Agechi-rei (上知令)

Agechi-rei (上知令) is an order for confiscation of lands issued by the government in the late Edo period and the early Meiji period. It is also written as 上地令.

Agechi-rei in the late Edo period

Roju shuza (the head of Roju, senior councilors of the Tokugawa shogunate) Tadakuni MIZUNO, who led Tempo Reforms, believed that foreigners might attack Japan in the future, considering the defeat of Qing in the Opium War and the situation in those days in which foreign ships were frequently witnessed in the sea around Japan. As Tokyo was the center of politics and Osaka was the center of economy, it was especially important to consider risk management in case foreign ships appeared in the sea near Edo and Osaka.

The areas of ju-ri (about 4km) square both of Edo and of Osaka had been an intricate mixture of tenryo (shogunal demesnes), territories of daimyo (Japanese feudal lords) and territories of hatamoto (direct retainers of the bakufu, which is a form of Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). Thus it was decided that the bakufu should control the whole areas of ju-ri square of Edo and Osaka by issuing an order to make daimyo and hatamoto return their territories to the bakufu which were within the said ju-ri areas and to supply them with substitute lands near their honryo (main domain), and as a result, Agechi-rei was issued on June 1 (in the old calendar), 1843. "Sanho Ryochigae" (exchange of territories in three regions), which had been considered by the domains of Shonai, Echigo-Nagaoka and Kawagoe, was under consideration as a part of Agechi-rei.

But daimyo and hatamoto who had territories within the areas of ju-ri square of Edo and Osaka opposed this policy.

For example Toshitsura DOI, who was Roju (senior councilor of the Tokugawa shogunate) and a colleague of Tadakuni MIZUNO, governed the domain of Koga in the Province of Shimousa but also had outlands in the provinces of Kawachi and Settsu. The DOI family had borrowed money from farmers in the provinces of Kawachi and Settsu, and the farmers, fearing that the family might repudiate its debt at the time of confiscation of territories, repeatedly petitioned the DOI family directly for opposition to the confiscation. In addition the Kishu Domain, which was one of gosanke (the three privileged branches), also opposed Agechi-rei.

The opponents, appointing Toshitsura DOI as their leader, began to conspire revocation of Agechi-rei and dismissal of Tadakuni MIZUNO from Roju, and even Tadakuni's most trusted retainers (machi-bugyo (town magistrate) Yozo TORII and kanjo bugyo (commissioner of finance) Tadamoto SAKAKIBARA) revolted to DOI's side; TORII was so resolute that he passed all of Tadakuni's confidential materials to DOI.

At last on September 7 (in the old lunar calendar), while Tadakuni was absent, an order of the bakufu for revocation of Agechi-rei was issued by Toshitsura DOI, and on September 13 (in the old lunar calendar) Tadakuni was dismissed from Roju, which ended Tempo Reforms along with Agechi-rei.

Agechi-rei in the early Meiji period

Territories of temples and Shinto shrines (jisha-ryo), which had been granted in the Edo period, were confiscated by Agechi-rei in 1871 and 1875. One of the reasons for the confiscation was that the legal basis for jisha-ryo was lost when feudal lords, who had granted jisha-ryo, lost their power due to Haihan-chiken (abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures), and the purpose of the confiscation was to abolish the privilege of tax exemption of all the lands including jisha-ryo to establish the principle of uniform land taxation through the land-tax reform. For the same purpose, the privilege of tax exemption of "kegachi", lands possessed by people who had been treated as Eta and Hinin (groups comprising the lowest rank of Japan's Edo-period caste system (often ex-convicts or vagrants)), was also abolished when Kaiho Rei (Emancipation Edict) was issued.

[Original Japanese]