Kinchu narabini kuge shohatto (Law on the emperor and the court nobles) (禁中並公家諸法度)
Kinchu narabini kuge shohatto (law on the emperor and the court nobles) was proclaimed by the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) to establish its relationships with the emperor and the court nobles.
It is also called 'Kinchu narabini kugechu shohatto,' and 'Kinchukata gojomoku.'
This law was drew up by Konchiin Suden under the order of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. On September 9, 1615, the law was promulgated over the joint signature of the three persons of the retired shogun Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, the second shogun Hidetada TOKUGAWA, and the former chief adviser to the emperor Akizane NIJO. The law is written in classical Chinese and consists of 17 Articles. It was not revised throughout the Edo period.
Prior to having enacted this law, 'Kugeshu hatto,' 'Jiin shohatto,' and 'Daitokuji myoshinjito shoji nyuin hatto' had already been promulgated but the basic policy that also targeted for the emperor had been completed with 'Kinchu narabini kuge shohatto.'
By this law, the bakufu secured the grounds for legally regulating the act of the imperial court and the law defined the relationships between the imperial court and the bakufu throughout the Edo period.
The law was not revised throughout the Edo period. On January 8, 1632, 'Wakakugeshu hatto' was enacted under the leadership of the then retired Emperor Gomizunoo.
Wakakugeshu hatto', which was compiled to rectify the young court nobles' morals, promoted the restoration of the imperial events and ceremonies and also tightened the control of the court nobles, turned out to complement 'Kinchu narabini kuge shohatto' although the bakufu merely indirectly took part in the enactment of 'Wakakugeshu hatto.'
Contents of each article
Kinchu narabini kuge shohatto' consists of 17 Articles, which were not revised until the end of the Edo period, unlike 'Buke shohatto' (Laws for the Military Houses). Articles 1 to 12 are regulations what the Imperial family and the court nobles should have observed; and Articles 13 to the end are regulations on the official court rank of monks.
Duties of the Emperor
Precedence of three ministers: the Grand Minister, the Minister of the left, and the Minister of the right
Precedence of the retired ministers from the Seiga family
Article 4 and 5
Appointment and dismissal of Sekkan (regents and advisers)
The official court rank of samurai family
Change of the era name
About clothes of vassals and retainers of the emperor
About promotion of the families
Punitive provisions for those who disobedient to the orders from the chief adviser to the emperor or the Imperial officials in charge of communication between the bakufu and the court
Punishment in conformity with Meirei-ritsu (Japanese criminal law)
Precedence of Sekke-monzeki (the priest clan eligible for regents)
Article 14 and 15
Appointment and investiture of Sojo (high‐ranking Buddhist priest), monzeki (temple formerly led by founder of sect, temple in which resided a member of nobility or imperial family), and Inge (a priest from the nobility or the imperial family).
Chief priest at a Buddhist temple in a purple priest robe
The title of Saint to a high priest
Kinchu narabini kuge shohatto' is concluded with the sentence 'the above-mentioned things should be observed.'
The original book was burnt in the fire at the Imperial Palace on February 14, 1661 but recovered on the basis of a duplicate, and there are also some copies made by the court nobles remaining; however, it should be treated with caution as some of the extant books have several differences in words and phrases.
The most important thing the emperor should pursue is learning.
Those who are the members of Sekkan-ke (the families which produced regents) but do not have the necessary talents and abilities should not be appointed any of the three ministers (the Grand Minister, the Minister of the left, and the Minister of the right) and Sessho Kanpaku (regent and chief adviser to the Emperor). Needless to say, those from other than regent family cannot be appointed these posts.
Any of talented three ministers, regent, and chief advisor to the emperor should not resign even if he is aged. Even if he resigned once, he should be reappointed.
The official court ranks conferred on kuge (court noble) should be regarded separately from those conferred on buke (the samurai families).
The auspicious one from the names of Chinese era should be selected as the name of new era.
If the court noble from the Tosho family or the Jige family does not obey the order given by the regent, the Imperial officials in charge of communication between the bakufu and the court, or magistrates, he should be exiled.
Only a small number of chief priests were allowed to wear the purple robe before. But recently, the emperor has indiscriminately permitted them and the precedence of the chief priests who are to be allowed to wear the purple robe is confused, which causes the serious matter such as corruption of the official temples. From now on, talents and abilities of the chief priest for the purple robe should be examined and only those who deserves should be allowed to wear the purple robe.
