Geschiedenis: De Taika Hervorming (645).

De twee belangrijkste politieke hervormingen in oud-Japan waren de 'Zeventien Artikelen Constitutie' van prins Shotoku (604 nc) en de 'Taika Hervorming' edicten van keizer Kotoku. 

Het regentschap van Shotoku werd gevolgd door een coup tegen de heersende Soga clan, van dewelke Shotoku afstamde. De nieuwe keizer, prins Karu (later gekend als keizer Kotoku), verordende gezamelijk met de keizerlijke prins Naka no Ohoye, een reeks van hervormingen die uitmondden in de Taika Hervorming Edicten in het jaar 645. Deze edicten werden uitgedacht door Confuciaanse geleerden aan het Yamato hof en vormden de basis voor het Japanse bestuur en het keizerlijke systeem. Volgens deze edicten was de heerser niet langer een clan leider doch een keizer (in het Japans Tennō), die heerste door een hemels decreet en die een absolute macht had. Na deze edicten zou Japan niet langer bestaan uit afzonderlijke staten, doch uit provincies die aan de keizer toebehoorden en die centraal zouden bestuurd worden. De edicten stipuleerden dat alle gezagsdragers zouden deelnemen aan (en slagen in) een staatsexamen zoals in China gold voor de benoeming van de mandarijnen. De edicten beknotten ook in grote mate de onafhankelijkheid van de lokale besturen en duidde het keizerlijk hof aan als de plaats waar onderdanen hun grieven konden uiten en gerechtigheid vragen. Daarbovenop trachtte men door middel van de laatste edicten een halt toe te roepen aan bepaalde in Japan gebruikelijke praktijken en het sociaal leven in Japan meer in lijn te brengen met dat van China. Toendertijd echter was Japan nog grotendeels een neolithische cultuur en het zou nog eeuwen duren voor het ideaalbeeld van dat van de Chinese keizer ook in Japan ingang zou vinden. Het was in toendertijd Japan niet ongebruikelijk dat wanneer iemand stierf, anderen zichzelf van het leven beroofden of dat anderen gedood werden. Ook was het gebruikelijk om belangrijke giften mee met de overledene te begraven. Dit nam zodanig grote proporties aan dat de rijkdom van de natie er op achteruit ging en de economie in gevaar kwam. De edicten wilden dit tegengaan. Ook werd via de edicten iemands sociale status bij zijn geboorte geregeld. Wanneer twee vrije personen huwden, dan werden de kinderen uit dat huwelijk toegewezen aan de man en zij waren ook vrijen. Was één van beide partners een slaaf, dan werden de kinderen uit dat huwelijk toegewezen aan diegene die slaaf was en deze kinderen waren ook slaven. Waren beide ouders slaaf dan hoorden de kinderen toe aan de moeder en zij waren ook slaaf. Enkel de kinderen van tempeldienaars volgden de regels van de vrijen. Het laatste van de reeks edicten kwam er om de macht van de keizer te versterken en te consolideren.

Hier volgen dan de edicten, een tijdje geleden reeds vertaald naar het Engels door W.G. Aston, Nihongi (London: Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1896), 197-227. Wanneer mij ooit de onweerstaanbare drang bekruipt om deze naar het Nederlands toe te vertalen dan doe ik dat wel. Voorlopig is er van deze drang gen sprake, dus Engels dan maar.

 

Emperor Kotoku's Vow: 19th day (645 A.D.).
 

The Emperor, the Empress Dowager, and the Prince Imperial summoned together the Ministers under the great tsuki tree, and made an oath appealing to the Gods of Heaven and Earth, and said,

Heaven covers us: Earth upbears us: the Imperial way is one and only one way. But in this last degenerate age, the order of Lord and Vassal was destroyed until Supreme Heaven by Our hands put to death the traitors. Now, from this time forward, both parties shedding their heart's blood, the Lord will not tolerate double methods of government, and the Vassal will avoid duplicity in his service of the sovereign! On him who breaks this oath, Heaven will send a curse and earth a plague, demons will slay them, and men will kill them. This is as manifest as the sun and moon.

 

Regulation of the Provinces: 8th month, 5th day.
 

