The Bakuhan system was a government structure applied in Japan. The term Bakuhan was coined from the combination of bakufu and han. Bakufu operated as the central government during that period while han mainly represented feudal remains that were controlled by daimyo. Bakuhan system was mainly formed to allow for power sharing between the shogun and daimyo. The system was an establishment by the Tokugawa house in early 17th century.
During the time of the formation of the bakuhan system of government, the Tokugawa controlled a quarter of the arable land in Japan. The remainder was under the control of daimyo that had their own army, governments and even justice system. Even though the emperor remained on the throne even after the formation of the government structure, his powers had been significantly reduced. As a result of the unification, land was to be re-distributed. The redistribution accorded the Tozama sections of land along the islands. However, they were left out of any positions that existed in the central government.
The bakuhan system of government required all daimyo to pledge loyalty to the shogun in order to gain the authority to rule their domains. In fact, several duties were imposed on the daimyo by the shogun in order to keep them in check. Among the duties was the sankin kotai, an order that required the daimyo to spend not less half of their time in Edo. In this was way, the shogun was able to keep the daimyo under his close surveillance. Besides, the daimyo were also required to provide labor and resources for public works like building castles for the shogun. According to the shogun, any daimyo that went against the bakufu laws or even passed away without leaving behind an heir, had to have his or her property confiscated, or reassigned a new domain.
In order to consolidate the position of Japan, the shoguns placed restrictions on the contacts that their subjects had with the outside world. The Tokugawa traded with foreigners but were concerned about the spread of Christianity. Their belief was that Christianity was religion that appeared to be subversive and would undermine the rule of law in society. It is this belief that led to the expulsion of Christian missionaries in 1614. In the 1920s, quite a number of Japanese were murdered and persecuted for having converted to Christianity.
The years that followed saw the implementation of even much tougher laws that included even forbidding the import of Christian books into Japan. Travel and trade outside Japan was also prohibited. Even construction of sea vessels was for bidden. The only foreigners who were allowed to engage in trading activities with the locals were the Dutch who were placed under confinement in Deshima.
The bakuhan system valued so much its policy of limited isolation and that can be said to be among the reasons why it was able to maintain its independence and peace for decades. In fact, the Tokugawa political system was a great success till mid 19th century when rebellions and economic downturn began weakening the regime.
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