Kuroda Cabinet (黒田内閣)

In this section mentioned are achievemens of Kuroda Cabinet as well as the background of Sanjo Provisional Cabinet lead by Sanetomi SANJO, Minister of the Interior, that existed for two months after Kuroda's stepping down from his position as Prime Minister. Sanjo Provisional Cabinet continued from October 25 to December 24 in the same year.

Term in office

Kuroda Cabinet
April 30 - October 25
The term in his office was 544 days.

Sanjo Provisional Cabinet
October 25, 1889 - December 24 in the same year
The term in his office was 61 days.

Kuroda Cabinet

Hirobumi ITO decided to step down from his position as Prime Minister and assume office as the first Chairman of the Privy Council in order to focus on the establishment of the Constitution of the Empire of Japan, and nominated Kiyotaka KURODA who was one of the important figures of the domain and who had already been in the cabinet as Minister of Agriculture and Commerce, as his successor. KURODA had all ministers stay in office except his position as Minister of Agriculture and Commerce which was taken over by Takeaki ENOMOTO, Minister of Communication, and started a new cabinet (Later, Kaoru INOUE was appointed as Minister of Agriculture and Commerce).

The purpose of Kuroda Cabinet was to enhance the control of Jiyu Minken Undo (democratic-rights movement) which would be rekindled due to the establishment of the constitution and the foundation of the imperial diet, and also to revise the unequal treaty which had been untouched since it was concluded with the allied western powers.

The day after the Constitution of the Empire of Japan and the election law of the members of the House of Representatives were issued (February 12, 1889), KURODA made the speech called 'speech of the doctrine of superiority' in order to show his attitude to cope with the political parties to the bottom in the luncheon held at Rokumeikan, and on the other hand, he had Shigenobu OKUMA, who was also the former president of the Constitutional Progressive Party, stay in the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs (Japan) to assign the mission to revise the treaty. Also, as for the position of Minister of Communication which was vacant due to the transfer of Takeaki ENOMOTO to the Minister of Education after the former Minister of Education, Arinori MORI, was assassinated, KURODA appointed Shojiro GOTO, former advocate of the Great Merger Movement, in order to water down the movement and prevent the democratic-rights parties from getting together. As for the revision of treaty, he achieved to conclude Japan-Mexico Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation which was an equal treaty with Mexico, so the negotiation for the unequal treaty with the powerful countries seemed to be going well.

However, once they realized the revision proposal prepared by Ministry of Foreign Affairs contained the article suggesting an appointment of a foreign judge as a compromise plan, it caused an utter confusion like a madhouse. The Great Merger Movement that had once fallen apart was rekindled, this time involving Taisuke ITAGAKI, and even the insiders of the government such as Aritomo YAMAGATA, Shojiro GOTO, Hirobumi ITO, Kaoru INOUE and so on showed their will against the compromise plan. KURODA protected OKUMA, but negotiations concerning the revision of the treaty were suspended. Following this, on October 18, Tsuneki KURUSHIMA, a member of the Genyosha Nationalism Organization, threw a bomb at OKUMA, who was about to enter the official residence for the Minister of Foreign Affairs by carriage; the bomb severely injured OKUMA and he had to have his right leg amputated. KURODA who was driven into a corner gave in a resignation of all ministers on 25, a week later from it.

Sanjo Provisional Cabinet

However, Emperor Meiji didn't accept the resignation except KURODA's, and ordered the other ministers to stay in their positions and newly appointed Sanetomi SANJO as Prime Minister keeping him as Minister of the center, in order to maintain the cabinet. As of that time, the constitution had already been proclaimed but not put in force yet. In this period, each system could be run flexibly, and Emperor's vagary could be accepted.

Setting aside the question about his real power, SANJO had always strived to organize everything as head seat of new Meiji government since the System of Departments of State was introduced in 1869, but it was four years earlier that it was put an end by the introduction of cabinet system led by Hirobumi ITO. Once ITO assumed office as Prime Minister, SANJO transferred to imperial court as Minister of the center, after that, he served as a close adviser of Emperor, but Minister of center's Office was originally a honorary position exclusively set up for SANJO, so actually he was just like a man in a penthouse without means to go down. Even Emperor Meiji felt pity on this.

The office Emperor gave to SANJO was 'double duties' not 'provisional double duties', and after that, Emperor did not get in contact with him. On December 24 in the same year, two months after that, Emperor finally ordered Aritomo YAMAGATA for a formation of the cabinet. This is why the term was considered having a cabinet, and it came to be called 'Sanjo Provisional Cabinet'.

However, once the constitution was put in force and the position such as 'provisional double duty' or 'provisional duty' settled down as a system, the background of the double duty of SANJO had gradually come to be treated as a special exception in the past. It is the widely-accepted theory today that 'SANJO is not included as the Prime Ministers in the history' as it was because 'the post was continued from Kuroda Cabinet' though 'SANJO, Minister of the center, also held the post as Prime Minister' in the two months.