Mujin (無尽)

Mujin is one type of Japanese financing. More than one person, corporation, and others join an organization called Ko and others and pay for certain or fluctuated money and goods regularly or irregularly to Ko and others, and thereby they will be provided money and goods by auction competing with the sum of interest.

Mujin in Japan

The name, method of operation, meeting, and other matters vary depending on the region.

The name

It is called Tanomoshi or Tanomoshi-ko, and Moai or Mue in Okinawa Prefecture.


Mujin is already described in Joeishikimoku Tsuikaho and it is said that it appeared during the Kamakura period. It is supposed to have started as mutual aid for common people. During the Edo period, it was established as a popular means of financiing regardless of status or region, and some Ko establishments became large-scale.

During the Meiji period, large-scale operation-oriented Mujin dealers developed. Though many Mujin dealers operated as a company organization and they often had fragile or fraudulent management or concluded contracts unfavorable to users, there was no law to regulate them in those days, therefore, enactment of a regulation law was demanded mainly by industrial groups, Mujin meeting places, and others, and thereby the old Mutual Loan Business Act was enacted in 1915 to make it a licensing system (note: the current 'Mutual Loan Business Act' was newly enacted in 1931).

However, it regulated Mujin as business and the Mujin management task and did not prohibit any Mujin conduct in a residence, working place, and other without involving the dealers, therefore, Mujin has continued up to the present date.

In the early Showa period, Mujin by Mujin companies further developed and some of them became quite large equivalent to banks, and consequently became one of the financial institutions to bear the Japanese economy.

After the Pacific War broke out, Mujin companies became the target of wartime integration and a Second Association of Regional Banks asserted in an anniversary magazine that they were 'forced to merge' into one company per prefecture, but this was not a clear disposition performed based on direct law like the Land Transportation Business Coordination Act, therefore, actual conditions are not known. This made most Mujin companies larger than credit associations and others on a scale not less than that of the banks.

After the Pacific War ended, various quarters demanded to make it possible to handle checking accounts even in Mujin companies for war-damage reconstruction, but in those days the GHQ regarded Mujin as gambling and was against it, therefore, while making it possible to do business at a banking level at that time, the government planned a financial institution system where it would be possible to handle Mujin and set up a Mujin company level in the system to supervise, and thereby the Mutual Loan and Savings Bank Act was established in 1951 and all companies except Nihon Jutaku Mujin K.K. shifted to the mutual banking system. For mutual banks, it was possible to have dedicated products for mutual banks called mutual premiums, a system similar to Mujin, but it became in name only in the early stages because the mutual premium system itself was very different from Mujin and managing it was tiresome.

When the Banking Act was entirely revised in 1981, it became possible to handle mutual premiums in ordinary banks called 'regular deposits and others,' but each base law of long-term credit banks, credit unions, credit associations, agricultural cooperative associations, fishery cooperative associations, and labor credit associations established based upon the law, rather than the Banking Act, was not revised, therefore, now only the ordinary banks can manage it because the Mutual Loan and Savings Bank Act was abolished. However, there were no bank released financial products of this regular deposit and others until now.

At present, only one company operates Mujin, that is, 'Nihon Jutaku Mujin K.K.' (see Article 'Mutual loan company').

For those developed from Mujin, there are many organizations in current secondary regional banks and consumer loans.

The current status

Even now, in the twenty-first century, gatherings and organizations called Mujin, Tanomoshi, or Moai exist in various places in Japan (mainly in the regions of farming and fishing villages). In some cases, the members provide money every month and hold a drinking party/trip with the accumulated funds, and in other cases, someone who wins a lottery takes the whole sum (often in turn actually, though calling it a lottery). There is a strong suggestion that many of them are an extension of working places, friends, and territorial associations rather than fulfilling the original purpose, and occasionally one person joins more than one Mujin. It is said that a majority of local people in Okinawa Prefecture have joined one, and it is often conducted in various places in Kyushu and Yamanashi Prefecture.

Among ordinary citizens, even now close associates gather to practice it on a small scale. There is also Mujin in neighborly ties and working places, and it is practiced in alumni associations. There are many practiced for the purpose of other than the original financing, such as 'Drinking Mujin' to hold a drinking party every month and Mujin aimed at holding a regular amity trip. It is also a stage of Koshu Election in Yamanashi Prefecture.

In Japan, it is a private financing method operating from ancient times up to the present even amongst social minority classes who could not get financing from financial institutions.

Occasionally it is operated by a neighborhood association, shopping mall association, and others.

No laws governing the conduct of 'Mujin' have existed to the present.

Mujin other than in Japan

Wu Chin Ts'ang of Sangai-kyo (Three Stages Sect) in the Tang Dynasty of China.

Some advocates point out that financing in developing countries called 'Microcredit' is also based on a community, though the origin is different.

In South Korea, there is Kei among associates which is equivalent to Tanomoshi-ko in Japan to use when depositing money because Koreans do not trust banks very much, and many people use Kei even now.

It is called a Mutual aid society in Taiwan.

[Original Japanese]