Kenmu shikimoku (the Kenmu Code) (建武式目)

Kenmu shikimoku (or Kenmu shikimoku jojo) is a political statement showing the governing philosophy of the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). This code and the Goseibai-shikimoku (code of conduct for samurai) together are called the Joken Codes.

During the Northern and Southern Court period of Japan in 1336, Takauji ASHIKAGA, who had turned against the Kenmu Restoration started by Emperor Godaigo after the fall of the Kamakura bakufu, defeated Yoshisada NITTA and Masashige KUSUNOKI in the battle of Minatogawa, entered Kyoto, and established his administrative policies in the Kenmu Code. Takauji seized the Three Sacred Treasures of the Imperial Family from Godaigo, had Emperor Komyo accede to the throne, and 2 years later in 1338, he was appointed as seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") and formally established a warrior government.

It took the form of reports from 8 officials of the Kamakura bakufu: the brothers Dosho (Zeen) and Shine NIKAIDO, FUJIWARA no Fujinori, Gene and others. Compared with the Goseibai-shikimoku, which was the fundamental law for warriors, the Kenmu Code showed the governing philosophy of the warrior government, although it is said that it was neither legally binding nor a revision of the Goseibai-shikimoku (which it regarded as the fundamental law).

It has also been pointed out that as Takauji let his brother Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA handle political affairs, it was Tadayoshi's determination that lay behind the establishment of this code. Furthermore, it is also thought to have been influenced by the Seventeen Article Constitution that was established by Prince Shotoku from the traditions of the cult of Taishi. Along with the Goseibai-shikimoku of the Kamakura bakufu, it also had influence on the provincial codes established by daimyo (Japanese territorial lord) in the Sengoku Period.

It is composed of 2 sections and 17 articles, the first section of which held as ideal the administration of Yoshitoki HOJO and Yasutoki HOJO before the tokuso autocracy period of the Kamakura bakufu, and showed how the Ashikaga Shogunate(the Muromachi bakufu) was their legitimate successor. In the second section, the text of the 17 articles laid out the concrete policies of this code, and there were many laws stating that shugo (military governors), as local administrators, should be appointed for their ability rather than for their war records, as well as many laws relating to debt-abrogation decrees. It also banned 'basara' (extravagance), a social phenomenon of the Northern and Southern Court period.

Although the additional laws made after this code are called 'Kenmu supplementary legislation,' it is said that the name does not refer to supplements of the Kenmu Code, but rather to supplements of the Goseibai-shikimoku that were made after the Kenmu period.

[Original Japanese]