Democratic Japan

Do you think Japan could have switched its imperial government system to adopt a democratic one before American occupation of Japan in 1945?
How do you picture the Asia-Pacific economical, political and social context given this situation?
 
Do you think Japan could have switched its imperial government system to adopt a democratic one before American occupation of Japan in 1945?
How do you picture the Asia-Pacific economical, political and social context given this situation?
Japan was democratic, but the Meiji Constitution was riddled with vulnerabilities that the Control faction of the militarists were able to exploit, to the point that civilian government lost control of the military by 1932, and the military controlled the government by 1936.

You could have a surviving democracy with an early enough POD, but reforms will be needed.
 
Japan was democratic, but the Meiji Constitution was riddled with vulnerabilities that the Control faction of the militarists were able to exploit, to the point that civilian government lost control of the military by 1932, and the military controlled the government by 1936.

You could have a surviving democracy with an early enough POD, but reforms will be needed.
Even though the Great Depression was really the nail in the coffin, yes, the political system was riddled with many loopholes to the point where the military could intervene in electoral politics by the 1920s. There also is the problem of the aristocracy blocking democratic reforms and the 藩閥(or the old guard from the Choshu and Satsuma domain) stifling reforms in the earlier Taisho years as well.
 
Even though the Great Depression was really the nail in the coffin, yes, the political system was riddled with many loopholes to the point where the military could intervene in electoral politics by the 1920s. There also is the problem of the aristocracy blocking democratic reforms and the 藩閥(or the old guard from the Choshu and Satsuma domain) stifling reforms in the earlier Taisho years as well.

It also doesn't help that there's the triple whammy of a series of diplomatic humiliations (the ending of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance and the defeat of the Racial Equality Resolution at the League of Nations) by Japan's former allies, the Great Kanto Earthquake, plus the Great Depression and a bloated military budget on top of all of it. All of these would stir up anger across the population, so something would need to flood the magazines before the powder keg blows up.
 
It is really hard to draw a line between the "democratic" and "miilitarist" or "fascist" era of Japan. There is no clear dividing line the way Hitler's coming to power was in Germany. As late as 1936 there was a moderately free election for the Diet, in which the openly radical right did quite poorly (400,000 votes and six seats), while a labor party (Shakai Taishuto or "social masses party") doubled its previous vote and won 18 seats. The party getting the most votes was the Minseito or Democratic party (4,456,200 votes and 205 seats)--whose governments of 1929-31 had probably been the high-water mark of Japanese liberalism. (During the 1936 campaign, the Minseito used as one of its slogans, "Which shall it be, parliamentary government or Fascism?") In the 1937 election, while the Minseito lost some ground, the Shakai Taishuto advanced (though by that time it was torn between social democracy and national socialism). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_general_election,_1937

OTOH, how democratic was the late 1920's? Here's a negative appraisal: "For example, the Seiyu Kai cabinet of April 1927 to July 1929 headed by General Tanaka Giichi was supposed to be a purely political party Cabinet. Yet in domestic policy it put severe pressure on the left-wing movements and further restricted freedom of speech, publication, and association by revising the Law for the Maintenance of Public Peace in the form of the Emergency Decree. Abroad it adopted the Tanaka 'positive diplomacy,' dispatching troops to China on the occasion of the Tsinan Incident. Until it collapsed after getting entangled in the assassination of Chang Tso-lin, its course of action almost appears to be that of a fascist government." Masao Maruyama, *Thought and Behavior in Modern Japanese Politics* (Oxford University Press paperback edition 1969), p. 81. In this perspective, the relative liberalism of the Minseito governments of 1929-31 was the aberration, and authoritarianism the general rule.
 
Do you think Japan could have switched its imperial government system to adopt a democratic one before American occupation of Japan in 1945?

if it did, it would have to be a defensive democracy, in which political parties deemed a threat to the state would be banned, since in the 1900s, Japan was trying to keep a lid on a growing leftist movement, so in a Japanese 'democracy', there would be no socialist or anarchist parties allowed to participate in the process.
 
Japan was democratic, but the Meiji Constitution was riddled with vulnerabilities that the Control faction of the militarists were able to exploit, to the point that civilian government lost control of the military by 1932, and the military controlled the government by 1936.

