Kanden (imperial estates) (官田)

The usage of the term, Kanden, in Japan is different from that in China.

In Japan

In ancient Japan, it meant the rice fields owned by the Imperial family or the Imperial Court, and the meaning varies according to the times.

Kanden provided in Yoro-rei Act

"Yoro ritsuryo Code" provided that kanden was the fields to produce food for emperor's meal in the four provinces of Kinai region (provinces surrounding Kyoto and Nara). It originated from Mita or Miyake before Taika, and was called Mita and Miyaketa in "Taiho Ritsuryo Code" and "the Engishiki" (an ancient book for codes and procedures on national rites and prayers), respectively.

A total of 100 cho (about 9920 ares) of rice paddies established in the provices of Yamato, Settsu, Kawachi and Yamashiro were under the control of the Imperial Household Ministry, and shoshi (officials) of the Imperial Household Ministry such as tomo no miyatsuko (Servant of the Court administering a group) and shibe (low rank bureaucrats) were dispatched as 田司 (屯司 in theTiho Code) to manage the fields, which were cultivated by the peasants of alloted farmland as zoyo (irregular corvee).

One ox was given per two cho of kanden and used for cultivation. Each ox was raised by a wealty household. "The Engishiki" provided 86 cho including Izumi Province, and some rice fields were managed by the Imperial Household Ministry and others were managed by each province but the persons in charge of the management were authorized by kokushi (provincial governors).

Kinai kanden in the Heian period

In 879, a total of 4000 cho of kanden was established in Gokinai capital region to allot for the salary of government officials. This is also called Gengyo kanden or Kinai kanden. Kanden had two systems: a direct administration system that contracted farm work out to 正長 and gave eiryo to collect a certain amount of crop, and the system of jishi or chinso (land taxes under Ritsuryo system).

In 881, the system was revised to allocate a part of kanden for shoshiyogekiryo (originally given to busy gekikan, but became common later) and banjororyo. At the same time, government officials were permitted to establish tax-exempted lands that were provided to cover the labor cost of shoshi (officials) and the lands were alloted for officials' salary.

In China

It means the rice fields owned by the Imperial Court in and after the Song period. It was a notion which replaced the traditional government-owned estates.

Details of the establishment

In the middle of the eighth century, Ryozeiho (taxation law in enforcement in China until Ming Dynasty) was enacted and the rate of taxation on individuals owned the lands was reduced to a lower level than before. On the other hand, however, more central government officials were employed through Kakyo (Imperial Examination) in earnest, and surrounding different ethnic groups were exhibiting disquieting behavior, and as a result, military expenditure and the cost for personnel affairs swelled. To cover them, the Imperial Court restored monopolization and tried to rebuild the finances and established areas which were under the direct control of the state (kanden) to lease them to private hands and collected a high-rate tax as a farm rent.

Contents of kanden

Kanden in the Song period was mainly composed of the four factors written below. In and after the Yuan (Dynasty) period, the third and the fourth became the main factors.

Semi-compulsory purchase of private lands by the state.

Expropriation of wastelands after wars and desertion.

Confiscation of the property of criminals (bureaucracy, local clans)

Unlike private estates which were managed by local governments such as zhou (prefecture) and xian (county), Kanden in the Song period was under the control of central authorities and the state collected land taxes from contracted tenant farmers, but in more recent years in Yaun and Ming, most kanden were controlled by local governments as well as private estates. In the Ming period, the rice tax on kanden was also called tax.

Management of kanden

Tenant farmers of Kanden included many landlords as well as petty farmers. Some of the landlords were entrusted with the management of kanden on a massive scale by the state because of their privileges and wealth. The right to cultivate kanden, like that of private estates, was tradable, and landlords collected the rights. In this way, landlords undertook tenant farming of kanden from the state and entrusted the work to tenant farmers. Accordingly, the tenant famer system (landlord-tenant farmer system) developed with kanden as well as with private estates.

Kanden were established throughout the country; in the delta land on th south side of the lower Yangtze River, a great deal of land which had the highest agricultural productivity had been kanden since the Southern Song Dynasty, and in the early Ming period, 45% of farmlands in the six prefectures of Changzhou, Zhenjiang, Suzho city, Songjiang city, Huzhou and Jiaxing were kanden.

The tax on kanden in the Ming period was lower than private farm rent, but in Suzhou Prefecture, for example, the average tax rate per ridge was 40% of it and the cost of transportation to government warehouses was paid by themselves. Therefore, the burden was so heavy that various preferential treatments for kanden-tax payers could not correct the difference in burden between kanden and private estates. Because of that, there were a succession of delinquency, desertation, illicit change of registration to private estate by small scale farmers and small or medium-sized landlords, and the state were unable to ensure the stable income.

Disappearance of kanden

In the early 16th century, tax standardization between kanden and private estates was promoted everywhere by the prefectures, and kanden basically disappeared by the middle of the century.

In the Ming and Qing periods, there were areas which were under the direct control of the Imperial Household (the imperial menor in the Ming period, the menor of the Imperial Household Department in the Qing period) as a part of kanden, and settlements of ex-legionary were established in military camps and important places on the frontier, and 学田 were established in public schools in local areas such as provincial, prefectural and county-owned schools..

In the Qing period, hereditary lands were established to support the Manchurians. However, these lands were, in nature, not the state lands like the general kanden in the period from Song to mid-Ming which supported the national fisacal revenue, and except 学田, they were in the nature of private properties held by individuals who were permitted to use. The disappearance of kanden was mainly due to societal demand for equalization of taxes on land which spread through various regions around the delta of the Yangtze River in the late Ming period.

Tax payment by silver begining with Kinkagin imposition and the standardization of tax payment by gold with Ichijobenbo were promoted as important opportunities for solving kanden problems.

[Original Japanese]