What is Regency in Japan? (Sesshou)

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The regency of Japan is a person who works the Emperor on behalf of the Emperor. In Japanese it is called "Sesshou" (摂政).

People who work on behalf of the Emperor

In Japan, regent is a person who works for the Emperor instead of the Emperor. The role has changed little by little depending on the times. What role is it?

From here, I write the regency as Japanese "Sesshou".

In Japan, Sesshou is explained as being a position set up when the emperor has no ability to do politics. For example, the empress, the emperor of a young age, the emperor is seriously ill.

Indeed there are cases like that, but I think that it is a bit different. I do not agree with the explanation that the empress is not capable in particular.

The ancient and Heian period was an assistant role of the Emperor

Ancient Sesshou was in a position to assist the Emperor. People who serve Sesshou at this time are limited to the royal family. The prince came acting.

There is a famous person called Prince Shotoku in Japan in the 6th century. He was the crown prince.

And, under the Emperor Suiko, he served as Sesshou. His work was to assist Emperor Suiko. Emperor Suiko is the first empress in Japan. There might have been reason that it was the first empress.

However, at that time, it was an era when Japan was struggling with the aim of joining the developed countries. Emperor's work is enormous.

Because it is an empress, it is tough as much as not to rely on it, so it is true that two people are laid. At that time, there was also a case where Soga clan was suppressed because it had a mighty power.

There are reasons to think like that. Although Prince Shotoku is a crown prince, he is not an Emperor. It has been Sesshou and the prince for 28 years.

If the empress did not rely too much, there was also a way to abdicate the throne.
(17 years after Emperor Suiko passed away, the emperor's abdicate the throne for the first time)

Naturally, Prince Shotoku rich in experience of politics may be an emperor.

However, in this era, we are continuing the system of two people, Emperor Suiko and Prince Shotoku. It means that we needed two persons.

In addition, Emiko Suiko's uncle is Umako Soga-no. If you are one Emperor Suiko you can do whatever you like Umako Soga-no.
(Actually, he was doing whatever he wanted to do)

It was trying to stop Soga clan's runaway by making Prince Shotoku Sesshou at least. At that time Japan was aiming at a centralized state centered on the Emperor, so we can not overlook the enormous size of Soga clan who is one of the greatest members.

Both Emperor Suiko and Prince Shotoku include Soga clan's blood line, so it was that there was a battle over the initiative among relatives.

In the Heian era, Fujiwara clan begins to monopolize the real power of politics. Fujiwara clan is a leading aristocrat of Japan. There are still many descendants.

In this era, Fujiwara clan will marry his sister and daughter after the Emperor, becoming the Emperor 's grandfather, outside uncle to become the political power. It is called Sekkan politics.

Sekkan politics refers to the political system in which the people of the position called Sesshou and Kanpaku are effectively the real power of politics.

In this era, Fujiwara clan's masterpiece who got foreign relationships will start to serve as Sesshou. Moreover, in this era, Fujiwara clan takes over the power of politics in the cause of making a young emperor throne and looking after the young emperor. That was the role Sesshou was used for.

From this era, the royal family will no longer serve Sesshou. Fujiwara clan will take over as monopoly. This state will continue until the 19th century when Japan's modern era starts.

Another time in the Heian era was Kanpaku. Kanpaku is an advisor to the Emperor.

The difference between Sesshou and Kanpaku is that it is Sesshou to assist the emperor without the ability to do politics, Kanpaku to assist the emperor who has the ability to do politics.

In addition, Sesshou has the same authority as the Emperor, but Kanpaku does not have authority to do so. In the case of Kanpaku, the right to decide is in the Emperor to the last.

Well, Sesshou=the substitute of the Emperor, Kanpaku=It is this place that is said to be an assistant of the Emperor.

Sesshou after the Meiji era

Modern times in Japan begin in the Meiji era. In Japan today there is a custom to divide the age with the name of the emperor throne. The modern day in Japan is called Meiji era as it started from the Meiji Emperor.

Since the Meiji period, the role of Sesshou has no role to assist the Emperor. It would be better to represent the original meaning of the Emperor.

Emperor and Sesshou are equal. Sesshou's work has the same meaning as that of the Emperor. So, there are severe restrictions to set Sesshou.

First of all, the Emperor and Sesshou do not do state acts at the same time. If two people of equal size take similar actions, there will be two monarchs. The limitations when setting Sesshou are as follows.

  • Emperor is a minor
  • When the Emperor suffered a serious physical or mental illness, or an accident in which state affairs could not be performed

In other words, it is only when the Emperor can not do the work of the Emperor in some way Sesshou.

For now, Emperor Showa (Hirohito) served as the last Sesshou in history.

Emperor Taisho became bedridden due to sickness in 1921, and the Emperor became unable to do the work of the Emperor, so Emperor Showa of 20 years old then served Sesshou for 5 years during the crown prince days.

Currently, it is only for royal families that you can serve Sesshou. It means that it returned to ancient times.

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