Bureaucratic system in Japan (日本の官制)

In this portion, an overview of the governance in pre-modern times will be given, especially under the ritsuryo system (a system of centralized government based on the ritsuryo code) which was abolished. Refer to the modern Japanese bureaucratic system for modern administrative system, and the Japanese state institution for the current administrative system, respectively.

Before the ritsuryo system (Taiho Code)
Before the ritsuryo system, no systematic bureaucracy was established.

In the formative period of the Yamato Dynasty, clans called 'uji' appeared from consanguineous groups called 'kabane,' and such professional groups called 'uji' or 'be' took charge of duties according to their power and ability. Each 'uji' and 'be' possessed and ruled their land and people (the system of bemin, the people in subordinate position). The dynasty gradually made 'kabane,' 'uji,' and 'be' incorporated into a hierarchy, and these private groups were organized in a public system. (Refer to the system of clans and hereditary titles, namely the decree of the eight honorary titles).

The official rank (cap rank) system (the system where a government post was associated with a court rank) was also adopted in order to consolidate the government headed by the imperial families (a clan of okimi [Yamato Dynasty]) and to appoint talented people into government service free from blood relations and influence. The twelve court rank (cap rank) system which was enacted by Prince Shotoku in 603 was the first instance of this. This court rank system changed several times from the twelve court rank system of 603 to the system of and official court ranks based on the ritsuryo code.

The ritsuryo system was systematically developed from a system of clans and hereditary titles, official court rank system, and official duties. The first administrative code ('ryo' in Japanese), the Omi Code, was enacted in 668, and the Asuka Kiyomihara Code enacted in 689 is said to have been the first systematized code. The Taiho Code enacted in 701 was the integration of those codes.

After the ritsuryo system (the Taiho Code)
Refer to the "ritsuryo system" for the ritsuryo system, "official court rank" for official rank system, and "Ikai (Court rank)" for Ikai, respectively.

System of government in the ritsuryo system, and particularly government posts are explained below.

Central government bureaucratic system

The Central government bureaucratic system was an organization based on two departments and eight ministries. Under the emperor as a sovereign ruler, Jingikan (the office in charge of religious ceremony) and Daijokan (Grand Council of State) were established and under the Daijokan, eight ministries were set up to take charge of the actual administration. Other than the two departments and eight ministries, Danjodai which inspected administrative organization and Efu (a palace guard) were established under the emperor's direct control (Two departments, eight ministries, one board of censorship and five palace guards in total). Under the eight ministries, practical organizations called Shiki (ritsuryo system), Ryo (ritsuryo system) and Tsukasa were set up. When those organizations became outdated later on, posts outside the original ritsuryo code (Ryoge no kan) were set up to fit with the times.

While the ritsuryo system in China concentrated all power in the emperor, who was supported by three ministries of Secretariat, Chancellery and State Affairs, Japanese ritsuryo system was characterized by the establishment of a loose consultative body, namely Daijokan (Grand Council of State), which worked as the emperor's proxy between the emperor and ministries.

Kan' indicated a government office itself, and is different from present usage as a 'government officer.'

Two departments

Jingikan (Department of Divinities) - in charge of Shinto religious ritual.

Dajokan (Grand Council of State) - in charge of the overall state government. It was composed of a consultative legislative organization including Daijo-daijin (grand minister of state), Sadaijin (minister of the left), Udaijin (minister of the right) and Dainagon (chief councilor of state), and its subordinates, namely, Shonagonkyoku (Lesser Counselors' Office) and Sayu Benkankyoku (the left Controllers' Office and the right Controllers' Office). Naidaijin (the Minister of the Interior), Chunagon (Middle Counselor), and Sangi (councilor) were established later.

Shonagon Office (Lesser Counselors' Office): a bureau of office and secretary for Dajyokan. It was composed of Shonagon (lesser councilor of state), Daigeki (Senior Secretary), Shogeki (Junior Secretary), Shisho (the office in charge of miscellaneous duties concerning documents), and Shibe (the lowest rank office).

