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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

There had been o omi and o muraji


THE

DAIKA, OR "GREAT CHANGE"

Not for these things, however, but for sweeping reforms in the administration of the empire is the reign of Kotoku memorable. Prince Naka and Kamatari, during the long period of their intimate intercourse prior to the deed of blood in the great hall of audience, had fully matured their estimates of the Sui and Tang civilization as revealed in documents and information carried to Japan by priests, literati, and students, who, since the establishment of Buddhism, had paid many visits to China. They appreciated that the system prevailing in their own country from time immemorial had developed abuses which were sapping the strength of the nation, and in sweeping the Soga from the path to the throne, their ambition had been to gain an eminence from which the new civilization might be authoritatively proclaimed.

Speaking broadly, their main objects were to abolish the system of hereditary office-holders; to differentiate aristocratic titles from official ranks; to bring the whole mass of the people into direct subjection to the Throne, and to establish the Imperial right of ownership in all the land throughout the empire. What these changes signified and with what tact and wisdom the reformers proceeded, will be clearly understood as the story unfolds itself. Spectacular effect was enlisted as the first ally. A coronation ceremony of unprecedented magnificence took place. High officials, girt

with golden quivers, stood on either side of the dais forming the throne, and all the great functionaries--omi, muraji, and miyatsuko--together with representatives of the 180 hereditary corporations (be) filed past, making obeisance. The title of "Empress Dowager" was conferred for the first time on Kogyoku, who had abdicated; Prince Naka was made Prince Imperial; the head of the great uji of Abe was nominated minister of the Left (sa-daijiri); Kurayamada, of the Soga-uji, who had shared the dangers of the conspiracy against Emishi and Iruka, became minister of the Right (u-daijiri), and Kamatari himself received the post of minister of the Interior (nai-daijin), being invested with the right to be consulted on all matters whether of statecraft or of official personnel.

These designations, "minister of the Left"*, "minister of the Right," and "minister of the Interior," were new in Japan.** Hitherto, there had been o-omi and o-muraji, who stood between the Throne and the two great classes of uji, the o-omi and the o-muraji receiving instructions direct from the sovereign, and the two classes of uji acknowledging no control except that of the o-omi and the o-muraji. But whereas the personal status of Kurayamada was only omi (not o-omi), and the personal status of Kamatari, only muraji (not o-muraji), neither was required, in his new capacity, to take instructions from any save the Emperor, nor did any one of the three high dignitaries nominally represent this or that congeries of uji. A simultaneous innovation was the appointment of a Buddhist priest, Bin, and a literatus, Kuromaro, to be "national doctors." These men had spent some years at the Tang Court and were well versed in Chinese systems.

*The left takes precedence of the right in Japan.


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