|The Latter Period Ryukyus / Shimazu Invasion of the Ryukyus
Relations between Toyotomi Hideyoshi,
the Shimazu Clan and the Ryukyu Kingdom
The Age of Great Trade for the Ryukyu Kingdom came to an end in the 16th century; however, trade with China still remained active. It became economically vital for the Shimazu to allow the Ryukyu Kingdom to continue to exist in name as an independent nation.
During this period in Japan, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (one of Japan's three greatest military leaders) unified the whole country and issued an edict requiring other areas of Japan to pay a portion of the military burden. This edict was extended to the then independent nation of the Ryukyu Kingdom via the Shimazu Clan of Satsuma. The demand combined the military burden of the Ryukyus with Satsuma and included the dispatch of an army of 15,000 troops. However, since the Ryukyu Kingdom had no experience in battle, it was exempted from the demand for the troop dispatch and instead was to deliver provisions of rice for 7,000 troops for a period of ten months.
Coinciding with this development was the enthronement of a new king in the Ryukyus, King Sho Nei. This increased the economic difficulty of the kingdom due to the requirement they had to welcome the Chinese investiture envoys. The suzerain relationship the Ryukyu Kingdom had with Ming China had been the most important relation for them. The Ryukyu worried that if they acceded to the Japanese demands it would negatively affect their relations with China. They heatedly debated this within the court. Finally, fearful of an impending attack from the Shimazu should the demands be rejected, they agreed to pay half the amount of the military burden.