The Kyoto Old Capital Preservation Cooperation Tax (古都保存協力税)

The Kyoto Old Capital Preservation Cooperation Tax was one of the local taxes, which was once levied in accordance with a tax ordinance enacted by Kyoto city. It is hereinafter referred to as the Old Capital Tax.

Local Taxation Systems

The introduction of taxation yields money which goes into local government coffers from the pockets of the taxpayers. The money spent from government funds covers administrative costs and returned to citizens who receive government services.

A local taxation system which creates this cycle cannot be established without taking a certain form. This certain form refers to the legal definition of the time, liability, method and amount of taxation. This form is essential for taxpayers to understand the taxation and to alleviate their discontent about the tax. On the other hand, depending on purpose of taxation, a form in which tax is collected uniformly from taxpayers by an administrative body is sometimes inappropriate to the real situation. For this reason, tax laws involve temporary legislation and exception provisions.

For example, schools and religious institutions are not subject to Fixed Property Tax which is imposed on the acquisition of real estate. Kyoto City, which established the Old Capital Tax, is not only an university city but also has Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. These institutions are exempt from paying Fixed Property Tax.

In addition, temporary legislation is aimed at setting a certain grace period during which a tax system is overhauled to decide whether it needs to be abolished or maintained. It requires flexible application no matter how wide its range of application may be. Nevertheless, once a taxation system is established, the administrative organization is invested with great powers to enforce it. Therefore, thorough examination of its legislation is required until it becomes effective.

Old Capital Tax

Tax is collected by prefectures and municipalities in exchange for the provision of public services. The 'Local Tax Act' stipulates tax items on which a local governments can impose taxes. The act also allows each local government to establish its own tax items. The Old Capital Tax is based on an ordinance issued by Kyoto city.

The Old Capital Tax was established by Masahiko IMAGAWA, who was the mayor of Kyoto city at the time. According to his explanation to the City Assembly, the tax was imposed not on the citizens but on the entrance fee paid to the temples and the shrines in Kyoto city, with the intention of eliciting cooperation with the city from the visitors in protecting its cultural properties. For ten years after the enforcement of the act, visitors to the temples and the shrines subject to the tax had to pay an additional fee of 50 yen (for adults) or 30 yen (for children) as the tax imposed on the entrance fee. This was in the form of a special collection in which the temples and the shrines subject to the tax acted as special tax collectors and paid the tax income to the city.

There was also the opinion that imposing taxes on visitors from outside the city may be in opposition to the benefit principle of taxation. From the point of view that visiting temples and shrines is a religious activity, there was another opinion that the taxation of the entrance fee may be an act repugnant to the Constitution, which ensures freedom of religion. It is also said that an earlier example of introducing a similar taxation by Kyoto city motivated mayor IMAGAWA to establish the Old Capital Tax.

In 1956, the Tax on Cultural Tourism (the full title of which is the Tax on Cultural Tourist Facilities, and which is commonly known as the Bunkan tax) was enforced in Kyoto city. Kyoto Kaikan Hall located at Okazaki was built owing to the benefit of this Bunkan tax. As it had been an act valid only for a limited time of 7.5 years, the city enacted a similar ordinance in 1964 as temporary legislation with a five-year term limit. At this time, due to the opposition against this ordinance, Yoshizo TAKAYAMA, the mayor at the time, exchanged memorandums with the opposing temples and shrines in which he stated that the same kind of taxation would be neither enforced nor extended thereafter.

Chronology of the Old Capital Tax

The following is the chronology of events relating to the Old Capital Tax.

February 8, 1950: A reformist municipal government (which subsequently became conservative) was established with Yoshizo TAKAYAMA's win in the Kyoto City mayoral election.

April 20, 1950: A reformist prefectural government was established with Torazo NINAGAWA's win in the Kyoto prefectural governor election.

October 1, 1956: The Tax on Cultural Tourist Facilities of Kyoto City was enacted.

