Japanese Nationalist Party
Eternal President Nagayama Yoshida
National Chief Maehara Seiji
Founded February 5, 1919
Youth wing Japanese Youth League
Membership  (2012) 15,504,829
Ideology Gobosei Shiso
Japanese nationalism
Social conservatism
Political position Big tent
National affiliation National Front
International affiliation Pan-Asian Movement
Official colors Navy blue
Election symbol
Flag of the Japanese Nationalist Party
The Japanese Nationalist Party (ダイワコクミント; 大和國民黨 Daiwa Kokumintō) is the founding and ruling political party of the Republic of Japan. Although nominally it exists alongside the National Front, a coalition of governing political parties, in practice, the Nationalist Party is the only ruling party in Japan, maintaining a unitary government and centralizing the state, military, and media. The current national chief of the Nationalist Party is Maehara Seiji.


Pre-Civil War

The Japanese Nationalist Party traces its roots to the Konkikai (紺旗會, literally “Blue Flag Society”), a secret Japanese nationalist organization that was founded by Nagayama Yoshida, a Spanish-Japanese War veteran, and Kita Ikki, a nationalist-minded intellectual, in 1907. The Konkikai’s political ideology was mostly a syncretic amalgamation of militant Japanese nationalism, social progressivism and economic socialism. In 1910, most of Konkikai members and its leadership decided to participate in mainstream Japanese politics by joining the Constitutional Nationalist Party (立憲國民黨 Rikken Kokumintō), led by Inukai Tsuyoshi.

In the 1912 General Election, the new party secured 95 seats, making it the single largest opposition party (to the Constitutional Party) in the Lower House. In January 1913, about half of the Constitutional Nationalist Party defected to join the Constitutional Party (憲政黨 Kenseitō). These left the party consisted mostly by the Konkikai-affiliated members who belong to the party's left-wing Toseiha ("Control") faction. The Toseiha leaders opposed what so-called "filthy defection" of some party members and parliamentarians toward pro-government Kenseito and rallied solely behind Inukai Tsuyoshi against the policy of Prime Minister Katsura Taro for creating a "big-tent" royalist party that had been stealing most of the party members.

In April 1913, Inukai, advised by Nagayama and other Toseiha leaders, called a general party meeting for adopting more progressive programs into party's platforms. Resulting platforms of the April meeting were the nationalization of the railways, land reform and clear advocacy for the cause of working classes. This platforms' adoption stirred the party more toward the left of political spectrum and alienated it with most of conservative members of the parliament. Nagayama, as the foremost left-wing party leader, was appointed as the party's general secretary in May 1913, putting the Toseiha faction at the top of party leadership.

Although the party was still nominally a moderate liberal party as it was still headed by Inukai, in practice, the Nationalist Party became espousing more radical views on nationalism and socialism. While the conservative leaders had toying with an idea for re-joining more larger Seiyukai Party in 1914, the Toseiha leaders insisted the Nationalist Party should retain its position as the "true opposition" party against the Seiyukai and the Kenseito. By 1915, the Nationalist Party had became the foremost left-minded party in the Japanese politics for its strong advocacy on working classes. The Nihon Nomin Kumiai (日本農民組合 “Japanese Farmers’ Union”), an agrarian movement under Arima Yoriyasu and the Yuaikai (友愛會 "Fraternity"), a moderate labour organization under Suzuki Bunji, although not affiliated with the party, were associated with the Toseiha leaders, during the late 1910s.

The party regained its momentum in 1917 in which 70 of its candidates were elected to the Diet. Among of its elected members are Inukai Tsuyoshi and Nagayama Yoshida. During his parliamentary tenure, Nagayama quickly built a rapport among other parliamentarians for his opposition on the imperial house and support for the labor and agrarian issues. By 1910s standards, Nagayama can be called as the sole socialist-minded member at the Japanese Diet, making him outstanding among the leftist circle. With the restriction on the leftists' political activities still raging on, the leftist intellectuals, including the Marxists, anarchists and republicans, soon joined the Nationalists in mass between 1918 and 1919. By 1918, the party had growing strength with 90,000 members throughout the nation.

During the Rice Riots of 1918, the party strongly against the government’s violent suppression on the demonstrators, especially the Hibiya Park Massacre that killed 50 individuals and injured 327 others. Albeit a caution from Inukai, Nagayama stood up alone against the government's mishandling of the situation by delivering a fiery speech before a session of Lower House on November 13, 1918. His speech shocked both the pro-government and opposition parties for attacking the cabinet as well as the unpopularity of the Imperial Regency. Nagayama's attitudes on the November 13 session of Lower House alarmed the establishment that he might harboring revolutionary tendency of the people and even compared him with Vladimir Lenin. Two days later, Nagayama was kidnapped and detained by the Kempeitai secret police, for about 10 hours on November 15, 1918.

