The Taira Clan Administration (平氏政権)

The Taira clan administration was the administration by the Ise-Taira clan led by TAIRA no Kiyomori who lived in the late Heian period (1160s to 1185). Since Kiyomori's estate was located at Rokuhara in Kyoto, it is also called the Rokuhara administration.

Summary

In the past, many theories in the field considered the Taira clan administration as being a strongly aristocratic administration, but from around the 1970s and 1980s, the theory that the Taira clan administration was the first warrior class government which focussed on the fact that the Taira clan administration established Jito (local lord of a manor) and Province officers became dominant.

There are two hypotheses on the date of the establishment of the Taira clan administration, one considering the May 1167 Imperial Order as the start and the other considering the Jisho sannen no seihen (coup d'etat by TAIRA no Kiyomori in November 1179) as the start. The first hypothesis considers that the Imperial order granted TAIRA no Shigemori the policing rights in Higashiyama, Tokai, Sanyo and various Nankai roads and is now considered to be related to the new system approved in March 1191 that allowed MINAMOTO no Yoritomo to hold the policing rights of various provinces, and this order established the Taira clan administration as having the characteristics of a warrior class administration. On the other hand, the second hypothesis emphasizes the fact that the Taira forces grabbed hold of the control of conventional national organizations upon the coup d'etat in 1179. In general, the Taira clan administration was established in steps from the middle of the 12th century, and although the May 1167 Imperial Order was a major event, the coup d'etat in 1179 is considered to indicate the completion of the establishment of the Taira clan administration.

Initial Period

The foundation of the Taira clan administration began in the Emperor Shirakawa period. TAIRA no Masamori was from the Sadamori branch of the Kanmu-Taira clan and his father, Masahira, was not such a powerful member among the warrior aristocracy, but donated his property in Iga Province in 1097 to the Rokujyo-in Temple (Retired Emperor Shirakawa's daughter, Ikuhomonin no Mido) and established Tomoda no sho. Masamori became the custodian of this shoen (private estate) and annexed the nearby Todai-ji Temple property, gaining actual land ownership by eliminating control by the Todai-ji Temple and the Kokuga (provincial offices) with the backing of Shirakawa's political power. The interests of the Tato (wealthy farmer) farmer class, who were controlled and deprived of the control of the Todai-ji Temple and Kokuga, and Masamori, who wished to enlarge and stabilize his property, coincided and led to the creation of the shoen. Masamori made the Tato who followed him into Roto (vassals) and Kenin (retainers) to produce a warrior group.

On the other hand, Shirakawa required Masamori's armed forces to maintain his power. At that time, Shirakawa owned little property as a Retired Emperor and had almost no forces in his name. However, the forces against Shirakawa were strong, beginning with the traditional aristocracy such as his half-brother, Imperial Prince Sukehito, and the line of regents and advisers, along with the pressure from the growing religious groups that had organized the Tato farmer class into Jinin (temple followers) and Yoriudo (villains). To suppress such opposition and maintain initiative in the national government, Shirakawa forcibly sent members of the Hokumen no bushi (northern guards), who were his close aids and royal guard, into official positions such as Zuryo (career provincial officials), Daijokan (council of state), Hyoefu (military guards), and Emonfu (outer palace guards).

In this situation, Masamori, who had joined the Hokumen no bushi, was selected as Tsuitoshi (envoy to pursue and kill) on February 9, 1108 in response to the wrongdoings of MINAMOTO no Yoshichika. The next month, he returned victoriously with Yoshichika's head, and Shirakawa named Masamori as Tajima no kami (chief officer of Tajima Province) (However, a rumor that Yoshichika still lived persisted). From this point onwards, the number of Hokumen no Bushi grew quickly and it was said that the number of troops sent to defend the Kamo Kawara from the monks of Enryaku-ji Temple in 1118 numbered 'around 1,000 or so' ("Chuyuki" (Diary of a court official)). Masamori was mainly active as part of the military arm of the nation, such as Hokumen no bushi, Kebiishi (statutory office in the Heian and Kamakura periods), and Tsuitoshi, but also held positions as an officer at various provinces. At that time, military reinforcements were necessary because the organizational system of Kokuga was threatened by conflict between local landowners and the Tato farmer class.

