Fuyu no ken (Japan) (不輸の権 (日本))

Fuyu no ken (the right of tax exemption) was the right of shoen (manor in medieval Japan) to be exempted from all or part of the land tax to be paid to the government. In Japan it was established in the form of Kanshofu sho (a shoen enjoying immunity from taxation by virtue of having official documents from both Dajokan [the Council of State] and Minbusho [the Ministry of Popular Affairs]) around the tenth century under regency.

Kanshofu sho

A document that was passed from superior authority to lower authority was called 'Fu.'
However, having been donated shoen, major aristocrats (the great and powerful) and major temples became honke (the owner of the highest-grade patches of land under the stratified land ruling) or ryoke (lords of the manors), and they exercised their political power as the lords of shoen. And the state granted them the right to collect surtax by issuing the Dajokanpu (the official documents of the Dajokan) issued by Dajokan or Minbushofu (the official documents of the Minbusho) issued by Minbusho. The nengu (annual tribute, land tax) on tax-exempt rice fields and kuji (public duties) were the sources of their incomes, and they were exempted from all or part of the land tax to be paid to the state.
Shoen like these were called 'Kanshofu sho.'

Kokumen sho (provincially exempted shoen)

Although Fuyu no ken was established in the form of Kanshofu sho, as kokushi (provincial governors) came to have more authority later on, they were often allowed to grant authorization (remission of tax by kokushi) to themselves, as well as connected aristocrats, shrines and temples. Shoen like these were called 'Kokushi menban no sho' (sho of remission of tax by kokushi), or 'Kokumen sho' in short. However, Fuyu no ken was guaranteed for Kokumen sho only during the kokushi's term. As Fuyu no ken was for kokushi to prepare for life after retirement, the right was exercised more towards the end of his term, but in many cases what he had gained was confiscated by the incoming kokushi.


With the progress of developments in shoen, conflict between kaihatsu-ryoshu (local nobles who actually developed the land) and kokushi intensified over the scope and the target of Fuyu (tax exemption), and more and more shoen acquired Funyu no ken (the right to keep the tax agents from entering their property) so they could take advantage of refusing the entry by kokushi's envoy. Consequently, due to the expansion of the two privileges, private dominance of land and people in shoen further grew, and the confrontation between kokushi who tried to reorganize shoen and lords of shoen intensified.

Thus, many disputes occurred in various parts of Japan. Quite a few powerful local clans and influential peasants armed themselves to maintain and enlarge their power, and to secure the land and people by preventing defiance by the peasants. In addition, some middle-level and lower-level aristocrats that the government had dispatched as Oryoshi or Tsuibushi (envoys to pursue and capture) to suppress disputes remained in the locality, and before long military networks were formed around the country.

[Original Japanese]