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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley



state of affairs had been noticeable ever since the reign of Shomu (724-749), but not until the time of Saga was a remedy devised. It took the form of organizing a body of men called kebiishi, upon whom devolved the duty of pursuing and arresting lawbreakers. At first this measure was on a small scale and of a tentative character. But its results proved so satisfactory that the system was extended from the capital to the provinces, and, in 830, a Kebiishi-cho (Board of Kebiishi) was duly formed, the number and duties of its staff being definitely fixed four years later. The importance attaching to the post of chief of this board is attested by the fact that only the emon no Kami or the hyoye no Kami* was eligible originally, the bushi (military men) in the hereditary service of these high dignitaries being entrusted--under the name of tsuiho-shi--with the duty of enforcing the law against all violators. Ultimately the judicial functions hitherto discharged by the Efu (Guard Office), the Danjo-dai (Police Board) and the Gyobu-sho (Department of Justice) were all transferred to the Kebiishi-cho, and the latter's orders ranked next to Imperial decrees.

*Three corps of military guards formed part of the organization. The senior corps were the Imperial guards (konoe): then came the military guards (hyoye) and then the gate-guards (yemon). Each was divided into two battalions; a battalion of the Left and a battalion of the Right. Then there were the

sa-konye and the u-konye, the sa-hyoye and the u-hyoye, the sa-yemon and the u-yemon. These six offices were known as roku-yefu, and the officer in chief command of each corps was a kami.

These kebiishi and tsuiho-shi have historical importance. They represent the unequivocal beginning of the military class which was destined ultimately to impose its sway over the whole of Japan. Their institution was also a distinct step towards transferring the conduct of affairs, both military and civil, from the direct control of the sovereign to the hands of officialdom. The Emperor's power now began to cease to be initiative and to be limited to sanction or veto. The Kurando-dokoro was the precursor of the kwampaku; the Kebiishi-cho, of the so-tsuihoshi.


Fujiwara Fuyutsugu, who, as mentioned above, took such an important part in the legislation of his era, may be adduced as illustrating the error of the too common assertion that because the Fujiwara nobles abused their opportunities in the later centuries of the Heian epoch, the great family's services to its country were small. Fujiwara Fuyutsugu was at once a statesman, a legislator, an historian, and a soldier. Serving the State loyally and assiduously, he reached the rank of first minister (sa-daijiri) though he died at the early age of fifty-two, and it is beyond question that to his ability must be attributed a large measure of the success achieved by his Imperial master, Saga. The story of his private life may be gathered from the fact that he established and richly endowed an asylum for the relief of his indigent relatives; a college (the Kwangaku-iri) for the education of Fujiwara youths, and an uji-tera (Nanyen-do) at Nara for soliciting heaven's blessing on all that bore his name.


An interesting episode of Saga's reign was the compilation of a record of all the uji (family names). Originally the right to use a family name had been guarded as carefully as is a title of nobility in Europe. The uji was, in truth, a hereditary title. But, as has been occasionally noted in these pages, an uji was from time to time bestowed on families of aliens, and thus, in the course of ages, confusion gradually arose. From the middle of the eighth century, efforts to compile a trustworthy record were made, and in Kwammu's reign a genealogical bureau (kankei-jo) was actually organized, its labours resulting in a catalogue of titles (seishi mokuroku). This proved defective, however, as did a subsequent effort in Heijo's time. Finally, the Emperor Saga entrusted the task to Prince Mamta, who, with a large staff of assistants, laboured for ten years, and, in 814, produced the Seishi-roku (Record of Uji) in thirty volumes. Though not absolutely exhaustive, this great work remained a classic down to modern times. It divided into three classes the whole body of uji--1182--enrolled in its pages: namely, Kwobetsu, or those of Imperial lineage; Shimbetsu, or those descended from the Kami, and Bambetsu, or those of alien origin (Chinese or Korean). A few who could not be clearly traced were placed in a "miscellaneous list." This paragraph of history suggests the quality of Japanese civilization in the ninth century.

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