Founder of the ruling Japanese family, Fujiwara. He presided over the development of the Japanese legal code known as Sandai-kyaku-shiki, sometimes referred to as the Rules and regulations of the Three generations.

Kamatari, a shinto Confucian samurai, was an opponent of the Soga clan, and of their preference for the Buddhist religion.

While a young man, Kamatari accidentally befriended Prince Naka and together, they fostered their adherence to Confucius doctrines.

In 645, he orchestrated the assassination of the Emperor Iruka. The tale is still legend in Japan. Ituka always carried a sword. He was cajoled into removing it and the gates of the palace discreetly locked. Naka's henchmen attacked the emperor but only wounded him. Iruka crawled to the throne and begged for mercy. But he was finished off as Naka and Kamataria waited nervously for the reaction of the other nobles. They rushed to Naka's side and pledged allegiance.

A symbolic emperor was appointed with prince Naka firmly behind the scenes, and Kamatari became Naishin, the top political position in Japan. He leapt into his new role as statesman. His agenda was to break through the Buddhist stronghold on Japanese society. This, he decided to do by murder and law. Naka had a puppet emperor appointed (Kotoku) and named Kamatari Minister of the Interior in the great Taiko Reforms of 646 but Kamatari's legacy was all over the reforms, reporting only to the Emperor.

The Daika Reforms (also known as Taisha or Taika Reforms) were overwhelming and are described in detail in Japan: A Legal History.

Kamatari sent his eldest son to lead a delegation to the then-capital of China, Changan, in 653.

His family, the Fujiwara, from Kamatari's time on, became the official suppliers of wives to the Japanese emperors; the imperial in-laws.

REFERENCES:

  • Brinkley, F., A History of the Japanese People (London: Encyclopedia Britannica Co., 1915)
  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Japan: A Legal History
  • Portrait is of Fujiwara Kamatari, Nassan national Museum