Kueiden (公営田)

Kueiden, in a broad sense, is a term used in Japanese history and means lands directly managed by the government while Shieiden (Private land) was managed by private citizens. Kueiden especially meant the public land system introduced in Dazaifu in the former Heian period (the 9th century). Kueiden in the latter sense will be discussed as follows.

History

The Ritsuryo system, which officially started at the beginning of the 8th century, controlled farmers and citizens based on family registers and the yearly tax registers. The government had a ruling system that imposed tax on people who received hankyu (allotment) of Kubunden. However, from the latter eighth century, more farmers began to leave their land to become wanderers in order to avoid paying tax and the ritsuryo system was confronted with some change. In the 9th century, the situation was not improved.

In February 823, ONO no Minemori, who was Sangi (councillor) and Dazai no daini (Senior Assistant Governor-General of the Dazai-fu offices) proposed the introduction of Kueiden. In those days, in Dazaifu, continuous lean harvest resulted in tax revenue shortfalls and farmers had an even harder time due to diseases. Minemori, in order to acquire funds and provide relief for the poor, proposed that they make parts of 'Kannai fields' Kubunden directly governed by Dazaifu on a temporary basis (30 years at the longest) and that they make the income part of the financial resources.

His proposal was adopted and about 13,000 out of about 76,000 cho, which consisted of kubunden (the farm land given to each farmer in the Ritsuryo system) and joden (rest of the field after kubunden was given) of nine counties in Dazaifu, was admitted to be Kueiden for four years. Every year more than 60,000 farmers were made to cultivate Kueiden and one cho was allotted to five farmers. Farmers engaged in cultivation were clear of Cho and Yo. From the harvest from Kueiden, Cho and Yo were paid to the Central Government, food and reward (called tsukudako) to the cultivators, and charges for repairing rivers and ponds were also paid. The rest was the income for Dazaifu and kokuga (provincial government offices). Although the original amount of tax from Dazaifu was about 500,000 soku, the income from Kueiden was more than 1,000,000 soku, twice as much as the original amount. It is evaluated that the major aim of Kueiden was to abolish collecting Cho or Yo directly from farmers and to gain Cho and Yo by commerce.

The introduction of Kueiden was one example of the early changes in which the Ritsuryo system, the individual-based ruling system, turned into a land-based ruling system. The Kueiden system tried in Dazaifu was not eternal but only temporary. In the middle of the 9th century (about 855), it was recorded the Kueiden system was conducted in Higo Province, and that later (about 879) Kueiden was also tried in Kazusa Province. It is interpreted in two ways: one is that Kueiden became popular and the other is that Kueiden was conducted in a limited way.

In 879, Kinai kanden (imperial estates) of kanden (imperial estates) of the Heian period was placed in various provinces in Kinai. It succeeded to Kueiden's management system. However, Kueiden system was eliminated by the 10th century.