Masamori's son, TAIRA no Tadamori maintained his father's strategy and became the military mainstay of the government by cloistered emperors. His role did not change during Emperor Toba's rule, and became the In no Miumaya no Azukari (Head Horse guard), which was the core position in the In (cloister) military organization that was responsible for managing the horses and cattle and guarding the emperor. During the government by the Cloistered Emperor Toba, shoen organization was not conducted, leading to an explosion in the number of shoens around the nation. Tadamori was also involved as an officer in making shoens and held managerial positions at the Cloistered Emperor's shoens. When he became the Azukari dokoro of Kanzaki no sho (imperial estate) in the Hizen Province, he eliminated the influence of Dazaifu (the governmental office with jurisdiction over Kyushu, Iki and Tsushima under the ritsuryo system) and became directly involved in trade between Japan and Song.

Around this period, the Seto Inland Sea, part of the sea route in trade between Japan and Song, was infested with pirates. These pirates were in most cases prominent local landowners or coastal residents with privileges such as Jinin or Jugonin (purveyors to the imperial household) that were pirating when not conducting their usual commercial activities and were difficult to control with only the power held by the Kokuga. To control the situation necessitated a leader of a strong bushi group as Tsuitoshi, and this led to the selection of Masamori. Masamori succeeded in subduing the pirates and organized the pirates that surrendered (local landowners) as his own Kenin. As with other In no Kinshin (the retired Emperor's courtier) and Zuryo (the head of the provincial governors), Masamori worked for the In's financial gain but also did not forget to strengthen the bushi group by using his positions as the Azukaridokoro of shoen, Zuryo, and Tsuitoshi to organize local forces into his private troops. This characteristic differentiated him from the ordinary In no Kinshin, who relied upon the authority of the In.

When Tadamori died in 1153, FUJIWARA no Yorinaga said of him 'he governed several provinces, gained riches, obtained followers and was full of military prowess' ("Ukaikisho"), and this indicates the greatness of the Taira clan. The financial and military foundation established by Tadamori was passed on to TAIRA no Kiyomori.

Formative period

The conflict over the position of Chiten no kimi (the retired emperor in power) and Regent became intense and the Hogen no ran (Hogen Rebellion) occurred in 1156. Kiyomori took Emperor Goshirakawa's side in this uprising and was rewarded the post of Harima no kuni no kami (the governor of Harima Province) for his efforts. Later, the conflict between FUJIWARA no Shinzei, who led the government and the Goshirakawa cloister government group (FUJIWARA no Nobuyori, FUJIWARA no Narichika, MINAMOTO no Moronaka), and Nijo Shinsei (direct Imperial rule) group (FUJIWARA no Tsunemune, FUJIWARA no Korekata) intensified, and the Heijo no ran (Heiji Rebellion) occurred three years later in 1159. Nobuyori gained MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo as a follower and succeeded in forcing Shinzei to commit suicide, but was himself defeated and executed when he was betrayed by the Nijo Shinsei group and counterattacked by Kiyomori.