You could have a surviving democracy with an early enough POD, but reforms will be needed.
How can Japan have a different constitution that is more amenable to a stable democracy, or something that could reform into a stable democracy through protest and whatnot, and what factors would cause such an adoption?

There also is the problem of the aristocracy blocking democratic reforms and the 藩閥(or the old guard from the Choshu and Satsuma domain) stifling reforms in the earlier Taisho years as well.
Does this mean you need handwaving to get a democratic and more socially liberal Japan that didn't need to go through a major defeat?
 
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How can Japan have a different constitution that is more amenable to a stable democracy, or something that could reform into a stable democracy through protest and whatnot, and what factors would cause such an adoption?


Does this mean you need handwaving to get a democratic and more socially liberal Japan that didn't need to go through a major defeat?

One of your major obstacles is one of the Articles (IIRC 11) of the Meiji Constitution which states that the War/Army Minister must be a serving general or field marshal and the Navy Minister a serving admiral/admiral of the Fleet. That gives both the Navy and the Army outsized power, as either minister can resign, the armed services can refuse to find another officer to fill the minestral position, and bring down a cabinet.

The trouble with amending the Constitution is that the military has incredibly high public support, because Japan had an unbroken string of victories from the Boshin War to WWI. The Navy, after WWI also takes up almost a third of the national budget, but is the third-strongest in the world.

It isn't impossible to have a more peaceful Japan, though.

If you want a more conservative but not insane, militaristic Japan, have one of the many military coups defeated decisively. Make sure Sadao Araki and Kita Ikki are either executed or commit suicide. Have senior officers sent abroad to somewhere other than Germany for military education. A furious Emperor Hirohito is enraged that the Army would attempt such a heinous act against Japan, and suggests that the many Imperial Princes make sure the Army carries out the Emperor's will.

Japan, before 1947, also had a Peerage, and what is now the House of Councillors, which was then the House of Peers. The lower tiers of the Peerage (Baron, Viscount and Count) rotated seats in the House, while the higher tiers (Marquess and Prince [the equivalent of a European Duke]) were entitled to a permanent seat. Pack the Peerage with less radical members, and elevate more liberal members to at least Marquess as well.

If you wanted a more socialist Japan, perhaps have the government really botch the recovery from the Great Kanto Earthquake, and the following Great Depression. You'll have a lot of very hungry, very angry people demanding change.
 
A democratic china post war /japan democratic before ww2 would still be a economic threat to the western powers/USA like OTL, a war or a cold war situation like today with the US and China trying to dominate the pacific would still develop.
Japan would still lose to the US eventually, i wonder what would happen to a defeated major power democracy in ww2?
 
If you want a more conservative but not insane, militaristic Japan, have one of the many military coups defeated decisively. Make sure Sadao Araki and Kita Ikki are either executed or commit suicide. Have senior officers sent abroad to somewhere other than Germany for military education. A furious Emperor Hirohito is enraged that the Army would attempt such a heinous act against Japan, and suggests that the many Imperial Princes make sure the Army carries out the Emperor's will.
I take it that's something you'll use still when remaking your Allied Japan TL?
 
I take it that's something you'll use still when remaking your Allied Japan TL?
I can't reveal any details about that yet. Patience will be rewarded ;).

A democratic china post war /japan democratic before ww2 would still be a economic threat to the western powers/USA like OTL, a war or a cold war situation like today with the US and China trying to dominate the pacific would still develop.
Japan would still lose to the US eventually, i wonder what would happen to a defeated major power democracy in ww2?

I don't think war with the West is inevitable; you have a lot of even right-wing politicians, generals and admirals who believed that war with the West was foolhardy.

Keep in mind that circa 1941, the United States has about half of the entire world's war-making industrial capacity; Japan has about 3.5%.

It's a lot harder to get a functioning democracy to sign onto that.
 
Well, I thought of the possible exile of the prominent members of the Japanese democratization movement (who were possibly non-partisan) to Western countries like the United States and Australia (the closest) to the point that they would be crucial in the post-war reconstruction of the country (and their possible role in the Allies war effort in the Pacific in the WWII).
 
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