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What is the Japanese political system "Insei"?

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There was a political system called "Insei" in medieval Japan in the 11th and 13th centuries.

It was born in the trend of returning to the emperor-centered political system.

Actually, without "Insei", no samurai society was born. What kind of thing is it?

Why say "Insei"?

Insei (院政) has the meaning of "politics (Seiji, 治) performed by In ()". "In" is about Joko.

Insei is called like this because Joko has the advantage of seeking political power by looking after the immature emperor.


Emperor who abdicated.


Dajo-Emperor's shorthand way of saying.


About Joko who became a Buddhist. It is called Ho-o.


Joko's house. From there Joko, Ho-o is called "blah blah blah-In".

For details, "What is Dajo-Emperor?"

Why did Insei start?

Ancient Japan aimed at a centralized state where the Emperor directly conducts politics. It was a standard political system of the world at that time, so it was necessary to be equal to the world.

The world for Japan is China, which was the strongest and most advanced country at the time. Japan was the greatest goal to make a political system to become equal with China. And that goal has been reached.

Centralized state

A country where power has gathered in places such as the capital.

This is true because Japan has concentrated power in Tokyo.

When entering the Heian period, descendants of FUJIWARA-NO, Kamatari will become political power. FUJIWARA-NO, Kamatari is a politician who contributed to the construction of a centralized state.

Heian period (平安時代)

It is about Japan's era from the late 8th century to the 12th century.

It is regarded as the beginning of the medieval period in Japan.

In the period centered on aristocrats in the imperial court of Kyoto, the samurai finishes by taking power.

Sekkan politics centered around Sessho and Kanpaku was born to have power only by these descendants.

However, Sekkan politics of Fujiwara clan will gradually become politics for the Fujiwara clan.

Fujiwara clan steadily made land in Japan all over the estate as a manor. An illegal manor appeared, and the domineering of the Fujiwara clan will weaken the economic base of the nation. Fujiwara clan's work was working for the worse so that the interests of the state were damaged.

Not only Fujiwara clan. Temples and shrines did the same.

The Emperor to reform it will appear. It is the 71st Emperor Go-sanjo.

Japanese manor

It starts with the fact that the law which can have private estate was made in 743. Private ownership of joko, aristocracy, temple and shrine forces, the clan.

There are things sometimes referred to as farms, but industries such as iron production were also done.

From around the 14th century (Muromachi era), it is lost as it is robbed by powerful people such as samurai.

In the land system reform of TOYOTOMI, Hideyoshi, the private property will be extinguished as it will return to the nation once. (Late 16th century)

Emperor Go-sanjo reforms the corruption of Sekkan politics

Emperor Go-sanjo will carry out political reform. The center was to organize the manor that was the economic foundation of the Fujiwara clan.

Emperor Go-sanjo had a short period of four and a half years. However, he succeeds in enacting the law which suppresses the power of Fujiwara clan. And he continued the reform to the son's 72nd Emperor Shirakawa.

Emperor Shirakawa is the Emperor who established Insei.

When did Insei start?

Emperor Shirakawa entrusted to the rest by the Emperor Go-sanjo aims to return from politics central to Fujiwara clan to the politics central on the Emperor.

At this time, in the Sekkan politics Sekkanke is occupied around the Emperor. It was necessary to eliminate it. Therefore, it becomes necessary to gather people other than Sekkanke around the Emperor.


In Sekkan politics starting from the 9th century (Heian era), the families(ke, ) that can be Sessho (政) and Kanpaku (白) was decided. It is called Sekkanke (摂関家).

Since the 12th century (Kamakura period), the family that can become Sessho, Kanpaku was limited in Sekkanke(). The five(go, 五) families are called Gosekke (五摂家).

  • Konoe (近衛)
  • Kujo (九条)
  • Nijo (二条)
  • Ichijo (一条)
  • Takatsukasa (鷹司)

For details, "What is Sekkan politics?" There is.

Therefore, Emperor Shirakawa himself will abdicate early and become Joko. And he decides to become a guardian of the Emperor himself.

In Sekkan politics, except for Sekkanke, the Emperor 's ally was a small number. The Emperor can not do anything. The existence of Joko means to increase the number of people who can counter Sekkanke from one to two people.

To the Emperor, there are a few but surely an aides. If the Emperor can add those people to his political forces, the number will be that way.

Besides, Fujiwara clan is not monolithic. Anti-Sessho, Anti- Kanpaku man is certain. If the Joko takes in them, it will become a significant force.

With Insei, Joko makes a new anti-Sekkanke power. That is how to simply double the power of Emperor Parents. At that time it was natural that the young emperor throne. Naturally political center will be Joko.

Joko Shirakawa was called Shirakawa-in. Joko Shirakawa (In, 院) becomes the center of politics (Seiji, 治) and "Insei (院政)" begins.

In addition, Joko will take the initiative not only to the real power of politics, but also to the imperial throne and abdication of the Emperor. From this, Joko was also said to be "Chiten-no-Kimi (治天の君(者))". It means "those () who ridicule (める) the heavens (下)".

Samurai 's power was indispensable to Insei

Shirakawa-in will capture the emerging power for anti-Sekkanke's power expansion. It is a samurai.

Samurai at that time was only a subsidiary that is responsible for the defense of the aristocrats. It is like a bodyguard.

In rural areas, there were samurai groups that organized vigilante groups and began to have power in their respective lands. However, there were no samurai as a political force.

