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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

IETSUGUThe seventh Tokugawa shogun



In connexion with Arai Hakuseki's impeachment of the Treasury commissioner, Hagiwara Shigehide, it was insisted that an auditor's office must be re-established, and it was pointed out that the yield of rice from the shogun's estates had fallen to 28.9 per cent, of the total produce instead of being forty per cent., as fixed by law. Nevertheless, the condition of the farmers was by no means improved, and the inevitable inference was that the difference went into the pockets of the local officials. Similarly, enormous expenses were incurred for the repair of river banks without any corresponding diminution of floods, and hundreds of thousands of bags of rice went nominally to the bottom of the sea without ever having been shipped. During the year that followed the reconstruction of the auditor's office, the yield of the estates increased by 433,400 bags of rice, and the cost of riparian works decreased by 38,000 ryo of gold, while, at the same time, the item of shipwrecked cereals disappeared almost completely from the ledgers. In consequence of these charges the commissioner, Shigehide, was dismissed. History says that although his regular salary was only 3000 koku annually, he embezzled 260,000 ryo of gold by his debasement of the currency, and that ultimately he starved himself to death in token of repentance.

Ienobu and his able adviser, Hakuseki, desired to restore the currency to the

system pursued in the Keicho era (1596-1614), but their purpose was thwarted by insufficiency of the precious metals. They were obliged to be content with improving the quality of the coins while decreasing their weight by one half. These new tokens were called kenji-kin, as they bore on the reverse the ideograph ken, signifying "great original." The issue of the new coins took place in the year 1710, and at the same time the daimyo were strictly forbidden to issue paper currency, which veto also was imposed at the suggestion of Arai Hakuseki.


The seventh Tokugawa shogun, Ietsugu, son of his predecessor, Ienobu, was born in 1709, succeeded to the shogunate in April, 1713, and died in 1716. His father, Ienobu, died on the 13th of November, 1712, so that there was an interval of five months between the demise of the sixth shogun and the accession of the seventh. Of course, a child of four years who held the office of shogun for the brief period of three years could not take any part in the administration or have any voice in the appointment or dismissal of officials. Thus, Arai Hakuseki's tenure of office depended upon his relations with the other ministers, and as all of these did not approve his drastic reforms, he was obliged to retire, but Manabe Norifusa remained in office.



By the death of Ietsugu, in 1716, the Hidetada line of the Tokugawa family became extinct, and a successor to the shogunate had to be sought from the Tokugawa of Kii province in the person of Yoshimune, grandson

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