Udaijin (右大臣), most commonly translated as the "Minister of the Right", was a government position in Japan in the late Nara and Heian periods. The position was created in 702 as part of the Daijō-kan (State Department) structure, by the Taihō Code.
The Udaijin was the Junior Minister of State, overseeing all branches of the Department of State (Daijō-kan). He would be the deputy of the Sadaijin (the Minister of the Left).
The post of Udaijin, along with the rest of the Daijō-kan structure, gradually lost power over the 10th and 11th centuries, as the Fujiwara came to dominate politics more and more. The system was essentially powerless by the end of the 12th century, when the Minamoto, a warrior clan, seized control of the country from the court aristocracy (kuge). However, it is not entirely clear whether the Daijō-kan system was formally dismantled prior to the Meiji era.
A revealing framework
Any exercise of meaningful powers of court officials in the pre-Meiji period
reached its nadir during the years of the Tokugawa shogunate
, and yet the structure Council of State (Daijō-kan
) did manage to persist. It is not possible to evaluate any individual office without assessing its role in the context of a durable yet flexible network and hierarchy of functionaries.
The highest positions in the court hierarchy can be cataloged. A dry list provides a superficial glimpse inside the complexity of the court structure:
- 2. .
- 3. .
- 4. .
- 5. . There are commonly three Dainagon; sometimes more.
- 6. .
- 7. . There are commonly three Shōnagon.
- 8. . This office functions as a manager of activities within the palace.
- 9. . These are specifically named men who act at the sole discretion of the emperor.
- 10. This administrator was charged or tasked with supervising four ministries: Center, Civil Services, Ceremonies, and Taxation.
- 11. This administrator was charged or tasked with supervising four ministries: Military, Justice, Treasury and Imperial Household.
- 12. .
- 13. .
- 14. .
- 15. .
- 16. .
- 17. .
- 18. . There are twenty officials with this title.
The Eight Ministries
A mere list of the court titles cannot reveal nearly enough about the actual functioning of the Daijō-kan
; but at least the broad hierarchical relationships become more readily identified:
- I. .
- II. ; also known as the "Ministry of Legislative Direction and Public Instruction".
- III. ; also known as the "Ministry of the Interior".
- IV. .
- V. .
- VI. .
- VII. .
- VIII. .
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