Minseito mēnˌsāˈtō [key], Japanese political party. It is usually called the Liberal party in English. Founded by Shigenobu Okuma in 1882 as the Kaishinto, or Progressive party, it was dissolved in 1884, reformed into the Shimpoto, and merged with the Jiyuto (see Seiyukai) in 1898 to form the Kenseito. Okuma later took his group out of the Kenseito and set up the Kenseihonto, which became the Kokuminto in 1910. A faction of the Kokuminto joined Taro Katsura's Doshikai in 1913 and became the nucleus of the Kenseikai. In 1927 the Kenseikai was reorganized as the Minseito. The cabinets of Takaaki Kato (1924–26), Reijiro Wakatsuki (1926–27, 1931), and Osachi Hamaguchi (1929–31) were Kenseikai or Minseito governments. All parties were dissolved in 1940. After World War II, the Minseito reemerged under the leadership of Shigeru Yoshida and Ichiro Hatoyama as the Liberal party, one of the two strong conservative groups in postwar Japan. It merged with the Democrats in 1955 to form the Liberal Democratic party. The Minseito was traditionally identified with the Mitsubishi financial interests.

See P. Duus, Party Rivalry and Political Change in Taishō Japan (1968).

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