Shishido Tamaki

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  • Other Names: 山県半蔵 (Yamagata Hanzô), 直影 (Chokuei)
  • Japanese: 宍戸(Shishido Tamaki)

Shishido Tamaki was an official in the Meiji government who served as Japanese ambassador to China during the final phases of the Japanese annexation of the Ryûkyû Islands in 1879-1881, and as Vice-President of the Office of Palace Construction (kôkyo gozôei jimu fukusôsai) in 1883, as well as holding many other positions over the course of his career.

As a retainer of Chôshû han, he met frequently in the late 1850s with figures such as Arima Shinshichi and Ijichi Sadaka to plot against the shogunate.[1]

He was named ambassador to China in April 1879, just weeks after Tokyo informed the Ryûkyû Kingdom it was to be dissolved and annexed. Over the course of the remainder of that year, and the next, Shishido played a role in communications and negotiations between Tokyo and Beijing. Though discussions did eventually reach an agreement in October 1880 to divide the Ryukyus between the two countries, with China taking the Miyako Islands and the Yaeyamas, and Japan Okinawa itself and all the islands to the north, in December the Qing Court refused to sign the treaty. The following month, Shishido informed Beijing that Tokyo considered the matter resolved, and all of Ryûkyû to now be Japanese territory.[2]

As Vice-President of the Office of Palace Construction, Shishido drew upon Confucian notions of rulership to argue for the need for a proper palace. As he stated in a petition to the Dajôkan (Grand Council of State), the emperor's essence is that he performs rites for the people, and for the nation, and that he stands in the center, between the people and Heaven, and facing outwards to face foreign powers. Public banquets, ceremonies, and rites were essential to maintaining the proper societal order, and having a proper palace was essential for the performance of such rites.[3]


  1. Ishin Shiryô Kôyô 維新史料綱要, vol 3., 81.
  2. Chang, Richard. "General Grant's 1879 Visit to Japan." Monumenta Nipponica 24:4 (1969). pp373-392.; Kerr, George. Okinawa: The History of an Island People. Revised Edition. Boston: Tuttle Publishing, 2000. pp376, 383-390, passim.
  3. Takashi Fujitani, Splendid Monarchy, UC Press (1998), 69.