Nagayama’s kidnapping sparked a protest from the Constitutional Nationalist members on the Imperial Diet who demanded the immediate resignation of Constitutional Party’s government under Prime Minister Iwasaki Hisaya. Iwasaki resigned as prime minister on November 19, 1918 and replaced by an Army figure, Hasegawa Yoshimichi, instead of Hara Takahashi, a Constitutional Party candidate for the premiership that had been approved by most of political factions on the Parliament. Under Hasegawa, the Imperial government took more radical measures in response on the Japanese revolutionary situation by implemented the Martial Law that subsequently approved by Prince Regent Fushimi Sadanaru on November 25, 1918.

With the election of Hasegawa as prime minister, the Constitutional Nationalist members on the Diet were resigned en masse as an act of protest. On December 1, 1918, Inukai Tsuyoshi resigned from his position as the president of the Constitutional Nationalist Party and Nagayama Yoshida, leading pro-revolution figure, was elected to replace him. With Nagayama as the party leader, the Constitutional Nationalists merged with Kokuryukai, Rōsōkai, and other smaller nationalist groups to form the Nationalist Party of Japan on December 13, 1918. The new party was organized along the Democratic Centralist lines, similar with the Bolshevik Party in order to become a vanguard party of the farmers, workers, intellectuals, and merchants. The Nationalist Party adopted a deep blue flag with white star on its centre as the party's symbol.

Under Nagayama’s leadership, the Nationalist Party took a pro-revolution stance and openly called for the establishment of the Republican government in Japan. The Nationalists undertook an extra-parliamentary struggle against the Japanese ruling establishment by symbolically moved its headquarters on December 21, 1918 to Nagoya that already fallen under the influence of revolutionary movement, before finally moved to Kyoto, the old capital of Japan, on January 7, 1919.

Japanese Civil War

The Central Committee of the Nationalist Party was met for the first time in Kyoto on January 11, 1919 and adopted a motion that known as the Kyoto Declaration on January 14. The motion itself called for the formation of Council of National Salvation as the unified military command of the revolutionary forces and the immediate takeover of national government by the revolutionary movement. Nagayama was elected as its chairman. In response with the formation of Council of National Salvation, the Imperial Diet of Japan established the Supreme Military Command which headed by Prince Kan'in Kotohito to restore law and order in the country as well as to suppress the revolt.

On February 13, 1919, the first National Congress of Japan was convened by the Nationalist Party at the Kyoto City Hall, Kyoto. About 400 delegates, represented the workers’ unions, peasant organizations, cooperative movements, youth movements, women movements, and revolutionary militias throughout Japan, were invited by the Nationalist Party to establish a new government of Japan. On February 16, 1919, coincided with the date of traditional National Independence Day of Japan, the National Congress declared the establishment of the Republic of Japan. The Provisional National Government of the Republic of Japan was formed with Inukai Tsuyoshi as prime minister.

Ideology and Political Role

The main ideology of the Japanese Nationalist Party is the Five-Pointed Star Ideology (五芒星思想 "Gobōsei shisō"), or Pentagramism, consists of the ideals of Nationalism (國民主義), Populism (民衆主義), Republicanism (共和主義), Economic Self-sufficiency (自給主義), and Pan-Asianism (汎亜主義).


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The meeting venue for the Central Committee of Japanese Nationalist Party

During its early formation, the Nationalist Party modeled its structure from two different models: the Soviet Union's Bolshevik Party and Italy's Fascist Party. In 1924, the party organization was highly centralized, borrowing from the Leninist concept of democratic centralism. However, it also espoused a fascist-style one-man leadership of its main ideologist, Nagayama Yoshida. Nagayama was defined as the "core of the party" in which his teachings were considered sacrosanct and above any discussion or deliberation of the party as whole. After his death in 1952, the Party shedded the remaining fascist elements of its organizational structure and had stick more to a modification of Soviet political model, which known as "national democracy". 

Based on the principle of national democracy, the highest organ of the Nationalist Party is the Party Congress that held every four years. The Party Congress then elects the Party Central Committee that consisted of 100 members with voting rights and additional non-voting members. The Central Committee is acting on the behalf of the Party Congress while the Congress is not in session. The meeting venue for the Party Central Committee is located in Hibiya Park in a Gothic-style brick building built in 1929.

The Central Committee then in turn will elect the Central Leadership of the Nationalist Party (コクミントチュシド; 國民黨中央指導 Kokumintō Chūō Shidō). The Central Leadership serves as the main decision-making body of the party and, practically, of the state. It consists of about fifteen to twenty-five members with voting rights and additional non-voting members. The party headquarters serves as the seat of Central Leadership and is located within the Tokyo Castle. The headquarters, however, is highly secretive and the access into it is limited only to the party's important members or the ones who have the special permits directly from the Central Leadership.

The Leadership formulates the general policies of the Nationalist Party which are implemented by the Central Secretariat (チュジムキョク, 中央事務局 Chūō Jimu-kyoku) throughout the party organization. The Central Secretariat supervises the Party's national-level administration and is consisted of the First Secretary as the head of Secretariat, the Second Secretary as the deputy and other seven Party secretaries. The Leadership also appoints the Central Treasury (チュカンジョキョク, 中央勘定局 Chūō Kanjō-kyoku) to supervise the party assets and the party-owned businesses. The Central Leadership is also aided by eleven party departments under the supervision of Central Secretariat. They are divided into three categories: general affairs, military affairs and internal affairs.

