Meyasubako (complaints box) (目安箱)

Meyasubako was a box which was set up to collect letters of proposal by the common people for the purpose of collecting opinions about administrative policies and information about the society, or the system thereof.

Summary

The system itself existed for a long period of time, and in the Muromachi period, Ujiyasu HOJO, a daimyo in the Sengoku period, implemented this system. However, generally speaking, meyasubako means the system established by Yoshimune TOKUGAWA in the Edo period. In 1721, Yoshimune set the box in front of the Hyojosho (conference chamber) in Tatsunokuchi, Edo-jo Castle (around the north exit of the Tokyo station at present) on 2nd, 11th, and 21st days of every month to collect proposals. Meyasu means petition, and he let townspeople and farmers to petition requests and complaints regarding politics, economy and other issues in their daily lives. At first letters of proposal by shogun's retainers were allowed, but soon prohibited. It was required to write name and address of the person who made the proposal, and letters without those information were discarded. The box was locked and Shogun himself checked the letters inside. Thanks to this system, a town doctor Shosen OGAWA complained about the distress of the poor citizens in Edo and proposed to built a hospital. Yoshimune let Tadasuke OOKA consider this proposal and the establishment of Koishikawa Hospital was realized. Also, fire brigade was organized, and in the rice field development conducted by the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), opinions about possible rice fields were taken into consideration. It is said that the soshobako (complaints box written with different kanji) which was established in front of 一の橋御門 of Wakayama-jo Castle when Yoshimune was the lord of the Kishu domain was the origin of meyasubako.

In 2008, sojodome (the contents of petitions collected by close associate) was found from the documents of the head of the Tokugawa family in the survey conducted by the Tokugawa Memorial Foundation and is attracting attentions as an important material.

Use of the term at present

At present, opinion boxes are sometimes called as meyasubako. However, meyasubako was originally established by a shogun under the feudal system. Therefore, the attitude to consider customers as people in lower social status and to allow customers to tell their opinions is regarded arrogant and uncomfortable for some people.