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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

It was drafted by Tachibana Hiromi


hesitation was shown in appointing Yozei's successor. Prince Tokiyasu, son of the Emperor Nimmyo, satisfied all the requirements. His mother, a daughter of Fujiwara Tsugunawa, was Mototsune's maternal aunt, and the Prince himself, already in his fifty-fifth year, had a son, Sadami, who was married to the daughter of Fujiwara Takafuji, a close relation to Mototsune. There can be no doubt that the latter had the whole programme in view when he proposed the dethronement of Yozei. Shortly after his accession, Prince Tokiyasu--known in history as the Emperor Koko--fell ill, and at Mototsune's instance the sovereign's third son (Sadami) was nominated Prince Imperial. He succeeded to the throne as Emperor Uda on the death of his father, which occurred (887) after a reign of two years.

This event saw fresh extension of the Fujiwara's power. Uda was twenty-two years of age when he received the sceptre, but recognizing that he owed his elevation to Mototsune's influence and that his prospects of a peaceful reign depended upon retaining the Fujiwara's favour, his first act was to decree that the administration should be carried on wholly by the chancellor, the latter merely reporting to the Throne. This involved the exercise of power hitherto unprecedented. To meet the situation a new office had to be created, namely, that of kwampaku. The actual duties of this post were those of regent to a sovereign who had attained his majority, whereas sessho signified

regent to a minor. Hence the kwampaku was obviously the more honourable office, since its incumbent officiated in lieu of an Emperor of mature years. Accordingly, the kwampaku--or mayor of the palace, as the term is usually translated--took precedence of all other officials. A subject could rise no higher without ceasing to yield allegiance. As Mototsune was the first kwampaku, he has been called the most ambitious and the least scrupulous of the Fujiwara. But Mototsune merely stood at the pinnacle of an edifice, to the building of which many had contributed, and among those builders not a few fully deserved all they achieved. The names of such members of the Fujiwara family as Mimori, Otsugu, Yoshino, Sadanushi, Nagara, Yoshisuke, and Yasunori, who wrought and ruled in the period from Heijo and Saga to Montoku and Seiwa, might justly stand high in any record.*

*The office of Kwampaku was continued from the time of its creation, 882, to 1868.


The Emperor Uda, as already stated, owed everything to the Fujiwara. He himself did not possess even the claim of primogeniture, since he was the third among several sons, and he had stepped out of the ranks of the Imperial princes by accepting a family name. His decree conferring administrative autocracy on Mototsune was thus a natural expression of gratitude.

Yet this very document proved a source of serious trouble. It was drafted by Tachibana Hiromi, a ripe scholar, whose family stood as high on the aristocratic roll as did that of the Fujiwara themselves. At that time literary attainments conferred immense prestige in Kyoto. To be skilled in calligraphy; to be well versed in the classics; to be capable of composing a sonorous decree or devising a graceful couplet--such accomplishments constituted a passport not only to high office but even to the love of women. Tachibana Hiromi was one of the leading literati of his era. He rendered into most academical terms the Emperor's intentions towards Mototsune. From time immemorial it has always been a canon of Japanese etiquette not to receive anything with avidity. Mototsune declined the rescript; the Emperor directed Hiromi to re-write it. Thus far the procedure had been normal. But Hiromi's second draft ran thus: "You have toiled for the welfare of the country. You have aided me in accordance with the late sovereign's will. You are the chief servant of the empire, not my vassal. You will henceforth discharge the duties of ako." This term "ako" occurs in Chinese history. It signifies "reliance on equity," a name given by an early Emperor to the administration of the sage, I Yin. Hiromi inserted it solely to impart a classical flavour to the decree and in all good faith.

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