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Ikokujin he hento no kokoroe

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  • Date: 1848
  • Japanese: 異国人へ返答の心得 (ikokujin he hentou no kokoroe)

The Ikokujin he hentô no kokoroe was a document circulated within the Ryûkyû Kingdom in 1848 informing people how to respond to inquiries from foreigners, in order to help ensure that everyone was telling the same lies, and protecting certain truths from being revealed.

Among the terms specified by the document, it instructed people to emphasize or confirm that Ryûkyû was a poor country, with little foreign relations and no domestic production of any significance. It also aimed to keep secret Ryûkyû's relationship with Satsuma han, and with Japan more broadly. The text also included a list of fifteen government offices, expanding upon the sakumei sakukan of 1844 which articulated the creation of the posts of sôrikan and fuseikan. These two posts were low-ranking officials who presented themselves to foreigners as the chief negotiators and signatories in all formal agreements with Western governments; this helped distance the "actual" government - that is, the king, the Sanshikan, the Council of Fifteen, and so forth - from interacting with foreigners, and from officially agreeing to any treaties or arrangements. In contrast to these two low-ranking positions, however, the fifteen posts specified in the 1848 kokoroe were truly fictional; they were not posts anyone actually held.

References

  • Marco Tinello, "The termination of the Ryukyuan embassies to Edo : an investigation of the bakumatsu period through the lens of a tripartite power relationship and its world," PhD thesis, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia (2014), 234.
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