The Second MATSUKATA Cabinet (第2次松方内閣)

Summary
Although the imperial command was given to MATSUKATA on September 10, organization of the Cabinet did not progress smoothly due to failure in measures against Imperial Diet in the previous First MATSUKATA Cabinet. Yanosuke IWASAKI of Mitsubishi Zaibatsu proposed MATSUKATA to cooperate with the Progressive Party (Japan) represented by Shigenobu OKUMA. However, there was opposing argument from the previous prime minister, Aritomo YAMAGATA holding on to the doctrine of superiority as well as Satsuma Domain clique led by MATSUKATA himself. MATSUKATA did not accept the Progressive Party members joining the Cabinet, except for OKUMA as the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Japan), but agreed to select the General secretary of the Cabinet, the director of Cabinet Legislation Bureau, as well as some counsellors who were appointed by the Emperor at the time from the Progressive Party side. As a result, employment of counsellors from the political parties was realized such as Yukio OZAKI who was assigned as Counsellor for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (on the contrary, this became the underlying cause for revision of the Civil Service Appointment Ordinance by the Second Yamagata Cabinet). Thus, this cabinet was also called "Showai Cabinet" from the names of MATSUKATA and OKUMA [The Chinese characters for "Matsu" and "Kuma" can also read "Sho" and "Wai", respectively].

By MATSUKATA, OKUMA, and IWASAKI who was promoted as the Governor of the Bank of Japan due to achievement in the Cabinet organization, establishment of gold standard system which was a long-cherished wish of OKUMA Finance" and "MATSUKATA Finance" but have not been achieved yet was finally realized with the Coinage Act issued on March 26 (enforced on October 1 of the same year). In addition, revision of the Press Regulations which had been claimed by the Progressive Party was implemented and the press/speech control was partially reduced.

However, once two major tasks the Progressive Party represented by MATSUKATA aimed for were solved, conflicts were intensified between the cabinet members from Satsuma Domain clique who had been dissatisfied with cooperation with OKUMA from the beginning and the Progressive Party side, and moreover to solve economic difficulties, MATSUKATA proposed "the plan to increase land taxes" which had been a sort of taboo since the peasant revolt against the land-tax reform, which gathered momentum within the Progressive Party of overthrowing the Cabinet. Consequently, on October 31, the Progressive Party virtually became an opposition party, and immediately after that, OKUMA and counsellors from the Progressive Party side resigned. On December 25 of the same year, when non-confidence motion against the Cabinet was submitted to the House of Representatives and assured to pass, MATSUKATA immediately carried out dissolution of the House of Representatives. However, MATSUKATA could not find any strategy at all for government management after election and submitted a letter of resignation on the same day. This is the only case in which dissolution of the House of Representatives directly led to cabinet resignation en masse under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan and the Constitution of Japan; The Constitution of Japan.

Period being in office

Period being in office; September 18, 1896 - January 12, 1898

The Cabinet members