Left and Right Benkan Office: the Left Benkan Office (the left Controllers' Office) and Right Benkan Office (the right Controllers' Office). These offices were in charge of administering affairs of state under the supervision of the legislative organization. It consisted of Dachusho ben (Benkan [Oversight Department]), Daisho shi (clerk [ritsuryo system]), Shisho, Kajo (office under Controllers of Grand Council of State) and Shibu.

Circuit inspector (junsatsushi)
The kitchen of the Great Council of State

Eight ministries

Left Benkan Office was responsible for the four ministries of Nakatsukasasho (Ministry of Central Affairs), Shikibusho (Ministry of Ceremonial), Jibusho (Ministry of Civil Administration), Minbusho (Ministry of Popular Affairs), and Right Benkan Office was responsible for the four ministries of Hyobusho (ministry of military), Gyobusho (Ministry of Justice), Okurasho (Ministry of Treasury), and Kunaisho (Imperial Household Ministry).

Nakatsukasasho (Ministry of Central Affairs) served the emperor and took charge of clerical jobs at the court such as preparing imperial edicts, taking the dictation of the emperor and conveying messages to the emperor as well as paperwork related to letters of appointment and the family register. Other than the four ranks of bureaucrats, kami, suke, jo and sakan, Jiju (staff of the Imperial Household Agency staff), Udoneri (imperial guard), Naiki (secretary), Kenmotsu (accounting official), Shurei (official in charge of the barrier station), and Tenyaku (warehouse keeper), which were called honkan, belonged to respective ministries.

Chugushiki (Office of the Consort's Household): responsible for clerical duties related to the inner buildings of a palace. When the Grand Empress Dowager, Empress Dowager and Empress existed, other corresponding offices were set up respectively.

Left and Right Otoneriryo (Bureaus of the Left and the Right Imperial Attendants): the Left and the Right were consolidated at the age of the Emperor Heizei.

Zushoryo (Bureau of Drawings and Books)
Zushoryo (Bureau of Drawings and Books)
Kuraryo (Bureau of Palace Storehouses)
Nuidonoryo (Bureau of the Wardrobe and Court Ladies)
Nuidonoryo, also known as Itodokoro (Bureau of the Wardrobe and Court Ladies)
Naishoryo (Bureau of Skilled Artisans) (a post not included in the original Ritsuryo code): established at the age of the Emperor Shomu.

Onmyoryo (Bureau of Divination)
Etakumi no Tsukasa or Gakoshi (Bureau of Painting): consolidated into Naishoryo (Bureau of Skilled Artisans).

Uchinokusuri no Tsukasa or Naiyakushi (private doctors for the Emperor): integrated into Tenyakuryo (the Bureau of Medicine) of Kunaisho (the Department of the Imperial Household) in 896.

Nairaishi (Palace Etiquette Office): integrated into Danjodai (Board of Censors).

Shikibusho (Ministry of Ceremonies): in charge of personnel affairs of civil officials, ceremonies at Imperial Court and education. It was renamed Monbusho only from 758 to 764.

Daigakuryo (Bureau of Education)
Daigaku besso (academic facility for nobles)
Sanniryo (the office controlling sani, or court officials without a post): integrated into Shikibusho (Ministry of Ceremonies)

Jibusho (Ministry of Civil Administration): in charge of hereditary titles of a clan, funeral rites, Buddhist temple, Gagaku (ancient Japanese court dance and music), and diplomatic affairs.

Utaryo (Bureau of Traditional Music)
Genbaryo (Diplomacy and Buddhism Office)
Shoryoryo (Bureau of Imperial Mausoleums): elevated (from Shoryoshi [Office of Mausolea]) to Shoryoryo in 729.

Sogishi (Ministry of Funerals): consolidated into Kusuishi (Drums and Fifes Office) of Hyobusho (Ministry of Military) in 808.

