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They persuaded the
ex-Emperor to intimate a desire of reascending the throne. Saga
acquiesced and would have handed over the sceptre, but at the
eleventh hour, Heijo's conscientious scruples, or his prudence,
caused a delay, whereupon Kusu and her brother, becoming desperate,
publicly proclaimed that Heijo wished to transfer the capital to
Nara. Before they could consummate this programme, however, Saga
secured the assistance of Tamuramaro, famous as the conqueror of the
Yemishi, and by his aid Fujiwara Nakanari was seized and thrown into
prison, the lady Kusu being deprived of her rank as consort and
condemned to be banished from Court. Heijo might have bowed to
Nakanari's fate, but Kusu's sentence of degradation and exile
overtaxed his patience. He raised an army and attempted to move to
the eastern provinces. In Mino, his route was intercepted by a force
under Tamuramaro, and the ex-Emperor's troops being shattered, no
recourse offered except to retreat to Nara. Then the Jo-o (Heijo)
took the tonsure, and his consort Kusu committed suicide. Those who
had rallied to the ex-Emperor's standard were banished.

THE FIRST JAPANESE THAT ENTERED INDIA

When Heijo ceded the throne to Saga, the former's son, Takaoka, was
nominated Crown Prince, though Saga had sons of his own. Evidently
that step was taken for the purpose of averting precisely such
incidents as those subsequently precipitated by the conspiracy to
restore Heijo. Therefore on the day following Heijo's adoption of the
tonsure, Takaoka was deprived of his rank.* Entering the priesthood,
he called himself Shinnyo, retired to Higashi-dera and studied the
doctrine of the True Word (Shingori). In 836, he proceeded to China
to prosecute his religious researches, and ultimately made his way to
India (in his eighty-first year), where he was killed by a tiger in
the district now known as the Laos States of Siam. This prince is
believed to have been the first Japanese that travelled to India. His
father, the ex-Emperor Heijo, was a student of the same Buddhist
doctrine (Shingon) and received instruction in it from Kukai. Heijo
died in 824, at the age of fifty-one.

*His family was struck off the roll of princes and given the uji of
Ariwara Asomi.

THE FIFTY-SECOND SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR SAGA (A.D. 810-823)

It is memorable in the history of the ninth century that three
brothers occupied the throne in succession, Heijo, Saga, and Junna.
Heijo's abdication was certainly due in part to weak health, but his
subsequent career proves that this reason was not imperative. Saga,
after a most useful reign of thirteen years, stepped down frankly in
favour of his younger brother. There is no valid reason to endorse
the view of some historians that these acts of self-effacement were
inspired by an indolent distaste for the cares of kingship. Neither
Heijo nor Saga shrank from duty in any form. During his brief tenure
of power the former unflinchingly effected reforms of the most
distasteful kind, as the dismissal of superfluous officials and the
curtailing of expenses; and the latter's reign was distinguished by
much useful legislation and organization. Heijo's abdication seems to
have been due to genuine solicitude for the good of the State, and
Saga's to a sense of reluctance to be outdone in magnanimity.
Reciprocity of moral obligation (giri) has been a canon of Japanese
conduct in all ages.

SANGI AND KURANDO

One of the earliest acts of Saga's reign was to establish the office
of Court councillor (sangi) definitely and to determine the number of
these officials at eight. The post of sangi had been instituted more
than a century previously, but its occupants had neither fixed
function, rank, nor number: they merely gave fortuitous advice about
political affairs. Another office, dating from the same time (810),
was that of kurando (called also kurodo). This seems to have been
mainly a product of the political situation. At the palace of the
retired Emperor in Nara--the Inchu, as it was called--the ambitious
Fujiwara Nakanari and the Imperial consort, Kusu, were arrogating a
large share of administrative and judicial business, and were
flagrantly abusing their usurped authority. Saga did not know whom to
trust. He feared that the council of State (Dajo-kwan) might include
some traitors to his cause, and he therefore instituted a special
office to be the depository of all secret documents, to adjudicate
suits at law, to promulgate Imperial rescripts and decrees, to act as
a kind of palace cabinet, and to have charge of all supplies for the
Court. Ultimately this last function became the most important of the
kurando's duties.