Governors of the Eastern provinces were appointed. Then the Governors were addressed as follows:

In accordance with the charge entrusted to Us by the Gods of Heaven, We propose at the present for the first time to regulate the myriad provinces.

When you proceed to your posts, prepare registers of all the free subjects of the State and of the people under the control of others,whether great or small. Take account also of the acreage of cultivated land. As to the profits arising from the gardens and ponds, the water and land, deal with them in common with the people.

In addition, it is not right for the provincial Governors, while in their provinces, to decide criminal cases, nor are they permitted by accepting bribes to bring the people to poverty and misery. When they come up to the capital they must not bring large numbers of the people in their train. They are only allowed to bring with them the Kuni no Miyakko and the district officials. But when they travel on public business they may ride the horses of their department and eat the food of their department. From the rank of Suke upwards, those who obey this law will surely be rewarded, while those who disobey it shall be liable to be reduced in rank. From the rank of Hangwan downwards, all those who accept bribes shall be fined double the amount of the bribe, and they shall eventually be criminally punished according to the greater or less severity of the case.

Nine men are allowed as attendants on a Chief Governor, seven on an assistant, and five on a secretary. If this limit is exceeded, and they are accompanied by a greater number, both chief and followers shall be criminally punished. . . .

In addition, on waste pieces of ground let arsenals be erected, and let the swords and armour, with the bows and arrows of the provinces and districts, be deposited together in them. In the case of the frontier provinces which border close on the Yemishi, let all the weapons be gathered together, and let them remain in the hands of their original owners. In regard to the six districts of the province of Yamato, let the officials who are sent there prepare registers of the population, and also take an account of the acreage of cultivated land. This means to examine the acreage of the cultivated ground, and the numbers, houses, and ages of the people.

You Governors of provinces, take careful note of this and withdraw. . . .

 

Complaints and Birth: The Emperor issued an order, saying:
 

If there be a complainant, in case the person in question belongs to a Tomo no Miyakko, let the Tomo no Miyakko first make inquiry and then report to Us. In case the person in question has an elder, let the elder first make inquiry and then report to Us. If, however, the Tomo no Miyakko or the elder does not come to a clear decision respecting the complaint, let a document be received and placed in the box, and punishment will be inflicted according to the offence. The person who receives the document should at dawn take it and make report to the Inner Palace, when We will mark on it the year and month, and communicate it to the Ministers. In case there is any neglect to decide it, or if there are malpractices on the part of intriguing persons, let the complainant strike the bell. This is why the bell is hung and box provided in the Court. Let the people of the Empire know and appreciate Our intention.

Moreover, the law of men and women shall be that the children born of a free man and a free woman shall belong to the father: if a free man takes to wife a slave woman, her children shall belong to the mother: if a free woman marries a slave man, the children of the marriage shall belong to the father; if they are slaves of two houses, the children shall belong to the mother. The children of temple serfs shall follow the rule for freemen. But in regard to others who become slaves, they shall be treated according to the rule for slaves. Publish this well to the people as a beginning of regulations.

 

Buddhism: 8th day.
 

A messenger was sent to the Great Temple to summon together the Buddhist priests and nuns, and to address them on the part of the Emperor, saying,

In the 13th year of the reign of the Emperor who ruled the world in the Palace of Shikishima, King Myong of Pekche reverently transmitted the Law of Buddha to our great Yamato. At this time the Ministers in a body were opposed to its transmission. Only Soga no Iname no Sukune believed in this Law, and the Emperor accordingly instructed him to receive it with reverence. In the reign of the Emperor who ruled the world in the Palace of Wosada, Soga no Mumako no Sukune, influenced by reverence for his deceased father, continued to prize highly the doctrines of Buddha. But the other Ministers had no faith in it, and its institutes had almost perished when the Emperor instructed Mumako no Sukune reverently to receive this Law. In the reign of the Empress who ruled the world in the Palace of Woharida, Mumako no Sukune, on behalf of the Empress, made an embroidered figure of Buddha sixteen feet high and a copper image of Buddha sixteen feet high. He exalted the doctrine of Buddha and showed honour to its priests and nuns. It is Our desire to exalt the pure doctrine and brilliantly to promulgate great principles. We therefore appoint as professors the following ten persons: The S'ramana, Poknyang, Hye-un, Syang-an, Nyong-un, and Hye-chi, Taih-shi of Koma, and Subin, Doto, Yerin, Yemyo and Yeon, chief priests of temples. We separately appoint the Hoshi, Yemyo, chief priest of the Temple of Kudara.

