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They were the Central Department
(Nakatsukasa-sho); the Department of Ceremonies (Shikibu-sho); the
Department of Civil Government (Jibu-sho); the Department of Civil
Affairs (Mimbu-sho); the Department of War (Hyobu-sho); the
Department of Justice (Gyobu-sho); the Treasury (Okura-sho), and the
Household Department (Kunai-sho). These departments comprised a
number of bureaux. All officials of high rank had to assemble at the
south gate of the palace in time to enter at sunrise, and they
remained there until some time between 11 A.M. and 1 P.M.

In a province the senior official was the governor, and under him
were heads of districts, aldermen of homesteads (fifty houses),
elders of five households--all the houses being divided into groups
of five for purposes of protection--and market commissioners who
superintended the currency (in kind), commerce, the genuineness of
wares, the justness of weights and measures, the prices of
commodities, and the observance of prohibitions. Since to all
official posts men of merit were appointed without regard to lineage,
the cap-ranks inaugurated by Prince Shotoku were abolished, inasmuch
as they designated personal status by inherited right only, and they
were replaced by new cap-grades, nineteen in all, which were
distinguished partly by their borders, partly by their colours, and
partly by their materials and embroidery. Hair-ornaments were also a
mark of rank. They were cicada-shaped, of gold and silver for the
highest grades, of silver for the medium grades, and of copper for
the low grades. The caps indicated official status without any
reference to hereditary titles.

RATIONALE OF THE NEW SYSTEM

The radical changes outlined above were all effected in the short
space of eight years. If it be asked what motive inspired the
reformers, the obvious answer is that experience, culminating in the
usurpations of the Soga, had fully displayed the abuses incidental to
the old system. Nothing more memorable than this flood of reforms has
left its mark upon Japan's ancient history. During the first thirteen
centuries of the empire's existence--if we accept the traditional
chronology--the family was the basis of the State's organization.
Each unit of the population either was a member of an uji or belonged
to the tomobe of an uji, and each uji was governed by its own omi or
muraji, while all the uji of the Kwobetsu class were under the o-omi
and all those of the Shimbetsu class, under the o-muraji. Finally, it
was through the o-omi and the o-muraji alone that the Emperor
communicated his will. In other words, the Japanese at large were not
recognized as public people, the only section that bore that
character being the units of the hereditary corporations instituted
in memory of some Imperial personage and the folk that cultivated the
miyake (State domains).

All these facts, though already familiar to the reader, find a
fitting place in the context of the great political development of
the Daika era. For the main features of that development were that
the entire nation became the public people of the realm and the whole
of the land became the property of the Crown, the hereditary nobles
being relegated to the rank of State pensioners. This metamorphosis
entailed taking an accurate census of the population; making a survey
of the land; fixing the boundaries of provinces, districts, and
villages; appointing officials to administer the affairs of these
local divisions, and organizing the central government with boards
and bureaux. The system of taxation also had to be changed, and the
land had to be apportioned to the people. In former days, the only
charges levied by the State on the produce of the land were those
connected with religious observances and military operations, and
even in imposing these the intervention of the heads of uji had to be
employed. But by the Daika reforms the interest of the hereditary
nobility in the taxes Avas limited to realizing their sustenance
allowances; while as for the land, it was removed entirely beyond
their control and partitioned among the people, in the proportion
already noted, on leases terminable at the end of six years.

Of course, whatever political exigency may have dictated this
short-tenure system, it was economically unsound and could not remain
long in practice. The measures adopted to soften the aspect of these
wholesale changes in the eyes of the hereditary nobility whom they so
greatly affected, have been partly noted above. It may here be added,
however, that not only was the office of district governor--who
ranked next to the provincial governor (kokushi)--filled as far as
possible by former kuni no miyatsuko, but also these latter were
entrusted with the duty of observing and reporting upon the conduct
of the new officials as to assiduity and integrity, to which duty
there were also nominated special officials called choshu-shi. By the
aid of these and other tactful devices, the operation of the new
system was guaranteed against disturbance. Nothing was deemed too
trivial to assist in promoting that end. Even such a petty incident
as the appearance of a white pheasant was magnified into a special
indication of heaven's approval, and a grand Court ceremony having
been held in honour of the bird, the Emperor proclaimed a general
amnesty and ordered that the name of the period should be changed to
Haku-chi (White Pheasant). Something of this may be set down frankly
to the superstitious spirit of the time. But much is evidently
attributable to the statecraft of the Emperor's advisers, who sought
to persuade the nation that this breaking away from all its venerable
old traditions had supernatural approval.