Shirakawa-in used the military power of the samurai for politics. He will continue to heavily use samurai after that. TAIRA-NO, Kiyomori establishing the rest of the samurai regime will grow as a politician after this.

Shirakawa-in is a creator of a samurai society. As a result, Insei is crushed by samurai who grew too much. It is a form in which parents are betrayed by children.

Insei's point is Joko's longevity

The Insei period is characterized by multiple emperors thrusting while one Joko is in the power of politics.

Shirakawa-in (42 years) Emperor Horikawa. Emperor Toba. Emperor Sutoku.
Toba-in (34 years) Emperor Sutoku. Emperor Konoe. Emperor Go-shirakawa.
Go-shirakawa-in (34 years) Emperor Nijo. Emperor Rokujo. Emperor Takakura. Emperor Antoku. Emperor Toba.
Go-toba-in (25 years) Emperor Tsuchimikado. Emperor Juntoku. Emperor Chukyo.

These are Insei's representative Joko. Multiple emperors are throne. And the period is also long. Being a political center as Joko for a long time was a necessary condition to continue Insei.

The number of years written in parentheses is the number of years since becoming Jako to the last. The age of the Emperor period is not included. Including the Emperor 's age without Joko will be even longer.

Also in this era, Joko who was at the center of politics frequently replaced the Emperor, so there are several Joko at the same time.

And, as Sekkan politics declined, it is also characterized by a fierce power struggle inside Insei. A terrible thing is happening due to it actually. (Hogen-no-ran, Heiji-no-ran)

A samurai who grew up as a politician crushed Insei

Ironically samurai who grew up as politicians by Insei crushed Insei as a political system.

Insei lasted about 130 years, half of which is the era of power struggle between the grown samurai and Joko. Among them was the Heike government of TAIRA-NO, Kiyomori, there is a story of MINAMOTO-NO, Yoshitsune and MUSASHIBO, Benkei, there was the formation of the Kamakura Shogunate by MINAMOTO-NO, Yoritomo.

Although it may be thought that it is a samurai era because there are many strong individualities such as TAIRA-NO, Kiyomori and MINAMOTO-NO, Yoritomo, this time it is still "Insei period".

And there was a conflict between Kyoto 's court (Joko) and the Kamakura shogunate (Hojo clan), which developed to a great turbulence (Jokyu-no-ran). As the court loses, Insei is over and the era of samurai begins in earnest.

Insei was the center of history

Insei will not be noticed by historical textbooks, movies, dramas and so on. These days,

  • TAIRA-NO, Kiyomori
  • MINAMOTO-NO, Yoritomo
  • MINAMOTO-NO, Yoshitsune
  • etc...

It is also the era when samurai actively played, so they often draw around them. However, in this period Insei is the center of politics to the last.

TAIRA-NO, Kiyomori (平 清盛)

First make a samurai regime in Japan.

Descendants of the 50th Emperor Kanmu, the master of Taira clan (Heishi, 平氏).

MINAMOTO-NO, Yoritomo (源 頼朝)

First make a shogunate in Japan.

It is descendants of the 56th Emperor Seiwa, the master of the Minamoto clan (Genji, 源氏).

MINAMOTO-NO, Yoshitsune (源 義経)

MINAMOTO-NO, Yoritomo's brother-in-law.

A genius soldier who destroyed the Taira clan (Heishi).

He is chased by his older brother and accomplishes death by inoperation.

He is handed down as a sad hero in Japanese history.

MUSASHIBO, Benkei (武蔵坊 弁慶)

The retainer of Yoshitsune. Priest soldier.

He kept Yoshitsune up to the end. A person like a model of a vassal.

Although the Heike administration certainly existed, at this time it is in the middle of a political struggle with Insei of Go-shirakawa-in.

TAIRA-NO, Shigemori (平 重盛), which succeeded Kiyomori, was aiming at a parallel system of Insei of the Go-shirakawa-in and the Heike administration.

Also, after the Heike administration has collapsed in four years, Insei of Go-shirakawa-in is revived.

MINAMOTO-NO, Yoritomo will set up a system steadily around Kamakura. However, until 1192, he could not receive the position of the Shogunate General (Seii-tai-Shogun, 征夷大将軍), the warrior of the samurai, from the court of Kyoto.

This is because Go-shirakawa-in strongly refused that Yoritomo has great power. To the end this time is the Insei era of Go-shirakawa-in.

It is the Jokyu-no-ran (承久の乱, civil war) in 1121 that Insei completely disappeared from history. At this time, the three Jokos were sentenced to island prison and the Emperor was replaced. This completes Insei completely.

From 1192 to 1121, it is a parallel system between the Kamakura shogunate and Insei. In fact, the forces of the shogunate were outside the jurisdiction of West Japan centered on Kyoto, Shikoku and Northern Kyushu. They were just under Insei.

As for the establishment period of the Kamakura Shogunate, we will leave it to another article, but we should do it in 1192 after all.

Editing another article

In 1192, Go-shirakawa-in died. Pushing the favor, the aristocrat KUJO, Kanezane assumed MINAMOTO-NO, Yoritomo to take office as the Shogunate General without permission.

It can be said even in the establishment year of the Kamakura Shogunate, but the view of history now is too overlooking the existence of Joko.

Indeed we now know that samurai is the center of politics. However, at that time, it would not have thought other than the party's samurai that the samurai would become the center of politics.

Knowing that samurai will be the center of politics If we see that era as it is, we overlook the important existence.

It can be said that the existence of Joko is overwhelmingly large in this era. I think we need to review it again.

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