The Naoejo (Naoe Letter) (直江状)

The Naoejo is a letter written in 1600, sent from Kanetsugu NAOE, a senior retainer of the Uesugi family, to Saisho Jotai who negotiated with the Uesugi family ordered by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA.

At present, there are several pieces of the Naoejo that have been handed down and its contents vary slightly in each of them. It is said that the original no longer exists and these are copies created in later years. Though, in later years, it is acknowledged that they were falsified and forged due to the questionable content such as grammar that was not used in those days and unnatural use of honorific expressions, it is possible that Kanetsugu's reply received by Jotai really existed and Ieyasu was outraged by that based on the letter sent from Nagamori MASHITA, Masaie NAGATSUKA, and others to Ieyasu and the record of "Rokuon-nichiroku Diary".

Controversy over the forgery

Soho TOKUTOMI, a historian in the Meiji and Taisho periods, gave them high praise stating 'They are magnificent compositions from the Battle of Sekigahara.
Such a magnificent composition was almost unparalleled from the end of Toyotomi period to the beginning of the Tokugawa period', but Tadachika KUWATA refuted this saying that 'It was just a forgery by a dilettante in a later period' and Kenichi NIKI added in the 1980s, 'Even the old document called "Naoejo" was forged.'
There were no concrete grounds for this theory of forgery, however, Yoshimi MIYAMOTO found concrete grounds to this in the 1990s and onwards. One concern is about the wording. He said that 'your thought shall be at peace' should be 'your will shall be at peace' and 'it shall be said' should be 'it shall be proposed', and also questioned the arrogant form of expression using nouns at the end of sentences, and the use of abbreviated names without due respect. Moreover, he pointed out that the emphasis placed on the relationship between Yoshitsugu OTANI and Nagamori MASHITA, who was later involved in raising an army for Mitsunari ISHIDA, was not natural.
He continued insisting his view that, 'It must be a fabrication or forgery from a later period', while saying that 'It is a very rare document that narrated the political situation of that time with such accuracy.'
Sakujin KIRINO refuted this stating as follows:

(1) Naoe's use of 'your thought' is obviously distinguished because there was the phrase 'your will shall be at peace' in the letter. (2) Jotai, who was placed in a status higher than Naoe by Mr. Miyamoto, created linked verses with Naoe, and Naoe to whom the Toyotomi surname was given was not a vavasor, therefore, it is difficult to measure whose status would be higher or lower between the two. This expression reflects a friendly relationship rather than a misuse of honorific language. (3) Mr. Miyamoto misread the part of Otani and Mashita, and the matter of the two being involved with Uesugi's ascension to Kyoto was unrelated to the raising of an army by Mitsunari. He expressed his view that 'only the postscript (that provoked Ieyasu) may be a forgery from a later period' considering that 'there are many manuscripts with only a few differences, but they are generally reliable historical materials' because in the letter remonstrated with Ieyasu's conquest of Uesugi by three magistrates and arbitration office in the Toyotomi regime, it is written that 'your anger is quite reasonable since Naoe's conduct did not reach you this time', the content of the letter from Kagekatsu UESUGI to senior vassals was remarkably similar to that of Naoejo, among other things. Tadashi IMAFUKU compared the existing manuscripts. He pointed out the possibility that it was missed or intentionally removed during the copying stage because Naoejo with the postscript came out from around the Tokugawa clan, saying that "I would like to accept the existence of 'Naoejo' with the condition that 'they were not the phrases of that time'" while paying attention to the postscript with 'a possibility that it was forged and inserted in later years', which also pointed out by Kazuhiko KASAYA.

[Original Japanese]