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Meiji constitutional development prior to 1900 is generally seen in terms of a conflict between the Meiji oligarchs and the advocates of parliamentary government. The essential flaw in the Japanese democratic experiment is widely attributed to the fact that the oligarchy, while ostensibly acceding to the party movement, used every means to ensure its ultimate collapse. George Akita takes sharp issue with this and other traditional interpretations and, utilizing a vast body of sources, presents a fresh, authoritative, and unusually comprehensive analysis of this key period in Japanese political history.