After the destruction of a naval force from Wa by the Tang Chinese fleet in the Battle of Hakusukinoe in 663, the people of Wa disappeared from the scene, the Omi Code of laws was compiled, recognizing the position of the Emperor for the first time, Japan was officially given its name and, with the completion of the Nihon shoki (Chronicle of Japan) in 720, the national identity of the Japanese was established. The birth of Japan following the defeat of Wa in the Battle of Hakusukinoe corresponds to its renewal under the massive external pressure of its defeat in the Pacific War. On both occasions, having lost control of the sea, Japan was forced to renew itself.
Early modern Japan_s policy of national seclusion was also known as the sea embargo: there was a strong awareness of the need to protect the country against external pressure from across the sea. An entry in the N_y_zensho (Agricultural Encyclopedia) of 1697 reveals an acute sense of crisis regarding the outflow of wealth from Japan. _Every year many Chinese ships filled with all kinds of goods, even quite useless things, come to these shores to trade, turning the wealth of this nation into profit for theirs. How can we tolerate this? If the people of this country do not study the methods of agriculture, we shall be stripped of all our wealth._The same sense of crisis is also apparent in a survey of the flow of wealth of the Imperial Court by the shogun_s adviser, Arai Hakuseki (1657_1725): _The amount of gold we have sent abroad is equivalent to one-third of all the gold in this country. The amount of silver left in this country is about twice the amount that has gone abroad ....
We can compare the gold and silver circulating in this world to the bones of the human body, while the other surplus wealth is like the blood, flesh, hair and skin. If the latter are lost or come to harm, they can grow again, but if the bones are broken and protrude from the body, they can never be replaced. Gold and silver are the bones of the world ... If this country loses its bones, they will never grow back again._
Time to Adopt an Oceanic Historical Perspective
Umesao Tadao is right in saying that Japan and the countries of Western Europe were never forced to capitulate to the nomads, but economic power is no way weaker than military force. The economic power and market pressure brought to bear by seagoing peoples can be seen as forces equivalent to the fierce military power and violence of war wielded by the nomads. While Europe was pressured by _maritime Islam_ in the Indian Ocean region, Japan was pressured by _maritime China_ in the China Sea region. Europe and Japan have not renewed themselves and grown autogenically, as Umesao claims.
The _maritime Chinese_ who put economic pressure on Japan were overseas Chinese merchants. Like all seafaring peoples, they were dynamic and strong_a force to be reckoned with. The time has come to consider the fundamental principles of the relationships between the islands (land) linking these maritime peoples. In the same way that the agricultural revolution gave rise to settled farmers and the livestock revolution to mobile nomads, it can be argued that the fishing revolution gave rise to maritime peoples who were both settled and mobile. The key to the fishing revolution was the invention of boats that made it possible to traverse the seas. Trees were cut down in the mountains (or forests) and the timber transported by rivers to the coast, where boats were built. Rivers provided the links between mountains and sea. The appearance of the maritime peoples through these links between mountains, rivers and sea should be viewed, together with the appearance of farmers and nomads, as a new starting point in world history.
As I will argue during the course of these lectures, since both Japan and Europe clearly received a strong impact from the sea, the time has come to adopt an oceanic rather than a land-based historical perspective. As a rough chart illustrating this oceanic perspective, I have added the sea to Umesao_s model of the ecological history of civilization to create a model for the oceanic history of civilization (Figs. 1-3, 1-4, and 1-5).