Vice Shogun (副将軍)

Vice shogun is the post of military officer which was ranked the next position of "Dai Shogun (the great general)" or shogun in Japan. Under the Ritsuryo system, ranking in order of Dai Shogun, shogun, vice shogun was stipulated, however, in fact, vice shogun was directly placed to Dai shogun, eliminating shogun. Moreover, there was government post as adjutant, a vice-Fukushogun (Vice-Shogun).

Vice shogun under the Ritsuryo system (a system of centralized government based on the ritsuryo code)
Under the Ritsuryo system in Japan, there was stipulations concerning vice shogun in Article 24 of Gunboryo (the Statute on Military Defense). According to this, when a commander went to fight, if the number of soldiers was more than 10,000, one shogun and two vice shogun were supposed to be placed. And, Dai shogun was placed in every three troops. In fact, against the stipulations, one to a few vice shogun were appointed. And, shogun was never placed under Dai shogun but vice shogun was directly placed under Dai shogun. In the history book, vice shogun is also written as "Vice Commander" (the Chinese character of commander used in the book had almost the same meaning as shogun).

For example, OTOMO no Otomaro was appointed as Seito vice shogun in February, 784. This appointment of vice shogun was done before the appointment of shogun, a commander in chief of the army to subdue the eastern barbarians, and next year of the appointment of vice shogun, OTOMO no Yakamochi was appointed as Jisetsu Seito Shogun (the general of conquering east-barbarians) and sent punitive force of Ezo. In addition, it is well known that SAKANOUE no Tamuramaro was appointed as Seii vice shogun on February 5, 794 as the adjutant for OTOMO no Otomaro, Seii taishogun (Seii great shogun, literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") who was dispatched to conquer Ezo in Ou by the Imperial Court. Vice-Fukushogun was placed under vice shogun. Then, in 811, after FUNYA no Watamaro was appointed as seii shogun (great general who subdues the barbarians), OTOMO no Imando, SAEKI no Mimimaro and SAKANOUE no Takakai received an official appointment as vice shogun. In 815, ONO no Himi was appointed as seito vice shogun Mutsu no suke (vice shogun who subdues the eastern barbarians, and assistant governor of Mutsu Province); like this, appointments of vice shogun for the sake of conquest of Ezo in Ou were done several times.

With an end of conquest of ezo and appointment of shogun and Daishogun, appointment of vice shogun had became rare. In mid Heian period, there is a written record that MINAMOTO no Tsunemoto was appointed as Seii vice shogun during the Johei and Tengyo War on March 19, 940. After MINAMOTO no Yoritomo became seii taishogun and established Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) and formed military government, there was almost no one who was appointed as vice shogun and in Kamakura period there was no one who was appointed as vice shogun.

Vice shogun in Muromachi period
In Muromachi period, vice shogun was not permanent, but appointed once or twice.

In 1338, the early Muromachi period, Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA, younger brother of Takauji ASHIKAGA was appointed as Seii fukushogun. And also, there is a written record that Norimasa IMAGAWA, who played a role in quelling War of Zenshu UESUGI, was appointed as vice shogun.

In the late Muromachi period, Koga kubo Ashikaga Clan boasted authority over Kanto Samurai in Kanto region, then Yoshiaki Ashikaga from the same clan proclaimed himself Oyumi kubo in rivalry with Koga kubo's father and son, Takamoto ASHIKAGA and Haruuji ASHIKAGA. At this time, Satomi clan, daimyo in the Sengoku period proclaimed himself as Kanto vice shogun, following Yoshiaki.

Appointment by Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA
On August, 1568, there is a written record that the fifteenth shogun Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA asked Nobunaga ODA, who performed great deeds for Yoshiaki's assumption of the post of shogun, to serve as vice shogun or administrative post. However, it is said that Nobunaga declined this offer. After Yoshiaki and Nobunaga were opposed to each other, Yoshiaki asked Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, an ally of Nobunaga, to become the vice shogun in order to win him to Yoshiaki's side, but it is said that Ieyasu declined this offer.

After Yoshiaki was expelled from Kyoto by Nobunaga and came under the patronage of Mori clan in Tomo, Bingo Province, he appointed Terumoto Mori as vice shogun and tried to re-establish Muromachi bakufu in Tomo. Although Nobunaga was killed by rebellion of Mitsuhide AKECHI, the ruling power was shifted to the hand of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, and Yoshiaki was not able to re-establish Muromachi bakufu.

Vice shogun in Edo period

After the death of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA who won The Battle of Sekigahara was appointed as seii taishogun and established Edo bakufu, however, the post "vice shogun" was not placed, therefore, no one was appointed as vice shogun in Edo period.

However, the lord of the Mito Domain, one of the Tokugawa gosanke (three privileged branches of Tokugawa family) is often called as a vice shogun in the world or vice shogun in Mito. Status of the lord of Mito Domain was different from other daimyo (Japanese feudal lords), and they were required to Jofu (a Daimyo feudal lord's retainer who remained permanently in the Edo with the lord's and their own family in the Edo period) in stead of Sankinkotai (a system under which feudal lords in the Edo period were required to spend every other year in residence in Edo) and they were more likely to be the assistant for shogun. For these reasons, it is said that the lord of Mito Domain became to be called the vice shogun.

This is not an official but familiar name, that was named by the fact written above. Since the lord of Mito Domain was in such an unique status, the bakufu half approved this familiar name, and for example, bakufu didn't crack down on Kodanshi, professional storytellers in Edo called Mitukuni TOKUGAWA "world-famous vice shogun." These theories are still believed to be common saying, but feudal retainers of Mito Domain at that time strongly believed these stories. Unlike other Tokugawa gosanke (three privileged branches of Tokugawa family), the Owari-Tokugawa family and the Kishu-Tokugawa family, the Mito-Tokugawa family was not allowed to produce an heir at the time of extinction of the shogunate family, and official court rank was low status, Gon Chunagon (a provisional vice-councilor of state), and kokudaka (crop yield) was two hundred thousands Goku crop yields smaller than others. Instead, as the Mito-Tokugawa family was held in high esteem as the assistant for shogun, Kodanshi, professional storyteller told that the Mito-Tokugawa family was the world famous vice shogun.

At any rate, Taisei Hokan (transfer of power back to the Emperor) was done by Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA from the Mito-Tokugawa family itself, and post and naming of vice shogun was completely abolished with the end of Edo bakufu and samurai government.

"Vice shogun" today
In the period drama "Mito Komon", which depicts Mitukuni TOKUGAWA's journey through various districts in the nation on the basis of the fact that the head of Mito-Tokugawa family, one of the gosanke, was called "the world famous vice-shogun" although it was common saying, he was portrayed as "world famous vice shogun" and "former vice shogun" (because he resigned his post and was retired).

The popularity of this drama has made people identify Mitukuni TOKUGAWA with the world famous vice shogun, causing a misunderstanding that he was officially appointed as the vice shogun or the post of vice shogun was officially established in Edo bakufu. Today, at each city, town and village in Ibaraki Prefecture including Mito City where was old territorial land of the Mito Domain, jizake (local sake) and local product named "vice shogun" are sold in connection with Mitsukuni TOKUGAWA, and the naming "vice shogun in Mito" is used as one of the brand.