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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Entered the service of Yoshimune


ENGRAVING:

VARIOUS OCCUPATIONS OF WOMEN, KYOHO ERA

OTHER MEASURES

For the purpose of acquiring accurate information about the condition of the people, Yoshimune appointed officials who went by the name of niwa-ban (garden watchmen). They moved about among the lower orders and reported everything constituting knowledge useful for administrative purposes. Moreover, to facilitate the ends of justice, the shogun revived the ancient device of petition-boxes (meyasu-bako), which were suspended in front of the courthouse in order that men might lodge there a written statement of all complaints. It was by Yoshimune, also, that the celebrated Ooka Tadasuke, the "Solomon of Japan," was invited from Yamada and appointed chief justice in Yedo. The judgments delivered by him in that capacity will be famous as long as Japan exists. It has to be noted, however, that the progressive spirit awakened by Yoshimune's administration was not without untoward results. Extremists fell into the error of believing that everything pertaining to the canons of the immediate past must be abandoned, and they carried this conception into the realm of foreign trade, so that the restrictions imposed in the Shotoku era (1711-1715) were neglected. It became necessary to issue a special decree ordering the enforcement of these regulations, although, as will presently be seen, Yoshimune's disposition towards the civilization of the Occident was essentially

liberal.

CODES OF LAW

By this time the miscarriages of justice liable to occur when the law is administered with regard to precedent only or mainly, began to be plainly observable, and the shogun, appreciating the necessity for written codes, appointed a commission to collect and collate the laws in operation from ancient times; to embody them in codes, and to illustrate them by precedents. Matsudaira Norimura, one of the ministers of State, was appointed chief commissioner, and there resulted, after four years of labour, the first genuine Japanese code (Oshioki Ojomoku). This body of laws was subsequently revised by Matsudaira Sadanobu, and under the name of Osadame Hyakkajo ("Hundred Articles of Law"), it remained long in practice.

LITERATURE

Yoshimune was not behind any of his ancestors in appreciation of learning. In 1721, when his administrative reforms were still in their infancy, he invited to Yedo Kinoshita Torasuke (son of the celebrated Kinoshita Junan), Muro Nawokiyo, and other eminent men of letters, and appointed them to give periodical lectures. Nawokiyo was named "adviser to the shogun," who consulted him about administrative affairs, just as Arai Hakuseki had been consulted by Ienobu. In fact, it was by the advice of Arai Hakuseki that Nawokiyo (whose literary name was Kyuso), entered the service of Yoshimune. Contemporaneous with these litterateurs was the renowned Ogyu Sorai, whose profound knowledge of finance and of administrative affairs in general made him of great value to the Bakufu. He compiled a book called Seidan (Talks on Government) which, immediately became a classic. Special favour was shown to the renowned Confucianist, Hayashi Nobuatsu. He and his son were asked to deliver regular lectures at the Shohei College, and these lectures were the occasion of a most important innovation, namely, the admission of all classes of people, whereas previously the audience at such discourses had been strictly limited to military men.


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