Taiho Ritsuryo (Taiho Code) (大宝律令)

Taiho Ritsuryo refers to the Japanese Ritsuryo codes established in the beginning of the eighth century. It is believed that Eiki Ritsurei (the Ritsuryo code that was established in Tang Dynasty in 651) of Tang was referred to. Taiho Ritsuryo were the first full-fledged Ritsuryo codes in the Japanese history, which Ritsu (criminal code) and Ryo (administrative code) were both contained.


The origin of the compilation of Ritsuryo codes leading to the Taiho Ritsuryo dates back to the year 681. In the same year, the Emperor Tenmu issued Mikotonori (imperial edict) ordering the establishment of Ritsuryo codes, and in 689 after the Emperor Tenmu died, Asukakiyomihararyo (the legal code of Japanese ancient state) was distributed and established. However, such Ryo was a pioneering Ritsuryo law, contained no Ritsu, and did not conform to the state of affairs in Japan in many parts.

The work of compiling the Ritsuryo codes was also continued after that, and a particularly big issue was how to conform to the conditions of a country of Japan. And in 700, Ryo was almost completed, and the work to create uncreated articles of Ritsu was conducted, and then, on September 13, 701, the Ritsuryo codes were completed as Taiho Ritsuryo. Osakabe no Miko (Prince Osakabe), FUJIWARA no Fuhito, AWATA no Mahito, SHIMOTUKENU no Komaro were engaged in the selection of the Ritsu and Ryo.

In order to enforce the Taiho Ritsuryo across the country without exception, on September 18, 701, the imperial court dispatched the Myobo hakase (teacher of the law in the Ritsuryo system) to six Do (districts) except for Saikaido, and let them lecture on the new codes. On March 7, the following 702, the Emperor Monmu distributed Taiho Ritsu to those provinces, and on November 12, 702, he distributed Taiho Ritsuryo to the provinces.

The enforcement of the Taiho Ritsuryo was an epoch-making event in the ancient history, which showed that a project of constructing an ancient nation which had been continued after the defeat in the war for the restoration of Baekje in the 660s, reached one of the goals. A theory that the name of the country was decided as Japan in Taiho Ritsuryo for the first time has been advocated.


In and after the latter half of the seventh century, under the tense international circumstances in East Asia such as the fall of Baekje and so on, Wakoku (Japan) intended to stabilize the government and keep the independence as a nation by promoting the centralization. Therefore, the government at that time promoted the national development based on Odo omin shiso (the thought that all the land and people belong to the emperor), through the establishment of Omi-Ryo (Omi Administrative Code), Asukakiyomihararyo and so on, while referring to the governing system in Tang and Korean Peninsula. The final result was the completion of Taiho Ritsuryo. It is said that this event brought about the formation of Ritsuryo system (the system of centralized government based on the ritsuryo code) in Japan. The governing and control under the Taiho Ritsuryo almost equally extended to the territories (most parts of Honshu [the main island of Japan] except for the Tohoku region, and most parts of Shikoku region and Kyushu region) that had been ruled by the government at that time.


Taiho Ritsuryo was compiled aiming at the realization of government according to the Ritsuryo codes which conformed to the state of affairs in Japan. Ritsu' consisting of 6 volumes which was equivalent to a criminal law followed Toritsu (codes in the Tang era) almost as it was, but 'Ryo' consisting of 11 volumes which was equivalent to a present-day administrative law and the Civil Code was compiled by amending Torei (codes in the Tang era) so as to conform to actual conditions of Japanese society while following it.

The establishment of these Ritsuryo codes brought about the formation of fully centralized governing system, which centered on the emperor and set a bureaucratic organization of Japanese government-regulated organization or facility, etc. (Nikan of Dajokan [Grand Council of State] and Jingikan [department of worship], and Hassho [eight ministries and agencies] of Nakatsukasasho [Ministry of Central Affairs], Shikubusho [Ministry of Ceremonial], Jibusho [the Ministry of Civil Administration], Minbusho [Ministry of Popular Affairs], Okurasho [Ministry of the Treasure], Gyobusho [Ministry of Justice], Kunaisho [Ministry of the Sovereign's Household] and Hyobusho [Ministry of Military]), as the bone structure. A document-based principle, attaching importance to the format of documents and procedures was introduced, which gave regulations such as using only the era name in the documents handled by government offices, affixing seals, accepting only the documents created in accordance with the predetermined format, and so on.

With respect to the local bureaucratic system in ancient Japan, those units including Koku (province), Gun (country), Ri (neighborhood) and so on were determined. Kokushi (provincial governor) dispatched from the central government were given substantial authority, while Gunji (local magistrates) whose position was occupied by powerful local clans were also given a certain level of authority.

The original of Taiho Ritsuryo does not exist now, but partly remains in other literature such as Ryono Shuge koki (ancient records compiled personal opinion of each clan which were comments on Yoro-ryo, Yoro Code) as itsubun (a composition previously existed but doesn't exist now). It is believed that the Yoro Ritsuryo Code (code promulgated in the Yoro period) enforced in 757 mostly succeeded the Taiho Ritsuryo, and the restoration of Taiho Ritsuryo was conducted based on the Yoro Ritsuryo Code.

Restored Taiho-ryo (Taiho Code)

It is considered that, the order of the chapter headings differed between the Taiho-ryo and the Yoro-ryo, but the order of the chapter headings of the Taiho-ryo is unclear.

[Original Japanese]