Minbusho (Ministry of Civil Affairs): in charge of civil administration, particularly tax and finance. It was also in charge of family register and rice/vegetable fields.

Rinin (Storehouse for Rice)
Shukeiryo (Account Office)
Shuzeiryo (Bureau of Taxation)

Hyobusho (Ministry of Military)(the ritsuryo system): in charge of personnel affairs of military officers and overall military affairs.

Hayahito no Tsukasa (Office of Hayahito): incorporated from Emonfu (Headquarters of the Outer Palace Guards) into Hyobusho (Ministry of Military) in 808.

Hyomashi (Office of Military Horses): consolidated into the right and left division of Meryo (Bureau of Horses).

Zoheishi (Office of Weapon Manufacture): consolidated into Hyogoryo (Bureau of Military Storehouses) at the age of the Emperor Uda.

Kusuishi (Office of Drums and Fifes): consolidated into Hyogoryo (Bureau of Military Storehouses) at the age of the Emperor Uda.

Shusenshi (Office of Ship): abolished

Taka Tsukasa (Office of Falcon): abolished

Gyobusho (Ministry of Justice)(ritsuryo system) - in charge of justice. It took charge of complaints by common people and people of the lower classes.

Office of Prison: became devoid of substance with the rise of Kebiishi (a police and judicial chief).

Official of Robbery: consolidated into Gyobusho (Ministry of Justice) at the age of the Emperor Heizei.

Okurasho (Ministry of Finance) under the ritsuryo system: in charge of treasures, accounts, prices, and weights and measures.

Storage House of Taxes
Oribeshi (Office of Textiles)
Office of Casting: consolidated into Takumiryo (Bureau of Skilled Artisans) of Nakatsukasasho (Ministry of Central Affairs) during the age of the Emperor Konin.

Office of Lacquering: consolidated intoTakumiryo (Bureau of Skilled Artisans) of Nakatsukasasho (Ministry of Central Affairs) during the age of the Emperor Heizei.

Office of Wardrobe: consolidated into Nuidonoryo (Bureau of the Wardrobe and Court Ladies) during the age of the Emperor Heizei.

Office of Housekeeping: consolidated with Uchi no Kanimori no Tsukasa (Office of Inner House Keeping) of Kunaisho into Kamonryo (Bureau of Housekeeping) of Kunaisho during the age of the Emperor Saga.

Department of the Imperial Household under the ritsuryo system: it took charge of various affairs including housing, food and clothing, and treasures.

Daizenshiki (Office of the Palace Table)
Mokuryo (Bureau of Carpentry)
Oiryo (Bureau of Palace Kitchens under the Ministry of the Imperial Household)
Kugoin (Division of Rice for the Emperor)
Tonomoryo (Imperial Palace Keeper's Bureau)
Tonomoryo (Imperial Palace Keeper's Bureau)
Tenyakuryo (the Bureau of Medicine)
Tenyakuryo (the Bureau of Medicine)
Kamonryo (Bureau of Housekeeping)
Okimi no Tsukasa (Office of the Imperial Family Registry)
Uchinokashiwade no Tsukasa or Naizenshi (Imperial Table Office)
Shinmotsudokoro (Imperial Serving Office)
Mizushidokoro (Imperial Kitchen)
Niedono (Storage House of Food Offering)
Miki no Tsukasa or Zoshushi (Office of Sake Brewing)
Sakadono (a brewng facility for the imperial family)
Uneme no tsukasa or Unemeshi (The Palace Women's Office)
Mondo no Tsukasa or Shusuishi(Water Office)
Himuro (ice chamber)
Office of Tablewares and Containers): consolidated into Daizenshiki (Office of the Palace Table)

Office of Smithery: consolidated into Mokuryo (Bureau of Carpentry)

Office of Imperial Slaves: consolidated into Tonomoryo (Imperial Palace Keeper's Bureau).

