chapter  6
Japan’s First General Election 1890
Pages 2

IN RECENT YEARS Western scholars have ceased studying Meiji history as criminologists, searching for the origins of later militarism and aggression, and have rooted their enquiries in the sources and values of the nineteenth century. Dr Mason’s valuable contribution to this process of reappraisal is based on a thorough reading of contemporary press, party and state materials and avoids the vices of historical hindsight. The author is deeply aware of the complexity and power of Tokugawa tradition, but far from dwelling on the superficiality of European influences he emphasizes the considerable extent to which Western values were spliced into the threads of traditional society. He notes the surprising persistence of a ‘system entailing parliament…for most of the seventy-five years since its introduction’ and throughout, highlights the elements of genuine novelty as well as tradition in the story of Meiji politics.