Minken Undo

Minken Undo


(Movement for Freedom and People’s Rights), a constitutional movement in Japan during the years 1874–89.

In its first stage, which lasted until the early 1880’s, Minken Undo was a petition movement among the liberal bourgeoisie and intelligentsia, drawn from the ranks of former samurai. The movement demanded the adoption of a constitution and the establishment of a parliament in Japan. In its second stage (1882–84), Minken Undo was led by members of the Jiyuto Party and took on a more radical orientation. Its aim became the overthrow of the autocracy and establishment of a constitutional monarchy.

During the movement’s third stage (1884–85), leadership of Minken Undo passed into the hands of representatives of the revolutionary-minded intelligentsia of the left wing of Jiyuto, then under the influence of radical-populist ideas and sharing republican views. They sought to defend the interests of the peasantry, but had no agrarian program. These leaders drew support from the peasantry of some of the central prefectures suffering from economic crisis, and from a number of military garrisons. In November 1884, they organized an armed rebellion by peasants of the Saitama Prefecture, but it was crushed by government troops. During 1885–86, the leaders of the left wing of Minken Undo were arrested in the cities of lida, Nagoya, and Shizuoka.

In 1886, the final stage of the movement opened. Minken Undo was once again under leaders from the right wing of the former Jiyuto Party, who sought to return the movement to the confines of bourgeois liberalism. In 1889, an extremely limited constitution was introduced in Japan, and a parliament was convened in 1890. The leaders of Minken Undo became full supporters of the monarchy and a number of them entered the government. With this development, Minken Undo ceased to exist.


Zhukov, E. M. “Iz istorii iaponskogo liberalizma.” Izv. AN SSSR: Seriia istorii i filosofii, 1944, vol. 1, no. 2.
Ocherki novoi istorii laponii (1640–1917). Moscow, 1958.
Jiyu minken ki-no kenkyu (Study of the Era of the Movement for Freedom and People’s Rights), vols. 1–4. Tokyo, 1959.
Jiyu minken hen (Movement for Freedom and People’s Rights). In the series Meiji bunka zenshu (Culture of the Meiji Years), 2nd ed., vol. 2. Tokyo, 1969.


Mentioned in ?