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Jitō, Empress

(645-703). The 41st sovereign in the traditional count (which includes several non-historical emperors). Second daughter of Emperor Tenji; wife of Prince Ōama (Tenji's younger brother), who later became Emperor Temmu. After Temmu's death in 686, she gained control of state affairs and, following the death of the crown prince, formally ascended the throne as reigning empress in 690. During her reign she was responsible for completing and enacting the Asuka Kiyomihara Code, Japan's first set of administrative and penal laws. She relinguished the throne to her grandson (Emperor Mommu) in 697 and became the first to assume the official title of dajō tennō (retired sovereign). (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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