Translated into English by Hajime Nakamura


Harmony is to be valued,and an avoidance of wanton opposition to be honoured.All men are influenced by class-feelings ; few are intelligent. Hence there are some who disobey their lords and fathers, or maintain feuds with the neighboring villages. But when those high and those low are harmonious and friendly, and there is concord in the discussion of business, things proceed spontaneously of themselves to their truths. Then what is there which cannot be accomplished?

- 十七条憲法・第一条 -


Sincerely revere the Three Treasures - Buddha, the Law and the Priesthood, the final refuge of all kinds of generated beings, the supreme objects of faith in all countries. What man in what age can fail to revere this Law? Few men are utterly bad. They may be taught to follow it. But if they do not take to the Three Treasures, how shall their crooked-ness be made straight?

- 十七条憲法・第二条 -


When you receive the orders of the Sovereign, you should listen to them reverentially. The lords is like the heaven and the subjects are like the earth. With the heaven above and the earth below united in perfor-ming their functions loyally in their respective positions, we shall see the world ruled in perfect good order as in the harmonious rotation of the four seasons... If the earth should attempt to supplant the heaven, all would simply fall in ruin. Therefore when the lord speaks, let his subjects listen and obey ; when the superiors act, the inferiors comply. Conse-quently when you receive the orders of the Sovereign, you should be attentive in carrying them out faithfully. If you fail in this, ruin is the natural consequence.

- 十七条憲法・第三条 -


All ministers and officials should make respectful propriety the basis of their behavior. The fundamental princi-ple of ruling the people consists in respectful propriety. When superiors lack respectful propriety, people in general bocome disorderly. When people in general lack respectful propriety, they will certainly commit misdeeds. Therefore, when offi-cials observe respectful propriety, social order is not disturbed ; when people in general observe respectful propriety, the affairs of the state will be managed without effort.

- 十七条憲法・第四条 -


In hearing judicial cases of common people judges should banish avaricious desires and give up their own inter-ests. Deal impartially with the suits brought by the people. Of the cases to be tried there are a thousand each day. If so many in one day, there will be immense numbers of disputes to be settled in the passage of years. Nowadays it is alleged that some judges seek their own profit, and attend to the cases after having taken bribes, which has given rise to the saying : 'The suits of the rich men are like a stone cast into the pond, whereas the suits of the poor men are like water thrown upon a rock.' Hence the poor people do not know where to turn. Such a state of affairs, if brought about, would mean a deficiency in the duty of officials.

- 十七条憲法・第五条 -


Punish the vicious and reward the virtuous. This is the excellent rule of antiquity. Do not, therefore, let the good deeds of any person go concealed, nor the bad deeds of any go uncorrected when you see them. Flatterers and deceivers are like a fatal missile which will overthrow the states, or a sharp sword which will destroy the people. Likewise, sycophants are fond of dilatings to their superiors on the errors of the inferiors ; to their inferiors, they censure the faults of the superiors. Such men are never loyal to their lord, nor benevolent toward the people. All this is the source whence breed grave civil distur-bances.

- 十七条憲法・第六条 -


Each person had a duty to perform ; let not the sphere of duty be confused. When wise and capable persons are entrusted with high offices, there will arise a unanimous voice of pleased approval ; but when wicked persons hold high offices, disasters and disturbances are multiplied. In this world there are few who are endowed with inborn wisdom ; sainthood is a goal attained after long self-discipline. All matters of State, whether great or small, will surely be well orderd when right persons are in the positions ; in any period, whether critical or peaceful, all affairs will be peacefully settled when wise men hold sway. In this way will the state be lasting, and the realm be free from dangers. Therefore the wise soverigns of the ancient times sought good men for high office, and not good offices for favored men.

- 十七条憲法・第七条 -


All officials shouled go to their offices in the Court early in the morning and retire late. Many affairs of the state are incumbent ; even if officials should stay in their offices all day long, they would not be able to finish all their business. Therefore, if they come to their offices late, they cannot meet emergencies ; if they retire early, they cannot complete their work.

- 十七条憲法・第八条 -


Sincerity is the basis of righteousness. All things should be done with sincerity. Good and bad, success and failure depend on whether there is sincerity or not. When officials maintain sincerity, what is there that cannot be accomplished? When officials do not maintain sincerity, everything will fail without exception.

- 十七条憲法・第九条 -


Let us cease from wrath, and refrain from angry looks. Let us not be resentful just because others oppose us. Every persons has a mind of his own ; each heart has its own learnings. They may regard as wrong what we hold as right. We are not unquestionably sages, nor are they assuredly fools. Both of us are simply ordinaly men. Who is wise enough to judge which of us good or bad? For we are all wise and foolish alternately, like a ring which has no end. Therefore, although others may give way to anger, let us on the contrary dread our own faults, and though we may be sure that we are in the right, let us act in harmony with all others.

- 十七条憲法・第十条 -


Reward and punishment should be dealt out properly, considering merit and demerit of persons clearly. Recently award has not always been dealt out according to merit, and punishment not necessarily dealt out according to demerit. Those officials who are in charge of this matter should deal out reward and punishment properly without failure.

- 十七条憲法・第十一条 -


District officials should not levy taxes arbitrarily. There are not two monarchs for a country ; there are not two lords for people. The people of the country regard the Emperor as their lord ; the officials appointed by the Govern-ment are all subjects of the Emperor. How may they presume to levy taxes from people privately in addition to official taxes ?

- 十七条憲法・第十二条 -


All officials in office should know their own tasks. When they are ill or when they are sent on missions they may not be able to fulfil their tasks. But when they are entrusted with tasks, they should behave themselves harmoniously in collaboration with others, as if they had been in charge of their task for many years. Do not make trouble for official administration with the reason that you were not entrusted with the task.

- 十七条憲法・第十三条 -


All officials, high and low, should beware of jealousy. If you are jealous of others, others in turn will be jealous of you and so is perpetuated a vicious circle. So if we find others excel us in intelligence, we are not pleased ; if we find they surpass us in ability, we become envious. Really wise persons seldom appear in this world ...... possibly one wise man in five centuries, hardly one sage in ten centuries. Without securing wise men and sages, how shall the country be governed in good order ?

- 十七条憲法・第十四条 -


To disregard private benefit and to aim at public benefit is the duty of officials. If one is motivated by private benefit, resentment must arise. And if there is a feeling of resentment, it will be very difficult to work with others harmoniously. If one fails to work with others harmoniously, he impairs the public benefit with private motives. If resentful feeling occurs, it subverts the laws. That is why in the first article it is said that "those high and those low should be harmonious and friendly." Its purport is similar to this.

- 十七条憲法・第十五条 -


People should be employed in forced labor in suitable seasons. This is a good rule of antiquity. People should be employed in winter months when they are free, and they should not be employed from spring till autumn when they engage in agriculture and sericulture. Without agriculture, what would we eat ? Without sericulture, what clothes would we wear ?

- 十七条憲法・第十六条 -


Decisions on important matters should not be made in general by one person alone. They should be discussed among many people. But for small matters of less importance, it is unnecessary to consult many persons. In the case of discussing weighty matters you must be fearful lest there be faults. You should arrange matters in consultation with many persons so as to arrive at the right conclusion.