suppression of civil wars, the document had gone through a number of corrections and modifications until finally its original principles were completely mutilated. Subsequently, the Seitaisho went out of existence on August 15, 1869, when the Return of the Land-Registers by the Daimyd (feudal lords) to the Emperor was decreed. Investigation in this light tells us that the pro-coalition Federalists and the anti-Tokugawa Unionists, confronted with a double political crisis of the state, one being the persistent civil wars and the other the colonization of Japan by Western Powers, had already been of necessity brought into ostensible understanding as the formulation of the Gokajd no Seimon, They both favored and confirmed the common political route to form a centralized authoritarian state under the reign of the Emperor. As an excessive means to put the route on the beam in a positive way, they hastily fabricated a political system that seemed to have been patterned, without due consideration, upon the Western structure of government, whereas in their actual political activities, they laid the foundations for an autocratic authoritarian political structure under the disguise of their outward strive. We are now entitled to suppose that the Seitaisho was nothing but a mere political tool that those leaders, hailing from the four clans then empowered by the Imperial Court (Satsuma, Choshu, Hizen and Tosa), used for their own purposes, that is, exploited it for their personal interests. Other minor powers, being disillusioned and sidetracked by the apparently democratic principles of the Seitaisho, engaged in a futile series of armchair arguments in the Deliberative Assembly, only to take a back seat to the steady effort of the government leaders toward the formation of a centralized authoritarian state. Thus, the period between June 11, 1868, and August 15, 1869, should be regarded as one in which were made finishing touches to completely dissolve the Tycoon government structure to let the idea of authoritarianism come to stay, and finally to establish a strong central government. A very effective and ingeneous device is indeed what one can call the Seitaisho that the government leaders of the early Meiji period created in order to carry out this tremendous political undertaking.
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