September 1, 1964: The Special Tax for the Cultural Preservation of Kyoto City was enacted.

July 10, 1985: The Kyoto Old Capital Preservation Cooperation Tax was established.

The enforcement of the Old Capital Tax provoked an incident known as the Old Capital Tax Dispute (See the details below). March 31, 1988: Kyoto City abolished the Old Capital Preservation Cooperation Tax.

Timeline of the Old Capital Tax Dispute

March 1982: The revival of the Tax on Cultural Tourist Facilities (the Bunkan tax) was discussed in the finance and firefighting committee of Kyoto City. In the summer of that year, the mayor made a statement of enacting the Bunkan tax for the second time.

January 1983: The ordinance for the Old Capital Tax was approved in an extraordinary city assembly in spite of the request from the Communist Party to carry the bill over to the next session. In February of that year, the Kyoto City Buddhism Organization filed a suit in the Kyoto district court demanding the affirmation of the invalidity of the ordinance.

July 1984: Kyoto City sent in an application to the Minister of Home Affairs for the establishment of the Old Capital Tax.

January 1985: The Kyoto City Buddhism Organization declared that twenty-four temples and shrines would take the step of refusing visitors in the event that Kyoto City enforced the Old Capital Tax. The bill of the general account budget of the 1985 fiscal year which included the first year revenue from the Old Capital Tax was approved at the regular city assembly of March.

April 1985: The Minister of Home Affairs approved the enforcement of the Old Capital Tax. However, the month of enforcement which had been scheduled for April was postponed for two months. The Kyoto City Buddhism Organization (consisting of approximately 100 temples) and the Kyoto Prefecture Buddhism Organization (consisting of approximately 700 temples) joined to establish the Kyoto Buddhist Organization.

July 10, 1985: The ordinance for the Old Capital Tax was enacted. Some of the temples belonging to the Kyoto Buddhist Organization executed their refusal of visitors (the first refusal of visitors).

August 8, 1985; An arbitration offered by the 'Conciliation Council over the Old Capital Tax', of which the chairman was Azuma OKUDA, was accepted by the Kyoto Buddhist Organization and Kyoto City (the 8.8 Reconciliation). The refusal of visitors was called off on the following day. The terms of the reconciliation were not disclosed.

August 10, 1985: Campaigning for the mayoral election of Kyoto City was permitted to start. Mayor IMAGAWA ran for the election and was elected.

November 11, 1985: The 'Conciliation Council over the Old Capital Tax' submitted the final reconciliation plan to the Kyoto Buddhist Organization and Kyoto City. However, the Buddhist organization reacted to the plan with animosity saying that it was inconsistent with the terms of the 8.8 Reconciliation.

December 1985: Some of the temples belonging to the Kyoto Buddhist Organization executed their refusal of visitors (the second refusal of visitors). The Buddhist organization installed Masahiko NISHIYAMA, who was the president of 'Sankyo Nishiyama', as the person to contact for negotiation.

March 31, 1986: The refusal of visitors was called off on the condition that it would be resumed in case of failure to reconcile within three months.

July 1, 1986: Some of the temples belonging to the Kyoto Buddhist Organization executed their refusal of visitors (the third refusal of visitors).

January 1987: A recording of the settlement talks between Masahiko NISHIYAMA and Masahiko IMAGAWA was made public by the Buddhist organization. In the recording, there was a dialogue about the election of 1985.

March 24, 1987: The Kyoto District Public Prosecutors Office decided not to prosecute the mayor because of no evidence of handing out benefits to his electoral district during his negotiation for the settlement of the Old Capital Tax.

May 1, 1987: The Kyoto Buddhist Organization called off its refusal of visitors.

September 12, 1987: The Kyoto-fu Bukkyo Rengokai (Kyoto Prefecture Buddhism Association) was launched as a result of being separated from the Kyoto Buddhist Organization.

March 31, 1988: Kyoto City abolished the Kyoto Old Capital Preservation Cooperation Tax.