After the Heiji Rebellion, Kiyomori was given the post of Shosammi Sangi (Senior Third Rank, Royal Advisors) in 1160 and became the first bushi to become a court noble (a Giseikan (legislator) participating in political decisions). Both the Hogen no ran (Hogen Rebellion) and Heiji no ran (Heiji Rebellion) were historical events that indicated that political conflict can be solved by military force. After the rebellions, the conflict between the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa and Emperor Nijo seemed to subside slightly but then flared up again, with Kiyomori, who was the most powerful bushi at that time, gaining the position of Emperor's regent by becoming godfather to Nijo while his wife, TAIRA no Tokiko, became godmother, and he also became Kebiishi no betto (Superintendent of the Imperial Police) and Chunagon (vice-councilor of state). On the other hand, he worked diligently for Goshirakawa as well as Betto of the Office of the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa, and was careful not to become entangled in the conflict between the two groups. Tokiko's sister, TAIRA no Shigeko (Kenshunmonin) gave birth to Goshirakawa's prince and when Tokitada and Norimori of the Taira clan tried to plan Rittaishi (investiture as Crown Prince) of the prince, they faced the anger of Nijo and were fired and the Goshirakawa cloistered government was terminated. At this point, Kiyomori organized the system for guarding the Imperial grounds to suppress rebellion by the cloistered government group, therefore clarifying his position as supporting Nijo. He further married his daughter Moriko to the Imperial Regent FUJIWARA no Motozane and tried to keep a close relationship with the line of regents and advisers.

Emperor Nijo died in 1165. Around that time, several of the major political players died, such as former Imperial Regent FUJIWARA no Tadamichi (1164), Grand Minister of State FUJIWARA no Koremichi (1165) and Regent FUJIWARA no Motozane (1166). Kiyomori was Dainagon (Chief councilor of state), which was considered the highest position attainable by a close aide of the cloistered government, and supported his son-in-law Motozane, but when Motozane suddenly passed away, the Goshirakawa cloistered government was revived and 'His past achievements are many and the State is peaceful and settled. This effort is unmatchable and should be rewarded' was the reason why he was promoted to Nai-daijin (Minister of the Interior) in 1166. Only members of the line of regents (including the Naka no mikado branch, Kazanin branch), Murakami-Genji (Minamoto clan) and Kanin branch were allowed to be promoted to Daijin (Minister) so Kiyomori's promotion was unheard of. The next year, he became the Grand Minister of State, but this position was in name only and Kiyomori resigned after only 3 months in this post.

Regarding the rapid progression of Kiyomori's career at this time, there is a hypothesis that 'many within the aristocracy believed the theory that Kiyomori was retired Emperor Shirakawa's illegitimate child and this led to his rapid promotion.'
Osamu HASHIMOTO proposed an alternative hypothesis that focused on the fact that Emperor Takakura held the ceremony for becoming Crown Prince at the Higashi Sanjo-den, the noblest of all residences within the Fujiwara family, and that the owner of this residence was Kiyomori's daughter, Moriko (FUJIWARA no Motozane had died 3 months before the ceremony), who could have strongly affected his position. According to Hashimoto, Kiyomori seized the chance by making Moriko (who was the widow of the former Regent) the foster mother of the prince that Shigeko gave birth to, and therefore Kiyomori became the 'father of the foster mother of the Crown Prince' and used this as a reason to promote him to Nai-daijin and Daijyo-daijin (Hashimoto 200622-24).

Peak

In 1168, Goshirakawa's prince borne by Shigeko became Emperor Takakura. Takakura's ascension was wished for by not only Kiyomori, but also Goshirakawa, who wanted to establish a stable Imperial line, and therefore the relationship between Goshirakawa and Kiyomori may be considered to have had common interests. The relationship between Goshirakawa and Kiyomori was good until this point. Kiyomori's family line had been followers of the cloistered government for generations and Kiyomori had been diligently contributing to Goshirakawa as his follower. In 1162, Goshirakawa renovated Owada no tomari in Settsu with an eye on developing trade between Japan and Song, and Kiyomori built a mountain residence in the neighboring Fukuhara as a base for Japan-Song trade, showing that Goshirakwa and Kiyomori worked together to develop Japan-Song trade.

