Naidanshu (judges) (内談衆)

Naidanshu were in charge of judging trials dealing with land-related issues in hikitsukekata or naidankata (both are offices of adjudication) of the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). It was also called the hikitsukeshu as it was a successor to the system of hikitsukeshu set up by the Kamakura bakufu.


Naidan originally meant meetings in the departments held within the various sections of the Muromachi bakufu. After Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA reorganized the hikitsukeshu to set up naidankata(judges) in departments which exclusively handled territorial problems, naidan came to refer to a member of the naidankata, which was continued even after Tadayoshi lost his position and the hikitsukekata were restored. Additionally, Jinseigata (a court in Muromachi bakufu) and Teichugata (office of direct petition) were also set up for the purpose of retrial, instruction and supervision.

Naidanshu (council of judges) were divided into No. 3 (naidankata) and No. 5 (hikitsukekata) for each assigned region, and about 10 to 20 members from the Ashikaga family and Shugo daimyo (Japanese territorial lord as provincial constable) were appointed under the director ('tonin'). Many of them were descendants of hyojoshu (a member of the Council of State), hikitsukeshu, and bugyonin (a magistrate) of the Kamakura bakufu, and some served concurrently as hyojoshu or bugyonin in the Muromachi bakufu. They held meetings at the deputy's house about six times a month and handled trials in connection with territory except for areas controlled by the Kamakura bakufu that were administered by kanrei (shogunal deputy) and Mandokoro (Administrative Board), and Kyushu (including cases of nengu (land tax) and water). In deliberations, the oldest bugyonin (magistrate) participated, or Kaigo (post), second to the tonin (vice minister and executive officer) explained the case and then council members stated their opinions in the order decided by drawing lots. Decisions were documented and officially took effect with final decisions made by a shogun.

However, after the latter half of the 14th century, a shogun began to handle problems in formal consultations headed by himself rather than in deliberations by hyojoshu or naidanshu (councils), and further, bugyonin (magistrates) who were in charge of office work and judicial affairs obtained qualification to participate directly in deliberations as bugyoshu. Accordingly, the hikitsukekata became a mere façade and were no longer appointed from the early fifteenth century.

Incidentally, naidanshu (councils) appeared again in the shogunate government headed by Yoshiharu ASHIKAGA, which placed close advisers of the shogun; who supported Yoshiharu and later constituted the Yoshiharu government, in place of bugyoshu, while conferring new classes and benefits on the naidanshu (council members), irrespective of origin and rank, or positions such as bugyoshu (magistrate) or hokoshu. This does not mean the revival of hikitsukekata councils.