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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

These were first brought before a bugyo


1631, when the third shogun, Iemitsu, ruled in Yedo, a public courthouse (Hyojo-sho) was for the first time established. Up to that time the shogun himself had served as a court of appeal in important cases. These were first brought before a bugyo, and subsequently, if specially vital issues were at stake, the shogun personally sat as judge, the duty of executing his judgments being entrusted to the bugyo and other officials.

Thenceforth, the custom came to be this: Where comparatively minor interests were involved and where the matter lay wholly within the jurisdiction of one administrator, that official sat as judge in a chamber of his own mansion; but in graver cases and where the interests concerned were not limited to one jurisdiction, the Hyojo-sho became the judicial court, and the three administrators, the roju, together with the censors, formed a collegiate tribunal. There were fixed days each month for holding this collegiate court, and there were also days when the three administrators alone met at one of their residences for purposes of private conference. The hearing by the shogun was the last recourse, and before submission to him the facts had to be investigated by the chamberlains (sobashu), who thus exercised great influence. A lawsuit instituted by a plebeian had to be submitted to the feudatory of the region, or to the administrator, or to the deputy (daikwari), but might never be made the subject of a direct petition to the

shogun. If the feudatory or the deputy Were held to be acting contrary to the dictates of integrity and reason, the suitor might change his domicile for the purpose of submitting a petition to the authorities in Yedo; and the law provided that no obstruction should be placed in the way of such change.


As stated above, the original principle of the Bakufu was to avoid compiling any written criminal code. But from the days of the sixth and the seventh shoguns, Ienobu and Ietsugu, such provisions of criminal law as related to ordinary offences came to be written in the most intelligible style and placarded throughout the city of Yedo and provincial towns or villages. On such a placard (kosatsu) posted up, in the year 1711, at seven places in Yedo, it was enjoined on parents, sons, daughters, brothers, husbands, wives, and other relatives that they must maintain intimate and friendly relations among themselves; and that, whereas servants must be faithful and industrious, their masters should have compassion and should obey the dictates of right in dealing with them; that everyone should be hard working and painstaking; that people should not transgress the limits of their social status; that all deceptions should be carefully avoided; that everyone should make it a rule of life to avoid doing injury or causing loss to others; that gambling should be eschewed; that quarrels and disputes of every kind should be avoided; that asylum should not be given to wounded persons; that firearms should not be used without cause; that no one should conceal an offender; that the sale or purchase of human being, should be strictly prohibited except in cases where men or women offered their services for a fixed term of years or as apprentices, or in cases of hereditary servitude; finally, that, though hereditary servants went to other places and changed their domicile, it should not be lawful to compel their return.

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