Minamoto no Toshiaki (源俊明)
MINAMOTO no Toshiaki (1044-January 6, 1115) was a court noble during the late Heian Period. He was from the Daigo-Genji (Minamoto clan), and was the third son of MINAMOTO no Takakuni (Uji Dainagon (chief councilor of Uji)). He was ranked Shonii (Senior Second Rank) and was Dainagon (chief councilor of state).
He was the third generation that had succeeded consecutively to the position of Kenkan (high rank officials) to Dainagon, since his grandfather MINAMOTO no Toshikata. In "Kojidan" (tales of old affairs) and other written materials, there were anecdotes that describe his competence as an official, but he was also renowned as a poet and his waka poetry was included in anthologies of Japanese poetry compiled by the Imperial command, such as "Shoku-Gosen Wakashu" (Later imperial poetic anthology, continued) and "Shoku Shui Wakashu" (12th imperial anthology).
Personality and anecdotes
His father Takakuni, who was a close retainer of FUJIWARA no Yorimichi, known as Uji-dono (Mightiness Uji), was extremely rude to Emperor Gosanjo in his age of imperial prince. Therefore, after the enthronement, Emperor Gosanjo was planning to settle the score by accusing Kunitaka's sons of some kind of charge. However, the Emperor could not help appreciating the talent of Kunitaka's first son MINAMOTO no Takatoshi and the second son MINAMOTO no Takatsuna, who therefore, were appointed to the Emperor's kinshu (attendants). Then, the Emperor anticipated relieving his frustration with the third son Toshiaki, but since Toshiaki acted bravely when a fire broke out in dairi (Imperial Palace), the Emperor, in return, valued him highly and promoted him to important positions, appreciating his talent.
After the death of Emperor Gosanjo, he continued his service as kinshu (an attendant) to Gosanjo's son, Emperor Shirakawa, and after Shirakawa abdicated, Toshiaki also enjoyed the confidence of the retired Emperor as Betto (chief administrator) of the Retired Emperor, and played an important role at the Imperial court with his sober character. Under the government of Shirakawa-in (the Retired Emperor Shirakawa), Toshiaki often warned the retired Emperor against being rash, because Shirakawa-in, who was driven by his extreme faddiness, arbitrary practiced Joi Jomoku (investiture of official charges) without respecting order status. The following are the especially famous anecdotes.
In 1107, when Emperor Toba ascended the throne at the age of five, an uncle on his mother's side, FUJIWARA no Kinzane insisted that he himself would be the regent, and Shirakawa-in, who was Kinzane's cousin, wondered what would be the right decision. Then, Toshiaki dissuaded the Emperor by clearly stating that Yorimichi and FUJIWARA no Morozane would do better as Sekkan to the Emperor (Regent and the Chief Adviser to the Emperor), and it would not be correct to let Kinzane take the post of Sekkan, instead of FUJIWARA no Tadazane of the legitimate line, because Kinzane was from a family that had been a branch line for four generations. That means, he saved the threatened exclusiveness of the legitimate line for Sekkan, and since then the system of succession to Sekkan was established to determine the principle, in which the legitimate son of Midoryu (the family line of FUJIWARA no Michinaga) would succeed to Sekkan, whether the family was a maternal relative of the Emperor or not, had been established.