Kiyomori held the position of Kokushi (provincial governor) in Western Japan since he was young, and he further strengthened the influence of the Taira clan in the west. He was deeply involved in Japan-Song trade when he was Dazai no daini (the next seat position of Dazaifu), and he organized the pirates in the Seto Inland Sea as a naval force under the Ise Heishi (Taira clan) when he was governor of the Aki and Harima Provinces and strengthened his control over Seto Inland Sea transportation. With such a background of accumulating power, Kiyomori was deeply connected with Goshirakawa.

In addition, when Motozane died, Kiyomori had all of the shoen groups accumulated by the line of regents inherited by Motozane's official wife, Moriko, Kiyomori's daughter. Kiyomori succeeded in taking control of the enormous property of the line of regents. FUJIWARA no Motofusa, who succeeded FUJIWARA no Motozane as family head of the line of regents, criticized this as an usurping by the Ise-Heishi (Taira clan) but this incident clearly shows the decrease in authority of the line of regents and the Kiyomori family gained a substantial financial foundation.

As shown above, the Taira clan administration was established in the latter half of the 1160s due to increased influence of military force in the political scene, strong collaboration between Goshirakawa and Kiyomori, the relationship between Goshirakawa and Shigeko, Takakura's ascension, Kiyomori's support of the Daijin, substantial financial power based on Japan-Song trade and accumulated properties (shoen), and military power based on the western bushi and the Seto Inland Sea naval force.

At this time, Goshirakawa was trying to strengthen the cloister government and gave Kiyomori's son, TAIRA no Shigemori the rights to the military and guards to police the Tokai-do, Tosan-do, Sanyo-do, and Nankai-do routes. Kiyomori was in charge of making sure the Imperial Palace guard service, which required bushi from the provinces to travel to Kyoto for guard duty at the Imperial Palace in alternation, ran smoothly. Such actions required a close relationship with the Retired Emperor and left the Taira clan administration, with Shigemori at its center, in charge of the military guard division of the cloister government, while on the other hand, Kiyomori is thought to have pursued a route independent of the Retired Emperor and established strong financial, military and transportation foundations in the west.

In 1168, Kiyomori became a monk. He retired from the political scene and moved to his mountain retreat in Fukuhara to start actively participating in Japan-Song trade and Seto Inland Sea trade. Goshirakawa showed understanding towards Kiyomori's stance and visited the mountain retreat in Fukuhara every year from 1169 to 1177. In 1170, Goshirakawa met a person from Song at the Fukuhara mountain retreat, but this was an act that was considered taboo because of Emperor Uda's will and Kanezane KUJO wrote with astonishment, 'This is the most shocking event in Japan since Engi era. Is it because of a demon?' ("Gyokuyo" (Diary of Kanezane KUJO)). The same year, FUJIWARA no Hidehira became Chinjufu shogun (Commander-in-chief of the Defense of the North and the courtly title of the Fourth Rank) but was assumed to have received the position in exchange for donations of gold, which was an export in Japan-Song trade. Kanezane also wrote regarding this and argued that promoting the 'barbarian' Hidehira was 'the cause of more troubled times,' but these actions led to further developments in Japan-Song trade.

In 1171, Kiyomori had his daughter, TAIRA no Tokuko (Kenreimonin) appointed as Emperor Takakura's Chugu (Empress Consort). Together with Kiyomori's family, Kenshunmonin's older brother, TAIRA no Tokitada's family was also successful, and at its peak, there were more than 10 members of court nobles and more than 30 officials from both Taira clans.
According to the "Tale of Heike," Tokitada was quoted to have said 'Anyone who is not a member of the Heike is a nobody.'

Unrest

The good relationship between Goshirakawa and Kiyomori that had lasted for a while began to change greatly after Kenshunmonin's death in 1176. Kenshunmonin was deeply loved by Goshirakawa and was an important person in binding the relationship between Goshirakawa and Kiyomori, but after her death, the conflicts that had accumulated between the two parties became apparent.

