Taika Reform Edict
2nd year, Spring, 1st month, 1st day. As soon as the ceremonies of the new year's congratulations were over, the Emperor promulgated an edict of reforms, as follows:—
"I. Let the people established by the ancient Emperors, etc., as representatives of children be abolished, also the Miyake of various places and the people owned as serfs by the Wake, the Omi, the Muraji, the Tomo no Miyakko, the Kuni no Miyakko and the Mura no Obito. Let the farmsteads in various places be abolished." Consequently fiefs were granted for their sustenance to those of the rank of Daibu and upwards on a descending scale. Presents of cloth and silk stuffs were given to the officials and people, varying in value.
"Further We say. It is the business of the Daibu to govern the people. If they discharge this duty thoroughly, the people have trust in them, and an increase of their revenue is therefore for the good of the people.
II. The capital is for the first time to be regulated, and Governors appointed for the Home provinces and districts. Let barriers, outposts, guards, and post-horses, both special and ordinary, be provided, bell-tokens made, and mountains and rivers regulated.
For each ward in the capital let there be appointed one alderman, and for four wards one chief alderman, who shall be charged with the superintendence of the population, and the examination of criminal matters. For appointment as chief aldermen of wards let men be taken belonging to the wards, of unblemished character, firm and upright, so that they may fitly sustain the duties of the time. For appointments as aldermen, whether of rural townships or of city wards, let ordinary subjects be taken belonging to the township or ward, of good character and solid capacity. If such men are not to be found in the township or ward in question, it is permitted to select and employ men of the adjoining township or ward.
The Home provinces shall include the region from the River Yokogaha at Nabari on the east, from Mount Senoyama in Kiï on the south, from Kushibuchi in Akashi on the west, and from Mount Afusaka-yama in Sasanami in Afumi on the north. Districts of forty townships are constituted Greater Districts, of from thirty to four townships are constituted Middle Districts, and of three or fewer townships are constituted Lesser Districts. For the district authorities, of whatever class, let there be taken Kuni no Miyakko of unblemished character, such as may fitly sustain the duties of the time, and made Tairei and Shōrei. Let men of solid capacity and intelligence who are skilled in writing and arithmetic be appointed assistants and clerks.
The number of special or ordinary post-horses given shall in all cases follow the number of marks on the posting bell-tokens. When bell-tokens are given to (officials of) the provinces and barriers, let them be held in both cases by the chief official, or in his absence by the assistant official.
III. Let there now be provided for the first time registers of population, books of account and a system of the receipt and re-granting of distribution-land.
Let every fifty houses be reckoned a township, and in every township let there be one alderman who shall be charged with the superintendence of the population, the direction of the sowing of crops and the cultivation of mulberry trees, the prevention and examination of offences, and the enforcement of the payment of taxes and of forced labour.
For rice-land, thirty paces in length by twelve paces in breadth shall be reckoned a tan. Ten tan make one chō. For each tan the tax is two sheaves and two bundles (such as can be grasped in the hand) of rice; for each chō the tax is twenty-two sheaves of rice. On mountains or in valleys where the land is precipitous, or in remote places where the population is scanty, such arrangements are to be made as may be convenient.
IV. The old taxes and forced labour are abolished, and a system of commuted taxes instituted. These shall consist of fine silks, coarse silks, raw silk, and floss silk, all in accordance with what is produced in the locality. For each chō of rice-land the rate is one rod of fine silk, or for four chō one piece forty feet in length by two and a half feet in width. For coarse silk the rate is two rods (per chō), or one piece for every two chō of the same length and width as the fine silk. For cloth the rate is four rods of the same dimensions as the fine and coarse silk, i.e. one tan for each chō. [No rates of weight are anywhere given for silk or floss silk.] Let there be levied separately a commuted house tax. All houses shall pay each one rod and two feet of cloth. The extra articles of this tax, as well as salt and offerings, will depend on what is produced in the locality. For horses for the public service, let every hundred houses contribute one horse of medium quality. Or if the horse is of superior quality, let one be contributed by every two hundred houses. If the horses have to be purchased, the price shall be made up by a payment from each house of one rod and two feet of cloth. As to weapons, each person shall contribute a sword, armour, bow and arrows, a flag, and a drum. For coolies, the old system, by which one coolie was provided by every thirty houses, is altered, and one coolie is to be furnished from every fifty houses [one is for employment as a menial servant] for allotment to the various functionaries. Fifty houses shall be allotted to provide rations for one coolie, and one house shall contribute two rods and two feet of cloth and five masu of rice in lieu of service.
For waiting-women in the Palace, let there be furnished the sisters or daughters of district officials of the rank of Shörei or upwards—good-looking women [with one male and two female servants to attend on them], and let 100 houses be allotted to provide rations for one waiting-woman. The cloth and rice supplied in lieu of service shall, in every case, follow the same rule as for coolies."