There was, indeed, one defect in the theory of the new system. From
time immemorial the polity of the empire had been based on the family
relation. The sovereign reigned in virtue of his lineage, and the
hereditary nobles owed their high positions and administrative
competence equally to descent. To discredit the title of the nobles
was to disturb the foundation of the Throne itself, and to affirm
that want of virtue constituted a valid reason for depriving the
scions of the gods of their inherited functions, was to declare
constructively that the descendant of Amaterasu also held his title
by right of personal worthiness. That was the Chinese theory. Their
history shows plainly that they recognized the right of men like Tang
or Wu to overturn tyrants like Chieh of the Hsia dynasty, and Chou of
the Yen dynasty. The two Japanese Emperors, Kotoku and Tenchi
(668-671), seem to have partially endorsed a cognate principle. But
nothing could be at greater variance with the cardinal tenet of the
Japanese polity, which holds that "the King can do no wrong" and that
the Imperial line must remain unbroken to all eternity.

ENVOYS TO CHINA

The importance attached to intercourse with China during the reign of
Kotoku was illustrated by the dimensions of the embassies sent to the
Tang Court and by the quality of the envoys. Two embassies were sent
in 653, one consisting of 121 persons and the other of 120.* The
former included seventeen student-priests, and among them was the
eldest son of Kamatari himself. Another embassy was despatched in
654, and the records show incidently that the sea route was taken,
for after a voyage lasting some months and therefore presumably of a
coasting character, the envoys landed at Laichou in Shantung. They
finally reached Changan, the Tang capital, and were most hospitably
received by the Emperor Kao-sung. The hardships of the journey are
attested by the fact that three of the student-priests died at sea.
One remained in China for thirty-six years, and Joye, Kamatari's son,
did not return to Japan for twelve years.

*The ship carrying the embassy was wrecked off the south coast of
Japan, and out of 120 persons only five escaped.

In short, when these students left their country in search of
literary, religious, and political lore, they had no assurance of
ever thereafter finding an opportunity to see their homes again. The
overland journey was almost impossible without guides and guards, and
communication by sea seems to have been fitful and uncertain. The
last of the above three embassies was led by no less a person than
the renowned scholar, Kuromaro, who had been associated with the
priest, Bin, in modelling the new administrative system of Japan.
Kuromaro never returned from China; he died there. A few months
before the despatch of Kuromaro as envoy, his illustrious coadjutor,
Bin, expired in the temple of Azumi. The Emperor repaired in person
to the sick priest's chamber, and said, "If you die to-day, I will
follow you to-morrow." So great was the reverence showed towards
learning and piety in that era. Thus, hazardous and wearisome as was
the voyage to China over stormy waters in a rude sailing boat, its
successful accomplishment established a title to official preferment
and high honour. It will be seen by and by that similar treatment was
extended in the nineteenth century to men who visited Europe and
America in the pursuit of knowledge.

THE THIRTY-SEVENTH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPRESS SAIMEI (A.D. 655-661)

On the demise of Kotoku, in 654, his natural successor would have
been Prince Naka, who, ten years previously, had chosen to reform the
empire rather than to rule it. But the prince deemed that the course
of progress still claimed his undivided attention, and therefore the
Empress Kogyoku was again raised to the throne under the name of*
Saimei--the first instance of a second accession in Japanese history.
She reigned nearly seven years, and the era is remarkable chiefly for
expeditions against the Yemishi and for complications with Korea. To
the former chapter of history sufficient reference had already been
made, but the latter claims a moment's attention.

*It is scarcely necessary to remind the reader that all
the names given in these pages to Japanese sovereigns are
posthumous. Thus Saimei, during her lifetime, was called
Ame-toyo-takara-ikashi-hi-tarashi-hime.

RELATIONS WITH KOREA

It has been shown how, in A.D.



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