Chohogannenrei (長保元年令)

Chohogannenrei is the Daijokanpu (official document of the Daijokan, the office of the supreme political leader) issued as shinsei (a code of new law) on September 9, 999. It consists of eleven clauses.

While the oldest shinsei is considered to have been issued in 947, Chohogannenrei is the first law which contains all of the three fundamental elements of shinsei in the Middle Ages: "(Shinto) shrines and (Buddhist) temples," "kasateishi (prohibition of the luxury beyond one's means or position)" and "strict enforcement of government affairs."


The Imperial Court, annoyed by an epidemic which had continued since 998, the previous year, changed the gengo (an era name) into "Choho" on January 17. But the epidemic was not subdued, and there was a fire in the dairi (Imperial Palace) on June 14.

The Imperial Court, including Emperor Ichijo and nairan sadaijin (minister of the left who has a right to read and deal with documents before reporting to the Emperor from Daijokan, the Great Council of State) FUJIWARA no Michinaga, was so concerned about growing social unrest and a series of disasters that it decided to rebuild the dairi on July 11 and discussed unconventionality in the Buddhist and the Shinto rituals as well as a ban on luxurious dressing, in order to subdue social unrest through a belief in God and to restore order by reinforcing control. ("Shoyuki" (the diary of FUJIWARA no Sanesuke), "Gonki" (FUJIWARA no Yukinari's diary))
Subsequently the final discussion was held between the Emperor and Michinaga on July 21, senji (imperial decree) about the shinsei was issued on the next day, and the Daijokanpu was issued on the basis of the senji as of July 27.


The contents of Chohogannenrei are described in "Shinsho kyakuchoku fusho" volume 10. (Numbering is for reference only.)


The first six clauses are rules about "(Shinto) shrines and (Buddhist) temples" (relations with religions), the next four clauses are about "kasateishi (prohibition of the luxury beyond one's means or position)" and the last clause is about "strict enforcement of government affairs." It is possible to learn that the procedure for discussion in connection with this shinsei and arrangement of provisions of the law were made a precedent for issuance of the subsequent shinsei, from the description of the procedure in an article dated November 1, 1190 of "Gyokuyo," the diary of FUJIWARA no Kanezane about two hundred years later.


This shinsei served as a law of indefinite duration, unlike a provisional ban on luxury issued at the time of events and rituals. On the other hand, officials in charge of actual enforcement (including kebiishi (officials with judicial and police powers) and danjodai (Board of Censors)) were not necessarily familiarized with this shinsei.

According to "Gonki," on May 8, 1000, the day after the issuance of Chohogannenrei, Kebiishi no betto (Superintendent of the Imperial Police) FUJIWARA no Kinto told FUJIWARA no Yukinari (the author of "Gonki") that on the previous day Kinto had been reprimanded by Emperor Ichiijo via SUGAWARA no Takasue (Kurodo (Chamberlain)) for insufficient enforcement of the shinsei, which was regarded as negligence of the kebiishi. In response to this reprimand, Kebiishicho (Office of Police and Judicial Chief) partially revised clauses 5, 7, and 9, which were the most controversial, and presented the revised shinsei as a new law to Emperor Ichijo via Kinto, and issued Chohogannenrei again based on this revision (an article dated May 14, 1000 of "Gonki"). Furthermore, after a second fire in the dairi on November 18, 1001, a shinsei consisting of five clauses was established on November 25, which further reinforced provisions of the former clauses 7 and 9, and was issued on December 8. Furthermore, in connection with clauses 2 and 4, Daijokanpu concerning renovation of shrines as well as of provincial monasteries, provincial nunneries and Jogaku-ji temples (temples recognized as equivalent to a government temple) was issued on October 9, 1002. Thus Chohogannenrei remained effective for a long time, after being reinforced and reissued three times in three years from 1000 to 1002, and a ban on luxury which reconfirmed a series of shinsei in the Choho era was issued in 1030.

While shinsei before Chohogannenrei were no more than a "new ban" which retained characteristics of the former laws, Chohogannenrei was the first to be established based on the idea of promotion of "virtuous rule" for eradicating disaster and rehabilitating politics, originating from tenjin sokansetsu (one of ancient Chinese views of the world and political thought, the theory that there is close relationship between human action or political affairs, personnel affairs, and natural phenomenon), which was the main motivation for issuing shinsei in the medieval period. Kanezane KUJO (the sixth generation descendant of Michinaga), who was involved in the establishment of shinsei in Jisho and Kenkyu eras as a minister and Sekkan (regents and advisers), often insisted that it was fundamental for the establishment of seifu (an official code of new laws issued by Daijokan, Great Council of State) or shinsei to "follow the example of Choho" (articles dated April 23 and June 5, 1178 of "Gyokuyo") and it follows that even two hundred years after the Choho era it was widely believed in the court noble society that Chohogannenrei should be a starting point for shinsei and that kugeho (laws issued by the imperial court) in the medieval period was greatly influenced by such a belief.

[Original Japanese]