Emperor Takakura had come of age and was interested in participating in politics, but Goshirakawa wished for a continued cloistered government, which led to strong conflicts over promotions between the Taira clan who supported Takakura, and the close aides that supported Goshirakawa. When the cloistered government close aides, FUJIWARA no Sadayoshi and FUJIWARA no Mitsuyoshi became Kurodo no to (Head of the Imperial Officers), in competition, Shigemori and Munemori from the Taira clan side became Sadaisho (leader of the left Imperial Guards) and Udaisho (leader of the right Imperial Guards) respectively, and a stalemate continued for a while. Goshirakawa visited Fukuhara to try to find ways to recover the relationship with the Taira clan, but suddenly the Enryaku-ji Temple became a new player in the game. The beginning was an incident where Kaga no kami (the governer of Kaga Province) FUJIWARA no Morotaka burned a branch temple of Hakusan, and initially this was simply an ordinary conflict between the Mokudai (personal deputy of an absentee provincial governor) and the local temple, but the main temple of Hakusan was Enryaku-ji Temple and because Morotaka's father was the cloistered government aide Saiko, this led to a direct confrontation at the central government between the Enryaku-ji Temple and the cloistered government. During this direct petition, Shigemori's forces made a mistake when they shot an arrow at a portable shrine, which led to an advantage for the Enryaku-ji Temple side and was settled temporarily by Morotake's exile.

In April 1177, a great fire (called 'the Great Fire of the Angen era' or 'Taro (a common name for a first son) Fire') broke out and completely burned the Daidairi (Heian Imperial Palace), Daigokuden (Council Hall in the Imperial Palace) and Kancho (government offices). This great fire was an enormous shock for Goshirakawa. In this situation, Saiko, who had a deep resentment towards Enryaku-ji Temple, demanded that Tendai Zasu (Chief Tendai Abbot) Myoun was the leader of the direct petition and asked Goshirakawa to punish him. Myoun was suddenly forced to quit as Zasu, had his property taken away, and was exiled to Izu. The monks at the Enryaku-ji Temple were angered and rescued Myoun, leading to a revival of hostilities between the Enryaku-ji Temple and the cloistered government. Goshirakawa commanded Kiyomori to attack the Enryaku-ji Temple, but Kiyomori himself was not motivated to attack and instead was angry at Goshirakwa and Saiko for making the situation worse. Immediately before the attack on the Enryaku-ji Temple in June 1, Yukitsuna TADA informed on cloistered government aides, Narichika, Saiko, and Shunkan, claiming that they had gathered in Shishigatani in suburban Kyoto to discuss toppling the Taira clan. Kiyomori swiftly punished the related people with execution and exile (Shishigatani no Inbo (the Shishigatani Conspiracy). It is not clear whether there was an actual conspiracy, but Kiyomori was able to prevent a military confrontation with the Enryaku-ji Temple that he did not want and Goshirakawa lost many close aides and political power.

Kiyomori dropped his relationship with Goshirakawa, and strengthened his ties with Emperor Takakura, and Takakura was interested in becoming independent of the Goshirakawa cloistered government, leading to a joint issuance of the 17 New Rules in 1178. In 1178, Chugu Tokuko (Kiyomori's daughter) gave birth to Emperor Takakura's son and this son was invested as Crown Prince when he was one month old.

In 1179, when Shigemori and Moriko died, Goshirakawa collaborated with Regent Motofusa to seize the province that Shigemori governed (Echizen) and Moriko's shoen. The conflict between Takakura and Kiyomori's side with Goshirakawa's side worsened especially because Moriko's property was to be inherited by Takakura. On November 14, Kiyomori arrived in Kyoto from Fukuhara and fired, beginning with Regent Motofusa, Gonchunagon Moroie (head of the Left Division of the Outer Palace Guards), FUJIWARA no Moronaga and 39 other people (8 aristocrats, 31 court officers, province officers, Kenbiishi, etc.) and locked Goshirakawa up at the Toba residence. This was in actuality, suppression of the imperial Court by military power and the Goshirakawa cloistered government was completely terminated. From this point onwards, the military color of the Taira clan administration became more prominent. This 'Political Change in Jicho 3 (1179)' is considered by some as the initial establishment of the Taira clan administration as a bushi government. Members of the Taira clan and pro-Taira aristocrats took the places of previous high officials and there was an extensive replacement of province governors, leading to the strengthening of military control organization on the central and local level by the members of the Taira clan.

