Joji Hen (The Joji Incident) (貞治の変)

Joji Incident, which occurred in 1366 during the late Northern and Southern Courts Period (Japan) (the early Muromachi period), was an incident by which Yoshimasa SHIBA, shitsuji (steward, later renamed kanrei) of the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), and his father Takatsune SHIBA, an influential shugodaimyo (territorial lord as provincial constables) and a close aid of seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA, fell from power. It is also called "Joji no seihen."

The context
After shitsuji Kiyouji HOSOKAWA lost his position (Koan Coup) and surrendered to the Southern Court (Japan) in 1361, Takatsune SHIBA (he called himself Docho after becoming a monk) gained the trust of shogun Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA and recommended his son Yoshimasa to the post of shitsuji (kanrei) in 1362. According to "Taiheiki," Doyo SASAKI, an influential shugodaimyo who made Kiyouji HOSOKAWA lose his position, recommended his son-in-law Ujiyori ROKKAKU in vain and had a grudge against Takatsune.

Takatsune SHIBA further recommended his son Yoshitane SHIBA and grandson Yoshitaka SHIBA to the post of kozamurai-dokoro (an office of officers to guard shogun in attendance) and hikitsukeshu (Coadjustor of the High Court) respectively. Finally, he recommended Yoshitane to the post of samurai-dokoro (the Board of Retainers) in 1365 and his family monopolized the important posts of the bakufu. Influential shugodaimyo such as Doyo were offended by the behavior of the Shiba clan and people whispered that these opponents were plotting to kill Takatsune in July 1363. It is said that the above movement was triggered by the fact that Takatsune removed Doyo from the post of the Governor of Settsu Province on the ground of his failure in stopping the invasion of Southern Court's forces into Settsu Province in the same year. In 1364 when the bakufu's residence was constructed in Sanjo bomon and its construction work was allotted to shugodaimyo, Takatsune forfeited Norisuke AKAMATSU's territory on the ground of the delay in the construction schedule and incurred Akamatsu clan's resentment. Doyo KYOGOKU, who was zoei bugyo (administrator) of the construction of Gojo-ohashi Bridge and collected munebetsu-sen Tax from households in Kyoto in order to finance construction cost, also lost his face because Takatsune completed the bridge in a few days at his expense saying Doyo's construction work was too slow. In reprisal, Zoyo intentionally held a magnificent flower banquette at Oharano on the same day on which Takatsune held a banquette at his residence with the attendance of shogun Yoshiakira. Takatsune, on his part, forfeited Doyo's Tada no sho estate in Settsu Province on the ground of the arrears in one-twentieth tax and as a result, Doyo, etc. and Takatsune were locked in serious confrontation.

Summary of the incident
On September 13, 1366, shogun Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA suddenly gathered his troops at the bakufu located at Sanjo bomon on the pretext of Takatsune SHIBA's conspiracy.
Then, he dispatched an envoy to Takatsune and ordered him to 'Immediately go (to a province whose shugo is yourself). Otherwise, I will punish you.'
Takatsune, who acknowledged that he couldn't resist, burnt down his residence in the morning of the following fourteenth day and escaped to Echizen Province along with his family and retainers including his son Yoshimasa and Yoshitane.

The official reason for Takatsune's expulsion is considered to be the appeal made by the monks of Kofuku-ji Temple to the Imperial Court saying Takatsune didn't take proper action against his retainer Takakage ASAKURA who invaded Kawaguchi no sho in Echizen Province, the territory of Kofuku-ji Temple. It was also said that Takatsune's expulsion was a divine punishment because shinboku (sacred tree) of Kasuga-taisha Shrine (which was the guardian deity of the Fujiwara clan and had a close relationship with Fujiwara clan's temple Kofuku-ji Temple) (Kasuga Shinboku) was brought to Kyoto at that time. In reality, however, it is considered that the above-mentioned dissatisfaction on the part of Kyogoku and Akamatsu clans was the cause for the decision of shogun Yoshiakira. According to "Taiheiki," Yoshiakira asked in tears Takatsune, who was defending himself desperately, to go to his province by saying he was not able to decide things to his satisfaction though he was shogun.

Unlike those people who were defeated in the battle inside the Northern Court (Japan), such as Naoyoshi ASHIKAGA and Takauji ASIKAGA who once submitted themselves to the Southern Court in the Kanno Disturbance or Yoshinaga NIKI and Kiyouji HOSOKAWA who shifted from the aids of Yoshiakira to the Southern Court side, Shiba clan obediently returned to Echizen Province instead of shifting to the Southern Court. The above showed the fact that after influential shugodaimyo like Hiroyo OUCHI and Tokiuji YAMANA submitted themselves to Northern Court (bakufu) in 1363 when Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA was shogun, the superiority of the Northern Court became apparent and unquiet days of Northern and Southern Courts was ending nationwide. After Takatsune went to Echizen, bakufu organized a large army consisted of the forces of Takahide SASAKI (Doyo's son), Mitsunori AKAMATSU, Ujifuyu YAMANA Yoriyasu TOKI and Yoshitou HATAKEYAMA and besieged Soyama-jo Castle and Kuriya-jo Castle where Takatsune and Yoshimasa confined themselves respectively. In August 1367, Takatsune died of illness inside the castle.

The aftermath of the incident
After the collapse of the Shiba clan, Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA immediately deprived it of shugoshiki (post of provincial constable) of the provinces of Wakasa, Echizen, Ecchu and Settsu, made these provinces bakufu's territory, dispatched bugyonin (group of magistrates), returned Jisha Honjo Ryo (lands formerly owned by temples/shrines) and suspended hanzei (shugo's right to collect half of the taxes). Thanks to the above, Yoshiakira regained the confidence of court nobles and temples/shrines while restricting the authority of influential shugo and enhanced the stability of Muromachi bakufu. In 1367, Yoshinaga NIKI submitted himself to bakufu, Yoshimasa SHIBA was permitted to return to Kyoto (reappointed to shugo of Ecchu Province), Yoriyuki HOSOKAWA (a cousin of Kiyouji) who was then in Sanuki Province came to Kyoto and finally Ashikaga bakufu system under which influential shugo submitted themselves to shogun Yoshiakira was established. Soon after that, however, Yoshiakira fell sick all of a sudden and died in December (died at the age of 38). According to his will, kanrei Yoriyuki HOSOKAWA took on a role to support new shogun Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA (the story of "Taiheiki" ended with this event).

However, the policy of controlling shugo's authority implemented by Yoshimitsu and Yoriyuki gradually led to the increase of anti-Yoriyuki groups and the arbitrary behavior of Yoriyuki became similar to that of Takatsune SHIBA during the age of shogun Yoshiakira. As with the case where Takatsune SHIBA was overthrown by Joji Incident, Yoriyuki was removed from his post and forced to become a monk by Koryaku Coup and Yoshimasa SHIBA, a son of Takatsune, became kanrei in place of Yoriyuki. Yoshimasa strengthened the power of the shogun taking advantage of the coup, as with his father who took advantage of Joji Incident, and eventually led Muromachi bakufu to its height of power by defeating the Toki clan, the Yamana clan, and the Ouchi clan.