Social Democratic Party (Japan, 1901) (Shakai minshuto) (社会民主党 (日本 1901年))

The Shakai minshuto is the first socialist party in Japan, which was formed in 1901. It was outlawed by the authorities on the day it submitted a notification of its establishment.

The six founders were Sen KATAYAMA, Isoo ABE, Naoe KINOSHITA, Shusui KOTOKU, Kiyoshi KAWAKAMI, and Kojiro NISHIKAWA, all of them except for Kotoku were Christians. The two party secretaries were Katayama and Kinoshita.

When the party was founded on May 18, 1901, the sentence 'The objective of the party shall be to practice socialism' was adopted as Article 1 of its party constitution. At the same time, they announced 'the Declaration of the Social Democratic Party,' which contained eight-article party ideals and a 28-article party platform; the declaration was published in such newspapers as the "Rodo Sekai," the "Yokohama Mainichi Shimbun," the "Yorozuchoho," and the "Hochi Shimbun." The eight ideals were as follows: universal fraternity, total disarmament, complete abolition of class system, public ownership of land and capital, public ownership of transportation facilities, equitable distribution of wealth, equality of political rights, and education at public expense. On May 19th, the Secretary Kinoshita submitted the notification of the Shakai minshuto's formation to the police; however, on the 20th they summoned Kinoshita to the Kanda Police Station and handed him a mandate by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police commissioner Kanemichi ANRAKU.
It read that 'This is to notify that an official notice of banning the Shakai minshuto as an association which disturbs public peace and order was issued by the Minister of Home Affairs under the Security Police Law Article 8 Clause 2.'
Newspapers which published their declaration were prohibited.

Thus, the Shakai minshuto was outlawed two days after its launch. Katayama, who seemed to have been out of office around this time due to his child's birth, later wrote an article, saying that the Shakai minshuto had been created on the 20th and banned within the same day. This episode of the party being banned two hours after its formation had long been believed. However, as Katayama pointed out, it was true that when they submitted the document of the Shakai minshuto's formation, the police had already learned about it, and thus the Ministry of Home Affairs had adopted a policy to ban the political party in advance. Viewed from the officials' side, it was a 'same-day ban,' considering the government outlawed the party on the same day as they received the party's notification of establishment.

The founding members, with some other members, immediately changed the party platform and formed a new party, the Shakai heiminto, but it was also banned. Their movement was passed on to the Shakaishugi kyokai (the Socialist Association), which was formed in 1900 prior to the Shakai minshuto's establishment, and the Heiminsha (the newspaper company that published the Heimin Shinbun, the Commoner's News).