In the same year, the number of directly governed provinces reached 25 and the number of provinces with governors related to the Taira clan reached 29, which meant the east as well as the west, the power base of Ise Taira clan (Heishi), began to feel the control of the Taira clan administration. It is said that the shoen of the Taira clan numbered over 500, but the Taira clan controlled these shoen not as the Honke (main house), which is the highest grade of owner, but worked for shoen management as the Ryoke (main proprietor) and Azukari dokoro. The Taira clan administration organized the local bushi and sent their retainers to provinces and assigned them as local custodians at provinces and Jito at shoens in order to facilitate local governance. However, the details of this system of local governance are not clear because there are few historical documents, and it is considered that it did not happen consistently throughout the area controlled by the Taira clan, but was a transient phenomena while testing ways for bushi to govern. Later, compared to the more established samurai government control by the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), it was an undeveloped system without an established lower-ranking vassal system, but was nonetheless significant because it built a control network through bushi that was not seen in previous aristocratic governments, and therefore in the academic field it is largely considered as a beginning form of samurai government. The local custodians for the governor and Jito that TAIRA no Kiyomori established are considered as the prototypes of Shugo and Jito in the Kamakura period.

In February 1180, the three-year-old Emperor Antoku ascended the throne and the Retired Emperor Takakura started his cloistered government. This period was the peak, when the Taira clan administration built its strongest organization, but this was based on good relations with Goshirakawa, and since the relationship with Goshirakawa had soured with the coup d'etat the previous year, the peak of the Taira clan administration was on an extremely weak foundation.

Decline

(refer to the article on "Jisho and Juei no ran" for further events)

Upon the start of Takakura's cloistered government, Kiyomori attended Takakura to give offerings at Itsukushima in Aki Province. But this was against tradition, which was to visit Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine and Kamo-jinja Shrine upon a change in emperor, leading to the Onjo-ji Temple and the Kofuku-ji Temple simultaneously starting to oppose Kiyomori. In April 1180, with the anti-Kiyomori movement, Prince Mochihito (Goshirakawa's second son) issued a call for attacking the Taira clan and collaborated with MINAMOTO no Yorimasa to raise forces. However, Kiyomori acted swiftly and the Taira troops were defeated, and Prince Mochihito and Yorimasa killed. However, major temples such as the Kofuku-ji Temple and the Onjo-ji Temple had participated in the rebellion, so Kiyomori decided to have the Emperor visit Fukuhara with the aim of moving the capital from Kyoto, which would place the Taira clan at a geographic disadvantage.

However, the retired Emperor Takakura indicated his desire to not leave Heian-kyo (the ancient capital) and this move was also very unpopular with the aristocracy, leading to more animosity among the Imperial Court members against Kiyomori. Furthermore, answering the call by Prince Mochihito, MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, MINAMOTO no Yoshichika, MINAMOTO no Nobuyoshi (Kai Genji (Minamoto clan)) of the east raised anti-Taira clan forces and also Tada-Genji (Minamoto clan), Mino-Genji (Minamoto clan), Omi-Genji (Minamoto clan), Ishikawa-Genji (Minamoto clan) of Kawachi, the Kikuchi clan of Kyushu, Tanzo of Kumano in Kii Province and MINAMOTO no Mareyoshi in Tosa started to rebel against the Taira clan. The background for anti-Taira movements was because there was animosity towards the Taira clan, who gave precedence to their own vassals and related persons while preventing local forces from ruling Taira clan governed provinces and property. Especially in Kazusa and Sagami, where the governor had just been changed after a coup d'etat, many bushi gathered under Yoritomo very quickly and created one big force, which Kiyomori sent under his grandson, TAIRA no Koremori to lead the attack, but they lost at the Battle of Fuji-gawa River.

