Political Bribery in Japan

By Richard H. Mitchell | Go to book overview
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4. Purifying Politics

THE DECLINE of party rule after 1932 opened the way for the emergence of "revisionist bureaucrats." Revisionists advocated either ideological purification, state control of the economy, or both to increase the nation's military and spiritual strength. Home Ministry revisionist bureaucrats, who wanted to destroy the alliance between Diet members and local elites, targeted electoral corruption, which the public viewed as widespread and which politicians could not defend.1 On June 23, 1934, the Reformed House of Representatives Members Election Law, which gave prefectural governors more control over the election process, went into effect. The maximum penalty for vote buying was four years' imprisonment and a fine of up to three thousand yen; election brokers were subject to imprisonment for up to five years.2 This law also prohibited preelection campaigning, provided for government printing of campaign material, extended government control of speech at meetings, and severely limited election expenses.3 Writing several years after the passage of this law, one scholar noted, "By providing a limited degree of proportional representation and curtailing the advantages of wealth in election campaigns, the revised election law has been primarily responsible for the increased number of proletarian and independent members in the Diet."4

Home Minister Gotō Fumio ( Okada Keisuke cabinet, July 1934- March 1936), a leader of the revisionists, guided the Election Purification Movement, which was inaugurated via imperial ordinance in May 1935. By the following month election purification committees headed by governors and with police officials among the members had been established in every prefecture. These committees aimed to educate voters about proper election practices.5 Prefectural police chiefs at an August conference in Tokyo were ordered by Gotō and


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Political Bribery in Japan


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