1921 (Taisho 10) Sunday, November 13 Korekiyo Takahashi was appointed as the 20th Prime Minister and the Takahashi Cabinet was formed. It was called the “Inuki Cabinet” in which all the cabinet members remained as the successor to the assassinated Takashi Hara Cabinet. Prime Minister Takahashi doubled as Minister of Finance. He also became the fourth president of the ruling Seiyukai Party.
Takahashi Korekiyo is not a party politician. However, in 1913, the third Taro KATSURA cabinet collapsed amid the growing movement to protect the constitution, and when he joined the next Gonbei YAMAMOTO cabinet as finance minister, he accepted Prime Minister YAMAMOTO’s persuasion and decided to join the party. The Yamamoto Cabinet, which was born after the first Movement to Protect the Constitution, had to strongly emphasize its party identity. It was necessary for Korekiyo Takahashi to be a member of the Seiyukai in order to be consistent with the basic policy that the main cabinet members should come from the Seiyukai.
Because of this background of joining the party, Takahashi was not aware of the situation within the Seiyukai Party and did not show leadership. The Takahashi Cabinet collapsed in only half a year, but since it was a one-point relief after Hara’s assassination, it can be said that it was destined to be short-lived from the beginning.
There is a book called “Zuisoroku” by Korekiyo Takahashi, Chuko Bunko, 2018, from which I would like to read your recollection of the appointment of Korekiyo Takahashi as Prime Minister. This is a recollection of August 1934.
I will tell you later about the reason why I joined a political party, but Count Yamamoto (Gonbei) asked me to join the Seiyukai because it was more noisy, so I joined the party, but when I joined a political party, the situation of the political party was quite complicated and it was not suitable for me. Seeing Hara’s leadership, I always thought he would do such a thing.
Hara had a great deal of interest and enthusiasm about political parties, both big and small, and he knew and tried to know the names and faces of party members as well as their personal histories and their power, and when party members came to see him, he would petition and talk to them, regardless of who they were. However, I had no interest in such a thing, and I knew very little about who was who or what they looked like. Therefore, the president of a political party was the most unsuitable person for me, and I never thought I would become the president after Hara. When Hara was stabbed at Tokyo Station and the question of what would happen to the successor cabinet arose, I said, “The successor cabinet should not be discussed here because it is a matter of great command. It would be better if the president were chosen earlier than that.”. I was recommended as prime minister before the president was decided.
From the standpoint of my health, I wanted to quit not only the Prime Minister but also the Minister of Finance, and I often asked Hara to stop me. When Hara formed the cabinet, he encouraged me to join the cabinet as the Minister of Finance, but at that time I was worried about my health because of beriberi and stomach problems, so I went to see a doctor. He finally joined the Cabinet because the doctor said he shouldn’t push himself too hard. Therefore, when I was recommended by the Prime Minister, I tried to refuse, but as the Washington Conference is just about to be held, a successor cabinet must be decided as soon as possible. If Hara is attacked and the Cabinet changes even though the plenipotentiary has arrived in Washington, there are concerns that the government’s policy may change.
In this case, I hope that the successor cabinet will be decided as soon as possible. He also hoped that, if possible, the Imperial Government would not change its policy toward the Conference on Disarmament. So I had no choice but to assume the post of Prime Minister. Even if I accepted the position of Prime Minister, the President would not be accepted, and I refused, saying that I was unfit to be the President, but Daichu NODA and others tried to appoint me as the President, saying, ‘The Prime Minister and the President are inseparable.’. I worked tirelessly to say, “I don’t want to do such a difficult job, because of the party.” but Noda and others refused, saying, “You don’t have to do anything about the party, you just have to be president Ma, otherwise the party won’t get together.”.
In the end, the executive committee recommended me as the president, and I became the president without any specification. Still, I said, “Then I will accept it for a while, but if there is a good successor, I want to quit the presidency and the prime minister.” and waited for a good president soon. As Noda and others have said, it is impossible for him to say that he should not do anything about the party. The members of the party have managed to approach me about him and other party issues. Since I could not let go of it irresponsibly because it was troublesome as long as I had accepted it, I did everything, but after Hara, who had done everything by myself, I was very fussy about things like me and there were many troublesome things. I was waiting for that moment, thinking that I wanted to get a good successor as soon as possible.
The following year, he quit the Cabinet due to the reshuffle issue, but he couldn’t quit as party president due to intraparty circumstances, and he did it until Tanaka [Giichi] became party president.