Seventeen-Article Constitution of Prince Shotoku

The “Seventeen-Article Constitution of Prince Shotoku” reads: “A.D. 604, Summer, 4th Month, 3rd day. The Prince Imperial Shotoku in person prepared laws for the first time. There were seventeen clauses, as follows:
1) Harmony should be valued and quarrels should be avoided. Everyone has his biases, and few men are far.sighted. Therefore some disobey their lords and fathers and keep up feuds with their neighbors. But when the superiors are in harmony with each other and the inferiors are friendly, then affairs are discussed quietly and the right view of matters prevails
2) The three treasures, which are Buddha, the (Buddhist) Law and the (Buddhist) Priesthood; should be given sincere reverence, for they are the final refuge of all living things. Few men are so bad that they cannot be taught their truth.
3) Do not fail to obey the commands of your Sovereign. He is like Heaven, which is above the Earth, and the vassal is like the Earth, which bears up Heaven.
4) The Ministers and officials of the state should make proper behavior their first principle, for if the superiors do not behave properly, the inferiors are disorderly; if inferiors behave improperly, offenses will naturally result.
5) Deal impartially with the legal complaints which are submitted to you.
6) Punish the evil and reward the good.
7) Every man has his own work.
8) Ministers and officials should attend the Court early in the morning and retire late, for the whole day is hardly enough for the accomplishment of state business.
9) Good faith is the foundation of right.
10) Let us control ourselves and not be resentful when others disagree with us, for all men have hearts and each heart has its own leanings. The right of others is our wrong, and our right is their wrong.
11) Know the difference between merit and demerit, and deal out to each its reward and punishment
12) Do not let the local nobility levy taxes on the people.
13) All people entrusted with office should attend equally to their duties.
14) Do not be envious! For if we envy others, then they in turn will envy us. The evils of envy know no limit
15) To subordinate private interests to the public good — that is the path of a vassal.
16) Employ the people in forced labor at seasonable times.
17) Decisions on important matters should not be made by one person alone. They should be discussed with many people.

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