Uesugi Harunori

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In this Japanese name, the family name is Uesugi.
Uesugi Harunori

Uesugi Harunori (上杉 治憲, 1751–1822) was a Japanese daimyo. He was the 9th leader of the Yonezawa domain. This domain the area that today is the Yonezawa and Okitama region. Uesugi was born in Edo. He was the second son of a daimyo of the Akizuki clan. His father controlled part of Hyuga province. His mother was a granddaughter of the fourth head of Yonezawa. As a child, he was called "Matsusaburō" (松三郎) and "Naomatsu" (直松). He was adopted by the daimyo of Yonezawa, Uesugi Shigesada. In 1767 he replaced Shigesada as diamyo. After retirement, he began to use the , or pen name, Yozan (鷹山).

Today, Uesugi is best remembered for his financial changes in his domain. He is often used as an example of a good governor of a domain. Yonezawa had been in debt for about a hundred years when Uesugi took over. Shigesada had thought about returning the domain to the shogunate because of the debt. His his father-in-law, the daimyo of Owari province, told him he should resign as daimyo instead of this. This is how Uesugi came to be daimyo of Yonezawa. He created strict disciplinary measures. Several of his karō (advisers) did not think his plans were good. He had these people killed. Because of many of the changes he caused, Yonezawa became prosperous. It also did not suffer much from the famine in Japan in the Tenmei era (1781-9). In 1830, less than a decade after Harunori's death, the shogunate said that Yonezawa was a paragon of a well-governed domain.

Uesugi's beliefs about governance and how a feudal lord show act were written in a letter to his son Haruhiro:

The state (国家, kokka) is inherited from one's ancestors and passed on to one's descendants; it should not be administered selfishly.

The people belong to the state; they should not be administered selfishly.
The lord exists for the sake of the state and the people: the state and the people do not exist for the sake of the lord.[1]

This means:

  • The person who rules the state get the state from the people that ruled it before him and will give it to those that rule after him. The ruler should not rule in a way which is bad for the state.
  • The people are a part of the state. The ruler should rule them in the way that is best for them. He should not rule in the way that is best for him.
  • The job of the ruler is make things better for the people and the state. It is not the job of the people and the state to make things better for the ruler.

References[change | change source]

  1. Mark Ravina (1995). “State-Building and Political Economy in Early-Modern Japan,” Journal of Asian Studies 54.4.