Disappointed in this aspiration, Harunari, after some hesitation, invited the attention of the shogun to the fact that filial piety is the basis of all moral virtues, and that, whereas the shogun's duty required him to set a good example to the people, he subjected his own father to unbecoming humiliation, Ienari referred the matter to the State council, but the councillors hesitated to establish the precedent of conferring the rank of o-gosho on the head of one of the Sankyo families Tayasu, Shimizu, and Hitotsubashi who had never discharged the duties of shogun.

Matsudaira Sadanobu, son of Tayasu Munetake and grandson of Yoshimune, proved himself one of the most capable administrators Japan had hitherto produced. In 1788, he was appointed prime minister, assisted by a council of State comprising the heads of the three Tokugawa families of Mito, Kii, and Owari.

Meanwhile, to prevent complications and avert dangerous rivalry, Yoshimune assigned to Munetake and Munetada residences within the Tayasu and Hitotsubashi gates of the castle, respectively, gave the names of these gates as family titles, and bestowed on each a revenue of one hundred thousand koku, together with the privilege of supplying an heir to the shogunate in the event of failure of issue in the principal house of Tokugawa or in one of the "Three Families."