Sample Essay on Bakuhan System
The Bakuhan system was a political system that was established at the beginning of the 17th century by the Tokugawa house in Japan. According to most historians, this political system was the most complex ever to be developed. Bakuhan system was like the feudal system in Europe.
The king or emperor, feudal barons, retainers and pope in Europe are compared to the shogun, the samurai retainers, the daimyo and emperor in Japan. However, Bakuhan system was very bureaucratic and this was not the case for the feudal system in Europe.
This political system established by the Tokugawa was called Bakuhan system from the word Baku. Baku is derived from the word bakufu which refers to the government used by the Tokugawa leaders in administering private affairs in their fief. The word Han that is combined with Baku means domain and it refers to more than 250 domains that existed during Edo period.
As such, the term Bakuhan simply means co-existence of Tokugawa government having independent, separate governments in the fiefs. Each daimyo was also a retainer of shogun implying that the shogunate or bakufu had some authority across the whole of Japan. It is important to note that Bakuhan system was not a centralized hierarchy of the political authorities or a feudal system. Instead, it was simply a system where two government levels existed but their independence level was higher.
The shogunate or Bakufu of the Tokugawa system was much of a domainal government because it had the responsibility of first, administering the limited territory or the Tokugawa house’s fief. Therefore, it was concerned with the control of samurai class, ensuring civil order, collecting taxes which primarily came from agriculture, controlling cities, defending fief, manufacturing and encouraging commerce which were important for fief and limiting undesirable commerce among other activities. The government had similar scope in most of the domains. Actually, most domains adopted the shogunate or bakufu system as the Edo period continued.
Tokugawa bakafu or shogunate concerns and responsibilities went past those of an ordinary domain. This is because they were the hegemons that presided over the entire country. The Tokugawa government dealt with the emperor, the imperial nobility and imperial court. Since the shogun office as an appointment of the imperial system, the emperor acted as the only legitimacy source.
Additionally, Confucianism was adopted as the official ideology by Tokugawa house and it focused its attention on emperor. This enabled the Tokugawa shogunate to establish monopoly in accessing the imperial court. Although this monopoly was later breached, the Tokugawa manipulated and controlled the court to serve its purposes.
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