A Critical Inquiry into the Life of Captain Wang Zhi 王直, Part 2 : Hu Zongxian's 胡宗憲 plan to Pacify Japan
143 , 2015-12-20 , 京都大學人文科學研究所
This essay traces the life of Captain Wang Zhi 王直, who is generally known as the chief of Wokou 倭寇, the "Japanese Invaders" in the sixteenth century. It clarifies the circumstances that led to his execution. Picking up where Part One of this essay left off, Part Two begins with Wang Zhi's flight from the Chinese coastal islands to Japan in 1553 to his escape from persecution by Ming official naval forces. It ends with Wang Zhi's arrest by Hu Zongxian 胡宗憲, the governor-general of Nanjing and Zhejiang, who executed Wang in 1560. Although most Ming authorities suspectedWang Zhi responsible for piracy attacks, in fact his role in the organization of the piratical bands and their devastation of the Chinese territory remains unclear. He claimed to be innocent and demanded the abolition of the official prohibition on private foreign trade as the reward for his contribution in several military actions. During the pacification of piratical raids, Hu Zongxian exploitedWang Zhi's connection with a Japanese warlord Ootomo Yoshishige 大友義鎮, and gained the close cooperation by bands of armed smugglers, including Japanese warriors under Wang Zhi's authority. However, after restoring government control to region between Nanjing and Hangzhou, Hu Zongxian was confronted with criticism by censorial officials, who inveighed against his personal relationship with Wang Zhi. In the end, Hu abandoned his efforts to win amnesty for Wang Zhi. These events reveal a common dynamic in Ming politics, where the line between the government and private actors, even criminal elements, frequently blurred. In fact, they depended on each other in the actual operation of local administration, especially in military affairs. In this structure of society, governors had to be able to exploit the personnel resources from outlaws, even though it might result in fatal consequences if exposed to the public, as seen in the life of Wang Zhi and Hu Zongxian as well.