Since the Imperial visit to Fukuhara, the dissatisfaction of the aristocrats continued to grow and the Retired Emperor Takakura's health deteriorated, so using the request from the Enryaku-ji Temple, who were pro-Kiyomori (they were enemies with the Onjyo-ji Temple and the Kofuku-ji Temple but were not happy about the moving of the capital) as a reason, Kiyomori returned to Kyoto from Fukuhara in November, six months after the imperial visit to Fukuhara. The following December, Kiyomori took decisive action against anti-Taira forces raised by the Onjyo-ji Temple and the Kofuku-ji Temple, with TAIRA no Tomomori burning down the Onjyo-ji Temple and destroying the Omi-Genji, and TAIRA no Shigehira's troop burned down various temples in the southern capital and confiscated their shoens. This quieted down the rebellions around Kinai.

In January 1181, Retired Emperor Takakura died and the Goshirakawa cloistered government started again, and based on the wish of Takakura to establish a temporary military government in Kinai, Kiyomori named TAIRA no Munemasa as Sokan (a military position with power over the provinces of the Kinai) to directly control the Kinai area. This Sokan position was established to directly control the military aspects of Kinai and its surroundings, clearly indicating the characteristics of the Taira clan administration as a bushi government and the academic field considers that it is possible to see this as a possibility for the bushi government established by the Taira clan administration to grow. Kiyomori raised taxes from the wealthy class in Kyoto to feed the troops and at the same time, moved the naval forces around Ise, and was energetic about attacking the anti-Taira clan forces, but died suddenly from a febrile disease in February of that year (a leap year), which was a large blow for the Taira clan administration.

After Kiyomori's death, Munemori became the clan head and took a reconciliatory stance with Goshirakawa, and there were less rebellions because of the counterattack by the Taira clan and the great famine of Youwa. However, in May 1183, MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka's troops swept into Kyoto from Hokuriku, and the Taira clan, whose main forces were crushed by Yoshinaka's troops, finally decided to escape Kyoto and headed towards Dazaifu accompanied by Emperor Antoku, but were repelled by Koreyoshi OGATA, a bushi of Bungo and landed on Yashima Island. At this point, the Taira clan administration abandoned its foundation established in the aristocracy and fell into being a local government of the west. Goshirakawa did not act together with the Taira clan, but stayed in Kyoto and made his grandson Emperor Gotoba, leading to the unprecedented situation of two Emperors at the same time.

The Taira clan reorganized the west forces and reestablished its troops, gradually pushing Yoshinaka away at the Setouchi seacoast, and by the time Yoshinaka was eliminated by the Yoritomo government troops (troops of MINAMOTO no Noriyori and MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune) in January 1184, they had recovered Fukuhara. The Taira clan aimed to return to Kyoto through the intermediation of Goshirakawa, but from Goshirakawa's point of view, having the Taira clan return to the administration had the possibility of termination of the cloistered government or even capture, and so there was no chance for peace. The Taira clan was betrayed, lost the Battle of Ichinotani, and then escaped westwards.

Later, the Taira clan organized the various forces of the west and continued to battle, but at the final pitched battle at the Kanmon Channel in March 1185, (Battle of Dannoura), they lost to MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune's forces and the Taira clan administration ended in both name and actuality.

Meaning and Evaluation

The Taira clan administration is currently considered as the first bushi government in Japan.

