Difference between revisions of "Jokyo Uprising"

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[[Image:Jokyo appeal.JPG|thumb|right|250px|The farmers' original list of 5 appeals]]
 
[[Image:Jokyo appeal.JPG|thumb|right|250px|The farmers' original list of 5 appeals]]
The '''Jōkyō Uprising''' (貞享義民 ''Jōkyō Gimin'') was a popular peasant revolt, against increased rice taxes that took place in October 1687, during the [[Higashiyama#Jōkyō|Jōkyō]] era of the Edo Period.  
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The '''Jōkyō Uprising''' (貞享義民 ''Jōkyō Gimin'') was an ill-fated revolt against increased rice taxes that took place in October 1687, during the [[Higashiyama#Jōkyō|Jōkyō]] era of the Edo Period.  
  
 
==Background==
 
==Background==

Revision as of 10:15, 5 February 2009

The farmers' original list of 5 appeals

The Jōkyō Uprising (貞享義民 Jōkyō Gimin) was an ill-fated revolt against increased rice taxes that took place in October 1687, during the Jōkyō era of the Edo Period.

Background

A string of colder than usual winters had resulted in poor rice crops for the peasants living in the Matsumoto basin, Nagano prefecture. The tax on rice had also been increased and relations between the farmers and the tax-collecting officials were poor.

Led by Tada Kasuke, his foreman Oana Zembei and his daughter, the 16-year old Shyun, who would act as their messenger, a group of farmers assembled to submit an appeal, consisting of five articles, to the magistrate’s office in Matsumoto. However, appeals were forbidden at the time, and whether an appeal be granted or not, the appellant was put to death. Before leaving, the men - knowing what their fate would be - divorced their wives and sent them back to their families. This was to spare their lives, as family members were often also executed along with the wrongdoer.

The enkiriishi of Tada and Otami Kasuke, on the road to Hirase

Kasuke's wife, Otami, originally refused to divorce him, following the group and insisting she wold die with her husband. Eventually, he pleaded with her to do so, for if she died, other wives would follow her lead. Reluctantly Otami agreed to the divorce and the rock where the couple stood has been called Enkiriishi (縁切り石 "Divorce Rock") ever since.

A daring appeal

On the 14th of October, 1687, the group of farmers handed their appeal to the magistrate, saying "We are here today to ask a special favor of you.". It read:

APPEAL OF FIVE ARTICLES
  1. Rendering rice tax after it have been processed is too much of a burden.
  2. One bale of rice, in the past, contained 2.5 to, but this year it is required to hold 3.4 or 3.5 to. We ask for a reduction to 2.5 to a bale.
  3. Five percent of rice tax is collected in the form of soy-beans, half of which is collected in cash. We ask that the tax money be calculated based on the price of rice, not on the price of soy-beans.
  4. We are obligated to shoulder a part of the cost of transportation of Edo bound and Koufu bound rice. Since we are farmers who don’t own good horses to do the job, the burden of transportation is too much. We ask for a reduced obligation concerning the transportation of rice; only to the domain limits.
  5. We are obligated to shoulder a part of the personnel cost of local and Edo offices, which is too much of a burden.

From Farmers in the domain
October 13th

Acceptance and Betrayal

At the time, the domain lord, Mizuno Tadanao, was away in Edo for the obligatory "alternate-year attendance" and the officials in the office rejected the appeal. However, Kasuke and his followers remained outside the office for the next four days, demanding an answer. During this time, they were joined by an additional 10,000 peasants.

The officials became increasingly wary of the mob and issued a response, pretending to agree to the peasants' requests. It read:

RESPONSE PAPER SIGNED BY OFFICIALS
  1. The farmers’ claim that tax this year has been raised to 3.4 or 3.5 to came as a surprise to this office, for it has been raised without our knowledge. Hence required tax is 3 to a bale, and rice can be unprocessed.
  2. Concerning five percent of tax collected in the form of soy-beans, half of which is collected in cash: The tax money will be calculated based on the price of rice, as the farmers wish.
  3. Concerning the first part of the burden on farmers for transportation of Edo bound and Koufu bound rice: The farmers’ complaint that they are required to make up for the loss of rice during the transportation has been found to be justified, for the requirement was imposed without our knowledge. Hence no need to make up for the loss of rice.
  4. Concerning the other part of the burden of transportation of Edo bound and Koufu bound rice: Edo bound rice is expected to be transported as usual, but Koufu bound rice is expected to be transported only as far as Shiojiri.
  5. Concerning the personnel cost of local and Edo offices: The farmers’ complaint is justified, for the obligation of shouldering the cost was imposed without our knowledge. Hence personnel cost is forbidden.

From Official, Hineno Gihei
Official, Kojima Gorobei
October 16th

Satisfied, Kasuke and his followers returned home, unaware that the officials' documents was merely a ruse to convince them to leave. Within a month, the ringleaders, including Kasuke and his daughter had been rounded up and executed. In addition, many close family members of the ringleaders were beheaded, even though they were not directly involved.

The tax collection continued as originally stipulated, leading to great hardship for the farmers.

After the executions, the magistrate's office released the following announcement:

A large number of farmers gathered at Matsumoto castle and handed in an appeal of five articles. Not satisfied with the response from the local officials, they remained there from October 14th through 18th. They retreated only after all their wishes were granted.
  1. Not only did they unlawfully appeal, but they also incited arson and burglary. The leaders, and only the leaders, were prosecuted.
  2. The appeal of five articles they handed in is not to be accepted. The farmers’ action was outrageous.

November 23rd

The Birth of Human Rights

The Jōkyō uprising was - and is - regarded as a struggle for the right to life, and many consider it to be the incident that was a forerunner of the movement for human rights. Although the uprising was unsuccessful, it fired the public imagination and gradually grew into the movement demanding democratic rights nearly two hundred years later, during the Meiji Restoration.

To this end, a plaque, containing the opening lines of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was unveiled in a rice paddy in Nagano prefecture in 1993, to commemorate both the Jōkyō Uprising and the 60th anniversary of the UDHR. In English and Japanese, it reads, "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

External links and References