Sessho and Kanpaku
- Japanese: 摂政・関白 (sesshou, kanpaku), 摂関 (sekkan)
Sesshô and kanpaku refer to imperial regents; the sesshô served as regent for an emperor in his minority (i.e. before he was old enough to rule on his own), while a kanpaku served as regent for an adult emperor. These positions were particularly influential during the Heian period, and were for a time in the 10th-11th centuries dominated by members of the Fujiwara clan, who exerted considerable political influence as regents. However, the posts continued to exist through the Edo period, albeit becoming largely honorary or ceremonial.
Fujiwara no Yoshifusa was the first imperial regent to not be from the imperial family himself, though the terms sesshô and kanpaku were not yet in use. Fujiwara no Mototsune, some time later, would be the first officially appointed kanpaku.
For a time in the mid-to-late Heian period, the Fujiwara dominated these regency positions, and also employed political marriages to ensure that nearly every emperor of the time had a Fujiwara grandfather and Fujiwara father-in-law. Members of the Fujiwara clan frequently pressured emperors to retire quite young, and to bring underage heirs onto the throne, ensuring greater powers for the regent. Further, Fujiwara grandfathers or fathers-in-law often selected the regents. This shifted when Emperor Shirakawa, upon his retirement in 1086, insisted on naming his successor's regent, and on continuing to exert influence otherwise, thus marking the beginning of the Retired Emperor or Insei period, in which Retired Emperors vied with the Fujiwara clan for power, with the former quickly coming out on top.
By the early 13th century, a set of five branch families of the Fujiwara, known as the Gosekke (lit. "Five Se[sshô] Houses"), alternated control of the regency. These five families, the Konoe, Ichijô, Nijô, Kujô, and Takatsukasa, continued to dominate the position well into the Edo period.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi was a notable exception, one of the very few not of Fujiwara descent to be named regent. He was adopted by Konoe Sakihisa, however, in order to lend legitimacy to his appointment. For Hideyoshi, this was largely a symbolic title, but an important one, legitimizing his rule. He passed on this title to his nephew Toyotomi Hidetsugu in 1592. After the fall of the Toyotomi clan, the Gosekke resumed their domination of the regency.
List of Regents
- Fujiwara no Yoshifusa (Sesshô 857-872)
- Fujiwara no Mototsune (Sesshô 873-880, Kanpaku 880-891)
- Fujiwara no Tadahira (Sesshô 930-941, Kanpaku 941-949)
- None (949-967)
- Fujiwara no Saneyori (Kanpaku 967-969, Sesshô 969-970)
- Fujiwara no Koretada (Sesshô 970-972)
- Fujiwara no Kanemichi (Kanpaku 972-977)
- Fujiwara no Yoritada (Kanpaku 977-986)
- Fujiwara no Kaneie (Sesshô 986-990, Kanpaku 990)
- Fujiwara no Michitaka (Sesshô 990-993, Kanpaku 993-995)
- Fujiwara no Michikane (Kanpaku 995)
- Fujiwara no Michinaga (Kanpaku 995-1017, Sesshô 1016-1017)
- Fujiwara no Yorimichi (Sesshô 1017-1019, Kanpaku 1019-1068)
- Fujiwara no Norimichi (Kanpaku 1068-1075)
- Fujiwara no Morozane (Kanpaku 1075-1086, Sesshô 1088-1090, Kanpaku 1090-1094)
- Fujiwara no Moromichi (Kanpaku 1094-1099)
- Fujiwara no Tadazane (Kanpaku 1105-1107, Sesshô 1107-1113, Kanpaku 1113-1121)
- Fujiwara no Tadamichi (Kanpaku 1121-1123, Sesshô 1123-1129, Kanpaku 1129-1141, Sesshô 1141-1150, Kanpaku 1150-1158)
- Fujiwara no Motozane (Kanpaku 1158-1165, Sesshô 1165-1166)
- Fujiwara no Motofusa (Sesshô 1166-1172)
- Fujiwara no Motomichi (Kanpaku 1179-1180, Sesshô 1180-1183, Sesshô 1184-1186)
- Fujiwara no Moroiye (Sesshô 1183-1184)
- Fujiwara Yoshitsune (Sesshô ?-?)
- Kujô Michiie (Sesshô, Kanpaku ?-?)
- Kujô Norizane (Sesshô ?-?)
- Kujô Yoshizane (Sesshô ?-?)
- Ichijô Sanetsune (Sesshô ?-?)
- Nijô Yoshimoto (Kanpaku, c. 1349)
- Ichijô Fusaie (Kanpaku, c. 1468)
- Ichijô Fusafuyu (Kanpaku ?-?)
- Konoe Taneie (Kanpaku ?-?)
- Konoe Sakihisa (Kanpaku 1554-?)
- Toyotomi Hideyoshi (Kanpaku 1585-1592)
- Toyotomi Hidetsugu (Kanpaku 1592-?)
- Konoe Nobutada (Kanpaku 1605-?)
- Nijô Mitsuhira (Kanpaku ?-?)
- Takatsukasa Fusasuke (Kanpaku ?-1682)
- Ichijô Fuyutsune (Kanpaku 1682-?)
- Konoe Motohiro (Kanpaku 1690-?)
- Konoe Iehiro (Kanpaku 1707-1709, Sesshô 1709-1712)
- Konoe Iehisa (Sesshô, Kanpaku ?-?)
- Takatsukasa Sukehira (Kanpaku 1787-1791)
- Evelyn Rawski, Early Modern China and Northeast Asia: Cross-Border Perspectives, Cambridge University Press (2015), 155-156.
- Sometimes spelled kampaku, reflecting the phonetic change when ん ('n') precedes certain sounds, such as ぱ ('pa'). The spelling in Japanese kana spelling remains unchanged, however; this is merely a change of pronunciation.
- Cecilia Segawa Seigle, "Shinanomiya Tsuneko: Portrait of a Court Lady," in Anne Walthall (ed.), The Human Tradition in Modern Japan, Scholarly Resources, Inc. (2002), 6, 14.