Multi-capital system (複都制)

The multi-capital system is a system which places plural capitals in one nation. This system is adopted by a nation of vast land and the case of placing two capitals is called Ryotosei or Ryokyosei, (while the case of one capital is called Tantosei). This system also refers to the system in which capital functions are placed in several cities. Regarding the modren mullti-capital system, refer to Shutohukutosei.

In the multi-capital system of centralized government, the palace or the capital where the emperor always resides is called kamikyo, joto, kyojo,or kyoshi and other capitals are called baito (secondary capital city). But, in western culture, there is no word corresponding to baito, so this is considered to be the system unique to the Orient (baito system). The transfer of the capital like Naniwa sento (relocation to Naniwa) in Japanese history was a visit to baito by the emperor or advancement of the city to a higher position to be correct, so it was different from the transfer of the capital.

When the emperor stayed in baito, prince or powerful people like reliable senior vassals substituted for the emperor to govern the nation, though their power was limited.(Taishikankokuno sei or Rusukanno sei, respectively)

Multi-capital system in the Roman Empire

In the latter half of the 2nd century, the Roman Empire was governed by the emperor and the vice emperor, and during the time of emperor Diocletianus, the Empire was divided into the west and the east and governed by two emperors and two vice emperors. Because of this, four capitals were placed in Nicomedia, Sirumium, Meduiolanum and Augusta Treverorum respectively, and Rome lost its capital functions but nominally remained as the capital of the Empire. After that, Constantinus I, the emperor of the West, united the Empire and constructed a new capital, Constantinople in the east.

Due to the death of Theodosius I, the emperor of the East (with his young second son Honorius being the emperor of the West as figurehead) in 395, his first son Arccadius became the emperor of the East, and the two capitals were placed, one in Constantinople in the East and the other in Mediolanum (later to Ravenna) in the West, which promoted the Roman Empire to be divided into the West and the East. It is not correct to consider that the Roman Empire was divided into two countries; the West and the East. Even though in the 4th century divided governing of the country became more evident and the West of Rome was called as "the emperor of the West" or "the territory of the West", it was not officially called the Western Roman Empire and "the Roman Empire" was considered to govern the both territories.

Multi-capital system in China

In the period of the Northern and the Southern courts in China, Northern Zhou adopted multi-capital system and located the capital in Changan and a secondary capital city in Luoyang in eastern China. Sui applied the same system and Tang had three capitals by making Taiyuan as the capital in the north in addition to Changan and Luoyang (the northern capital) in 723. In 757 Tang added two more capitals, Fengxiang (the western capital) and Chengdu (in Shu County) and thus had five capitals, but these two capitals were abolished soon. Among these capitals, Luoyang was richer in food than Changan, so emperors often visited there, with princes staying in Changan to govern the country on behalf of emperors. Especially Empress Wu Zetian resided in Luoyang during the most of her reign. Thus Luoyang became an important secondary capital city, and, along with Changan, was referred to as two-capital.

In later periods, Ming had Nanjing City and Beijing City as capitals, and Ching had Beijing, Nanjing and Shenjing, while some other countries or dynasties had five capitals such as Balhae (country), Liao and Jin (Dynasties). Since China is a vast country and had been often invaded by enemies, multi-capital system was widely adopted.

During the Sino-Japanese war, when the capital of Nanjing was abandoned, Chongquing city was called as a secondary capital city where the capital function was temporarily moved.

The following five capitals were placed in the kingdom of Balhae.

Shangjing Longquanfu (Balhae, Ningan City and Mudanjang city, Heilongjiang Province today)
Dongjing Longyuanfu (Baliancheng, Hunchun City, Jilin Province today)
Zhongjing Xiandefu (Helong City, Jilin Province today)
Nanjing Nanhaifu (near Chongjin City in North Korea today)
Xijing Yalufu (Linjiang City, Jilin Province today)

Northern Sung Dynasty
In north Sung Dynasty the following four capitals were placed.

Dongjing Kaifengfu (Kaifeng City today)
Xijing Henanfu (Luoyang city today)
Nanjing Yingtianfu (Shangqiu City, Henan Province)
Beijing Damingfu (Daming County, Handan City, Hebei Province today)

Liao divided the country into the following five circuits (dao)(administrative divisions) and each dao had a secondary capital.

Shangjing Linhuangfu (Balin Zuoqi Nanbo Luocheng, Inner Mongolia today)
Dongjing Liaoyangfu (Liaoyang City today)
Zhongjing Dadingfu (around the south of Chifeng City and the border of Hebei Province)
Nanjing Xijingfu (Beijing City today)
Xijing Dadingfu (Dading City today)

multi-capital system in Korea
In Goryeo Dynasty, there were three capitals; Gaegyeong (Kaesong), Donggyeong (Gyeonsang) and Seogyeong (Pyongyang). In 1010, under the rule of 15th emperor Sukjong, Namgyeong (or Hanyang, Seoul today) became the capital, which made four-capital system.

Ancient times

In ancient times, Japan, which was strongly influenced by Tang, adopted multi-capital system.

When the Emperor Kotoku moved to Naniwa-kyu Palace and the Emperor Tenji moved to Omi Otsu no miya Palace, Asuka no kyo (Wakyo) was maintained, so there were two capitals; Asuka and the other.

Emperor Tenmu announced in 683 as follows:
"The capital and palace should not be one, so I will build more than one." "Therefore I am going to make Naniwa as capital first." As a result, Naniwa became the capital along with Asuka.

Emperor Shomu planned to construct Kuni-kyo (located on the other side of the Kizu river [Kyoto Prefecture]) besides Heijo-kyo and Naniwa-kyo.
(However, Daigokuden and the corridors in Heijo-kyo were dismantled and reconstructed in Kuni-kyo, so it could be considered that the initial plan was two-capital system of Kuni-kyo and Naniwa.)
This is considered to follow the Luoyng Castle in Tang, which was built across the Luo River.

Emperor Junjin built Horano-kyo as the northern capital besides Heijo and Naniwa. It is assumed to have followed Beijing Taiyuan inTang. Though built in 761, Horano-kyo was soon abandoned.

Empress Shotoku built Yugenomiya detached palace as the western capital, which was also soon abandoned.

In 793 Emperor Kanmu abolished Naniwanomiya Palace which had been a secondary capital for a long period of time, as a result Japan discontinued the multi-capital system and shifted to single-capital system that has lasted long.

In Japan the people historically had a shallow understanding of multi-capital system. Before Heian period, the people considered that the capital was the place where emperor resided, and when emperor extended the stay in secondary capital during the visit, they regarded it as a transfer of the capital. This unclear distinction between a capital and a secondary capital is a character of multi-capiital system in Japan.

Since the modern era

Accoring to the Imperial Rescript in 1868, Edo was renamed Tokyo. In the same year, Edo-jo Castle was made to be the imperial palace for the emperor to move to Tokyo, which was de-facto transfer of the capital. But an official announcement of the transfer of the capital has never been made, so some claim that both Tokyo and Kyoto (Heiann kyo) are legally capitals.

Kyoto is the capital of the West in contrast to Tokyo, but Kyoto is rarely called "西京" (Saikyo) and was called so only for a short period immediately after the capital was moved to Tokyo. Yamaguchi City, which flourished the most during the Muromachi period, was called "西京" (Saikyo or Nishi no kyo), meaning Kyoto in the West, but it was not named in contrast to Tokyo. Today the word of "Nishikyo" or "Saikyo" remains in several places such as the Saikyo Bank and Yamaguchi Prefectural Saikyo Senior High School. In addition, the old name of Kyoto Prefectural University was Saikyo University.

[Original Japanese]