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Gogi and kogi

As is already clear, the political system of this polity had been one of extreme authoritarianism. Even in high estimations, the ruling class of the bushi amounted to no more than one-tenth of the population. As the local governments of the “domains” (han ür) did not exceed 300, their lords amounted to no more than 0.00001 percent of the population. Moreover, the Shogun WM, who held authority and mled isolatedly over them, was, of course, a single person. This ruling élite was essentially all male, and their positions were hereditary.

They hardly cared about whether their governance was based on “popular will” (min 'i KÊ).16 On the contrary, one could not even positively say that they pretended to be governing "for the people.” Therefore, there was little need for intellectuals within the system to rhetorically reinforce the legitimation of the government. In this respect, the situation differed from the dynasties in the Asian mainland and in the Korean peninsula, which, while being equally authoritarian systems, employed Confucian political theory in institutions and educations, and which, while linking it to the recruitment system of talents via Imperial examinations, were fully structured around the concept of "benevolent government” (jinsei "fZ-itiC).17 In the Japanese archipelago, where such a way for intellectuals to become an élite within the system by passing public ability tests such as the Imperial examinations did not exist, the standing army, without modifications, was the bureaucracy. They were essentially a hereditary military regime, and their rule was, in short, a military government.

On the other hand, these specificities of this political system, characterized by official ideology and the nonexistence of Imperial examinations, were also advantageous for the introduction of a political architecture centered around a parliament. This was because the Japanese archipelago avoided the demise of the hereditary élite and the concentration of powers around the Emperor brought about in China and Korea by the Confucian notion of “benevolent government” and the Imperial examination system. A division of powers as has been described above persisted, which ensured the need for “consultations” (gôgi -qIM) in the decision-making process. As a matter of fact, the decision-making of the central government took place in a powerful bureaucratic consultative body called the “Council of Elders” (Rôjû Concerning the critical questions of the contacts

with the countries of the West, it has been said that the central government’s will to decide them in “consultations” with the various local governments and the Kinri was, on the one hand, the first step to the collapse of this system, but that, even more so, it expressed the original character of this system.18

Furthermore, Confucianism not being an official ideology, it brought about an active intellectual life. Although they could not combine money and fame, a host of intellectual schools appeared in the various regions and engendered a common intellectual and artistic circle in which they referred to and criticized each other. From the beginning of the nineteenth century, following the institutionalization of Confucianism, the bushi began to study Confucianism as part of their standard education, became acquainted with its vocabulary, and also accumulated experience in debating through language. From these circumstances, in the last stage of this system, the opinion that decision-making should proceed from “public deliberation and opinion” (kôgiyoron was supposed to be shared

even by actors holding differing interests.

 
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