World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

High Treason Incident

Article Id: WHEBN0003716676
Reproduction Date:

Title: High Treason Incident  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Anarchism in Japan, Anarchism, Hiraide Shū, Red Flag Incident, History of anarchism
Collection: 1910 in Japan, Anarchism in Japan, Anti-Anarchism, Assassination Attempts, History of Anarchism, Politics of the Empire of Japan
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

High Treason Incident

The High Treason Incident (大逆事件 Taigyaku Jiken), also known as the Kotoku Incident (幸徳事件 Kōtoku Jiken), was a socialist-anarchist plot to assassinate the Japanese Emperor Meiji in 1910, leading to a mass arrest of leftists, and the execution of 12 alleged conspirators in 1911.[1]


  • Investigation 1
  • Aftermath 2
  • References 3
    • Books 3.1


On 20 May 1910, the police searched the room of Miyashita Takichi (1875-1911), a young lumbermill employee in Nagano Prefecture, and found materials which could be used to construct bombs. Investigating further, the police arrested his accomplices, Nitta Toru (1880-1911), Niimura Tadao (1887-1911), Furukawa Rikisaku (1884-1911) and Kōtoku Shūsui and his former common-law wife, feminist author Kanno Suga. Upon questioning, the police discovered what the prosecutor's office regarded as a nationwide conspiracy against the Japanese monarchy.

In the subsequent investigation, many known leftists and suspected sympathizers were brought in for questioning around the country. Eventually, 25 men and one woman were brought to trial on the charge of violation of Article 73 of the Criminal Code (harming or intending harm to the Emperor or member of the imperial family). Four of those arrested were Buddhist monks.[2] The case was tried in a closed court, and the prosecutor was Hiranuma Kiichirō.

Evidence against the defendants was mainly circumstantial. Nonetheless, twenty-four of the twenty-six defendants were sentenced to death by hanging on 18 January 1911, and the remaining two defendants were sentenced to 8 years and 11 years respectively for violation of explosives ordinances.

Of the death sentences, an Imperial Rescript commuted twelve to life imprisonment on the following day. Of the remaining twelve, eleven were executed on 24 January 1911. These included Kōtoku Shūsui,[1] a prominent Japanese anarchist, Ōishi Seinosuke, a doctor, and Uchiyama Gudō, the only one of the Buddhist priests arrested to be executed. The last of the condemned defendants, the only woman, Suga Kanno, was executed the next day.

The case was largely used as a pretext by authorities to round up dissidents. Only five or six of those accused and convicted in the trial actually had anything to do with the plot to kill the emperor. Even the foremost defendant, Kōtoku Shūsui, had not been involved in the plot since the very earliest stages, but his high prestige made him the principal figure to the prosecution.

The High Treason Incident is indirectly related to The Red Flag Incident of 1908. During the High Treason investigation, anarchists already incarcerated were questioned about possible involvement, including Ōsugi Sakae, Sakai Toshihiko, and Yamakawa Hitoshi. Because they were already in jail saved many from facing further charges.[3] Kanno Suga, who was found not guilty during the Red Flag trials, was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death in the High Treason trials.


The High Treason Incident created a shift in the intellectual environment of the late Meiji period towards more control and heightened repression for ideologies deemed potentially subversive. It is often cited as one of the factors leading to the promulgation of the Peace Preservation Laws.

A plea for a retrial was submitted after the end of the Second World War but this was turned down by the Supreme Court in 1967.[4]


  1. ^ a b Nish, Ian Hill; Cortazzi, Hugh (2002). Britain & Japan: Biographical Portraits. Japan Society Publications. p. 338. 
  2. ^ Victoria, Brian (1997). Zen at War. Weatherhill, Inc. p. 38. 
  3. ^ Bowen Raddeker, Helen (1997). Treacherous Women of Imperial Japan. Routledge. p. 6. 
  4. ^ 幸徳事件 (in Japanese). Retrieved 2011-08-23. 


  • Cronin, Joseph (2014). The Life of Seinosuke: Dr. Oishi and the High Treason Incident: Second Edition. White Tiger Press. 
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.