Japan and Ryukyu: Shifting Views from Edo to Meiji

From about 1608 onwards, the Ryukyu Kingdom had been made into a vassal state of Satsuma, while maintaining its previous strong ties with China. Throughout the Edo Period, the Ryukyuans were thought of as foreigners, one of the few who traded with the Japanese even during the so called sakoku period of isolation. Yet, this perception of the Ryukyuans began to shift in the Meiji Period, leading to state policies that spurred cultural assimilation, and the eventual subsumation of the Ryukyu Islands into the Kagoshima and Okinawa provinces. This project attempts to answer why these drastically opposing perceptions were propelled in their respective era, and how they reflect the transition between Edo Period Japan and Meiji Period Japan.


Kenneth Mai