Problems under Taika reforms

to know what are Taika reforms read my last post.

In Taika reforms the official posts were given only to men but they were not completely based on just their abilities and education but also on their social standing. High level positions were still reserved for the men belonging to the esteemed families. There were government colleges but they were only meant for the kids with a good family lineage and were not open to all. But then also even if a person had got the necessary education they were only entitled to high government positions by their family background. Higher the background, higher the position. The positions of the people at the higher ranks were inherited by their children. Thus these families never lost their status even after the implementation of the Taika reforms.

The main objective of bringing the Taika reforms was to restate the imperial authority by reorganizing the government and abolishing the title system called Kabane, which was being followed. The capital was set in Nara and land tax, military service and labor compulsions were introduced on the subjects, and also all the private weaponry was taken in the imperial armory. Even an exam system was established but unlike in China, the exam system was only meant for the noble families in Japan.

These reforms did mean the non- existence of women in the government offices. Before these reforms were implemented women used to work in the imperial courts, basically, as managers. Now the women were more restricted and much more in official platforms in japan just like in China.

Photo by Evgeny Tchebotarev on

In the Taika reforms only men were allowed to serve in the government as women were considered to be very emotional and not able to be practical when need be. The women could still very well inherit the property but they could not anymore increase their estate by the way of political authority as they were completely removed from possessing any political position.

Many social practices were ended to bring the Japanese society more closely to the Chinese practices. But still the powerful clans enjoyed their authority in the imperial court as well as the regional governments.

In the start of the 8th century, the officials that were seated at the higher ranks of bureaucracy were no more than 125 men. These were the men that had the highest offices as were positioned as the governors of the major provinces. At the top most level there were at least ten court aristocrats who were the key decision makers. They were considered to be politically, socially, and culturally the most elite of all. This led to the widening of gap between the common people and the aristocrats and it was further increased as the aristocrats were not willing to leave the capital and serve in the countryside.

The Taika reforms shortened the independence of the local officials and placed the power in the hands of the imperial court which ultimately became the place for the place of appeal or complaint for the people.

Photo by Evgeny Tchebotarev on

Why were they rejected

The Taika reforms were introduced in Japan because the Han and the T’ang dynasties in China both used these reforms and were extremely successful, but unfortunately these reforms were rejected by the Buddhist monks and even the aristocrats because they wanted to brace Japan’s own culture and not become like the Chinese and follow their ideologies and cultural tradition. The Taika reforms were meant to be better adjusted to the Japanese political system but it did not please the aristocrats that were already inside the system. There was confrontation from the Japanese aristocrats as well as the Buddhist monks, they were against the Taika reforms. Rather than the imperial court the regional lords had more power. The aristocrats and the Buddhist monks slowly started to gain a lot of support from the Japanese people and were then able to prohibit the Taika reforms that were implemented. Hence the Taika reforms failed to influence the people of japan and Japanese society. Japan shifted from the imperial system to a regionalized government.

Source: Mikiso Hane