Significance of this law
Kinchu narabini kuge shohatto is the epoch-making law in a certain sense. This is because that is the first law to stipulate regulations for the emperor as shown in Article 1.
Before this law, the emperor was treated as an entity transcending the law; therefore, no provision concerning the emperor had existed not only in Buke ho (Samurai laws) but also in any law made by the Kuge (court nobles) Government including the Taiho Ritsuryo and Yoro ritsuryo code (code promulgated in the Yoro period). But, for the first time, the emperor was defined within the law limit. On the other hand, it had been considered essential for the emperor to pursue learning from the ancient times, which was needless to be defined in the Ritsuryo law. That was made into a statutory law as a duty of the emperor in Article 1, which means that the article 'stipulates' that the emperor did not have the authority to hold the reins of government in fact, which should have been the essential duty of the emperor. Having met the requirements for the court noble law under the joint signature of the chief adviser to the emperor, the law became the legal basis for 'delegating the administration of the country' to the Edo bakufu, which had the real authority to enact the law.
Practical analysis of the law shows that it does not contain any provision for directly controlling the imperial court, although it defines the relationships between the imperial court and the bakufu including the status of buke tenso (liaison officers between the imperial court and the military government) and gave the legal basis for delegating the administration of the country to the bakufu. This law was applied to all the classes which were appointed by the imperial court and the bakufu including 'samurai families' which were to be appointed the official court rank for samurai under the command of seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") that is delegated the administration of the country, and 'Buddhist monks' who were to be appointed the official rank for Sokan (official positions given to Buddhist priests by Imperial Court). Besides, the new stipulations except for those about the relationships between the imperial court and the bakufu are mostly about the issues which had led confusion in the imperial court including precedence of the imperial court. It can also be said that the Edo bakufu showed an attitude of cooperation to restore order of the imperial court and the court noble society which had once almost broken up in the confusion during the Sengoku period (period of warring states).
Historically, this case is similar to the fact that the Kamakura bakufu presented the principle of ryoto tetsuritsu (alternate accedence from two ancestries of imperial families) to the imperial court which was split over the issue of the succession to the throne. (The issues regarded as questionable on that are also common to which were difficult issues even for the authority of the bakufu to settle and arose discussions later such as the Shie Incident and the Songo Incident.)
In other words, that was the law to establish order for the court nobles, the samurai families, and Buddhist monks to serve the emperor and seii taishogun that was delegated the administration of the country by the emperor.
The Edo bakufu restored the order of the imperial court and the court noble society by recording the territories of the court nobles in November 1600, the next month of the Battle of Sekigahara, and by defining chigyo (enfeoffment) including the imperial property against nyoin (a close female relative of the Emperor or a womwan of comparable standing), Miyake (the house of an imperial prince), the court nobles, and monzeki (temple formerly led by founder of sect, temple in which resided a member of nobility or imperial family) in the next year. Subsequently, the bakufu reorganized the system of government officials from the Jige families (for example, the bakufu made the Suino Hirata family control the Kurodogata) and 'Kinchu narabini kuge shohatto' is considered to be a part of the reorganization.
It is needless to say that the bakufu, which was delegated the administration of the country by 'Kinchu narabini kuge shohatto,' undoubtedly secured the power to interfere and control the imperial court. The laws which were practically used in controlling the imperial court were, for example, 'Kugeshu-hatto' (the laws for court nobles) and 'Wakakugeshu hatto' as the laws about daily life; the former was enacted for reconfirming the court noble laws during the reign of the Toyotomi government due to a great scandal called the Inokuma Incident, and the latter was promoted by the retired Emperor Gomizunoo. The Edo bakufu eventually embarked on the full-fledged control over the imperial court administration on August 21, 1630 when emperor Gomizunoo abdicated the throne, with the memorandum consisting of 15 Articles issued by the retired shogun Hidetada TOKUGAWA, who was a maternal grandfather of the new Emperor Meisho. This memorandum included the rules that the emperor should make a precedent of the retired Emperor Goyozei who did not rule as the cloistered emperor (denial of a cloister government) and that the council system operated by the heads of Gosekke (five top Fujiwara families whose members were eligible for the positions of Sessho and Kanpaku) should be virtually the supreme decision-making body of the imperial court ("Tobujitsuroku"). It was after this period that the Edo bakufu tightened up the control over the imperial court explicitly and implicitly.