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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

But before proceeding to really radical innovations


**The

offices were borrowed from the Tang system of China a remark which applies to nearly all the innovations of the epoch.

The next step taken was to assemble the ministers under a patriarchal tree, and, in the presence of the Emperor, the Empress Dowager, and the Prince Imperial, to pronounce, in the names of the Kami of heaven and the Kami of earth--the Tenshin and the Chigi--a solemn imprecation on rulers who attempted double-hearted methods of government, and on vassals guilty of treachery in the service of their sovereign. This amounted to a formal denunciation of the Soga as well as a pledge on the part of the new Emperor. The Chinese method of reckoning time by year-periods was then adopted, and the year A.D. 645 became the first of the Daika era. But before proceeding to really radical innovations, two further precautions were taken. In order to display reverence for the foundations of the State, the sovereign publicly declared that "the empire should be ruled by following the footsteps of the Emperors of antiquity," and in order to win the sympathy of the lower orders, his Majesty directed that inquiry should be made as to the best method of alleviating the hardships of forced labour. Further, a solemn ceremony of Shinto worship was held by way of preface.

Then the reformers commenced their work in earnest. Governors (kokushi) were appointed to all the eastern provinces. These officials were not a wholly

novel institution. It has been shown that they existed previously to the Daika era, but in a fitful and uncertain way, whereas, under the system now adopted, they became an integral part of the administrative machinery. That meant that the government of the provinces, instead of being administered by hereditary officials, altogether irrespective of their competence, was entrusted for a fixed term to men chosen on account of special aptitude. The eastern provinces were selected for inaugurating this experiment, because their distance from the capital rendered the change less conspicuous. Moreover, the appointments were given, as far as possible, to the former miyatsuko or mikotomochi. An ordinance was now issued for placing a petition-box in the Court and hanging a bell near it. The box was intended to serve as a receptacle for complaints and representations. Anyone had a right to present such documents. They were to be collected and conveyed to the Emperor every morning, and if a reply was tardy, the bell was to be struck.

Side by side with these measures for bettering the people's lot, precautions against any danger of disturbance were adopted by taking all weapons of war out of the hands of private individuals and storing them in arsenals specially constructed on waste lands. Then followed a measure which seems to have been greatly needed. It has been already explained that a not inconsiderable element of the population was composed of slaves, and that these consisted of two main classes, namely, aborigines or Koreans taken prisoners in war, and members of an uji whose Kami had been implicated in crime. As time passed, there resulted from intercourse between these slaves and their owners a number of persons whose status was confused, parents asserting the manumission of their children and masters insisting on the permanence of the bond. To correct these complications the whole nation was now divided into freemen (ryomin) and bondmen (senmin), and a law was enacted that, since among slaves no marriage tie was officially recognized, a child of mixed parentage must always be regarded as a bondman. On that basis a census was ordered to be taken, and in it were included not only the people of all classes, but also the area of cultivated and throughout the empire.


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