The Origin of Kaibo:Ron Marine Defense Ideology in Pre-Modern Japan


(Analyzing the «Inquiry into Customs of Red Ezo» and «A Discussion of the Military Problems of a Maritime Country») The author analyses the main tendencies in the latter part of Pre-Modern Japan (1603–1867), which led to the origin of the marine defense (KAIBO:RON) ideology. Since 1639 Japan supported national seclusion policy (sakoku), limiting its trade contacts to China and the Netherlands. Being afraid of Christianity, Japan didn’t hold official contacts with any Western country and didn’t construct any big vessels. However, the situation changed radically from the mid-XVIII century, when Russian trade ships started to arrive to Hokkaido (1735, 1778), and a report from a Hungarian adventurer Mauritius Benyowsky (1746–1786) claiming about possible Russian naval assault against Japan, was published. These events gave an impact to KAIBO:RON ideology with the idea of protecting Japanese northern borders, which existed until 1854, when Japan opened its ports to foreign contacts and trade. The paper describes two main documents of that period – «Inquiry into Customs of Red Ezo» (1783) by Kudo: Heisuke and «A Discussion of the Military Problems of a Maritime Country» (1787) by Hayashi Shihei. Much attention is given to the analysis of the defense measures, advocated by these scholars, and their influence on Japanese government policy, which resulted in the first exploration expeditions to Hokkaido (from 1785) and the earliest attempts to define Japan in terms of its outer boundaries, which led to further colonization of Hokkaido and the construction of modern merchant vessels. As an additional historical source, «An Illustrated Description of Three Countries» (1785) by Hayashi Shihei will also be presented.

Author Information
Vladimir Kudoyarov, The University of Tokyo, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: IICEHawaii2017
Stream: Education: social and political movements

This paper is part of the IICEHawaii2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon