Bemin System (the system of Yamato sovereignty) (部民制)

Bemin system is a system during the Yamato sovereignty, which refers to the system of subordination and service to the sovereignty and the system of the division of duties at the Imperial Court. There were quite a few types of bemin system, which can roughly be divided into two groups. One is a group which was involved in some kind of duties, and the other is a group which belonged to the royal palace or a powerful family. Examples for the former group include kataribe (reciter) and umakaibe (horse caretakers), and those for the latter group include the Soga clan and the Otomo clan. The kataribe's job was to recite verses for the ceremonies of the Imperial Court led by Kataribenomiyatsuko clan, who was a Tomonomiyatsuko (chief of various departments at the Imperial Court). The Soga clan and the Otomo clan were able to own the Sogabe (group of people owned by the Soga clan) and Otomobe (group of people owned by the Otomo clan) also because, as the clans with Omi and Muraji (both are one of the hereditary titles) who supported the sovereignty, they held many positions in the Imperial Court.

The bemin system began to be abolished with the enforcement of the ritsuryo system. The names of the be (division) after the enforcement of the ritsuryo system were merely titles which just showed a blood relationship with the paternal line, and did not indicate the relationship to the group to which one belonged.

After the enforcement of Koko no Nenjaku, which was the ancient family registration system in 670, every citizen registered their name on the family register, and the name of the be was left as an individual's surname and afterwards it was succeeded for generations by the paternal line.

The establishment of the bemin system
Around the fifth century, a 'Tomo' system was already established under the great king (Yamato sovereignty), in which small and medium local ruling families in the Kinai region (provinces surrounding Kyoto and Nara) and areas around it were divided into various duties of the Imperial Court hereditarily, such as Tonomori, Mohitori, Kanimori, and Kadomori. As a result of the development and expansion of such Tomo system, by the latter half of the fifth century, a system was organized in which the Tomonomiyatsuko led the Tomo.

The system of clans and hereditary titles

The powerful family class of the Yamato regime formed an organization called uji (clan). There were many uji, large and small, such as the Soga clan, the Ki clan, the Otomo clan, the Mononobe clan, the Hata clan, the Kan clan, the Inbe clan, and the Shi clan.

Ancient uji were peer groups of many families joined by blood relationships or blood consciousness, and the head of a powerful family became the head of the uji and occupied a position similar to the head of a clan. The family of the blood relatives or unrelated members who were in a direct or a collateral line to the head uji were called ujibito and were under the rule of the head uji.

The uji had a characteristic of being a political organization of the Yamato regime. The uji were not just a group of blood relatives who were formed by a natural occurrence, but were a group of blood relatives who swore vassalage to and were obliged to serve the great king. The uji in the capital and local provinces established a relationship with the great king of vassalage and service, and on this premise, they were given the license to take up fixed political standings and government posts/duties along with the right to make them hereditary. Further, the uji were given kabane (hereditary titles) according to differences in their status by birth and political status/rank of government post/content of duty, and it was permitted for them to own subordinates such as the bemin.

Generally this is called the ujikabane system.

Kabane includes Omi, Muraji, Tomonomiyatsuko and Kuninomiyatsuko (heads of local governments).

The organization of uji can be confirmed by historical materials after the end of the fifth century. It is in the sixth century, when the uji developed extensively.

There existed a fundamental difference between Omi and Muraji. Compared to the powerful clans who called themselves Omi, who generally used place names for their uji names, such as the Soga clan and Kibi clan and were chiefs who used their area as a base, those who called themselves Muraji had the uji name after the Tomonomiyatsuko who had the names of their official duties as a Tomo, such as the Otomo clan and Mononobe clan. In other words, Omi were relatively independent towards the regime, while Muraji regarded vassalage to the great king their essential.

The establishment of the Tomonomiyatsuko clan can be confirmed during the era of Emperor Yuryaku. Owake, which is seen on an iron sword with gold inscription, was the Tomonomiyatsuko who led a group of jotojin (guardsmen) (Tomo).

Shinabe (technicians in offices), kakibe, koshiro/nashiro/minashiro
Today's general view of these are in the following paragraphs.

A division which took on specific work names such as amabe and kaibe (dogs, birds, horses), each of which was led by the tomonomiyatsuko, and belonged to the Imperial Court.

Divisions named after names of kings (princes), such as osakabe and nukatabe, which were a kind of shinabe controlled by the tomonomiyatsuko, with a characteristic that they particularly belonged to the royal families. Shinabe served as a toneri (palace servant), yugei (gate guard), kashiwade (cook), and such.

A division of people owned by many powerful clans, which carried their names such as Sogabe and Otomobe.

Above is a description centered around the relationship between the divisions and their owners, but there also seems to be many objections.
(The bemin system studied by Motokazu KAMADA and Ryoichi MAENOSONO were mainly referenced here.)

[Original Japanese]