Tachibana no Moroe (橘諸兄)

TACHIBANA no Moroe (684 – February 3, 757) was a politician in the Nara period, originated in the Imperial family. He was a descendant of the Emperor Bidatsu, and a son of Minu no Okimi who worked as a Dazai no sochi (Governor-General of the Dazai-fu [local government office in Kyushu region]). His original name was Katsuragi no Okimi (written as 葛城王 or 葛木王 in Chinese characters). His final position was Shoichii (Senior First Rank), Sadaijin (Minister of the Left). He called himself as Ide Sadaijin or Saiin Daijin (Minister Saiin). He was the first Tachibanashi choja (chieftain of the Tachibana clan).

He was a fifth (or fourth) generation descendant of the Emperor Bidatsu, and was a shoo (prince without imperial proclamation). In 736, he and his younger brother Sai no Okimi asked to succeed TACHIBANA no Sukune (sukune refers to the third highest of the eight hereditary titles), which was the surname of their mother TACHIBANA no Michiyo, and permitted. After that, he called himself TACHIBANA no Moroe. His action of abandoning a title in the Imperial family and choosing to receive the title of Sukune, not a senior title Ason (second highest of the eight hereditary titles), is seemingly inscrutable, but this can be supposed as his way of getting along with the Fujiwara clan.

In 737, because of the plague, four Fujiwara brothers passed away one after another, followed by the death of many government executives, such as the Imperial Prince Toneri. After all, most of the Giseikan (Legislature) members died and there remained only two kugyo (the top court officials) to serve: Moroe at Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank), Sadaiben (Controller of the Left) and Suzuka no Okimi at Jusanmi Okura-kyo (Minister of the Treasury). Therefore a temporary system was hurriedly established by appointing Moroe as a Dainagon (chief councilor of state) which entitled to be the next minister on September 26 of this year and four days later, Suzuka no Okimi as a Chidaijokanji (deputy to the dajo-daijin [grand minister of state], a post at the same rank of dajo-daijin; the only quality required was being a member of the Imperial family). On February 10, 738, the following year, Moroe was appointed as Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank), Udaijin (Minister of the Right), which was a promotion pushing him into the main character in the Imperial Court.

After that, TACHIBANA no Moroe virtually took charge of the national administration and supported the Emperor Shomu. On June 5, 743, he was appointed as Juichii (Junior First Rank), Sadaijin (Minister of the Left). In 749, his rank rose to Shoichii. Throughout all Japanese history, there are only six people who received the rank of Shoichii during their lifetime. In the era of the Empress Koken, FUJIWARA no Nakamaro (also known as EMI no Oshikatsu) had a growing influence. He slandered Moroe for using profane language at a drinking party, concerning the sickness of the Retired Emperor Shomu, in 755. Moroe resigned his post on March 11, 756, and retired. He passed away on February 3, 757.

After TACHIBANA no Moroe passed away, his son Naramaro committed a rebellion (TACHIBANA no Naramaro War) in the same year, and died in prison.

Moroe had a close association with OTOMO no Yakamochi, and is supposed to be one of the selectors of the poems in "Manyoshu" (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves). A certain level of reliability of the supposition is ensured by the fact that there is a description in "Eiga monogatari" (A Tale of Flowering Fortunes), Volume of Tsuki no Utage (party of the moon), saying 'in 753, TACHIBANA no Moroe the Sadaijin and others gathered to select Manyoshu poems in the era of the Empress of Koya' and that this description was included in the book-end notes of Genryaku Kohon (Genryaku Collated Text) and in the postscript of a certain old manuscript. Later Sengaku concluded that Manyoshu poems were selected by the two: TACHIBANA no Moroe and OTOMO no Yakamochi. Seven poems by Moroe are included in the "Manyoshu."

Record of offices and ranks held
Date according to old lunar calendar
Numbers shown in () are ages by the traditional Japanese system

684: Born (1)

January 7, 710: Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) (27)
February 2, 711: Meryogen (Chief of the Bureau of Horses) (28)
January 10, 721: Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade) (38)
January 10, 723: Shogoinojo (Senior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade) (40)
February 22, 724: Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) (41)
March 4, 729: Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) (46)
September 28, 729: Sadaiben
September 27, 730: Concurrent Saizoshi no kami (Chief of the Bureau of Making Palace) (47)
August, 731: Sangi (Councilor) (48)
January 7, 732: Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) (49)
November 11, 736: Demoted from nobility to subject, receiving TACHIBANA no Sukune (53).

August 24, 737: Jusanmi Dainagon (54)
January 13, 738: Shosanmi Udaijin (55)
January 13, 739: Junii (Junior Second Rank) (56)
November 21, 740: Shonii (Senior Second Rank) (57)
May 5, 743: Juichii Sadaijin (60)
April 5, 746: Concurrent Dazai no sotsu (63)
April 14, 749: Shoichii (66)
January 16, 750: Received the surname of Ason (67)
February 2, 756: Resigned (73)
January 6, 757: Died (74)

[Original Japanese]