Gozen-sata (御前沙汰)

Gozen-sata was an informal consultation chaired and attended by Seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") in the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun.)
Later, it replaced hyojo (consultation) held with hyojoshu (a member of Council of State) and hikitsukeshu (coadjustor of the High Court) and began to deal with matters to make official decisions.
It was also called zasso-sata (litigation investigation) because it dealt with zasso (miscellaneous suits.)

When bakufu officials were factionalized and declared secession in the Kanno Disturbance, the second shogun, Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA held a consultation in Onshokata (office to do desk work concerning the Onsho award) with a consultative body replacing the collapsed hyojoshu and hikitsukeshu, which was regarded as the origin of gozen-sata. In the tenure of the third shogun Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, the bakufu was substantially reorganized and gozen-sata ceased once, but the shogun began holding consultations in the informal style of gozen-sata for making bakufu's important policy decisions for the purpose of having the former shogunal deputy Yoriyuki HOSOKAWA, who had entered the priesthood and had been out of bakufu office, participate in the bakufu's policy-making when the shogun sought to bring him back to bakufu -- because gozen-sata was not a formal consultation, the members of which were selected mostly at the discretion of shogun, the head of the consultation. After Yoriyuki died, Yoshimitsu abdicated the office of shogun in favor of his son Yoshimochi ASHIKAGA and entered the priesthood, yet he kept controlling the bakufu and made bakufu's policy decisions by chairing and holding gozen-sata instead of formal consultations, which nominally retired shogun Yoshimitsu could not convene -- and the shogun Yoshimochi followed the decisions.

To strengthen the power of shogun against the shogunal deputy and others, the sixth shogun Yoshinori ASHIKAGA started out to extend the influence of gozen-sata that was chaired and attended by the shogun -- he included shomu (land management) as well as zasso on the agenda of gozen-sata, and also organized gozen-sata shu (members of gozen-sata) from working-level officials of yuhitsu (amanuenses) and bugyonin (magistrates) and qualified them to attend gozen-sata. Here, gozen-sata had become the virtual highest consulting body in the Muromachi bakufu centered around the shogun as the final decision-maker and gozen-sata shu as the officials under the shogun's direct command.

After the Onin War, the shogun's presence at gozen-sata became less, and in the tenure of the eleventh shogun Yoshizumi ASHIKAGA, the shogun namely chaired, but did not attend gozen-sata, which resulted in a procedure whereby naidan shu (judges), shogun's entourages, brought the decisions to the shogun for the approval.

[Original Japanese]