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This amounted to a formal denunciation of the Soga
as well as a pledge on the part of the new Emperor. The Chinese
method of reckoning time by year-periods was then adopted, and the
year A.D. 645 became the first of the Daika era. But before
proceeding to really radical innovations, two further precautions
were taken. In order to display reverence for the foundations of the
State, the sovereign publicly declared that "the empire should be
ruled by following the footsteps of the Emperors of antiquity," and
in order to win the sympathy of the lower orders, his Majesty
directed that inquiry should be made as to the best method of
alleviating the hardships of forced labour. Further, a solemn
ceremony of Shinto worship was held by way of preface.

Then the reformers commenced their work in earnest. Governors
(kokushi) were appointed to all the eastern provinces. These
officials were not a wholly novel institution. It has been shown that
they existed previously to the Daika era, but in a fitful and
uncertain way, whereas, under the system now adopted, they became an
integral part of the administrative machinery. That meant that the
government of the provinces, instead of being administered by
hereditary officials, altogether irrespective of their competence,
was entrusted for a fixed term to men chosen on account of special
aptitude. The eastern provinces were selected for inaugurating this
experiment, because their distance from the capital rendered the
change less conspicuous. Moreover, the appointments were given, as
far as possible, to the former miyatsuko or mikotomochi. An ordinance
was now issued for placing a petition-box in the Court and hanging a
bell near it. The box was intended to serve as a receptacle for
complaints and representations. Anyone had a right to present such
documents. They were to be collected and conveyed to the Emperor
every morning, and if a reply was tardy, the bell was to be struck.

Side by side with these measures for bettering the people's lot,
precautions against any danger of disturbance were adopted by taking
all weapons of war out of the hands of private individuals and
storing them in arsenals specially constructed on waste lands. Then
followed a measure which seems to have been greatly needed. It has
been already explained that a not inconsiderable element of the
population was composed of slaves, and that these consisted of two
main classes, namely, aborigines or Koreans taken prisoners in war,
and members of an uji whose Kami had been implicated in crime. As
time passed, there resulted from intercourse between these slaves and
their owners a number of persons whose status was confused, parents
asserting the manumission of their children and masters insisting on
the permanence of the bond. To correct these complications the whole
nation was now divided into freemen (ryomin) and bondmen (senmin),
and a law was enacted that, since among slaves no marriage tie was
officially recognized, a child of mixed parentage must always be
regarded as a bondman. On that basis a census was ordered to be
taken, and in it were included not only the people of all classes,
but also the area of cultivated and throughout the empire.

At the same time stringent regulations were enacted for the control
and guidance of the provincial governors. They were to take counsel
with the people in dividing the profits of agriculture. They were not
to act as judges in criminal cases or to accept bribes from suitors
in civil ones; their staff, when visiting the capital, was strictly
limited, and the use of public-service horses* as well as the
consumption of State provisions was vetoed unless they were
travelling on public business. Finally, they were enjoined to
investigate carefully all claims to titles and all alleged rights of
land tenure. The next step was the most drastic and far-reaching of
all. Hereditary corporations were entirely abolished, alike those
established to commemorate the name of a sovereign or a prince and
those employed by the nobles to cultivate their estates. The estates
themselves were escheated. Thus, at one stroke, the lands and titles
of the hereditary aristocracy were annulled, just as was destined to
be the case in the Meiji era, twelve centuries later.

*Everyone having a right to use public-service horses was required to
carry a token of his right in the shape of a small bronze bell, or
group of bells, indicating by their shape and number how many horses
the bearer was entitled to.