Office of Oil: consolidated into Tonomoryo (Imperial Palace Keeper's Bureau)

Office of Inner House Keeping: consolidated into Kamonryo (Bureau of Housekeeping)

Office of Dyeing: consolidated into Kamonryo (Bureau of Housekeeping)

Office of Ponds and Gardens: consolidated into Naizenshi (Imperial Table Office)

Office of Claywork: consolidated into Mokuryo (Bureau of Carpentry)

Danjodai (Board of Censors)

Danjodai (Board of Censors)(ritsuryo system)- in charge of administrative supervision.

Efu (Palace Guard)

Goefu (Five Palace Guards)
Hyoefu (Headquarter of the Middle Palace Guards)
Eshifu (Division of Palace Guards): consolidated with Emonfu (Headquarter of the Outer Palace Guards) and renamed Left and Right Emonfu (Division of Palace Guards).

Emonfu (Headquarter of the Outer Palace Guards): consolidated into Eshifu (Division of Palace Guards).

Office of Hayahito: transferred to Hyobusho (Ministry of Military) later.

Konoefu (Headquarter of the Inner Palace Guards): newly established

Chuefu(Headquarter of the Middle Palace Guard): newly established in the Nara period but abolished later.

Jyutoei (Division of Inner Palace Guards): newly established in the Nara period, and the predecessor of Konoefu (Headquarter of the Inner Palace Guards).

Gaiefu(Headquarter of the Outer Palace Guards): newly established in the Nara period, and the predecessor of Konoefu (Headquarter of the Inner Palace Guards).

Togu (Crown Prince's Palace)
Togubo (Crown Prince's Quarters)
Shuzengen (Section of Food of the Crown Prince)
Shuzogen (Section of Clothing of the Crown Prince): abolished

Tonerigen (Office of Servants of the Crown Prince): abolished

Shudensho (Housekeeping Office)
Shumejo (Stables Office)
Shukosho (Office of Carpentry and Metal Work): abolished.

Shushojo (Office of Books and Medicine for the Crown Prince): consolidated into Shuzogen (Section of Clothing of the Crown Prince)

Shuheisho (Office of Military and Ceremonial Weapons): consolidated into Shuzogen (Section of Clothing of the Crown Prince).

Shushosho (Office of Glue and Drinking Water for the Crown Prince) - consolidated into Shuzengen (Section of Food of the Crown Prince).

Togu no fu (Office of Education of the Crown Prince)
Togu gakushi (Teacher of the Classics of the Crown Prince)

Meryo (Bureau of Imperial Horses)
The Right and Left Bureaus of Imperial Horses were consolidated into Shumeryo (Bureau of Horses) during the age of the Emperor Kanmu. It was divided again later.

Mimaki (the imperial pasture)
Naikyuryo (Bureau of Imperial Barn): newly established and consolidated with the Right and Left Divisions of Imperial Horses in the Nara period.

Shumeryo (Bureau of Horses): consolidated Naikyuryo (Bureau of Imperial Barn) and the Right and Left Divisions ofImperial Horses, and was abolished in the Heian period.

Hyogo (arsenal)
Hyogo (arsenal) (the ritsuryo system): ranked as Ryo (bureau)
It was consolidated as Uchi no hyogo (Inner Arsenal) and reorganized.

Uchi no hyogo (Inner Arsenal): ranked as Tsukasa (office)
It was consolidated with the Right and Left Division of Arsenal.

Hyogoryo (Bureau of Arsenal): newly established

Kokyu (empress's residence)
Kokyu (empress's residence)
Twelve Offices of Empress's Residence: Naishi no tsukasa (Office of Female Palace Attendants), Tsuwamono no tsukasa (Military Equipment Office), Kurazukasa (Office of Wardrobe of the Emperor and Empress), Fumi no tsukasa (Office of Book and Writing Materials), Nuinotsukasa (Office of Sewing), Kashiwade no tsukasa (Table Office), Mikinotsukasa (Office of Sake Brewing), Mikado no tsukasa, Tonomorizukasa (Office of Lighting), Office of Housekeeping, Court servant, Kamori no tsukasa (Housekeeping Office), Moi no tsukasa (Water Office), and Medical Office.

