Omi-Ryo (Omi Administrative Code) (近江令)

Omi-Ryo is a legal system, believed to have been enacted in the Asuka Period (during the reign of the Emperor Tenchi) in Japan. This is a 22-volume series. This is the first Ritsuryo code by the ancient Japanese government but because there is neither the original book remaining nor historical sources which confirm the existence of the code, there have been fierce debates about its existence. Most people on both sides agree, however, that the Ritsu part (the penal cord) was not enacted in this cord.

Did it exist or not?

The grounds for believing in its existence are in the two references below. Firstly, the description in Taishokukanden (the story of Kamatari) in "Toshi Kaden" (Biographies of the Fujiwara clan): 'By the order of the Emperor Tenchi, FUJIWARA no Kamatari compiled a Ritsuryo code in 668'; and secondly, the description in the introduction of "Konin Kyakushiki" (compilation of rules, regulations, and precedents): 'A 22-volume series code was enacted in 668. It is "Omi-chotei-no-ryo" (The Administrative Code of the Omi Court)'. People who believe that the code did exist consider that modernization of the government, which had been promoted at that time under the Emperor Tenchi through active introduction of rules and systems from China, would have required a Ritsuryo code (Omi-Ryo) to be enacted as the basis of it. For the believers, Omi-Ryo was a pioneering and important legal code toward the introduction of the Ritsuryo system, which had a great impact on Asukakiyomihararyo (the legal code of the Japanese ancient state of Asuka) and Taiho Ritsuryo (Taiho Code) later on.

However, both "Toshi Kaden" and "Konin Kyakushiki" were the documents compiled later (between the eighth and the ninth century) and there is no mention of the "Omi-Ryo" in the official history book "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan). Yet, in the Article of the year 670 of the "Nihonshoki", it states "The rules and rites of the court and how to properly meet or depart from people met on the road are pronounced." This means that the Emperor Tenchi ordered the writing of the code to include reference to courtesy. The article of the year 671 also describes "kani (office and rank) and hatto (law and measurement) are pronounced and enacted." "Konin Kyakushiki" wrote mainly about the imperial line derived from the Emperor Tenchi, so it is understood that the contents were to greatly exaggerate the Emperor's achievements. These are the reasons that some people think the Omi-Ryo did not exist. However, there are several different views about the non-existent theory. While some believe that the Omi-Ryo did not exist at all, others believe that all the laws and legislation enacted during the reign of the Emperor Tenchi were later called Omi-Ryo collectively; that the code was partially written but not completed, or that it was almost completed but only a part of it was executed. People who do not believe in its existence tend to insist that the Emperor Tenmu had more impact on the process of constructing the Ritsuryo system than the Emperor Tenchi.

Omi Chotei (Omi Court)

In the year 667, the Emperor Tenchi (then "Naka no Oe no Oji", Prince Naka no Oe) moved the imperial capital from Asuka to Otsu in the Omi Province (Omi no miya), and took over the throne in 668 to start a new government. This new government was called "Omi Chotei." The law was enacted by the Omi Chotei in 668, and is therefore called "Omi-chotei-no-ryo" (The Administrative Code of the Omi Court) or "Omi-Ryo."

In 671, the Emperor appointed Otomo no Oji (Prince Otomo) Daijo-daijin (Grand Minister), SOGA no Akane and NAKATOMI no Kane as Sayu-daijin (Ministers of the Left and the Right) and three more including SOGA no Hatayasu as Gyoshi Taifu (Chiefs controlling the officials). This is the government system established under the Omi-Ryo. The Emperor created a new position of the Daijo-daijin. The Gyoshi Taifu was also a new official position, which was later changed to Nagon (councilor), and was to transform the system of Kokusei sangi kan (government councilor) and Daibu (master), which had been under Daijin (minister) and Omuraji (military chief) since before the Taika Reform, into the new government-regulated system.

There is an opinion that Omi-Ryo was abolished when Omi Court was destroyed in 672 (in the Jinshin War).

[Original Japanese]