Nosenkata (an institution to collect taxes from moneylenders and sake breweries) (納銭方)

The Nosenkata was an organization commissioned to collect the dosoyaku (taxes imposed on pawnbrokers and moneylenders by the Muromachi bakufu - Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) and sakayayaku (taxes imposed on sake brewery by the Muromachi bakufu), whose members were appointed by the Muromachi bakufu from among influential figures belonging to the doso (pawnbrokers and moneylenders) or the sakaya (sake breweries).

Taxation on the doso and sakaya by the Muromachi bakufu

In Kyoto, the doso and sakaya had developed rapidly since the latter part of the Kamakura period. Leading Buddhist temples such as Enryaku-ji Temple, as well as the miki no kami (Chief of the Sake Office, the Oshikoji family took charge for generations) in the Imperial Court, had collected taxes from the doso and sakaya by dominating them.

The Muromachi bakufu, established in Kyoto, had originally put its financial base on the income from goryosho (land owned by the Emperor or bakufu) and others, however, the financial base gradually scaled down with the occupation of the goryosho from the Southern Court (Japan) during the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan) and with the appropriation of the goryosho for rewards allocated to their military commanders. Therefore, the Muromachi bakufu tried to cover the financial shortage by collecting taxes from the doso and sakaya, and started to exclude the clout of other influential families using the military force employed for keeping the peace in Kyoto city. In 1371, during the third Seii taishogun Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA's service, the Muromachi bakufu collected the dosoyaku from the doso in Kyoto to supplement various expenses needed for Emperor Gokogon's abdication, and in 1393, the bakufu issued an ordinance comprised of five rules regarding doso and sakaya in and around Rakuchu (inside the capital Kyoto). By this ordinance, the bakufu prohibited the influential families from collecting taxes from the doso and sakaya, except for such taxes as the miki no tsukasa paid to the Court, instead, the bakufu imposed an annual payment of 6,000 kan on the doso and sakaya.

Establishment of the Nosenkata

Dominating the doso and sakaya, the bakufu initially tried to collect taxes directly from individual traders, but their efficiency was poor. Therefore, the bakufu adopted a new policy; the 'shuchu' (leading figures among individual traders) takes responsibility in collecting taxes from every tens of traders on behalf of the bakufu, and pays income generated by the taxation to the bakufu. The person responsible was Nosenkata. There were two groups of shuchu in the Nosenkata, one was a group belonged to the doso, which collected the dosoyaku commensurate with the number of pawns for the mortgage, and the other was a group belonging to the sakaya, which collected the sakayayaku commensurate with the number of jars for brewing. While the existence of the priest-styled Nosenkata using the Buddhist title and the Nosenkata using a popular name is suggested in a record, the doso had originally been put under the control of temples such as Enryaku-ji Temple, therefore the Buddhist title is regarded as the remains of their work style as priest belonging to the Buddhist temples. Reflecting the importance of the dosoyaku and sakayayaku on the bakufu finance in those days, the word "goryosho" was often used for the Nosenkata, though the "goryosho" originally indicated the territory directly controlled by the bakufu.

Some doso in the Nosenkata were appointed to the officer of the Kubo-okura (finance branch). Originally, there was a post called kurabugyo in the bakufu, which had managed the property and documents belonging to the bakufu, however, in the light of the labor involved in shipment and security, some Nosenkata took charge not only of taxation but also of business relating to revenue and expenditure for the bakufu finance. As a result, the kurabugyo was scaled down to deal with only restricted duties such as collecting taxes from specific traders who were approved to pay taxes directly to the bakufu, managing special accounts including 'Zodairitobetsu' (building expenses for the Imperial Palace) and dealing with a small amount of revenue and expenditure.

Tokuseirei (ordering the return of land sold and the dissolution of debts) and fiscal reconstruction

There had been drastic changes since the period of the sixth shogun Yoshinori ASHIKAGA. Whenever the Tokuseirei was issued after peasant uprisings, the bakufu had to exempt the seriously damaged doso from the dosoyaku payment to save them. As a result, the income from the Nosenkata fell into arrears and the shogun's daily life was threatened. Therefore, the bakufu allowed the Nosenkata to form a za (guild) called 'Nosendokoro kaisho' (meeting place for the Nosenkata) aiming to establish a cooperative system among the Nosenkata, and restricted the free trade and free closure of the doso and sakaya by strengthening the bakufu-led protection and supervising systems. Moreover, the bakufu introduced the Bunichi Tokusei (borrowers are exempted from returning money to the doso and sakaya if they paid 10 to 20% of their debts to the bakufu) to impose a fee on the procedure for the issue of the Tokuseirei, and set up the bajoyaku (taxes imposed on the fermented soybean paste manufacturers, public bath managers and others), as well as introduced a contract system giving privileges to the Nosenkata under the condition that they paid the taxes in advance. Consequently, it is believed that the bakufu finance was kept comparatively stable until immediately before the Onin War despite losing its authority.

Decline of the Muromachi bakufu and the Nosenkata

After the Onin War, with the devastation of Kyoto city and refusal of tax payment, the tax income did not reach the expected income calculated on the basis of the contract system, and as a result the bakufu finances went into the red. In addition, not a few people refused to be a Nosenkata. As a countermeasure, the bakufu tried to curb the tax revenue decrease by imposing a tax on the'請酒' (sake retailer) and 'hizeniya' (new money-lender which lends money at a high interest rate with daily interest), however the tax revenue was not restored. When Kanrei (shogunal deputy) Harumoto HOSOKAWA decided in 1539 to leave the monopolistic contract for the Nosenkata business entirely to 'Shojitsubo' (a doso of Enryaku-ji Temple extraction), which had repeatedly taken charge of Nosenkata and Kubo-okura, as a measure against the dosoyaku and sakayayaku decrease due to the damage from the Tenbun Hokke War, the doso and sakaya strongly opposed his decision and requested direct tax payment to the bakufu. Harumoto however refused their request. In 1552, demanding the same privileges as 'Shojitsubo,' 'Gyokusenbo,' a long-established doso similar to 'Shojitsubo,' filed a lawsuit only to lose. While the Nosenkata was abolished along with the dissolution of the Muromachi bakufu in 1573, the system of Nosenkata is thought to be absorbed by the Oda administration, because Shojitsubo Joun, the family head of Shojitsubo at that time, was continuously appointed by Nobunaga ODA to the post for collecting taxes.