Let these ten professors well instruct the priests in general in the practice of the teachings of Shaka. It is needful that they be made to comply with the Law. If there is a difficulty about repairing Temples built by any from the Emperor down to the Tomo no Miyakko, We will in all cases assist in doing so. We shall also cause Temple Commissioners and Chief Priests to be appointed, who shall make a circuit to all the temples, and having ascertained the actual facts respecting the priests and nuns, their male and female slaves, and the acreage of their cultivated lands, report all the particulars clearly to us.

 

Corruption of Regional Officials: 19th day.
 

Commissioners were sent to all the provinces to take a record of the total numbers of the people. The Emperor on this occasion made an edict, as follows:

In the times of all the Emperors, from antiquity downwards, subjects have been set apart for the purpose of making notable their reigns and handing down their names to posterity. Now the Omi and Muraji, the Tomo no Miyakko and the Kuni no Miyakko, have each one set apart their own vassals, whom they compel to labor at their arbitrary pleasure. Moreover, they cut off the hills and seas, the woods and plains, the ponds and rice-fields belonging to the provinces and districts, and appropriate them to themselves. Their contests are never-ceasing. Some engross to themselves many tens of thousands of shiro of rice-land, while others possess in all patches of ground too small to stick a needle into. When the time comes for the payment of taxes, the Omi, the Muraji, and the Tomo no Miyakko, first collect them for themselves and then hand over a share. In the case of repairs to palaces or the construction of misasagi, they each bring their own vassals, and do the work according to circumstances. The Book of Changes says,  Diminish that which is above: increase that which is below: if measures are framed according to the regulations, the resources of the State suffer no injury, and the people receive no hurt."
At the present time, the people are still few. And yet the powerful cut off portions of land and water, and converting them into private ground, sell it to the people, demanding the price yearly. From this time forward the sale of land is not allowed. Let no man without due authority make himself a landlord, engrossing to himself that which belongs to the helpless.
The people rejoiced.

 

Regulation of the Capital; Taxes; Women: A.D. 646. 2nd year, Spring, Ist month, Ist day.
 

As soon as the ceremonies of the new year's congratulations were over, the Emperor promulgated an edict of reforms, as follows:

I. Let the people established by the ancient Emperors, etc., as representatives of children be abolished, also the Miyake of various places and the people owned as serfs by the Wake, the Omi, the Muraji, the Tomo no Miyakko, the Kuni no Miyakko and the Mura no Obito. Let the farmsteads in various places be abolished.
Consequently fiefs were granted for their sustenance to those of the rank of Daibu and upwards on a descending scale. Presents of cloth and silk stuffs were given to the officials and people, varying in value.
Further We say. It is the business of the Daibu to govern the people. If they discharge this duty thoroughly, the people have trust in them, and an increase of their revenue is therefore for the good of the people.

II. The capital is for the first time to be regulated, and Governors appointed for the Home provinces and districts. Let barriers, outposts,guards, and post-horses, both special and ordinary, be provided, bell-tokens made, and mountains and rivers regulated.

For each ward in the capital let there be appointed one alderman, and for four wards one chief alderman, who shall be charged with the superintendence of the population, and the examination of criminal matters. For appointment as chief aldermen of wards let men be taken belonging to the wards, of unblemished character, firm and upright, so that they may fitly sustain the duties of the time. For appointments as aldermen, whether of rural townships or of city wards, let ordinary subjects be taken belonging to the township or ward, of good character and solid capacity. If such men are not to be found in the township or ward in question, it is permitted to select and employ men of the adjoining township or ward.

