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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Ieyasu summoned a number of the offenders to Sumpu


THE

Tokugawa family having brought the whole empire under its sway, Ieyasu applied himself to legislative work with a degree of thoroughness and earnestness that far exceeded anything in the history of his predecessors. The terms of the oath of allegiance that he dictated to the feudatories after the battle of Sekigahara have been already referred to. Ten years later, that is to say, in 1611, he required all the provincial governors to subscribe this same oath, and, in 1613, he enacted a law for the Court nobles (kugeshu-hatto), to which the Imperial assent was obtained. This was the first instance of a military man legislating for the nobles of the capital; but it must be noted that the latter by their own misconduct furnished an opportunity for such interference. A Court scandal assumed such dimensions, in 1607, that the Emperor ordered the Bakufu to investigate the matter and to inflict suitable punishment. Ieyasu summoned a number of the offenders to Sumpu, where he subjected fourteen of them to severe examination. Ultimately some were sentenced to exile and others were deprived of their ranks, while the principal malefactor, Inokuma, general of the Left, was condemned to death. This affair demonstrated that the effective power was in the hands of the military, and throughout the Tokugawa rule they never failed to exercise it. In September of the year that witnessed the fall of Osaka Castle, Ieyasu and Hidetada summoned all the provincial governors to Momo-yama, and handed to
them a body of rules entitled the "Laws of the Military Houses." These laws ran as follows:-*

*The translation of these laws is taken from a paper read by Mr. Consul-General J. C. Hall and recorded in the "Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan" for 1911.

"(1) Literature, arms, archery, and horsemanship are, systematically, to be the favourite pursuits.

"Literature first, and arms next was the rule of the ancients. They must both be cultivated concurrently. Archery and horsemanship are the more essential for the military houses. Weapons of warfare are ill-omened words to utter; the use of them, however, is an unavoidable necessity. In times of peace and good order we must not forget that disturbance may arise. Dare we omit to practise our warlike exercise and drill?"

Although this provision ostensibly encouraged the pursuit of literary and military arts, those who read the law too implicitly and devoted themselves too earnestly to the pursuit of arms quickly found that they were not in touch with the time or with the intention of the legislators. In fact, the purpose of the latter was to bracket literature and the art of war together, giving no preference to either.

"(2) Drinking parties and gaming amusements must be kept within due bounds.

"In our Instructions it is laid down that strict moderation in these respects is to be observed. To be addicted to venery and to make a pursuit of gambling is the first step towards the loss of one's domain."

This rule may be said to define what is known in Europe as "conduct unbecoming an officer." Not to know how to order one's tongue was as grave an offence as debauchery, according to the canons of the samurai.


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