A Kingdom Adrift
Reconstruction Begins – Three Leaders
Each of these men had distinctly different philosophies on how best to accomplish this.
Sho Shoken (1617-1675)
Tei Junsoku (1663-1734)
Contrary to Sho Shoken's approach, Tei Junsoku viewed Ryukyu primarily as a vassal of China’s Qing Court, and before that, the Ming Dynasty. He worked to improve Ryukyu’s image in China’s eyes, by promoting Chinese studies in Ryukyu, and essentially ignored or minimized the significance of any impact or influence on the kingdom that may have come from Japan. He died in 1734.
Sai On (1682-1761)
He was appointed to the Sanshikan in 1728, and retired in 1752. Sai On used the tension created between the two prior views – pro Japan vs. pro China - to produce a new vision, and based it on Confucianism. He understood the dominating forces at play from Satsuma, yet also recognized the continuing need to maintain contact with China. His strategy was to use Confucian ideology to minimize the impact of Satsuma political power while at the same time empowering Ryukyuans to take their fate into their own hands.
He placed Ryukyu on a moral par with both China and Japan. He believed and preached that outward material stability and prosperity were the result of inward moral excellence. He therefore took the position that Okinawa’s destiny was in its own hands. The first Okinawan to write an autobiography, he died in 1761.
A series of posts will follow this one, giving some additional details about the work of each of these three historical figures in Okinawan history.
Next: Sho Shoken
Gregory Smits. Visions of Ryukyu: Identity and Ideology in Early-Modern Thought and Politics. University of Hawaii Press, 1999.
George H. Kerr. Okinawa: the History of an Island People, revised edition. Tokyo: Tuttle, 2000.