Best books online Library

Your last book:

You dont read books at this site.

Total books on site: 11 280

You can read and download its for free!

Browse books by author: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 

Text on one page: Few Medium Many
Office-seekers resorted to the device
of contriving conflagrations of official property, rewarding the
incendiaries with the plunder, and circulating rumours that these
calamities were visitations of heaven to punish the malpractices of
the provincial governors in whose jurisdictions they occurred. It is
on record that, in several cases, these stories led to the dismissal
of governors and their replacement by their traducers. Konin decreed
that such crimes should be punished by the death of all concerned.
These reforms, supplemented by the removal of many superfluous
officials, earned for Konin such popularity that for the first time
in Japan's history, the sovereign's birthday became a festival*,
thereafter celebrated through all ages.

*Called Tenchosetsu.

THE MILITARY SYSTEM

It has been shown that compulsory military service was introduced in
689, during the reign of the Empress Jito, one-fourth of all the
able-bodied men in each province being required to serve a fixed time
with the colours. It has also been noted that under the Daiho
legislation the number was increased to one-third. This meant that no
distinction existed between soldier and peasant. The plan worked ill.
No sufficient provision of officers being made, the troops remained
without training, and it frequently happened that, instead of
military exercises, they were required to labour for the enrichment
of a provincial governor.

The system, being thus discredited, fell into abeyance in the year
739, but that it was not abolished is shown by the fact that, in 780,
we find the privy council memorializing the Throne in a sense
unfavourable to the drafting of peasants into the ranks. The memorial
alleged that the men lacked training; that they were physically
unfit; that they busied themselves devising pretexts for evasion;
that their chief function was to perform fatigue-duty for local
governors, and that to send such men into the field of battle would
be to throw away their lives fruitlessly. The council recommended
that indiscriminate conscription of peasants should be replaced by a
system of selection, the choice being limited to men with some
previous training; that the number taken should be in proportion to
the size of the province, and that those not physically robust should
be left to till the land. These recommendations were approved. They
constituted the first step towards complete abolishment of compulsory
service and towards the glorifying of the profession of arms above
that of agriculture. Experience quickly proved, however, that some
more efficient management was necessary in the maritime provinces,
and in 792, Kwammu being then on the throne, an edict abolished the
provincial troops in all regions except those which, by their
proximity to the continent of Asia, were exposed to danger, namely,
Dazai-fu in Kyushu, and in Mutsu, Dewa, and Sado in the north. Some
specially organized force was needed also for extraordinary service
and for guarding official storehouses, offices, and places where
post-bells (suzu) were kept. To that end the system previously
practised during the reign of Shomu (724-749) was reverted to; that
is to say, the most robust among the sons and younger brothers of
provincial governors and local officials were enrolled in corps of
strength varying with the duties to be performed. These were called
kondei or kenji. We learn from the edict that the abuse of employing
soldiers as labourers was still practised, but of course this did not
apply to the kondei.

The tendency of the time was against imposing military service on the
lower classes. During the period 810-820, the forces under the
Dazai-fu jurisdiction, that is to say, in the six provinces of
Chikuzen, Chikugo, Hizen, Higo, Buzen, and Bungo, were reduced from
17,100 to 9000. Dazai-fu and Mutsu being littoral regions, the
conscription system still existed there, but in Mutsu there were not
only heishi, that is to say, local militiamen of the ordinary type
and kenji or kondei, but also chimpei, or guards who were required to
serve at a distance from home. Small farmers, upon whom this duty
devolved, had no choice but to take their wives and children with
them, the family subsisting on the pittance given as rations eked out
by money realized from sales of chattels and garments. Thus, on the
expiration of their service they returned to their native place in a
wholly destitute condition, and sometimes perished of hunger on the
way. In consideration of the hardships of such a system, it was
abolished, and thus the distinction between the soldier and the
peasant received further accentuation.

There is no record as to the exact dimensions of Japan's standing
army in the ninth century, but if we observe that troops were raised
in the eight littoral provinces only--six in the south and two in the
north--and in the island of Sado, and that the total number in the
six southern provinces was only nine thousand, it would seem
reasonable to conclude that the aggregate did not exceed thirty
thousand. There were also the kondei (or kenji), but these, since
they served solely as guards or for special purposes, can scarcely be
counted a part of the standing army. The inference is that whatever
the Yamato race may have been when it set out upon its original
career of conquest, or when, in later eras, it sent great armies to
the Asiatic continent, the close of the fifth cycle after the coming
of Buddhism found the country reduced to a condition of comparative
military weakness. As to that, however, clearer judgment may be
formed in the context of the campaign--to be now spoken of--conducted
by the Yamato against the Yemishi tribes throughout a great part of
the eighth century and the early years of the ninth.

REVOLT OF THE YEMISHI

It has been shown that the close of the third decade of the eighth
century saw the capital established at Nara amid conditions of great
refinement, and saw the Court and the aristocracy absorbed in
religious observances, while the provincial governments were, in many
cases, corrupt and inefficient. In the year 724, Nara received news
of an event which illustrated the danger of such a state of affairs.
The Yemishi of the east had risen in arms and killed Koyamaro, warden
of Mutsu. At that time the term "Mutsu" represented a much wider area
than the modern region of the same name: it comprised the five
provinces now distinguished as Iwaki, Iwashiro, Rikuzen, Rikuchu, and
Mutsu--in other words, the whole of the northeastern and northern
littoral of the main island. Similarly, the provinces now called Ugo
and Uzen, which form the northwestern littoral, were comprised in the
single term "Dewa." Nature has separated these two regions, Mutsu and
Dewa, by a formidable chain of mountains, constituting the backbone
of northern Japan. Within Dewa, Mutsu, and the island of Yezo, the
aboriginal Yemishi had been held since Yamato-dake's signal campaign
in the second century A.D., and though not so effectually quelled as
to preclude all danger of insurrection, their potentialities caused
little uneasiness to the Central Government.