Butler
Butler

Other major Ryoge no kan (posts outside the original Ritsuryo code created by Imperial edicts)
Shurishiki (The Palace Repairs Office) - consolidated with Mokuryo (Bureau of Carpentry) for a while at the age of the Emperor Junna.

Itsukinomiya no Tsukasa or Saiinshi (Office of the High Priestess of Kamo Shrine)
Office of Coinage
Saiguryo (Bureau of the High Priestess of Ise Shrine): worked for Saigu (imperial princess appointed to serve Ise Shrine) and was in charge of clerical work concerning the affairs of the shrine and the shrine estate.

Twelve Officesof Saigu (imperial princess appointed to serve the Ise Shrine):Toneri no Tsukasa (Attendants' Office), Kurabe no tsukasa (Office of Pprocuring Goods), Kashiwadebe no tsukasa (Table Office), Kashikibe no tsukasa (Office of Cooking), Sakabe no tsukasa (Office of Sake), Moitoribe no tsukasa (Office of Water), Tonomoribe no tsukasa (Office of Lighting), Kanimori no Tsukasa (Housekeeping Office), Unebe no tsukasa (Office of Court Ladies), Kusuribe no tsukasa (Office of Medicine), Kadobe no tsukasa (Gatekeeper Office), and Umanobe no tsukasa (Office of Horses.
Kebiishi (a police and judicial chief)
Kageyushi (a supervisor of business transfer)
Kokusoin (Imperial Granary)
Kurodo (Chamberlain)
Gosho-dokoro (Office of Book in the Imperial Court)
Ippon-goshodokoro (Imperial Library)
Uchi no goshodokoro (Library of Emperor's books)
Edokoro (Office of Pictures)
Tsukumodokoro (Office of Accessories and Furnishings)
Mikushigedono (Office of Wardrobe)
Gakuso (chamber of music)
Naijudokoro (Royal Pages Office)
In no cho (Retired Emperor's Office)
In no cho (Retired Emperor's Office)
Goin Palace (Junna-in Palace etc.)
Naikyobo (Training Center of Entertaining Girls)
Seyaku-in (Pharmacy Institution)
Sushinin (Orphanage for the children and women of the Fujiwara clan)
List of officials (posts outside the original Ritsuryo code created by Imperial edicts)
List of officials (posts outside the original Ritsuryo code created by Imperial edicts)
List of 'Sho'
List of civil engineering and construction organization under the ritsuryo system. List of civil engineering and construction organization under the ritsuryo system.

Local bureaucratic system

The whole country was divided into tens of ryoseikoku (province) and each province was governed by kokushi (provincial governors) dispatched from the central government.

Apart from that, special Shiki (agency) such as Dazai-fu (local government office in Kyushu region), Kyoshiki (the Capital Bureau), and Settsu Shiki (an agency of Settsu province) were set up at important places.

Shitokan (four ranks of bureaucrats)

There were generally four ranks of government officials: Kami (director, the first rank offical), Suke (assistant director, the second rank official), Jo (inspector, the third rank official), and Sakan (secretary, the lowest rank official). Other thant these officials of four ranks, there were also various officall called Honkan as well as Zonin (lower-ranked staffs) such as Shisho (staff in charge of miscellaneous clerical duties), Tomobe (foreman of respective duties) and Shibe (odd-job man).

Note:
Bunze (official of Imperial Table Office) and Tenzen (assistant director of Imperial Table Office) existed only in Naizen no tsukasa (Imperial Table Office).

This is just a simplified table, and especially in some cases of Shiki (agency of the government) (ritsuryo system), Ryo (bureau of the government) (ritsuryo system) and Tsukasa (office of the government), assistant secretaries or judicial officers were not set up, while in others the number of staff was increased. Refer to each item for more information.