Einin no Tokuseirei (a debt cancellation order) (永仁の徳政令)

Einin no Tokuseirei (a debt cancellation order of Einin era) is considered to be the first Tokuseirei in Japan which was issued in 1927 by Sadatoki HOJO, the ninth regent of the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). Although the accurate provisions are unknown, three Articles are known from the ancient documents handed down in To-ji Temple ("Toji Hyakugo Monjo" [100 case documents of the To-ji Temple]).

The contents were as follows.

Article 1 specified the suspension of appeal made directly to a senior official without going through formalities (request for retrial made by a person who lost in the trial). Article 2-a specified the prohibition of trading and pawnage of shoryo (territory) of Gokenin (shogunal retainers of the Kamakura bakufu). Article 2-b specified that shoryo (territory) which had been already sold or foreclosed should be possessed by the original feudal lord. Provided, however, that a land of which the transfer and/or sale was officially admitted by the bakufu, or which had been possessed for 20 years or more should be possessed continuously as-is without being returned. Article 2-c specified that a land purchased by higokenin (non-Gokenin) and bonge (common people, peasants, merchants, and traders other than samurai) should be possessed by the original feudal lord irrespective of length of term. Article 3 specified that any suit concerning dispute over debts and credits should not be accepted.

A similar policy had been implemented by the bakufu before the Einin no Tokuseirei with an act issued in March 1284 which specified that any suit over appeal made directly to a senior official without going through formalities should not be accepted, but it was withdrawn in 1298.

It used to be understood that the purpose of the policy was to repossess, without compensation, the lands sold due to drying up and the lands lent to musoku gokenin (vassal without territory) who got impoverished due to the military campaign at the time of Mongol invasion attempts against Japan and the burden of guarding against the invasion by foreign countries, but it is now understood that the main purpose was rather to prohibit pawnage and trading of shoryo by Gokenin, which means the depression of right to dispose of shoryo as specified in 2-a among the three Articles, and 2-b was a secondary measure to have the lost shoryo returned to Gokenin as the premise of implementing 2-a, all of which seem to put weight on maintaining the Gokenin system which was the foundation of bakufu. It is possible to say that this provision was an extension of a land policy taken by the Kamakura bakufu which enhanced the right of kuikaeshi (the right of claim for return) of soryo (heir) and prohibited the donation of land to others, so as to prevent dispersion of Gokenin's shoryo.

Among the provisions, Articles 1 and 2-a were abolished in the next year, but Article 2-b was reconfirmed and repossession of shoryo under this Article was often seen after that. This means that a provision which had been incidental became independent. And, it was not only Gokenin who repossessed shoryo using this act as an excuse. The ancient documents handed down in To-ji Temple themselves were the monjo (written material) concerning an event that a sold land was repossessed by a peasant in Shimokuze-no-sho Estate of To-ji Temple (Minami ward, Kyoto City) in Yamashiro Province under this provision.

Sadatoki's policies aimed to forcibly stop the collapse of Gokenin system which was the foundation of bakufu. However, since the decline of Gokenin (shogunal retainers of the Kamakura bakufu) resulted from not only the burden at the time of Mongol invasion attempts against Japan but also the downsizing of mid- and small-scale Gokenin to ultrasmall-scale Gokenin due to the Soryo system (the eldest son system for the succession of the head of the family) referring to division of succession, and from being buffeted by the progress of monetary economy, it was impossible to stop such a big movement.