The Home provinces shall include the region from the River Yokogaha at Nabari on the east, from Mount Senoyama in Kii on the south, from Kushibuchi in Akashi on the west, and from Mount Afusaka-yama in Sasanami in Afumi on the north. Districts of forty townships are constituted Greater Districts, of from thirty to four townships are constituted Middle Districts, and of three or fewer townships are constituted Lesser Districts. For the district authorities, of whatever class, let there be taken Kuni no Miyakko of unblemished character, such as may fitly sustain the duties of the time, and made Tairei and Shorei. Let men of solid capacity and intelligence who are skilled in writing and arithmetic be appointed assistants and clerks.

The number of special or ordinary post-horses given shall in all cases follow the number of marks on the posting bell-tokens. When bell-tokens are given to (officials of) the provinces and barriers, let them be held in both cases by the chief official, or in his absence by the assistant official.

III. Let there now be provided for the first time registers of population, books of account and a system of the receipt and re-granting of distribution-land.

Let every fifty houses be reckoned a township, and in every township let there be one alderman who shall be charged with the superintendence of the registers of population, the direction of the sowing of crops and the cultivation of mulberry trees, the prevention and examination of offences, and the enforcement of the payment of taxes and of forced labor.

For rice-land, thirty paces in length by twelve paces in breadth shall be reckoned a tan. Ten tan make one cho. For each tan the tax is two sheaves and two bundles (such as can be grasped in the hand) of rice; for each cho the tax is twenty-two sheaves of rice. On mountains or in valleys where the land is precipitous, or in remote places where the population is scanty, such arrangements are to be made as may be convenient.

IV. The old taxes and forced labor are abolished, and a system of commuted taxes instituted. These shall consist of fine silks, coarse silks, raw silk, and floss silk, all in accordance with what is produced in the locality. For each cho of rice land the rate is ten feet of fine silk, or for four cho one piece forty feet in length by two and a half feet in width. For coarse silk the rate is twenty feet (per cho), or one piece for every two cho of the same length and width as the fine silk. For cloth the rate is forty feet of the same dimensions as the fine and coarse silk, i.e. one tan for each cho. Let there be levied separately a commuted house tax. All houses shall pay each twelve feet of cloth. The extra articles of this tax, as well as salt and offerings, will depend on what is produced in the locality.

For horses for the public service, let every hundred houses contribute one horse of medium quality. Or if the horse is of superior quality, let one be contributed by every two hundred houses. If the horses have to be purchased, the price shall be made up by a payment from each house of twelve feet of cloth.

As to weapons, each person shall contribute a sword, armour, bow and arrows, a flag, and a drum.

For servants, the old system, by which one servant was provided by every thirty houses, is altered, and one servant is to be furnished from every fifty houses [one is for employment as a menial servant] for allotment to the various functionaries. Fifty houses shall be allotted to provide rations for one servant, and one house shall contribute twenty two feet of cloth and five masu of rice in lieu of service.

For waiting-women in the Palace, let there be furnished the sisters or daughters of district officials of the rank of Shorei or upwards—good-looking women [with one male and two female servants to attend on them], and let 100 houses be allotted to provide rations for one waiting-woman. The cloth and rice supplied in lieu of service shall, in every case, follow the same rule as for servants.

 

Complaints and Justice: 2nd month, Isth day.
 

The Emperor proceeded to the Eastern Gate of the Palace, where, by Soga, Oho-omi of the Right,' he decreed as follows:

