Kojichi (高質)

During the Middle Ages in Japan, a kojichi was the act of privately seizing the assets of a debtor whose credit had fallen into default. Kojichi was also levied by feudal lords against those delinquent in payments of nengu (land tax) and kuji (public duties).

It was common to include a statement of approval for imposing kojichi in promissory notes and in a document such as an "I owe you." In principle, the levy of a kojichi was not restricted by location and it was possible to claim it even in places with right of asylum or when the debtor was under the protection of authorities (these were regarded as extraterritorial areas in the case of Shichitori, which was the attachment of property of a third party living in the same area of a debtor in default). A kojichi allowed creditors to attach a debtor's properties (mainly movable properties) equivalent to the total amount of credit only, whenever and wherever they found such debtors. In extreme cases, however, cows, horses, wives and children, not considered to be subject to seizure in general, were occasionally attached for the alleged reason that the property on hand of a debtor was short of the amount of credit. For this reason, they were called 'pawns at a high price' (a highly risky pawn), which is considered to be the origin of the word 'kojichi' ("ko" indicates "high" and "jichi (shichi)" indicates "pawn" in Chinese characters).

[Original Japanese]