free ebooks

A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Headed by Fuhito of the Fujiwara family



On Mommu's accession the year-period took his name, that being then the custom unless some special reason suggested a different epithet. Such a reason was the discovery of gold in Tsushima in 701, and in consequence the year-name was altered to Daiho (Great Treasure). It is a period memorable for legislative activity. The reader is aware that, during the reign of Tenchi, a body of statutes in twenty-two volumes was compiled under the name of Omi Ritsu-ryo, or the "Code and Penal Law of Omi," so called because the Court then resided at Shiga in Omi. History further relates that these statutes were revised by the Emperor Mommu, who commenced the task in 681 and that, eleven years later, when the Empress Jito occupied the throne, this revised code was promulgated.

But neither in its original nor in its revised form has it survived, and the inference is that in practice it was found in need of a second revision, which took place in the years 700 and 701 under instructions from the Emperor Mommu, the revisers being a committee of ten, headed by Fuhito of the Fujiwara family, and by Mahito (Duke) Awada. There resulted eleven volumes of the Code (ryo) and six of the Penal Law (ritsu), and these were at once promulgated, expert jurists being despatched, at the same time, to various quarters to expound the new legislation. Yet again, seventeen years later (718), by order of the Empress Gensho, revision

was carried out by another committee headed by the same Fujiwara Fuhito, now prime minister, and the amended volumes, ten of the Code and ten of the Law, were known thenceforth as the "New Statutes," or the "Code and Law of the Yoro Period." They were supplemented by a body of official rules (kyaku) and operative regulations (shiki), the whole forming a very elaborate assemblage of laws.

The nature and scope of the code will be sufficiently understood from the titles of its various sections: (1) Official Titles; (2) Duties of Officials; (3) Duties of Officials of the Empress' Household; (4) Duties of Officials in the Household of the Heir Apparent; (5) Duties of Officials in the Households of Officers of High Rank; (6) Services to the Gods; (7) Buddhist Priests; (8) the Family; (9) the Land; (10) Taxation; (11) Learning; (12) Official Ranks and Titles; (13) The Descent of the Crown and Dignities of Imperial Persons; (14) Meritorious Discharge of Official Duties; (15) Salaries; (16) Court Guards; (17) Army and Frontier Defences; (18) Ceremonies; (19) Official Costumes; (20) Public Works; (21) Mode of addressing Persons of Rank; (22) Stores of Rice and other Grain; (23) Stables and Fodder; (24) Duties of Medical Officers attached to the Court; (25) Official Vacations; (26) Funerals and Mourning; (27) Watch and Ward and Markets; (28) Arrest of Criminals; (29) Jails, and (30) Miscellaneous, including Bailment, Finding of Lost Goods, etc.*

This "Code and the Penal Law" accompanying it went into full operation from the Daiho era and remained in force thereafter, subject to the revisions above indicated. There is no reason to doubt that the highly artificial organization of society which such statutes indicate, existed, in outline at all events, from the reign of Kotoku, but its plainly legalized reality dates, so far as history is concerned, from the Daiho era. As for the rules (kyaku) and regulations (shiki), they were re-drafted: first, in the Konin era (810-824) by a commission under the direction of the grand councillor,* Fujiwara Fuyutsugu; next, in the Jokwan era (859-877) by Fujiwara Ujimune and others, and finally in the Engi era (901-923) by a committee with Fujiwara Tadahira for president. These three sets of provisions were spoken of in subsequent ages as the "Rules and Regulations of the Three Generations" (Sandai-kyaku-shiki). It will be observed that just as this remarkable body of enactments owed its inception in Japan to Kamatari, the great founder of the Fujiwara family, so every subsequent revision was presided over by one of his descendants. The thirty sections of the code comprise 949 articles, which are all extant, but of the penal laws in twelve sections there remain only 322 articles.

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us