Sanshi Incident (サンシー事件)

"Sanshi Incident" refers to the murder of a prefectural government official that occurred in Okinawa Prefecture in the early Meiji period.

Covenant on the disobedience to the prefectural administration
In April 1879, Japan abolished the Ryukyu Kingdom and established Okinawa Prefecture. Shortly afterwards, 20 police officers came from Shuri to Miyako Island, visited the island office 'Zaiban kaiya' and informed the representative of Zaiban, 仲村親雲朝諒, of the following.
Haihan-chiken (abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures) will be implemented, 'Ryukyu Domain' will be abolished, and 'Okinawa Prefecture' with a prefectural governor from Japan as an administrative ruler will be established.'
Accordingly, high officials including Nakanura will be displaced.'
Kashira (officials equivalent to the current middle-level managers) or lower will be reappointed. Then, they delivered the letter of appointment.

However, all officials lower than Kashira did not go to work by saying that 'I am sick' or 'I am not good enough.'

Before their arrival, Ofu (royal government) gave a command to each area not to obey the Okinawa Prefectural Government, and in Miyako-jima Island, the former officials including Nakamura, Bechin YOHANA and 亀川恵備 made a covenant following this command.

They wrote a letter with all islanders' signs and sealed it with their blood, regardless of Shizoku (family or person with samurai ancestors) or Heimin (commoner). Needless to say, some Heimin were forced by Shizoku.

This letter also stipulated that a person who breaks this promise should be behead and his/her family should be deported. That is why officials lower than Kashira rejected the order of Okinawa Prefecture.

An officer, Shimoji
Later, Zaiban kaiya was abolished and the 'branch station of Okinawa Prefectural Police' was established, where a 25 year-old young man, Risha SHIMOJI who lived in Shimozato Village on the island, was hired on July 8 of the same year as a translator as well as an office boy and worked for the government officials.

The islanders immediately deported the parents and brother of Shimoji who broke the covenant, to Irabu Island. They also wanted to punish Shimoji himself, but could not do it since he was working at the police station. They just accused him of 'Sanshi' (supporter), a supporter of Okinawa Prefectural Government.

There was a public water place with a natural spring well, called 'Aiyaka' in the island. Around the time when Shimoji was just hired at the police station, the wife of Matsu KANESHIRO living in Nishinakasone of the island happened to encounter Shimoji at Aiyaka while she was telling other lady that 'Shimoji should be killed'. Shimoji grabbed the woman by the hair and brought her to the front of the police station.

Occurrence of the incident
When this story was spread to the island, with people who were Shizoku and also former officials, such as Shoko OKUHIRA in the lead, 1200 islanders with a wood stick, an oar or a blunt instrument for daily use in their hand, went to the police station whistling, blowing a trumpet shell or yelling, and they pressured the police station to 'hand over Shimoji' by surrounding the police station and throwing stones.

Prefectural officials hid Shimoji in the attic and fought back with swords, but they were hopelessly outnumbered, and thus the islanders caught Shimoji and dragged him through more than 10 towns.

When they arrived at a vacant lot in the southern part of Shimozato Village, Okuhira and others suggested that they should behead Shimoji according to the covenant, and tied him onto a big tree. The person who started it was not known, but then the islanders started hitting Shimoji who could not move, with their hands and weapons, and he died when a person called 'Shiranui' from Higashinakasone Village hit him. The islanders untied the corpse and threw it into the cave in Kushiwara ridge.

Action against the incident
Around that time, a police inspector 安楽権中 was patrolling the islands on a steam ship and was about to enter the Chosui Harbor of Miyako-jima Island, however, an islander who had observed the huge disturbance informed the police inspector about the incident, and thus he turned around and headed to Naha to report the abnormal situation of Miyako. Yasutaka SONODA, second-class chief inspector at Okinawa Prefectural Police immediately sent three police inspectors and 45 patrol officers to the island. They dissolved the criminals who 'were armed with bamboo saws and pullulated at the top of the mountain near Zaiban office,' and then started asking former officials about the situation.

They found out about the covenant as well as the important persons of the former dynasty who were involved in it, and thus they reported the Prefectural Government about it and started conducting severe interrogations. From all the islands, more than 30 petitions sealed with blood were found, and also the initiators were specified.

On August 2 of the same year, the initiators including Shoko OKUHIRA were captured and sent to Naha, and they were sentenced to five years in prison. Six people including Heimin Kesa and Shizoku were also imprisoned for one to five years, but none were sentenced to death.

After that, the prefecture started taking an appeasement policy to the residents of the prefecture, especially to the ruling class.

Shimoji's corpse was taken by the officers of the police station, and was reburied in the temple in Naha with the burial fee, 25 yen and the survivor's benefit, 90 yen, which was given by the government due to the request of Okinawa Prefecture. In 1921, his brother, 下地利及, transferred his body and reburied it in his family grave in Miyakojima, and then built a gravestone by his birthplace. The neighbors came to ask him about the details of the incident, but they said that he did nothing but weep without any response.

The gravestone survived even during the war, and it remains in Nishinakasone, Miyakojima City, as a city designated historic site.

[Original Japanese]