The departments of general affairs consists of the Agricultural Department, the Industrial Department, the Maritime Department and the Labor Department. The Agricultural Department handles the Party’s agrarian policies on the rural areas. The Industrial Department handles the Party’s policies over the national industrial and commercial activities. The Maritime Department handles the Party's policy on the maritime issues. The Labor Department works over the issues and welfare of industrial workers and relations between the Party and trade unions.

The departments of military affairs consists of the Army Department, the Navy Department, the Air Force Department and the Mobilization Department. The Army Department appoints and oversees the party commissars within the Japanese Army. The Navy Department appoints and oversees the party commissars within the Japanese Navy. The Air Force Department appoints and oversees the party commissars within the Japanese Air Force. The Mobilization Department handles the matters that relating to the civil defense training and military reserves.

The departments of internal affairs consists of the Disciplinary Department, the Enlightenment Department, the Ideological Department and the Youth Department. The Disciplinary Department enforces the party discipline over the party organization and membership and holds an auditory power over all party offices. The Enlightenment Department controls the party-owned medias, including newspaper Kokumin Nippo. The Ideological Department controls the Central Party School and administers the study of political ideologies. The Youth Department administers the relations between the Party and the Nationalist-affiliated National Youth League.

Before 1952, the position of Party President (コクミントソサイ, 國民黨總裁 Kokumintō Sōsai) existed. The President was directly elected by the Party Congress, rather than the Central Committee, as the leader of the party in general and of the Central Leadership specifically. The only person who ever became the Party President was Nagayama Yoshida who served from 1919 to 1952. After Nagayama’s death, the position was abolished and its powers are collectively shared by the members of the Central Party Leadership. However, the first-in-rank among the Leadership members (イドシ, 一等同士 Ittō Dōshi "First Comrade" or シュセキ, 首席 Shuseki, "the chief") is usually considered as present-day de facto Party leader.

At the lower levels of organizational hierarchy, the Party is managed by the local leaderships (シド, 指導 shidō), consists of the prefectural-level leadership, municipal-level leadership, and local party cells. The leadership at prefectural and municipal level consisted by a local party committee and a local party premier. The prefectural-level leaderships are consisted of Tokyo metropolitan leadership, 48 regular prefectural leaderships and two urban prefectural leaderships. The municipal-level leadership is included of city leaderships, town leaderships and village leaderships. The village leadership exceptionally consists of a local party committee and a local executive triumvirate. Each local party committee, party premier, and executive triumvirate are elected by the local party congress every two years.

The lowest level of the party organization is the local party cells that created at least by five cadres in every neighborhood level as the nucleus organization of the party. The local cells informally managing and overseeing the local businesses, schools, communal security and other community activities at the neighborhood level. By convention, the members of local party cells whose are also the local town residents usually become the core or dominant leaders of neighborhood mutual-aid associations (トナリグミ tonarigumi), thus established an effective grass-root control of the party within the Japanese society.


main article: Factions in the Japanese Nationalist Party

Since its foundation in 1918, the Nationalist Party is described as a "big tent party" by the historians and political observers. Its early members consisted of politicians and social activists with a variety of political, social, economic ideologies, such as liberals, Marxists, ultra-nationalists, social democrats, conservatives, traditionalists and even syndicalists. With the concept of national sovereignty and republicanism as its central ideology, the Nationalist Party managed to unite together various inter-party factions.

Currently, the Nationalist Party has three major factions:

Kaihatsuha ("Development Clique", Right-wing, Conservative)

  • Supported by the bureaucrats, technocrats, doctors, Buddhists, teachers, retired military officers, land owners and the defense industry.
  • Founded in 1951 by the conservative elements of Nakatsukasaha led by Matsudaira Yoshichika and the remnants of Bunkaha led by Konoe Fumimaro.
  • Traditionally controls the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Ministry of Communications in the government as well as the Industrial Department and the Propaganda Department in the Party.

Zenshinpa ("Progress Clique", Left-wing, Progressive)

  • Supported by the farmers, blue-collar workers, middle and small businesses, academic circles, Christians, Japanese-Koreans, and Japanese-Chinese.
  • Founded in 1947 by the former members of Kenkyuha led by Nosaka Sanzo and the Nomuha led by Ishiguro Tadaatsu.
  • Traditionally controls the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in the government as well as the Labor Department and Agricultural Department in the Party.

Shinzaimuha ("New Financial Clique", Right-wing, Liberal)

  • Supported by the bankers, white-collar workers, construction industry, urban middle class and Japanese indigenous minority.
  • Founded in 1949 by the liberal elements of Nakatsukasaha led by Hatoyama Ichiro and the old Zaimuha led by Ishibashi Tanzan
  • Traditionally controls the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Japan in the government and the Financial Department in the Party.
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