The Ningbo War (寧波の乱)

The Ningbo War (also referred as Neiha War) was an incident caused by Japanese nationals in Ningbo in Ming Dynasty China in 1523. It is also known as the Ningbo Incident, the Mingzhou War and the Sosetsu War.

Trade between Japan and Ming Dynasty China
The Japan-Ming trade (tally trade) between the Muromachi bakufu (feudal government headed by a shogun) in Japan and the Ming Dynasty in China began around the time when the third Shogun Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA of the early Muromachi bakufu governed Japan and Emperor Jianwen ruled China. Because the Ming Dynasty adopted the haijin policy (a ban on maritime activities), the shogun of the Ashikaga Shogun Family was granted the title of 'King of Japan' by the emperor of China. In order to distinguish legitimate traders from wako (Japanese pirates), a kangofu (certificate to show that the ship is lawfully registered by Ming) was issued in return for a tribute, and restrictions such as a limit of ten years per dynasty were imposed. Missions dispatched by the bakufu were accompanied by influential Japanese merchants from Hakata and Sakai City, and private trade was conducted among them.

The Onin War broke out in 1467 due to a succession dispute within the Ashikaga Shogun Family. The Hosokawa clan, who was a kanrei family (family in the position of the shogunal deputy) and conducted trade from Sakai, and the Ouchi clan based in Yamaguchi City, who had interests in Hakata, and Hyogo that they obtained during the Onin War, each conducted trading separately and dispatched their own delegations. The Ouchi clan and the Hosokawa clan were opposed to one another over kangofu. When Emperor Zhengde (Wuzong) ascended the Ming Dynasty throne, the Ouchi clan sponsored the kenminsen (namely, Kangosen, the envoy ship dispatched to Ming Dynasty China) and monopolize all Zhengde kangofu which were issued. In 1523, Yoshioki OUCHI dispatched a kenminsen to Ming Dynasty China with Sosetsu KENDO as seishi (senior envoy). In opposition to this, Takakuni HOSOKAWA dispatched a kenminsen with an expired Emperor Hongzhi kangofu via the South China Sea on which Zuisa RANKO served as seishi and Sokei (Shuko) SO as fukushi (vice-envoy).

Development of the War
The Ouchi's kenmeisen ship had already docked in Ningbo, which was unfavorable for the Hosokawa faction. But the Hosokawa side's vice-envoy Sokei SO offered a bribe to Laien who was Shihakushi-daikan (inspector of the Office of Merchant Ships) at the port authority of Ming China, and Laien allowed the Hosokawa ship to go through port inspection before the Ouchi ship. The Ouchi faction attacked the Hosokawa faction, burning their ship, and Ming officials supported the Hosokawa faction. However, an incident occurred in which Sosetsu KENDO killed Zuisa RANKO, pursued Sokei SO who had escaped to Shaoxing City and killed Ming government officials.

Detailed Account of the War
The incident became a diplomatic issue, and Sokei SO was imprisoned and died in prison. The post of Shihakushi-daikan was abolished in 1529 due to a deterioration in sentiment toward Japan. Kenminsen ships once again became dispatched in 1536 when Yoshitaka OUCHI resumed trade which continued until 1551 when Yoshitaka was overthrown in a rebellion by his vassal Harukata SUE. This incident led to increased private trade and smuggling with Japanese merchants at coastal areas such as Shuangyu near Ningbo and the Zhoushan Islands, as well as activities of wako (koki wako [the 16th-century wako pirate-traders]).

[Original Japanese]