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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Through him soliciting aid from the Yedo Bakufu


has been noted above, this same body of laws was re-enacted under the authority of Ietsuna, with the following slight alterations, namely, that the veto was removed from the wearing of costly ornamented dresses by retainers, henchmen, and men-at-arms, and that the restriction as to size should not apply to a cargo vessel. At the same time a prohibition of junshi (following in death) was issued in these terms:

"That the custom of following a master in death is wrong and unprofitable is a caution which has been at times given from of old; but owing to the fact that it has not actually been prohibited, the number of those who cut their belly to follow their lord on his decease has become very great. For the future, to those retainers who may be animated by such an idea, their respective lords should intimate, constantly and in very strong terms, their disapproval of the custom. If, notwithstanding this warning, any instance of the practice should occur, it will be deemed that the deceased lord was to blame for unreadiness. Henceforward, moreover, his son and successor will be held blameworthy for incompetence, as not having prevented the suicides."*

*From a paper read by Mr. Consul-General J. C. Hall and recorded in the "Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan" for 1911.


Another memorable step was taken during the administrative

period of Ietsuna. It had been the custom to require that all the great nobles should send a number of their chief retainers or the latter's fathers, brothers, and sons to Yedo, where they were held as hostages for the peaceful conduct of their feudal chiefs. But when the system of sankin kotai had been in operation for some time, and when the power of the Tokugawa Bakufu had been fully consolidated, this practice of exacting hostages became superfluous and vexatious. It was therefore abandoned in the year 1665 and the hostages were all suffered to leave Yedo.


The fall of the Ming dynasty in China took place in the thirteenth year of Ietsuna's succession, and for a moment it seemed that Japan might possibly take the field against the conquering Tatars. A Chinese immigrant who had settled in the island of Hirado, in Hizen, married the daughter of a Japanese farmer, and had a son by her. The immigrant's name was Cheng Chi-lung, and when the partisans of the Ming dynasty made their last stand at Foochaw, they chose Cheng for general, through him soliciting aid from the Yedo Bakufu. Their request was earnestly discussed in Yedo, and it is possible that had the Ming officers held out a little longer, Japan might have sent an expedition across the sea. Cheng Chi-lung's son, Cheng Cheng-kung, resisted to the last, and when he fell fighting at Macao, his Japanese mother committed suicide. Other fugitives from China, notably an able scholar named Chu Chi-yu, settled in Japan at this time, and contributed not a little to the promotion of art and literature.


The influence of the sankin kotai system upon the prosperity of Yedo, as well as upon the efficiency of the Tokugawa administration, has already been noticed. Indeed, Yedo in the middle of the seventeenth century

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