Dr. Takashi Iida
Department of Economic History
Dear Professor Iida,
I am writing this letter to express my interest in attending Keio University within Economic History. I would be more than grateful if you could give it a consideration.
Summary – I came across the term “Corvee” for the first time when I read your paper on the agricultural obligations back in the Prussian time. A number of papers on this so-called “unpaid community obligation” to 1. secure accommodation or its materials 2. take part in public construction project 3. Compensate for unsatisfied impose taxes can be found online. Apart from Examples include Forest work in Russia and Prussia, Pyramids in Egypt, GreatWall in China, Mining in Incan Empire and so on. Most of these were abandoned by the modern time, however, surprisingly there are places in the world that continued on this tradition. I can’t help but to wonder reviving this as part of tax obligations in Japan to tackle some of the issues we see today.
Question – What are the currently existing corvee practices and how it survived until now? What is the benefit to have it as part of tax system?
Methodology – Research modern time corvee practices and possible application in Japan.
Discussion – It seems that Myanmar and Vietnam still force its citizens mandatory or partially mandatory obligation to engage in some kind of social work often in construction, national ceremony or volunteering work during emergency. Other than that, labor required for prisoners and military services can be listed as similar cases. Many countries partner with national corporations and benefit largely from prisoners labor by getting wage free labor force, while military service there is governmental / diplomatic benefit by being able to secure free labor force to engage in humanitarian work.
Conclusion – Japan abolished the corvee (you labor derived from China), however, I see there is major social benefit if we brought it back. Reasons being, we can ease lack of labor force during emergency or local events. Also, participating in events like these would help educate the young a sense of community, culture and nation where they become aware the tax system exist for everyone’s benefit. To extend, it could also offer citizens to take part in labor by choice in order to compensate for the unpaid pension tax etc.
I would be delighted to join the school and study more about forestry labor and corvee, and its principles to learn about application in the modern time from different perspectives. I very much look forward to hearing from you on this matter.
*Peasants’ labour obligations for the lords’ forests: another form of corvée in the Gutsherrschaft of Prussian monarchs, 1763–1850 Iida, Takashi, Agricultural History Review 67 （ 1 ） 51 – 70 2019年06月 *Who Abolished Corvee Labour in Egypt and Why?, Nathan J. Brown, Past & Present, No. 144 (Aug., 1994), pp. 116-137 *Ane Lintvedt, Free and Unfree Labor: A Review Essay. Retrieved January 5, 2007