But there was no paltering with the situation which arose in 724.
Recourse was immediately had to the Fujiwara, whose position at the
Imperial Court was paramount, and Umakai, grandson of the renowned
Kamatari, set out at the head of thirty thousand men, levied from the
eight Bands provinces, by which term Sagami, Musashi, Awa, Kazusa,
Shimosa, Hitachi, Kotsuke, and Shimotsuke were designated. The
expanded system of conscription established under the Daiho code was
then in force, and thus a large body of troops could easily be
assembled. Umakai's army did not experience any serious resistance.
But neither did it achieve anything signal. Marching by two routes,
it converged on the castle of Taga, a fortress just constructed by
Ono Azumahito, the lord warden of the Eastern Marches. The plan
pursued by the Yamato commanders was to build castles and barriers
along the course of rivers giving access to the interior, as well as
along the coast line. Taga Castle was the first of such works, and,
by the year 767, the programme had been carried in Mutsu as far as
the upper reaches of the Kitakami River,* and in Dewa as far as
Akita.

*A monument still stands on the site of the old Taga Castle. It was
put up in A.D. 762, and it records that the castle stood fifty miles
from the island of Yezo.

History has nothing further to tell about the Yemishi until the year
774, when they again took up arms, captured one (Mono) of the
Japanese forts and drove out its garrison. Again the eight Bando
provinces were ordered to send levies, and at the head of the army
thus raised a Japanese general penetrated far into Mutsu and
destroyed the Yemishi's chief stronghold. This success was followed
by an aggressive policy on the part of the lord-warden, Ki no
Hirozumi. He extended the chain of forts to Kabe in Dewa, and to
Isawa in Mutsu. This was in 780. But there ensued a strong movement
of reprisal on the part of the Yemishi. Led by Iharu no Atamaro, they
overwhelmed Hirozumi's army, killed the lord-warden himself, and
pushed on to Taga Castle, which they burned, destroying vast stores
of arms and provisions. It was precisely at this time that the State
council, as related above, memorialized the Throne, denouncing the
incompetency of the provincial conscripts and complaining that the
provincial authorities, instead of training the soldiers, used them
for forced labour. The overthrow of the army in Mutsu and the
destruction of Taga Castle justified this memorial.

The Court appointed Fujiwara Tsugunawa to take command of a punitive
expedition, and once again Bando levies converged on the site of the
dismantled castle of Taga. But beyond that point no advance was
essayed, in spite of bitter reproaches from Nara. "In summer," wrote
the Emperor (Konin), "you plead that the grass is too dry; in winter
you allege that bran is too scant. You discourse adroitly but you get
no nearer to the foe." Konin's death followed shortly afterwards, but
his successor, Kwammu, zealously undertook the pursuit of the
campaign.



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | 75 | | 76 | | 77 | | 78 | | 79 | | 80 | | 81 | | 82 | | 83 | | 84 | | 85 | | 86 | | 87 | | 88 | | 89 | | 90 | | 91 | | 92 | | 93 | | 94 | | 95 | | 96 | | 97 | | 98 | | 99 | | 100 | | 101 | | 102 | | 103 | | 104 | | 105 | | 106 | | 107 | | 108 | | 109 | | 110 | | 111 | | 112 | | 113 | | 114 | | 115 | | 116 | | 117 | | 118 | | 119 | | 120 | | 121 | | 122 | | 123 | | 124 | | 125 | | 126 | | 127 | | 128 | | 129 | | 130 | | 131 | | 132 | | 133 | | 134 | | 135 | | 136 | | 137 | | 138 | | 139 | | 140 | | 141 | | 142 | | 143 | | 144 | | 145 | | 146 | | 147 | | 148 | | 149 | | 150 | | 151 | | 152 | | 153 | | 154 | | 155 | | 156 | | 157 | | 158 | | 159 | | 160 | | 161 | | 162 | | 163 | | 164 | | 165 | | 166 | | 167 | | 168 | | 169 | | 170 | | 171 | | 172 | | 173 | | 174 | | 175 | | 176 | | 177 | | 178 | | 179 | | 180 | | 181 | | 182 | | 183 | | 184 | | 185 | | 186 | | 187 | | 188 | | 189 | | 190 | | 191 | | 192 | | 193 | | 194 | | 195 | | 196 | | 197 | | 198 | | 199 | | 200 | | 201 | | 202 | | 203 | | 204 | | 205 | | 206 | | 207 | | 208 | | 209 | | 210 | | 211 | | 212 | | 213 | | 214 | | 215 | | 216 | | 217 | | 218 | | 219 | | 220 | | 221 | | 222 | | 223 | | 224 | | 225 | | 226 | | 227 | | 228 | | 229 | | 230 | | 231 | | 232 | | 233 | | 234 | | 235 | | 236 | | 237 | | 238 | | 239 | | 240 | | 241 | | 242 | | 243 | | 244 | | 245 | | 246 | | 247 | | 248 | | 249 | | 250 | | 251 | | 252 | | 253 | | 254 | | 255 | | 256 | | 257 | | 258 | | 259 | | 260 | | 261 | | 262 | | 263 | | 264 | | Next |