Kanto Bugyo (官途奉行)
Kanto bugyo was a post held by an officer in the Kamakura bakufu or Muromachi bakufu (both of which were Japanese feudal governments headed by a shogun) who would confer ranks and titles on gokenin (immediate vassals of the shogun).
Kanto bugyo during the Kamakura bakufu:
Kanto bugyo was originally set up as a personnel system for the Kamakura bakufu. Under the control of the Mandokoro (the administrative and financial branch of the government), powerful gokenin who held a hereditary position on the Hyojoshu (the Council of State of the Kamakura period) held this post.
Only gokenin of the Minamoto clan and the Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan) were allowed to become kokushi (a provincial governor) in the early days of the Kamakura bakufu, with ordinary gokenin unable to rise to higher ranks. However, after MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, the Seii taishogun, died, Tokimasa HOJO, an influential gokenin, was appointed as the Totomi no Kami (the highest level of Kokushi in Totomi Province) as a qualification of the father of the Shogun's wife, since then the Hojo clan was appointed to higher ranks up to Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and their kin were appointed to a wide range of ranks from Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) to Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade).
There were increasing examples for important tozama gokenin to obtain higher ranks more so than goi (Fifth Rank), such as:
the Ashikaga clan, who, as the Toryo (the leading warrior) of the Minamoto clan, successfully filled Kyoto and large provincial governor posts such as the Jibu-no-taifu or Chief assistant to the Minister of the Ceremonies;
the Adachi clan, who filled jobs like Akitajo-no-suke (provincial governor of Akita-jo castle in Dewa Province) and Mutsu no kami (the governor of Mutsu Province);
the Sasaki clan, who worked as a shugo or hereditary military constable and was appointed to Omi no kami (Governor of Omi Province) and Efu no jo (Lieutenant of the Palace Guards). Other than these powerful gokenin, most samurai had no ranks or titles during the Kamakura period, and even if they won honors or had a family history, the highest appointment they could receive was that of Uemon no jo/Saemon no jo (Imperial Palace guard that accompanied the Emperor whenever he left the palace) with a rank of Rokui (Sixth Rank).
The function of the Kanto bugyo in the Kamakura bakufu was to manage exclusively the appointment of the ranks for the bakufu to control their samurai. A gokenin awarding himself a rank of his own accord without obtaining the permission of the Kanto bugyo (and, by extension, the Kamakura bakufu) was called "jiyu-ninkan" (literally "appointment without consent"), and this was subject to punishment. The first known instance of jiyu-ninkan was committed by MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune, who appointed himself Kebiishi saemon no jo (a post which carried the responsibility for maintaining public order and overseeing military affairs in Kyoto) without first obtaining the permission of MINAMOTO no Yoritomo.
Kanto bugyo in the Muromachi bakufu:
The position of Kanto bugyo in the Kamakura bakufu was also established in the Muromachi bakufu under the control of the court. The Settsu clan, which was descended from the Miyoshi clan, succeeded to the hereditary post of Kanto bugyo in the Muromachi bakufu.
In the Muromachi period, the overall position of samurai improved; the Ashikaga shogun family filled ministerial jobs and powerful daimyo got as high as Jugoi or Jushii, with some even reaching Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank), which was as high as the rank held by members of the Ashikaga clan. In the Muromachi bakufu, management of the ranks of the samurai family was critically important to deal with, because the bakufu obtained its own financial resources by mediating the appointment of the ranks of kanrei (Deputy to shogun), tandai (political post), shugo, and shugodai (representative of shugo), appointing and naming of the shogun, and intermediating the appointment of the ranks of shugo and kokujin-ryoshu (residing load).
The system had changed considerably in the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States). The kanto bugyo in the Muromachi bakufu had at first contributed to the appointment of the ranks and recommended the promotion of daimyo in the Sengoku Period to a certain extent, eventually there had been increasing cases in which samurai appointed himself a rank without permission of the bakufu, and when the daimyo had donated to the Imperial Court individually to get the recommendation for the official posts, the significance of the kanto bugyo declined.