Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
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'Positive Policy,' 'Negative Policy,' and the Economics of Taishō Democracy
February 18, 2004 / 6:30 P.M.
Mark Metzler, Assistant Professor of History, Oakland University
From its inception during the Taishō political crisis, the two-party politics of the Taishō democracy era was characterized by the opposition between the so-called “positive” and “negative” policies of economic expansionism and retrenchment. In fact, this economic issue was the most central and persistent policy element in the
opposition between the Seiyukai and the Kenseikai/Minseito. In the 1920s, the conflict between these (increasingly) “Keynesian” and “monetarist” policies became linked in turn to the question of restoring the gold standard, which worked to make Japan’s domestic policy confrontations conform in detail with the question of Japan’s relationship to the Anglo-American centered world economic order as a whole. This two-party policy dialectic echoed into the postwar era of one-party government.