"On the Worries of Succession and Intergenerational Recognition of Asuka"

On the Succession Concerns and Intergenerational Recognition of Asuka Mizuhara#

Original article published by EuphoriaHysteria on April 8, 2024

Scholars have long focused on discussing the contributions of past leaders during their tenure in the three generations of governance, but there has been little discussion on the cause and effect, details, and actions of the succession of the Minister of the Brass Band, as well as the opinions and actions of others. However, the transfer of power symbolizes the rotation of power and the gradual decline of the influence of the older generation, allowing the younger generation to rise to the top under strict age regulations. As the saying goes, "As the emperor, so the officials." Whether it is the competition for the position of Minister or the pursuit of influential positions, all actions surrounding this goal reveal the true nature of people's character and wisdom, as well as their ability to see the bigger picture.

For many years, Haruka Ogasawara served as the Minister, and it was well known that Asuka Mizuhara was the successor. Therefore, during the transfer of power, Mizuhara took the lead, with Ogasawara's support. According to Takeda's "The Secret History of Kitauji, Volume Twelve":

"Yoshikawa said, 'Yoshikawa is intelligent and capable, self-disciplined and dedicated to public service, which deeply aligns with my intentions. I hereby pass the position to Yoshikawa.' Then, he asked the officials, 'Does anyone have any objections?' The ministers remained silent. He then said, 'So be it.' Takuya Goto announced, and the ministers applauded and paid their respects."

There is also a record in "The History of Kitauji, Volume Five, Part Four":

"Yoshikawa said, 'You must not refuse! The late king said to me, "The Minister must be able to lead the masses, capable of taking charge, and have loyal subordinates." That is why the late king passed it on to me, and I, in turn, pass it on to you.'"

Yoshikawa is a person of integrity, and her intentions are widely supported. With five years of experience as a section leader, she is undoubtedly strong, surpassing Kaori Chikita and surpassing Yume Kohinata. The Nakanaka Party has Natsuki Nakaki and Konomi Shibamiya to handle various matters, fellow classmates Yūko Kabe and junior members Kumiko Ōmae to coordinate everyone. With all three abilities, Asuka Mizuhara instructed Haruka Ogasawara to pass on the position of Minister to Yoshikawa. Similarly, Yoshikawa passed on the position to Kumiko Ōmae.

In fact, there is no historical evidence to prove that Mizuhara requested Yoshikawa to pass on the position to Kumiko Ōmae at the same time as passing it on to Yoshikawa. It seems that all the claims of "intergenerational recognition" are based on the phrase "The late king passed it on to me, and I, in turn, pass it on to you." However, the "late king" referred to here is actually Haruka Ogasawara; even if this is Yoshikawa's hidden meaning, it is not enough to directly prove intergenerational recognition. However, through certain reasonable inference, it is not difficult to see the great righteousness in Takeda's historical records: before the transfer of power in the second year, Yoshikawa already understood that Kumiko Ōmae was the most suitable successor after three years; and Mizuhara also believed that Yoshikawa could roughly perceive this, as Yoshikawa's desire for the position became significant in the later part of the second year, indicating that she had plans for the ministry in the third year. However, this is an unspoken understanding between two cunning political leaders, known only to themselves and not recorded in history books. Moreover, the two of them had limited interactions, and if they misunderstood each other, the consequences would be unimaginable. Therefore, if Mizuhara had any attitude to convey to Yoshikawa, the wording of the transfer would be the only hint.

Undeniably, Yoshikawa has great political wisdom. So when she heard Mizuhara's transfer decree, she already understood that in Mizuhara's eyes, Kumiko Ōmae was the more suitable successor than herself, otherwise she would not have said:

"This is the late king's trust in me, and it is also your trust. When I first ascended to the throne, I secretly designated you as the successor."

  • ("The History of Kitauji, Volume Five, Part Four")

And Yoshikawa firmly believed that Kumiko Ōmae, with her political wisdom, would realize that this praise from Mizuhara, "as if the gentle wind," came from the favor of her elders, and would therefore strive for the highest position. Even if Yoshikawa did not know about Mizuhara's praise, it was widely known within the ministry that Kumiko Ōmae and Mizuhara were close, and the meaning behind it was not difficult to perceive. If Yoshikawa neglected Kumiko Ōmae during her tenure and passed on the position to someone else, then the new Minister in the third year would be destined to be unstable: Kumiko Ōmae led the low brass section, Reina Kōsaka led the trumpet section, Shūichi Tsukamoto led the trombone section, Masako Sakai and Junna Inoue led the percussion section, either confronting the central authority or acting as independent warlords, resulting in a loss of power and scattered support, and even political turmoil, affecting everyone. At that time, Yoshikawa would probably end up with a bad reputation. Moreover, during Haruka Ogasawara's solo competition in the first year, she played a crucial role as a core member of the seniority faction, which offended some young reformists, and she did not have many followers in the next term. During the first year retreat, her conversation with Kumiko Ōmae made Kumiko Ōmae one of the few younger members she truly understood, so the position of Minister could not be passed on to someone else.

Taking a step back, regardless of the succession of the throne, just for the sake of conveying the lower-level sentiments and smoothly communicating with the heavens, the Yoshikawa faction needed to select a capable person from the second-year students to be in charge of communication. Apart from Kumiko Ōmae, there was no one else suitable. For Yoshikawa, the internal situation of the ministry after her ascension was not clear, and winning the gold at the national competition was even more difficult. She was afraid that if she did not achieve success and faced criticism in the future, it would not be worth opposing Kumiko Ōmae, who was expected to lead the first glorious era in history. Therefore, it was better to show respect to her and go with the flow.

So what Yoshikawa could foresee, as the Minister with real power overseeing the government, how could Mizuhara not see it? Since Mizuhara could see that Yoshikawa passing on the position to Kumiko Ōmae was the trend, why would she go through the trouble of making every sentence sound more like a description of Kumiko Ōmae as the reason for passing on the position to Yoshikawa, risking the disorder of the political arena in the second year and the risk of being criticized as a "disorderly successor"? This clearly indicates that Mizuhara, through the transfer decree, recognized Kumiko Ōmae as Yoshikawa's successor, although the form was very subtle, both parties understood it. As a historian, Takeda cannot speculate on the motives of the Minister based on events that did not happen on the surface; and out of respect, it is also not appropriate to point out this meaning. Kyoto's historians went even further and directly omitted the process of the transfer in "The Final Chapter of the Oath," for the same reason.

As mentioned earlier, Mizuhara's intergenerational recognition was a risky move in a special historical context. Kumiko Ōmae had experienced three years of ups and downs in the Kitauji political arena and had met five generations, but had never heard of another "intergenerational recognition" case. In fact, as the Kitauji reform deepened year by year and the three generations of enlightened leaders continued to explore, Kitauji had transformed from a loose clan autonomy system to a well-structured system where each section leader closely united under the cabinet and the Minister led the ministry. This system allowed the Brass Band to enjoy a strong reputation. As for some scholarly papers that consider intergenerational recognition as a sign of the peak of power and even weaken the historical contributions of the Yoshikawa Cabinet, they have missed the mark.


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