Taisho Period 大正時代  1912 - 1926



Emperor Taisho,  Empress Teimei, and sons


The emperor Meiji was succeeded by his son Yoshihito, Prince Yoshihito contracted meningitis within three weeks of his birth, leaving him in poor health both physically and mentally. On July 30, 1912, upon the death of his father, Emperor Meiji, Prince Yoshihito succeeded him on the throne. The Meiji era ended at once and a new era was immediately proclaimed: the Taishō era.


The health of the new emperor was weak, which prompted the shift in political power from the old oligarchic group of "elder statesmen" (元老 genrō) to the Diet (国会) and the democratic parties. Thus, the era is considered the time of the liberal movement known as the "Taishō democracy" in Japan; it is usually distinguished from the preceding chaotic Meiji period and the following militarism-driven first half of the Shōwa Era



 The Far East In The Roaring Twenties


The beginning of the Taishō period was marked by The Taisho political crisis in 1912/1913 that interrupted the earlier politics of compromise. When Saionji Kinmochi (西園寺 公望) tried to cut the military budget, the army minister resigned, bringing down the Seiyūkai Party (立憲政友会 Rikken-Seiyūkai, "Association of Friends of Constitutional Government party") cabinet. Both Yamagata Aritomo (山県 有朋) and Saionji refused to resume office, and the genro were unable to find a solution. Public outrage over the military manipulation of the cabinet and the recall of Katsura Tarō (桂 太郎) for a third term led to still more demands for an end to genro politics. Despite old guard opposition, the conservative forces formed a party of their own in 1913, the Rikken Doshikai (立憲同志会, "Constitutional Association of Friends"), a party that won a majority in the House over the Seiyūkai in late 1914.


Japanese troops firing on German positions in

Qingdao, China during WW1


Seizing the opportunity of Berlin's distraction with the European War (World War I, 第一次世界大戦) and wanting to expand its sphere of influence in China, Japan declared war on Germany on August 23, 1914 and quickly occupied German-leased territories in China's Shandong Province and the Mariana, Caroline, and Marshall Islands in the Pacific. On November 7, Jiaozhou Bay was surrendered to Japan.

With its Western allies heavily involved in the war in Europe, Japan sought further to consolidate its position in China by presenting the Twenty-One Demands (Japanese: 対華21ヶ条要求; Chinese: 二十一条) to China in January, 1915.


The Great Kanto Earthquake of Sept 1, 1923

 This earthquake devastated Tokyo, the port city of Yokohama, and the surrounding prefectures

of Chiba, Kanagawa, and Shizuoka, and caused widespread damage throughout the Kantō region.

Estimated casualties totaled about 142,800 deaths, including about 40,000 who went missing and were presumed dead.[citation needed] The damage from this natural disaster was the greatest sustained by prewar Japan. In 1960, the government declared September 1, the anniversary of the quake, as an annual "Disaster Prevention Day".



 Japanese footage of the earthquake



 Pathe footage





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