Jigeuke (地下請)

Jigeuke was a system in which village communities of medieval Japan undertook the task of feudal lords to collect nengu (land tax) to be paid to shoen (manor in medieval Japan) or Kokugaryo (territories governed by provincial government office). The jigeuke is also called soson uke or hyakusho uke.

In shoen koryo sei (The System of Public Lands and Private Estates) of Japan, the feudal lords originally had the right to collect the nengu.

However, after entering into the Kamakura period, as jito (manager and lord of manor) extended their control over the shoen and koryo (an Imperial demesne), jitouke, which awarded the local jito (or the deputy) the contract to collect the nengu, came to be put into practice. Under the jitouke, the jito was responsible for paying the feudal lord a certain amount of nengu regardless of the yield.

With this background, beginning in the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan), soson (a community consisting of peasants' self-governing association) was formed by the peasants who had developed their autonomy and sense of solidarity.

As a result of negotiation with the feudal lords, the soson also came to acquire the contract which gave them the right to collect nengu themselves. This was called jigeuke.

The soson practicing the jigeuke was paying a certain amount of nengu to the feudal lord every year. From the viewpoint of the feudal lords, the jigeuke had much greater advantages than collecting nengu by themselves because it enabled them to avoid the risk of a poor harvest as well as to reduce the cost of collecting the nengu. The implementation of jigeuke indicates that the soson gained the trust of the ruling class although it consisted of people under the rule of such class. To prove worthy of such trust, the soson tried to ensure the execution of the nengu payment. For example, it assigned a quota of the nengu to each so villager and enacted so-okite (rules), which established penalties (such as the confiscation of property) to be imposed on any member who failed to meet the required quota.

The jigeuke continued from the Muromachi period through the Azuchi-Momoyama period, and was succeeded by the murauke system (village-wide, collective responsibility for tax payment) in the Edo period.

[Original Japanese]