Taira no Suenaga (平季長)

TAIRA no Suenaga (date of birth unknown - to August 23, 897) was a nobleman in the early Heian period. He was the fourth son of TAIRA no Takamune (Prince Takamune), as well as a great-grandchild of Emperor Kanmu.

When an envoy from Balhae came to Japan in 871, Suenaga, who was the Junior Secretary of the Shikibu-sho (the Ministry of Ceremonial) at that time, was appointed to an attendant for the envoy to welcome them, and he and MIYAKO no Yoshika, who was the Dainaiki (the senior secretary of the Ministry of Central Affairs), undertook this duty. During the Gangyo era, which was the time of Emperor Yozei, he was appointed to the Junior Assistant Minister of the Hyobunosho (Ministry of Military) and the governor of Ise Province at the same time, and then he was appointed as the Provisional Minor Captain of the Konoefu (the Headquarters of the Inner Palace Guards) and the governor of Mutsu Province after the Gangyo War. He had a long friendship with SUGAWARA no Michizane, and they worked together to organize their opinions and submitted a report when the Ako Incident occurred. Afterwards, he was trusted by Emperor Uda and MINAMOTO no Yoshiari and promoted to a close aide of them, and he also held various positions including the Zokubetto (the non-priest administrator) of Todai-ji Temple, the Uchuben (Middle Controller of the Right of the Department of State), and the Sachuben (Middle Controller of the Left of the Department of State). When Yoshiari was appointed to the chief officer of Go-kinai (five provinces close to the capital: Yamashiro Province, Yamato Province, Kawachi Province, Izumi Province, and Settsu Province) in 895, he appointed Suenaga as a monminkushi (a position temporarily established to investigate people's demand and discontent) of Yamashiro Province, and he investigated the circumstances in this province, where lands were frequently annexed by influential and powerful families or clans at that time, to make up plans for a reform of the local government and relief of peasants. In the Kanpyo no chi (Glorious Kanpyo rule) promoted by Emperor Uda and MINAMOTO no Yoshiari, it is believed that Suenaga worked as an aristocratic bureaucrat who took charge of practical business along with SUGAWARA no Michizane and FUJIWARA no Tadahira.

In 896, he was appointed to the Kurodo-no-to (the head chamberlain) of Emperor Uda with the rank of Jushii-no-ge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) as well as the Udaiben (the Major Controller of the Right) and the governor of Yamashiro Province, and he remained in these positions after Emperor Daigo ascended to the throne in the following year. The Retired Emperor Uda said in his document called "Kanpyo-no-Goyuikai" (Emperor Uda's injunction), which was offered to the new Emperor, that Suenaga was so familiar with government affairs that he should be given an important position, as well as FUJIWARA no Tokihira, SUGAWARA no Michizane, and KI no Haseo. However, he died suddenly nine days after Emperor Daigo's enthronement.

SUGAWARA no Michizane praised Suenaga as he said in the "Kanke Bunso" (an anthology of Chinese-style poetry written by SUGAWARA no Michizane) that Suenaga was an irreplaceable person not only for the Imperial Court but also for this country, and Emperor Uda was severely shocked because he lost such an important person in addition to MINAMOTO no Yoshiari, who had passed away in the previous month. These two successive deaths eventually made SUGAWARA no Michizane take the brunt of political criticisms and attacks, and that situation formed a remote cause of the Shotai Incident.

[Original Japanese]