According to the Nihon Shoki, the definitive history of ancient Japan, written in Japan in 720, Prince Shotoku created a seventeen-article ‘constitution,’ which was adopted during the reign of Empress Suiko, his aunt. This was not a modern constitution designed for the governing of state and subjects, but a set of regulations inspired equally by Buddhism and Confucianism which focused on the morals and virtues that should be the aspiration of every subject in the realm. It is one of the earliest constitutions in history which is as it should be perhaps, ie. more spiritual than legal or civic.
Prince Shotoku had several titles which provide a neat outline to his biography, as follows:
- Prince of the Stable Door (Umayodo no Miko). This is due to the legend that his mother gave birth to him unexpectedly and without any pain whilst inspecting the imperial stables.
- Prince of Eight…
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