Describing the Process by Which the Ritsuryo System Emerged

Ritsuryo is a Japanese equivalent of the Chinese term “moylin” referring to two types of Chinese law, criminal and administrative. The Japanese legal system Ritsuryo was borrowed from Tang China. Reforms aimed at transformation of Japan into a civilized state occurred in the 7th century.

Therefore, the period when Tycho reform was put into practice in Japan is usually referred to as “the period of state based on law” (“ritsuryo coccus”). At that time, the Japanese tried to implement the political ideal of a centralized state. The composed legislation formally continued functioning in Japan until the Meiji period. More and more new laws were considered only as a supplement to previous ones. The term Ritsuryo refers to the codes of law “Taiho Ritsuryo” and “Yoro Ritsure”. These are the fundamental sources of information on history and laws of ancient Japan.

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Their original texts were not preserved, but many of them were restored from fragments found in other works. There are some differences between “Taiho Ritsuryo” and “Yoro Ritsure”, but their bases are equal. The information regarding interpretations of Shintoism is contained in the sixth scroll of “Ritsuryo”. It lists various seasonal and unusual Shinto rituals, including the enthronement ceremony. Thus, the system of Ritsuryo law defined socio-political system and lifestyle of the Japanese people for more than 500 years. This legal monument includes several different codes: civil code, family code, land code, etc.

Various law areas were combined in one statute due to absence of the very notion of legal institutions and branches of law at that period.