The God Incarnate, the Emperor Yamato-neko, who rules the world, gives command to the Ministers assembled in his presence, to the Omi, Muraji, Kuni no Miyakko, Tomo no Miyakko, and subjects of various classes, saying, 'We are informed that wise rulers of the people hung a bell at their gate, and so took cognizance of the complaints of their subjects; they erected buildings in the thoroughfares, where they listened to the censures of the passers-by. Even the opinions of the grass and firewood gatherers they inquired personally and used for their guidance. We therefore, on a former occasion, made an edict, saying: In ancient times the Empire was ruled by having at the Court flags of honour for the encouragement of good, and a board of censure, the object being to diffuse principles of Government and to invite remonstrances." All this served widely to ascertain the opinions of those below. . . .
The object of hanging up a bell, of providing a box, and of appointing a man to receive petitions, is to make those who have grievances or remonstrances deposit their petitions in the box. The receivers of petitions are commanded to make their report to Us every morning. When We receive this report We shall draw the attention of the Ministers to it, and cause them to consider it, and We trust that this may be done without delay. But if there should be neglect on the part of the Ministers, and a want of diligence or partisan intrigues, and if We, moreover, should refuse to listen to remonstrance, let the complainant strike the bell. There has been already an Imperial command to this effect. But some time afterwards there was a man of intelligence and uprightness who, cherishing in his heart the spirit of a national patriot, addressed Us a memorial of earnest remonstrance, which he placed in the box prepared for the purpose. We therefore now publish it to the black-haired people here assembled. This memorial runs as follows: " Those subjects who come to the capital in connection with the discharge of their duty to the Government of the Country, are detained by the various public functionaries and put to forced labor of various kinds, etc., etc." We are still moved with strong sympathy by this. How could the people expect that things would come to this ? Now no long time has elapsed since the capital was removed, so that so far from being at home, we are, as it were, strangers. It is therefore impossible to avoid employing the people, and they have therefore been, against Our will, compelled to labor. As often as Our minds dwell on this We have never been able to sleep in peace. When We saw this memorial we could not refrain from a joyous exclamation. We have accordingly complied with the language of remonstrance, and have put a stop to the forced services at various places.
In a former edict, we said, " Let the man who remonstrates sign his name." Those who disobey this injunction are doubtless actuated by a wish to serve their country, and not by a desire of personal gain. Whether a man signs his name or not, let him not fail to remonstrate with Us on Our neglect or forgetfulness."

 

Centralized Government and Social Rules: 20th day.
 

The Prince Imperial said,

In Heaven there are not two suns: in a country there are not two rulers. It is therefore the Emperor alone who is supreme over all the Empire, and who has a right to the services of the myriad people.

22nd day.

The Emperor made a decree, as follows,

We are informed that a Prince of the Western Land 26 admonished his people, saying, 'Those who made interments in ancient times resorted to a high ground which they formed into a tomb. They did not pile up a mound, nor did they plant trees. The inner and outer coffin were merely enough to last till the bones decayed, the shroud was merely sufficient to last till the flesh decayed. . . . Deposit not in them gold or silver or copper or iron, and let earthenware objects alone represent the clay chariots and straw figures of antiquity. Let the interstices of the coffin be varnished. Let the offerings consist of rice presented three times, and let not pearls or jewels be placed in the mouth of the deceased. Bestow not jewel-shirts or jade armour. All these things are practices of the unenlightened vulgar.' . . . Of late, the poverty of our people is absolutely owing to the construction of tombs. . . .
When a man dies, there have been cases of people sacrificing themselves by strangulation, or of strangling others by way of sacrifice, or of compelling the dead man's horse to be sacrificed, or of burying valuables in the grave in honour of the dead, or of cutting off the hair, and stabbing the thighs and pronouncing an eulogy on the dead (while in this condition). Let all such old customs be entirely discontinued.
A certain book says, 'No gold or silver, no silk brocades, and no coloured stuffs are to be buried.' Again it is said, 'From the Ministers of all ranks down to the common people, it is not allowed to use gold or silver.' . . .
Again, there are many cases of persons who, having seen, say that they have not seen, or who, having not seen, say that they have seen, or who, having heard, say that they have not heard, or who, having not heard, say that they have heard, being deliberate liars, and devoid of truth in words and in sight.
Again, there have been many cases in which slaves, both male and female, false to their masters in their poverty, betake themselves of their own accord to influential houses in quest of a livelihood, which influential houses forcibly detain and purchase them, and do not send them to their original owners.
Again, there have been very many cases in which wives or concubines, when dismissed by their husbands, have, after the lapse of years, married other husbands, as ordinary morality allows. Then their former husbands, after three or four years, have made greedy demands on the second husband's property, seeking their own gain.
Again, there have been very many cases in which men, relying on their power, have rudely demanded people's daughters in marriage. In the interval, however, before going to his house, the girl has, of her own accord, married another, and the rude suitor has angrily made demands of the property of both families for his own gain.
Again, there have been numerous cases of this kind. Sometimes a wife who has lost her husband marries another man after the lapse of ten or twenty years and becomes his spouse, or an unmarried girl is married for the first time. Upon this, people, out of envy of the married pair, have made them perform purgation.
Again, there are cases in which women, who have become men's wives and who, being put away owing to their husbands' dislike of them, have, in their mortification at this injury, compelled themselves to become blemished slaves.
Again, there are cases in which the husband, having frequent occasion to be jealous of his wife's illicit intercourse with others, voluntarily appeals to the authorities to decide the matter. Let such persons not lay their information until they have obtained, let us say, three credible witnesses to join with them in making a declaration. Why should they bring forward ill-considered plaints?
Again, there have been cases of men employed on forced labour in border lands who, when the work was over and they were returning to their village, have fallen suddenly ill and lain down to die by the roadside. Upon this the (inmates of the) houses by the roadside say, 'Why should people be allowed to die on our road?' And they have accordingly detained the companions of the deceased and compelled them to do purgation. For this reason it often happens that even if an elder brother lies down and dies on the road, his younger brother will refuse to take up his body (for burial).
Again, there are cases of peasants being drowned in a river. The bystanders say, 'Why should we be made to have anything to do with drowned men?' They accordingly detain the drowned man's companions and compel them to do purgation. For this reason it often happens that even when an elder brother is drowned in a river his younger brother will not render assistance.
Again, there are cases of people who, when employed on forced labour, cook their rice by the roadside. Upon this the (inmates of the) houses by the roadside say, 'Why should people cook rice at their own pleasure on our road?' and have compelled them to do purgation.
Again, there are cases when people have applied to others for the loan of pots in which to boil their rice, and the pots have knocked against something and have been upset. Upon this the owner of the pot compels purgation to be made.
All such practices are habitual among the unenlightened vulgar. Let them now be discontinued without exception, and not permitted again. . . .

