Tokuseirei (a debt cancellation order) in the Kenmu Era (建武の徳政令)

Tokuseirei in the Kenmu era is an act promulgated on June 13, 1334. The act was originally intended not to provide for the cancellation of debts and obligations as a tokuseirei, but to facilitate the grant of honors for the contribution in the Genko War as a 'virtuous rule' in a wider sense. However, with provisions invalidating, in principle, the change of rights arisen during the Emperor Godaigo's exile in Oki Province, the act had the same effect as tokuseirei.


According to two existing copies, including "Katori Tadokoro Monjo" (Katori Tadokoro Written Material) (possessed by the Toyo Bunko [Oriental Library]), the act was issued, accompanied by an official document addressed to kokuga (provincial government offices) in various districts from the Kebiishicho (Office of Police and Judicial Chief) and a document describing the policy of the benevolent rule (some say that the act itself was included in the document describing the virtuous rule policy), and was also put up on the wall of Kirokujo (Land Record Office).

The act consists of following two provisions.

Debts, honsengaeshi (a trade of real estate with the agreement of buying back in the Middle Ages), nenkiuri (land sold for a predetermined period, usually ten years, after which it would revert to its owner), etc. shall be settled right now, and in the case where payment for interest and payment in harvest exceed half of the principal amount after the settlement, fields and goods in pledge and payment in excess of half of the principal shall immediately be returned to honshu (original owner). If more than 10 years have passed since a conditional transaction was made, the purchaser shall waive conditions which have not been met by the seller.

For the land sold after the Jokyu era, a letter of ando (recognition and guarantee, by the shogunate, of ownership of the inherited estate of a samurai who pledged allegiance to it) which the purchaser has received from the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) shall have no force and effect. Purchasers who were on the Kamakura bakufu side in the Genko War shall return the land to honshu who sold it (or their descendants), while purchasers who made a distinguished contribution on the Imperial Court (Daikakuji-to Line) side in the war shall continue to be guaranteed ownership of the land. The Imperial Court shall decide whether to acknowledge the achievement of both purchasers and honshu in the war. Change of ownership after 1331 when the Genko Incident (which triggered the Genko War) occurred shall be deemed invalid and subject to honshu's behavior (discretion), regardless of contribution in the war.

Among the above provisions, the second should be noted. Although the Kamakura bakufu originally was just delegated the right to judge criminal cases by the Imperial Court, it deprived of the right after taking military control of the Imperial Court in the Jokyu War. Furthermore, the Kamakura bakufu identified the Emperor Godaigo as a 'rebel' (the Emperor's Rebellion) in the Genko Incident based on the right to judge criminal cases, dethroned and exiled the Emperor Godaigo who insisted he was the true emperor, and eventually enthroned 'the fake emperor' (Emperor Kogon of Jimyoin-to Line). The Emperor Godaigo declared that all decisions made by 'the fake emperor' and the Kamakura bakufu during his exile in Oki Province were void because there was no legitimate political force during this period. Therefore, after returning from Kyoto, the Emperor restored all personnel of the Imperial Court to positions where they were before he was banished, and then undid all transfer of territories resulted from the war. The Emperor is believed to have tried to thoroughly implement such policy to take similar measures nationwide. The provision was also intended to ensure an advantageous position in court for those who were on the Imperial Court side in the Genko War, as part of honors to be granted.

However, more than 100 years had passed since the Jokyu War, and some areas are known to have witnessed confusion. It is said Shimousa Province where "Katori Tadokoro Monjo" was compiled was one of those troubled areas.