Zoi (conferral of a posthumous rank) (贈位)


Zoi is awarding of a rank posthumously according to one's lifetime achievements. It is also referred to as "tsuizo" (conferring court rank posthumously).

Zoi means to receive a title when one wins in a Shogi (Japanese Chess) or Igo (board game of capturing territory) tournament. It is also referred to as "shui."

Zoi depending upon one's rank

Zoi and its history will be summarized as follows.

Start of Zoi

It originates in February of 673, when SAKAMOTO no Takara who was a meritorious retainer of the Jinshin War passed away and was given shoshi no kurai, for he held a ministerial rank. Then, Jomyo SATAKKU from Baekje was given tono shoshi no kurai, and zoi was frequently carried out to meritorious retainers of the Jinshin War and toraijin (people from overseas, especially from China and Korea, who settled in early Japan and introduced Continental culture to Japan). It is stipulated in "Yoro-ryo" (Yoro Code) and "Taiho-ryo" (Taiho Code) that in the case of zoi due to death at war, Oni (the automatic promotion of the persons at the age of 21, whose parents are from Imperial Prince to the fifth rank, or whose grandparents are upper than third rank) to his children and grandchildren would be equal to the rank he held while he was alive, and in other cases, Oni was usually with a rank, one lower to the rank which would normally be bestowed upon.

From then on, zoi became a special dispensation for high ranked nobles that have passed away; moreover, it began to be carried out for the purposes of comforting the spirit and restoring impaired reputations of those who died on false charges, or for the Kento-shi (Japanese envoy to Tang Dynasty China) who died in their journey.

In the case of zoi, the letter '贈' is added at the head of the ordinary rank. "For example: Shoshii (Senior Fourth Rank), posthumously conferred". Furthermore, when a government post is conferred, it is referred to as "zokan." "For example: Daijo-daijin (Grand Minister), posthumously conferred".

Zoi after the Meiji period

Zoi has been continued also after the Meiji period for the purpose of commemorating the deeds of the deceased. It was frequently carried out especially for those who died while rendering great achievements during Sonno Joi (19th century slogan advocating reverence for the Emperor and the expulsion of foreigners) that took place at the end of Edo period and the Meiji Restoration, or to those court nobles and warlords of the Southern court during the period of the Northern and Southern Courts. As a general rule, ranks for zoi was Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank) or higher, but from the reformation of official rank system in 1869, ranks Jushii (Junior Fourth Rank) or higher were applied. Since 'Senshisha zoi narabi joi no ken' (Matter for conferring and investiture of court ranks to those who died in the war) was enacted in 1895, when a military man with distinguished performance died in a war, Jugoi or higher was bestowed irrespective of the rank before his death, and those pursuant would receive an accelerated promotion by one or two ranks higher to the rank held before death. In the 'Senshisha zoi narabi joi shinkai naisoku' (Rules for conferring of court ranks to those who died in the war and investiture of promotion) that was enacted in 1897, it was stipulated that Shoshii (Senior Fourth Rank) or higher was given to generals, ranks between Jugoi (Junior Fifth Rank) and Shoshii was given to field officers, ranks between Jugoi and Shogoi (Senior Fifth Rank) were given to officers below the rank of major, and Jugoi was given to under-officers, noncommissioned officers, and soldiers. During the Meiji period, the prerogatives of honoring belonged to the Emperor, and Decoration Bureau of the cabinet was in charge of zoi, but as joi for the survivors was suspended after the Pacific War, zoi also stopped at one point.

Transition till today

Investiture of Court ranks and bestowal of orders to those who had died in a war' was approved during the Hayato IKEDA's cabinet in 1963, and the bestowing a rank and conferment of a decoration to those who died while serving in World War II resumed. Thereafter, court ranks were bestowed only to the deceased, and since the court ranks were no longer conferred to the survivors, standard form of joi served as a means of zoi before the Meiji period (however, unlike zoi, the letter '贈' is not used in joi).

Zoui in Shogi

In the field of Shogi, zoijo means a document that shows conferment of titles to the winners which have gained the titles including ryuo (promoted rook), osho (king), and so on.