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Regimes of Land Tenure


Land is an indispensable natural resource that every person wants to own. Since time immemorial, land has been the source of major conflict. As a critical factor of production, the value of land has been on a steady rise, occasioning scramble for its ownership. In Asia, for instance, land ownership regime has changed from a system that favored and protected communal ownership to a system that is pro-capital. This essay discusses how regimes of land tenure have changed from the 7th to the 12th century. In addition, the paper looks at the political, social, and cultural consequences precipitated by changes in land tenure regimes.      

How Regimes of Land Tenure Have Changed From the 7th to the 12th Century

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By definition, the term tenure refers to the relationship between lord and tenant. Terms of land ownership evolved over a long period. In common law, it is the legal regime in which land is owned by an individual who hold the land or tenancy (Otsuka 18). Land ownership has always been and will always be a major asset in any civilization. Throughout history, land has been a fixed point in war and reforms. The regimes of land tenure have changed extensively from the 7th century to date in Asia, particularly in Japan.

The Jomon culture was established around the time when stability and civilization appeared in Japan. This culture had both the Neolithic and Mesolithic characteristics. The Jomon were hunter-gatherers who lived semi-sedentary lives, built wooden stilted houses and dwelt in pits. They also practiced a rudimentary form of agriculture. Japan exercised a Feudal form of land tenure around the 7th century. Before then, Japan’s political society held patriarchal units or uji. Each uji had a chief. The chief held exclusive power and controlled people on that particular land. The Emperor was the head of the entire tribe in theory. But in reality, the Emperor only controlled his own uji as well as the members that he himself had created on the land in his possession

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What Political, Social And Cultural Consequences Did These Changes Have?

After many challenges with this form of Tenure, Reform was adopted as a new organization of state and socialism that the Chinese were using. The Reform established a broad division of people who were referred to as the supporting and governing classes (Tsikata and Golah 58). The governing class was referred to as the New Civil Nobility of Rank and Office. The higher ranks were given rice-land grants, which they held during their tenure. Every person who held that rank was exempted from taxation and forced labor. Taxed citizens were seen to be free citizens. There were three types of tax. These included; rice tax, forced labor/payable in kind and tributes of local products.

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There is evidence to show that the law of equal allotment of land was legally enforced in different parts of the country. Use of this method meant that once the allotted land was sold for a fixed number of years, at the end of the allotment, the land did not revert to the initial owner. With time, rice land became the exclusive private property of the allotted. These individuals then became the new owners and refused to redistribute the land.

Rice land or Grant was made to the ‘house’ or head depending on the number of people in that household and a code given to them. Vegetable land, Mulberry land and Lacquerer trees were private and permanent to the family they were allotted to. It was also tax-free. Grain land was rented to the people without any restrictions. Woodland and Meadows were not given to private tenants.

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Could High Culture Have Emerged Without This Regime Of Land Tenure Or Property Ownership?

High culture would not have emerged in the regime of land tenure or property ownership in Japan if the challenges mentioned had not been detrimental to growth in Japan’s land tenure, especially in land ownership and agriculture. Land reforms came into prominence after the Second World War, forcing the country to change the principle of l land distribution and allocation of funds. Changes implemented were successful from agrarian point of view worldwide. Their success is commonly attributed to the removal of landlords who had been dominant in pre-war Japan.

The citizens were recruited into the army and required to pay tax. Unfortunately, this system ended up defeating its own purpose. It happened because the system did not regulate all the people’s relationships regarding the land and the ways to share it. The so-called new nobility consisted of the same people who had been there prior to the Reforms. People who were selected, having come from the same background, continued to do the same things they were doing before the Reforms thus defeating the purpose of the Reforms. All free men and women were placed under the direct control of the government. It meant that these people were no longer allowed to have public rights. Class culture remained and was carried into the New System of Reforms.

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The land tenure system was a problem until after-the-reforms period. Nevertheless, even after that, the conditions pretty much stayed the same. There were three general features of the tenure, and these were uncertain farm tenancy contract, termination of the tenant’s rights to be compensated and unwritten tenancy agreement. The land tenure had large ratios of cultivated farms, smaller acreages of pasture and stock and a much smaller fraction that was used as agricultural land. There were great imbalances between the resources that came from the land in comparison to the population. These reforms finally caused about two million rice paddy transfers from initial landowners to tenant farmers. 

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