KEBIISHI AND TSUIHOSHI

It has already been explained that the Daiho legislators, at the
beginning of the eighth century, having enacted a code (ryo) and a
penal law (ritsu), supplemented these with a body of official rules
(kyaku) and operative regulations (shiki). The necessity of revising
these rules and regulations was appreciated by the Emperor Kwammu,
but he did not live to witness the completion of the work, which he
had entrusted to the sa-daijin, Fujiwara Uchimaro, and others. The
task was therefore re-approached by a committee of which the
dainagon, Fujiwara Fuyutsugu, was president, under orders from the
Emperor Saga. Ten volumes of the rules and forty of the regulations
were issued in 819, the former being a collection of all rescripts
and decrees issued since the first year of Daiho (701), and the
latter a synopsis of instructions given by various high officials and
proved by practice since the same date. Here, then, was a
sufficiently precise and comprehensive body of administrative guides.
But men competent to utilize them were not readily forthcoming. The
provincial governors and even the metropolitan officials, chosen from
among men whose qualifications were generally limited to literary
ability or aristocratic influence, showed themselves incapable of
dealing with the lawless conditions existing in their districts.

This state of affairs had been noticeable ever since the reign of
Shomu (724-749), but not until the time of Saga was a remedy devised.
It took the form of organizing a body of men called kebiishi, upon
whom devolved the duty of pursuing and arresting lawbreakers. At
first this measure was on a small scale and of a tentative character.
But its results proved so satisfactory that the system was extended
from the capital to the provinces, and, in 830, a Kebiishi-cho (Board
of Kebiishi) was duly formed, the number and duties of its staff
being definitely fixed four years later. The importance attaching to
the post of chief of this board is attested by the fact that only the
emon no Kami or the hyoye no Kami* was eligible originally, the bushi
(military men) in the hereditary service of these high dignitaries
being entrusted--under the name of tsuiho-shi--with the duty of
enforcing the law against all violators. Ultimately the judicial
functions hitherto discharged by the Efu (Guard Office), the
Danjo-dai (Police Board) and the Gyobu-sho (Department of Justice)
were all transferred to the Kebiishi-cho, and the latter's orders
ranked next to Imperial decrees.

*Three corps of military guards formed part of the organization. The
senior corps were the Imperial guards (konoe): then came the military
guards (hyoye) and then the gate-guards (yemon). Each was divided
into two battalions; a battalion of the Left and a battalion of the
Right. Then there were the sa-konye and the u-konye, the sa-hyoye and
the u-hyoye, the sa-yemon and the u-yemon. These six offices were
known as roku-yefu, and the officer in chief command of each corps
was a kami.

These kebiishi and tsuiho-shi have historical importance. They
represent the unequivocal beginning of the military class which was
destined ultimately to impose its sway over the whole of Japan. Their
institution was also a distinct step towards transferring the conduct
of affairs, both military and civil, from the direct control of the
sovereign to the hands of officialdom. The Emperor's power now began
to cease to be initiative and to be limited to sanction or veto. The
Kurando-dokoro was the precursor of the kwampaku; the Kebiishi-cho,
of the so-tsuihoshi.

FUJIWARA FUYUTSUGU

Fujiwara Fuyutsugu, who, as mentioned above, took such an important
part in the legislation of his era, may be adduced as illustrating
the error of the too common assertion that because the Fujiwara
nobles abused their opportunities in the later centuries of the Heian
epoch, the great family's services to its country were small.
Fujiwara Fuyutsugu was at once a statesman, a legislator, an
historian, and a soldier. Serving the State loyally and assiduously,
he reached the rank of first minister (sa-daijiri) though he died at
the early age of fifty-two, and it is beyond question that to his
ability must be attributed a large measure of the success achieved by
his Imperial master, Saga. The story of his private life may be
gathered from the fact that he established and richly endowed an
asylum for the relief of his indigent relatives; a college (the
Kwangaku-iri) for the education of Fujiwara youths, and an uji-tera
(Nanyen-do) at Nara for soliciting heaven's blessing on all that bore
his name.

THE JAPANESE PEERAGE

An interesting episode of Saga's reign was the compilation of a
record of all the uji (family names). Originally the right to use a
family name had been guarded as carefully as is a title of nobility
in Europe. The uji was, in truth, a hereditary title. But, as has
been occasionally noted in these pages, an uji was from time to time
bestowed on families of aliens, and thus, in the course of ages,
confusion gradually arose. From the middle of the eighth century,
efforts to compile a trustworthy record were made, and in Kwammu's
reign a genealogical bureau (kankei-jo) was actually organized, its
labours resulting in a catalogue of titles (seishi mokuroku). This
proved defective, however, as did a subsequent effort in Heijo's
time. Finally, the Emperor Saga entrusted the task to Prince Mamta,
who, with a large staff of assistants, laboured for ten years, and,
in 814, produced the Seishi-roku (Record of Uji) in thirty volumes.
Though not absolutely exhaustive, this great work remained a classic
down to modern times.



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