Hiramatsu Yoshirō, Summary of Tokugawa Criminal Justice, 22 Law in Japan: An Annual 105 (1989), Daniel H. Foote (Compiler and translator)
The summary set forth below is derived principally from the late Professor Yoshiro Hiramatsu's-comprehensive study of Tokugawa criminal justice. Hiramatsu's work focusses on the period from the promulgation of the Osadamegaki by the Shogun Yoshimune in 1742 through the end of the Tokugawa era in 1867. (As described by Professor Dan F. Henderson, Conciliation and Japanese Law, Tokugawa and Modern (1965), Vol. 1, at 7, fn. 26, the Osadamegaki, which consisted of two books, constituted "a compilation and rough codification of prior decrees and precedents", and "was the only such official attempt to systematize the law in the Tokugawa period." The First Book focused primarily on administrative matters, the Second Book on criminal matters.)
During the Tokugawa era there were numerous separate criminal justice systems. Some of these were based on territorial authority. For example, each of the roughly 265 Daimyo domains (the han) had its own criminal justice system. Other systems derived from the authority of an organized body. This was the case, for.example, with the criminal justice system of the organization for eta and other outcasts. For still other bodies, such as temples and shrines, the criminal authority derived from both territorial and organizational aspects. The largest criminal justice system, however, was that of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The Shogunate held by far the largest domain and also ruled the major cities, such as Edo (now Tokyo), Kyoto, and Osaka. Part I of Hiramatsu's work discusses the criminal justice systems of the Daimyo, temples and shrines, and other organized bodies; Part II examines the Shogunate (bakufu) criminal justice system. The summary set forth below focusses on the latter materials.
Before turning to Hiramatsu's description of the Shogunate criminal process, a brief summary of the various participants is in order. At the center were the Shogun himself, as well as a Senior Council (rojli), and Conference Chamber (hyojosho); the so-called Three Commissions (sanbugyo)―the Towns Commission (machi bugyo), Temples and Shrines Commission(jisha bugyo) and Finance Commission (kanjo bugyo); the Roads Commission (dochD bugyo); and the office for the control of incendiaries and thieves (hitsuke tozoku aratame). In addition, there were Governors, Deputies, and Commissioners for Kyoto, Osaka and the various distant provinces, as well as magistrates for more rural districts and towns. These officials were assisted by a broad range of lower officials. These included Great Inspectors (ometsuke) and Inspectors (metsuke), whose duties included monitoring the performance of duties by other officials; lnvestigating Officers (ginmimono shirabeyaku) whose duties included conducting investigations and recording the results; Recording Officers (tomeyaku), whose duties included conducting trials, researching precedents and drafting documents; and two levels of police/investigators, yoriki and doshin. As the following account reveals, private parties, including the so-called meakashi, also played a significant role in the criminal justice system.
The following summary reflects my own sifting process. I have included the information that I felt to be most important and/or interesting; but I certainly have not attempted to translate verbatim, Or even to summarize, everything that appears in the nearly 700 pages of Part II of Hiramatsu's work. To assist anyone who may be interested in pursuing particular issues further, I have indicated the relevant Chapter and Section headings from the original work, as well as the relevant page numbers. For the most part, I have simply summarized, rather than translating directly. In certain instances, however, especially when dealing with Hiramatsu's own conclusions, I have felt it appropriate to include verbatim translations. In those cases, I have used quotation marks.
Yoshiro Hiramatsu, Kinsei keijisoshoho no kenkyu, Part II (Bakufu Criminal Procedure); Second Division. (The First Division of Part II, from pages 403 to 597, focusses on the general organizational structure, briefly summarized above, as well as such topics as jurisdiction, sources of law, and private punishment authority. The Second Division focusses on the criminal justice process itself.)