Sesshō and Kampaku

Sesshō and Kampaku

Sesshō and Kampaku

The Sesshō and Kampaku were high ranking titles connected to the Imperial Throne.

The Sesshō (摂政) was a title bestowed on those who would be a regent for a child emperor, with Kampaku (関白) being for regents of adult Emperors. This job involved assisting the Emperor in governing.

The idea of this imperial office is said to have been based of a chinese model seen in old chinese documents.

In regards to the title of sesshō, the first to have held this title was Shōtoku Taisha when he acted as sesshō for his mother Emperor Suiko. Later this title was taken by the Fujiwara Clan with the first to hold this title being Fujiwara no Yoshifusa in 866 after he placed his grandson Emperor Seiwa onto the throne.

The title of kampaku was first held by Fujiwara no Mototsune in 8871 (8842) where he assisted the Emperor Kōkō.

After this time, the Fujiwara family had a monopoly on this title and held it virtually unchallenged until the Meiji Restoration. It was only briefly held by those outside the family in the 16th century by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Toyotomi Hidetsugu.

These titles did wane in power over time after the establishment of the Insei System by retired Emperors in the 11th century.

In 1889 and 1947 revisions were made to the Imperial Household Law which gave provisions for the title of sesshō.1 Since 1947 this title can only be appointed if the reigning Emperor is under the age of 18.2

List of those who held the title:

SesshōKampakuAppointed
Shōtoku Taisha
Fujiwara no Yoshifusa866
Fujiwara no Mototsune876
Fujiwara no Mototsune884? 887?
Fujiwara no Tadahira931
Fujiwara no Tadahira941
Fujiwara no Saneyori968
Fujiwara no Saneyori970
Fujiwara no Koretada971
Fujiwara no Kanemichi972
Fujiwara no Kanemichi974
Fujiwara no Yoritada
Fujiwara no Kaneie989
Fujiwara no Kaneie990
Fujiwara no Michitaka990
Fujiwara no Michitaka993
Fujiwara no Michikane995
Fujiwara no Michinaga1016
Fujiwara no Yorimichi
Fujiwara no Yorimichi
Fujiwara no Norimichi1068
Fujiwara no Morozane1075
Fujiwara no Morozane1087
Fujiwara no Moromichi1094
Fujiwara no Tadazane1108
Fujiwara no Tadazane1113
Fujiwara no Tadamichi1121
Fujiwara no Tadamichi1123
Kujō Michiie1221
Kujo Michiie1228
Fujiwara no Kanehira1252
Emperor Hirohito1921-1926

Footnotes

1. Kodansha. (1993) ”Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia”. Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd.
2. Louis Frederic, translated by Kathe Roth (2002) “Japan Encyclopedia”. London: Harvard University Press.

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