In modern Japan, until 1925 tax requirements restricted access to the polls for the House of Representatives to a minority of the male population. Similar, though looser, rules applied to local councils until 1926. Drawing on information from economic statistics and records of political debate, this paper explores how social status corresponded to tax payment and what it took to obtain the vote. Analysis focuses on the 1889 election law of the Lower House and its later revisions, pointing out how shifts in the tax threshold affected not only the size of the electorate but also the balance between rural and urban voters. Sources suggest that lawmakers carefully pondered both effects, in an effort to set requirements at a level that best suited their political goals.
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