Political Bribery in Japan

By Richard H. Mitchell | Go to book overview

2. The New State

THE MEIJI STATE, which replaced the Tokugawa shogunate in 1868, admonished officials to strive for national glory; like earlier regimes, however, the new government prescribed punishment for those whose devotion to duty permitted the taking of bribes. Nevertheless, in spite of official exhortations and new antibribery laws, the old pattern of corruption continued.

The Shinritsu Kōryō (Essence of the New Code) of 1871, which was in force until 1882, stipulated punishments for officials who accepted bribes, persons who offered them, and persons who promised them. Depending upon the amount of the bribe and the person involved, punishment ranged from beating to strangulation. Confession prior to discovery would earn a reduction in punishment.1

On January 1, 1882, the Keihō (Penal Code) was implemented as the first Western-style law. Articles 284 through 288, in the section "Crimes of Official Corruption," outlined punishments for officials who took bribes. Penalties ranged from one month to two years' imprisonment.2

A new civil service system was introduced in 1885. Emperor Meiji decreed on December 23 that disciplinary rules would be strictly enforced. Three days later Prime Minister Itō Hirobumi announced that incorruptibility of officials was of vital concern to the government. "Regulations Concerning the Personal Conduct of Officials" were issued on July 30, 1887. In Article 1, officials were ordered to obey all ordinances and laws.3 According to Article 8, "officials may not receive, in connection with their official functions any present whatever from others, be it as an acknowledgment of service rendered, as a fee, or in any other name or under whatever pretext."4 Officials also were prohibited from taking free passes from transportation companies and from accepting free meals. Violators of these

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Political Bribery in Japan
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • A Note on the Transliteration of Japanese Words x
  • 1. Legacies 1
  • 2. the New State 10
  • 3. the Era of Party Government 41
  • 4. Purifying Politics 64
  • 5. Occupation Era 92
  • 6. "New" Japan 109
  • 7. Conclusion 133
  • Index 201
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