This reform involved a radical change in the system and method of
taxation, but the consideration of that phase of the question is
deferred for a moment in order to explain the nature and the amount
of the new fiscal burdens. Two kinds of taxes were thenceforth
imposed, namely, ordinary taxes and commuted taxes. The ordinary
consisted of twenty sheaves of rice per cho* (equivalent to about
eight sheaves per acre), and the commuted tax--in lieu of forced
labour--was fixed at a piece of silk fabric forty feet in length by
two and a half feet in breadth per cho, being approximately a length
of sixteen feet per acre. The dimensions of the fabric were doubled
in the case of coarse silk, and quadrupled in the case of cloth woven
from hemp or from the fibre of the inner bark of the paper-mulberry.
A commuted tax was levied on houses also, namely, a twelve-foot
length of the above cloth per house. No currency existed in that age.
All payments were made in kind. There is, therefore, no method of
calculating accurately the monetary equivalent of a sheaf of rice.
But in the case of fabrics we have some guide. Thus, in addition to
the above imposts, every two townships--a township was a group of
fifty houses--had to contribute one horse of medium quality (or one
of superior quality per two hundred houses) for public service; and
since a horse was regarded as the equivalent of a total of twelve
feet of cloth per house, it would follow, estimating a horse of
medium quality at 5, ($25.), that the commuted tax in the case of
land was above 5s.4d., ($1.30) per acre. Finally, each homestead was
required to provide one labourer as well as rations for his support;
and every two homesteads had to furnish one palace waiting-woman
(uneme), who must be good-looking, the daughter or sister of a
district official of high rank, and must have one male and two female
servants to attend on her--these also being supported by the two
homesteads. In every homestead there was an alderman who kept the
register, directed agricultural operations, enforced taxes, and took
measures to prevent crime as well as to judge it.

*The cho was two and a half acres approximately.

Thus it is seen that a regular system of national taxation was
introduced and that the land throughout the whole empire was
considered to be the property of the Crown. As for the nobles who
were deprived of their estates, sustenance gifts were given to them,
but there is no record of the bases upon which these gifts were
assessed. With regard to the people's share in the land, the plan
pursued was that for every male or female over five years of age two
tan (about half an acre) should be given to the former and one-third
less to the latter, these grants being made for a period of six
years, at the end of which time a general restoration was to be
effected. A very striking evidence of the people's condition is that
every adult male had to contribute a sword, armour, a bow and arrows,
and a drum. This impost may well have outweighed all the others.

SEPULCHRES

Another important reform regulated the dimensions of burial mounds.
The construction of these on the grand scale adopted for many
sovereigns, princes, and nobles had long harrassed the people, who
were compelled to give their toil gratis for such a purpose. What
such exactions had entailed may be gathered from Kotoku's edict,
which said, "Of late the poverty of our people is absolutely due to
the construction of tombs." Nevertheless, he did not undertake to
limit the size of Imperial tombs. The rescript dealt only with those
from princes downwards. Of these, the greatest tumulus permitted was
a square mound with a side of forty-five feet at the base and a
height of twenty-five feet, measured along the slope, a further
restriction being that the work must not occupy more than one
thousand men for seven days. The maximum dimensions were similarly
prescribed in every case, down to a minor official, whose grave must
not give employment to more than fifty men for one day. When ordinary
people died, it was directed that they should be buried in the ground
without a day's delay, and, except in the case of an Emperor or an
Empress, the custom of temporary interment was strictly vetoed.
Cemeteries were ordered to be constructed for the first time, and
peremptory injunctions were issued against self-destruction to
accompany the dead; against strangling men or women by way of
sacrifice; against killing the deceased's horse, and against cutting
the hair or stabbing the thighs by way of showing grief. It must be
assumed that all these customs existed.

ABUSES

Other evil practices are incidentally referred to in the context of
the Daika reforms. Thus it appears that slaves occasionally left
their lawful owners owing to the latter's poverty and entered the
service of rich men, who thereafter refused to give them up; that
when a divorced wife or concubine married into another family, her
former husband, after the lapse of years, often preferred claims
against her new husband's property; that men, relying on their power,
demanded people's daughters in marriage, and in the event of the girl
entering another house, levied heavy toll on both families; that when
a widow, of ten or twenty years' standing, married again, or when a
girl entered into wedlock, the people of the vicinity insisted on the
newly wedded couple performing the Shinto rite of harai (purgation),
which was perverted into a device for compelling offerings of goods
and wine; that the compulsory performance of this ceremony had become
so onerous as to make poor men shrink from giving burial to even
their own brothers who had died at a distance from home, or hesitate
to extend aid to them in mortal peril, and that when a forced
labourer cooked his food by the roadside or borrowed a pot to boil
his rice, he was often obliged to perform expensive purgation.


OFFICIAL ORGANIZATION

At the head of all officials were the sa-daijin (minister of the
Left), the u-daijin (minister of the Right) and the nai-daijin
(minister of the Interior), and after them came the heads of
departments, of which eight were established, after the model
of the Tang Court in China.



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