Minister of the Left

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Premodern Japan
Imperial seal of Japan
Part of a series on the politics and
government of Japan during the
Nara and Heian periods

Chancellor / Chief Minister
Minister of the Left Sadaijin
Minister of the Right Udaijin
Minister of the Center Naidaijin
Major Counselor Dainagon
Middle Counselor Chūnagon
Minor Counselor Shōnagon
Eight Ministries
Center Nakatsukasa-shō  
Ceremonial Shikibu-shō
Civil Administration Jibu-shō
Popular Affairs Minbu-shō
War Hyōbu-shō
Justice Gyōbu-shō
Treasury Ōkura-shō
Imperial Household Kunai-shō

The Minister of the Left (左大臣, Sadaijin, [1]) was a government position in Japan in the late Nara and Heian periods. The position was consolidated in the Taihō Code of 702.

The Asuka Kiyomihara Code of 689 marks the initial appearance of the sadaijin in the context of a central administrative body called the Daijō-kan[1] (Council of State). This early Daijō-kan was composed of the three ministers—the daijō-daijin (Chancellor), the sadaijin and the udaijin (Minister of the Right).[2]

The sadaijin was the Senior Minister of State, overseeing all functions of government with the udaijin as his deputy.[3]

Within the Daijō-kan, the sadaijin was second only to the daijō-daijin (the Great Minister, or Chancellor of the Realm) in power and influence. Frequently, a member of the Fujiwara family would take the position in order to help justify and exercise the power and influence the family held.

The post of sadaijin, along with the rest of the Daijō-kan structure, gradually lost power over the 10th and 11th centuries, as the Fujiwara came to dominate politics more and more. The system was essentially powerless by the end of the 12th century, when the Minamoto, a warrior clan, seized control of the country from the court aristocracy (kuge). However, it is not entirely clear when the Daijō-kan system was formally dismantled prior to the Meiji era.


  1. ^ a b Kenkyusha's New Japanese-English Dictionary, Kenkyusha Limited, ISBN 4-7674-2015-6
  2. ^ Hall, John Whitney et al. (1993). The Cambridge History of Japan, p. 232.
  3. ^ Shin-meikai-kokugo-jiten,Sanseido Co., Ltd. Tokyo 1974