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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Yasutoki deserves the highest credit







THERE was nothing perfunctory in the administration of the "Two Rokuhara" (Ryo-Rokuhara) in Kyoto. The northern and the southern offices were presided over by the most prominent members of the Hojo family, men destined to fill the post of regent (shikkeri) subsequently in Kamakura. Thus, when Hojo Yoshitoki died suddenly, in 1224, his son, Yasutoki, returned at once to Kamakura to succeed to the regency, transferring to his son, Tokiuji, the charge of northern Rokuhara, and a short time afterwards the control of southern Rokuhara was similarly transferred from Yoshitoki is brother, Tokifusa, to the latter's son, Tokimori. Nominally, the jurisdiction of the two Rokuhara was confined to military affairs, but in reality their influence extended to every sphere within Kyoto and to the Kinai and the Saikai-do without.


So long as the lady Masa lived, the administrative machinery at Kamakura suggested no sense of deficiency. That great woman accepted all the responsibility herself. But in the year (1225) of her death, Yasutoki, who had just succeeded to the regency, made an important reform. He

organized within the Man-dokoro a council of fifteen or sixteen members, which was called the Hyojo-shu, and which virtually constituted the Bakufu cabinet. The Samurai-dokoro and the Monju-dokoro remained unchanged, but the political administration passed from the Monju-dokoro to the Hyojoshu, and the betto of the former became in effect the finance minister of the shogun.


Commencing with Yasutoki (1225), down to the close of the thirteenth century, Japan was admirably ruled by a succession of Hojo regents. Among them, Yasutoki deserves the highest credit, for he established a standard with the aid of very few guiding precedents. When he came into power he found the people suffering grievously from the extortions of manorial chiefs. It was not an uncommon practice for the owner of an estate to hold in custody the wives and daughters of defaulting tenants until the latter paid their rents, however exorbitant, and seldom indeed did the holder of a manor recognize any duty of succouring the peasants in time of distress. The former cruel practice was strictly forbidden by Yasutoki, and, to correct the latter defect, he adopted the plan of setting a fine example himself. It is recorded that in the Kwanki era (1229-1232), when certain places were suffering from crop failure, the regent distributed nine thousand koku of rice (45,000 bushels approximately) among the inhabitants and remitted all taxes throughout more than one thousand districts.

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