Ryoge no kan (class outside of the Ritsuryo system) (令外官)

Ryoge no kan was a newly established government post which was not defined within the ritsuryo system (a system of centralized government based on the ritsuryo code). Government officials managed by Ryoge no kan were also referred to as Ryoge no kanshi.

Ryoge no kan posts were created in order to respond quickly and flexibly to real political issues regardless of the existing Ritsuryo system and organization of the government in Japan. Ryoge no kan posts were first established in China, and many more were created from the early to middle eighth century. Many Ryoge no kan posts were created in Japan toward the end of the eighth century when the reforms of Emperor Kanmu took place. Later on, several more Ryoge no kan posts were created in order to adapt to reality.

Ryoge no kan during the Tang Dynasty (China)

On the other hand, it was also observed that government posts quintessential to a government organization and government posts that were created only as needed coexisted, sometimes resulting in an overlapping of posts. In spite of these problems, no major changes were made to the system in the early Tang Dynasty period. However, at the end of the seventh century, Busokuten (Wu Zetian) created ingaikan (government officials outside of the Ritsuryo system) who were outside of the fixed number of regular government positions in order to control other nobilities and recruit competent Kakyo (also known as keju; examinations for Chinese state bureaucrats). This resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of government officials.

Genso (Tang) appeared in the early eighth century and changed the policy on increasing the number of officials which had continued since Busokuten's era and tried to restrain their numbers. During that period, however, the Ritsuryo system had lost touch with realities in society producing a need to adapt. Therefore, there was need for quickly responding to such a reality. In response, from the Genso period on, government posts defined in the Ritsuryo system and separate government posts, in other words Ryoge no kan, were newly established one after another. Many Ryoge no kan posts were given a name ending with the suffix "-shi" or called "shishoku" in order to make a contrast between them and government posts defined in the Ritsuryo system.

In place of the Fuheisei (soldier system), which became a mere shell in a military sense, an organization with a system centered on recruiting mercenaries was formed which created the post of Danrenshi and Setsudoshi. As the mercenary system had replaced the Fuheisei, military expenses continued to rise in order to ensure a sufficient amount of soldiers. In response to the increased financial demand, many financial-related shishoku were created, such as Takushishi (a post of supervising domestic products and financial works), Entetsushi (al post of managing salt and iron monopoly), Soyoshi (director general of finance), Tenunshi (regional official of transport) and Suirikuunshi (a post of managing transportation). Furthermore, for administrative inspection purposes, government posts such as Kansatsushi (inspector), Azechi (inspector of provincial governments) and Saihoshi (auditor) were also created. As Ryoge no kan posts were being created whenever the need arise, they gradually came to have more control over administrative activities than the officials within the Ritsuryo government.

As a result, government official posts under the Ritsuryo system became an empty shell. Ryoge no kan posts gradually become overabundant and the number of private citizens assigned as Shori (officials responsible for practical works) increased. While appointed Ritsuryo government officials needed to be approved by the Emperor, the Kami (director) had a free hand to appoint Shori into posts or Ryoge no kan. As a result, wealthy people and country squires who had the financial wherewithal assumed posts of Shori. This caused the rise of country squires (Shitaifu) in the end of Tang Dynasty period.

Ryoge no kan in Japan

In Japan, immediately after the establishment of Taiho Ritsuryo (Taiho Code) which was to be the first full-fledged Ritsuryo system, Ryoge no kan such as Sangi (councillor), Zoheijokyoshi (temporary official of Heijo Palace construction), Chunagon (vice-councilor of state), Azechi were established. In terms of fostering literate government officials with knowledge other than Confucianism, Monjo hakase (professor of literature) and Myobo hakase (teacher of the law in the Ritsuryo system) were also placed, and later reached the top posts of Monjo hakase and Myobo hakase of Daigaku-ryo (Bureau of Education under the ritsuryo system). In both Emperor Junnin and Empress Koken (later, Empress Shotoku) periods, there was a significant upsurge in the number of Ryoge no kan posts (Zogusho (ministry of making and mending palaces), Chokushisho (Bureau of Edicts), Nijusho (Ministry of Royal Pages), Hoogushiki (a post of domestic governing institution for Dokyo)) which caused political instability. As it became the eighth century, large-scale administrative reforms were conducted by Emperor Kanmu due to the loosening of the Ritsuryo system. After the Emperor Kanmu reforms, Ryoge no kan posts were actively placed in order to fix the flaws in the organization of the government in accordance with the ritsuryo code.

Kageyushi (Board of Discharge Examiners), which was placed by Emperor Kanmu in 797, was responsible for inspecting the local administrations of kokushi (provincial governors). In the early ninth century, Emperor Saga newly created the Kurododokoro (Board of Archivists) (also known as Kurodo no to (Head Chamberlain)) in 810 which was responsible for handling classified documents as a secretary of the Emperor. Emperor Saga also placed Kebiishi (police and judicial chief) in 824 in order to maintain security and handle civil affairs. In the 10th century as wealthy people appeared in local areas, security deteriorated due to territorial disputes. Consequently, posts of Oryoshi (suppressor) and Tsuibushi (envoys to pursue and capture) were established with the role of a local security police. Furthermore, Kanpaku (chief adviser to the Emperor) who assisted the Emperor was placed in 884. Other Ryoge no kan posts included the Sessho (regent), who acted as the Emperor and Nairan (private audience), who could preliminarily inspect official documents submitted from the Great Council of State to the Emperor.

From the middle of the Heian Period, the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan assumed these posts from generation to generation and took the regency.

A listing of the main Ryoge no kan
Naidaijin (Minister of the Interior)
Sangi (councilor)
Kurodo (Kurodo no to)
Monjo hakase
Seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians")
Chinju-fu shogun (commander-in-chief of the defense of the north)
Myoho hakase

[Original Japanese]