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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

It is not wonderful that when Yoshimitsu died



It is difficult to trace the beginnings of Japanese piracy in Far Eastern waters, but certainly it dated from a remote past and reached its extreme in the middle of the sixteenth century. The records show that Murakami Yoshihiro, of Iyo province, obtained control of all the corsairs in neighbouring seas and developed great puissance. Nor did any measure of opprobrium attach to his acts, for on his death he was succeeded by Morokiyo, a scion of the illustrious Kitabatake family. Numbers flocked to his standard during the disordered era of the War of the Dynasties, and from Korea in the north to Formosa and Amoy in the south the whole littoral was raided by them.

For purposes of protection the Ming rulers divided the coast into five sections, Pehchihli, Shantung, Chekiang, Fuhkien, and Liangkwang, appointing a governor to each, building fortresses and enrolling soldiers. All this proving inefficacious, the Emperor Taitsu, as already stated, addressed to Ashikaga Yoshimitsu a remonstrance which moved the shogun to issue a strict injunction against the marauders. It was a mere formality. Chinese annals show that under its provisions some twenty pirates were handed over by the Japanese and were executed by boiling in kettles. No such international refinement as extra-territorial jurisdiction existed in those days, and the Japanese shogun felt no shame in delivering his countrymen to be punished by an alien

State. It is not wonderful that when Yoshimitsu died, the Chinese Emperor bestowed on him the posthumous title Kung-hsien-wang, or "the faithful and obedient king." But boiling a score of the Wokou* in copper kettles did not at all intimidate the corsairs. On nearly all the main islands of the Inland Sea and in the Kyushu waters they had their quarters. In fact, the governors of islands and a majority of the military magnates having littoral estates, took part in the profitable pursuit. No less than fourteen illustrious families were so engaged, and four of them openly bore the title of kaizoku tai-shogun (commander-in-chief of pirates). Moreover, they all obeyed the orders of the Ouchi family. It is on record that Ouchi Masahiro led them in an incursion into Chollado, the southern province of Korea, and exacted from the sovereign of Chosen a promise of yearly tribute to the Ouchi. This was only one of several profitable raids. The goods appropriated in Korea were sometimes carried to China for sale, the pirates assuming, now the character of peaceful traders, now that of ruthless plunderers. The apparition of these Pahan** ships seems to have inspired the Chinese with consternation. They do not appear to have made any effective resistance. The decade between 1553 and 1563 was evidently their time of greatest suffering; and their annals of that era repay perusal, not only for their direct interest but also for their collateral bearing on the story of the invasion of Korea at the close of the century.

"On the 23d of the fifth month of 1553, twenty-seven Japanese vessels arrived at Lungwangtang. They looked like so many hills and their white sails were as clouds in the sky. On the fifth day of the fourth month of 1554, there appeared on the horizon a large ship which presently reached Lungwang-tang. Her crew numbered 562. They blew conches after the manner of trumpets, marshalled themselves in battle array, and surrounding the castle with flying banners, attacked it. On the fourth day of the ninth month of 1555, a two-masted ship carrying a crew of some hundreds came to Kinshan-hai, and on the next day she was followed by eight five-masted vessels with crews totalling some thousands. They all went on shore and looted in succession. On the 23d of the second month of 1556, pirate ships arrived at the entrance to Kinshan-hai. Their masts were like a dense forest of bamboo."

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