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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

And killing a soldier of the Bakufu


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instances might be quoted showing how little mercy the Tokugawa shoguns extended to wrongdoers among their own relatives. It need hardly be said that outside clans fared no better. Anyone who gave trouble was promptly punished. Thus, in 1614, Okubo Tadachika, who had rendered good service to the Bakufu in early days, and who enjoyed the full confidence of the shogun, was deprived of his castle at Odawara and sentenced to confinement for the comparatively trifling offence of contracting a private marriage. Again, in 1622, the prime minister, Honda Masazumi, lord of Utsunomiya, lost his fief of 150,000 koku and was exiled to Dawe for the sin of rebuilding his castle without due permission, and killing a soldier of the Bakufu. To persons criticising this latter sentence as too severe, Doi Toshikatsu is recorded to have replied that any weakness shown at this early stage of the Tokugawa rule must ultimately prove fatal to the permanence of the Bakufu, and he expressed the conviction that none would approve the punishment more readily than Masazumi's dead father, Masanobu, were he still living to pass judgment.

Doubtless political expediency, not the dictates of justice, largely inspired the conduct of the Bakufu in these matters, for in proportion as the material influence of the Tokugawa increased, that of the Toyotomi diminished. In 1632, when the second shogun, Hidetada, died, it is related that the feudal barons observed the conduct of his successor,

Iemitsu, with close attention, and that a feeling of some uneasiness prevailed. Iemitsu, whether obeying his own instinct or in deference to the advice of his ministers, Sakai Tadakatsu and Matsudaira Nobutsuna, summoned the feudal chiefs to his castle in Yedo and addressed them as follows: "My father and my grandfather, with your assistance and after much hardship, achieved their great enterprise to which I, who have followed the profession of arms since my childhood, now succeed. It is my purpose to treat you all without distinction as my hereditary vassals. If any of you object to be so treated, let him return to his province and take the consequences."

Date Masamune assumed the duty of replying to that very explicit statement. "There is none here," he said, "that is not grateful for the benevolence he has received at the hands of the Tokugawa. If there be such a thankless and disloyal person, and if he conceive treacherous designs, I, Masamune, will be the first to attack him and strike him down. The shogun need not move so much as one soldier." With this spirited reply all the assembled daimyo expressed their concurrence, and Iemitsu proceeded to distribute his father's legacies to the various barons and their vassals. Very soon after his accession he had to order the execution of his own brother, Tadanaga, and the banishment of Kato Tadahiro, son of the celebrated Kato Kiyomasa. The latter was punished on the ground that he sent away his family from Yedo during the time of mourning for the late shogun, Hidetada. He was deprived of his estate at Kumamoto in Higo and was exiled to Dewa province.

The punishment of these two barons is said to have been in the sequel of a device planned by Iemitsu and carried out by Doi Toshikatsu. The latter, being accused of a simulated crime, was sentenced to confinement in his mansion. Thence he addressed to all the daimyo a secret circular, urging them to revolt and undertaking to make Tadanaga shogun instead of Iemitsu. With two exceptions every baron to whose hands this circular came forwarded it to the Bakufu in Yedo. The exceptions were Tadanaga and Tadahiro, who consequently fell under the shogun's suspicion. Thereafter, it is related that some of the barons set themselves to deceive the Bakufu by various wiles. Thus, Maeda Toshinaga had recourse to the manoeuvre of allowing the hair in his nostrils to grow long, a practice which speedily earned for him the reputation of insanity, and Date Masamune conceived the device of carrying a sword with a wooden blade. The apprehensions of which such acts were indicative cannot be considered surprising in view of the severe discipline exercised by the Bakufu. Thus, during the shogunate of Hidetada, no less than forty changes are recorded to have been made among the feudatories, and in the time of Iemitsu there were thirty-five of such incidents. History relates that to be transferred from one fief to another, even without nominal loss of revenue, was regarded as a calamity of ten years' duration. All this was partly prompted by the Bakufu's policy of weakening the feudatories. To the same motive must be assigned constant orders for carrying out some costly public work.


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