 

The Role of the Emperor: Autumn, 8th month, 14th day.
 

An edict was issued, saying,

Going back to the origin of things, we find that it is Heaven and Earth with the male and female principles of nature, which guard the four seasons from mutual confusion. We find, more over, that it is this Heaven and Earth which produces the ten thousand things. Amongst these ten thousand things Man is the most miraculously gifted. Among the most miraculously gifted beings, the sage takes the position of ruler. Therefore the Sage Rulers, that is, the Emperors, take Heaven as their model in ruling the World, and never for a moment dismiss from their breasts the thought of how men shall gain their fit place. . . .

 

The Monarchy and the People: Summer, 4th month, 29th day.
 

An edict was issued as follows,

The Empire was entrusted (by the Sun-Goddess to her descendants, with the words) 'My children, in their capacity as Deities, shall rule it.' For this reason, this country, since Heaven and Earth began, has been a monarchy. From the time that Our Imperial ancestor first ruled the land, there has been great concord in the Empire, and there has never been any factiousness. In recent times, however, the names, first of the Gods, and then of the Emperors, have in some cases been separated (from their proper application) and converted into the Uji of Omi or Muraji, or they have been separated and made the qualifications of Miyakko, etc. In consequence of this, the minds of the people of the whole country take a strong partisan bias, and conceiving a deep sense of the me" and "you," hold firmly each to their names. Moreover the feeble and incompetent Omi, Muraji, Tomo no Miyakko and Kuni no Miyakko make of such names their family names; and so the names of Gods and the names of sovereigns are applied to persons and places in an unauthorized manner, in accordance with the bent of their own feelings. Now, by using the names of Gods and the names of sovereigns as bribes, they draw to themselves the slaves of others, and so bring dishonor upon unspotted names.
The consequence is that the minds of the people have become unsettled and the government of the country cannot be carried on. The duty has therefore now devolved on Us in Our capacity as Celestial Divinity, to regulate and settle these things. In order to make them understood, and thereby to order the State and to order the people, We shall issue, one after another, a succession of edicts, one earlier, another later, one to-day and another to-morrow. But the people, who have always trusted in the civilizing influence exercised by the Emperors, and who are used to old customs, will certainly find it hard to wait until these edicts are made. We shall therefore remit to all, from Princes and Ministers down to the common people of all classes, the tax in lieu of service."