This paper analyzes Japan’s modern emperor (tenno) system during the interwar period by examining the reorganization process of the imperial household economy. The author focuses on three main problems confronting the imperial household during that period: 1) austerity measures, 2) securities investments, and 3) information transparency. Regarding 1), the Imperial Household Ministry continuously considered how to cut spending out of fear of burdening the national treasury and interest in the emperor’s commitment to philanthropy. During the late Taisho era, the Ministry embarked upon restructuring, followed during the early Showa era by inquiring into a system for controlling expenditure and implementing further spending cuts for the blood royals. However, such efforts at controlling the household budget were not successful. Concerning 2), following WWI, there was the opinion that the securities owned by the imperial household should be managed according to rules of investment established by the Imperial Household Ministry. The main target of this investment plan gradually shifted from private stock to public bond holdings and was consequently advertised as “contributing to the national welfare” and “supporting local government”. With respect to 3), against the backdrop of the rise of “Taisho democracy ”, the imperial household economy became a focus of public interest, a situation which prompted some members of the Imperial Household Ministry to propose that related information should be disclosed in order to garner support from the people. Such an idea was not adopted, as imperial household affairs remained classified information. In conclusion, the efforts to reorganize the imperial household economy during the interwar period involved the Imperial Household Ministry reconsidering the balance between imperial household affairs and “public welfare”, on the one hand, while at the same time denying the public access to exactly what such a balance involved.
One major development in document administration in ancient Japan was the transition in the governmental affairs system relying on the oral presentation of edicts and petitions to their issuance and submission in writing. The present article presents the findings of the author’s investigation of this transition (development) process as reflected in the changes which occurred in the role played by the Benkan-kyoku 弁官局, the administrative arm of the Grand Council of State (Daijokan 太政官).
Originally, one of the routines in the Daijokan’s daily schedule was the,submission of administrative proposals from the Benkan to the Council’s policy deliberation arm, the Giseikan 議政官; however, with the appearance during the
Heian period Encho and Johei eras (923-935) of the documentary instrument known as jin-no-moshibumi 陣申文, issued drafted close by the emperors in the confines of the Imperial Palace, the Benkan’s daily routine and the documents it compiled for presented (katanebumi 結文) to the Council became isolated from the political process. Consequently, the document administrators operating in the Hall of State became limited to the heads of the Benkan (daiben 大弁) as compilers of katanebumi, and thus became merely representatives of the Bureau itself, no longer involved in the administrative affairs of all the bureaus and provinces under the Council’s jurisdiction. Furthermore, the appearance of jin-no-moshibumi, by departing from the custom of orally presenting policy proposals, put into effect a system of governance based solely on written documents.
As the Benkan became isolated from the Council (in the narrowest sense), the document administrative duties of the Bureau’s officials were taken over by officials, such as shonagon 少納言 and geki 外記, who were involved in drafting written edicts and documents. Overall, since even the Council’s scribes were not involved in the flow of jin-no-moshibumi, the Benkan became obsolete in how documents were presented to the Council of State. These changes were reflected in the vagaries of the document, Daijokan-So, the vehicle by which the policy proposals of the Council’s Giseikan were submitted via shonagon and geki scribes to the emperors (and their regents). Now, the process of submittal was conducted through the Giseikan and the Benkan. Through its involvement in the Daijokan-So submittal process, the Benkan thus avoided losing all contact with document administration duties.
The author concludes that since the isolation experienced by the Benkan was rooted in the method of determining bureaucratic functions directly and concretely, as exemplified by governance based on oral pronouncements, as soon as that particular style was abandoned, the Benkan’s alienation from the political process came to an end. The fact that such a change of style accompanied the developments taking place in document administration procedures, was not due solely to the increased reliance on written forms, but also reflected changes in the Council of State’s agenda and the abandonment of traditional, unrefined elements lingering in the Ritsuryo Codes. In this sense, the developments that occurred during the early 10th century in ancient Japan’s document administration required radical reform of both governance procedures and culture.
This article deals with police functions in Beijing during the Qing period, in particular, the realities facing police constables who made actual criminal arrests (fanyi 番役 and buyi 捕役) and their position in the social hierarchy. Fanyi were affiliated with the office of the commander-general of the metropolitan infantry and buyi with the office of the vice-commander and chief of police in the wardens’ offices of Beijing’s five wards.
Both funyi and buyi were strictly designated as low caste occupations (jianyi 賤役), to the extent that regulations were enacted during the Jiaqing 嘉慶 and Daoguang 道光 eras (1796-1850) to suppress attempts at upward social mobility among the families of funyi to pass civil examinations and gain bureaucratic appointments. This extremely low status recognition was one of the reasons for the reduction of recruits for the position of funyi and the force’s understaffing, while buyi also suffered from understaffing and subsequent overwork. This insufficiency in staffing made it necessary for these officers to rely on the support of private collaborators, some of whom proved to be characters using unlawful and brutal tactics. The Qing government attempted to ban their employment in law enforcement, but to no practical avail.
One of the ramifications of the low status accorded to Beijing’s police constables was their association with the city’s criminal element. During the Daoguang era (1821-1850) in particular, government official decried the worsening of security within Beijing, citing alliances between police constables and local criminals as one of the main causes. However, generally speaking, the association between perpetrators of crimes and those hired to arrest them was assumed to be one of the necessary evils of law enforcement on the ground, and thus to some extent was tacitly recognized with administrative circles.
The need for police constables to rely on private collaborators and their association with criminals were by no means separate issues, for both reflected the structural problems of persistent understaffing and overwork within their ranks. In other words, in Qing period Beijing the maintenance of law and order on the street relied on the utilization of personal social relationships.
Therefore, rather than indicating a sudden breakdown in law and order on the streets of Beijing, the fuss over the association of police constables with local criminals raised during the Daoguang era brings to light a characteristic feature of governance and the formation of the social order during the Qing period as whole.