Documents written at the same time period such as "The Tale of the Heike" and "Gukansho" (Miscellany of Ignorant Views) are often written after the decline of the Taira clan and from the viewpoint of the aristocracy and temple classes that were suppressed under the Taira clan administration. Therefore, they do not mention that the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa used the Taira clan to maintain his government by giving them high positions and increasing the number of provinces that they were custodians of, and the inability of the aristocracy at that time to deal with the social problems that they faced, but instead emphasize the arrogant behavior of Kiyomori and the Taira clan members (whereas in reality, at least up to 1179, the authority of the Taira clan was mostly due to the strong relationship with Goshirakawa and there is no specific evidence that Kiyomori or the Taira clan members had any dictatorial powers).
Therefore, later historical books were influenced by this historical view and established 'a view towards the Taira clan administration.'

In the past, the academic field focused on the fact that the Taira clan administration was developed under the aristocracy and it was recognized as an aristocratic government rather than a bushi one. The reason for this was because they relied upon the positions within the aristocracy, and governmental policies were in collaboration with the cloistered government. Therefore, the Taira clan administration was criticized as becoming as one with the conventional control forces even though they were born as bushi, as regards to the Kamakura bakufu, which consisted of the local landowner class (bushi class), and was considered as a novel and significant existence due to their toppling of the conventional control class and was highly rated in the history of class conflict. Such a historical image remained in some dictionaries until the beginning of the 21st century.

However, when empirical research based on historical documents became popular during the 1970s and 1980s, it was discovered that the Taira clan administration had bushi government-like characteristics before the Kamakura bakufu. According to historical documents, the Taira clan administration organized the forces in areas under its control as bushi, and established positions such as Province bakufu officers and Jito in their fiefdom and shoen, and developed a semi-militaristic control. It is not clear how large an influence the establishment by the Taira clan administration of Jito and Province officers had, or the amount of control they exerted because there are few related historical documents, but the academic field proposes that the Jito and Province officers were like a prototype for Shugo and Jito in the Kamakura bakufu. Although some points about the actual details of their work are unclear, Kinai Sokanshiki (a military position with power over the provinces of the Kinai) and Shodo (various roads) chinbushi (one of the posts that were not originally specified in the Ritsuryo system) which were established in 1181, are considered to have directly ruled a wide area with several provinces regarding military aspects and in particular Kinai Shokanshiki is proposed to have had similar properties to the Seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians"). This is why the Taira clan administration differs from previous aristocratic governments and it is clear that its main foundation was military power, and the academic field normally considers it as the first bushi government in Japan. It has been suggested that if it had not all ended in 1185, TAIRA no Kiyomori's government would have been different from the Kamakura bakufu, possibly developing into an original bushi government with the west provinces as its center.

The Taira clan government relied heavily upon Kiyomori himself, and disintegrated within several years of his death. As mentioned previously, it also relied heavily upon a good relationship with Goshirakawa. The cloistered government took the place of the Ritsuryo system, developing lord-vassal relationships with the cloistered Emperor at the apex, and making subordinates work in exchange for positions and land as rewards, and was a period when the system of custodial provinces and shoen were established. The line of regents was in actuality ended during the Hogen Rebellion, and major bushi such as MINAMOTO no Yoshiaki were selected during the Heiji Rebellion, giving the Taira clan have more power than others.

The Taira clan administration seemed to have become complete by the Jisho sannen no seihen (Coup of the Third Year of Jisho), but it only led to a head-to-head confrontation between the Taira clan and anti-Taira groups. The defect of the military organization of the Taira clan was that their direct troops consisted only of vassals from Ise and Iga and specific bushi from various provinces that were loyal for successive generations, and the majority of the troops were taken from official government calls to enlist. At the point when the Taira clan escaped Kyoto and the Imperial call for attacking the Taira clan was issued, the number of troops that followed the Taira clan had dwindled greatly. Even if they supported Emperor Antoku, his ascension was by a coup d'etat and it was difficult for the Taira clan to maintain credibility. The Taira clan became unable to do anything but lose repeatedly and eventually died out. Kiyomori's plan to create the court government and develop major trade and diplomacy was finally realized about 200 years after the Taira clan died out, during the period of Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA.