Ningbo Incident

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  • Date: 1523
  • Japanese: 寧波の乱 (Ninpou no ran)

The Ningbo Incident was a clash between forces of the Ôuchi and Hosokawa clans, in the Chinese port of Ningbo in 1523, over dominance of maritime trade with China.

Ships from both clans arrived in the port, seeking to unload goods and engage in trade. The Hosokawa tribute mission, consisting of one ship and departing from the Kansai region in 1520,[1] was led by Song Suqing, a native of Ningbo who had illegally fled to Japan in 1496, and who had come to serve the Hosokawa; this was his second mission to China on their behalf. The Ôuchi representative, Kendô Sôsetsu, did not have the connections that Song did, and received less privileged treatment. He led three ships; his departure date is unclear.[1] In response, the Ôuchi men attacked their Hosokawa counterparts, seized the Hosokawa's tribute and trade goods, and pillaged the neighboring countryside, capturing Song Suqing and imprisoning him upon their return to Japan.[2][3]

The incident marked a major turning point in Sino-Japanese relations. While China did not ban its people from going to Japan, and Japanese from coming to China, until 1557, the Ming Court did shut down its shibosi port offices in Ningbo and Fuzhou,[4] demanded of the Ashikaga shogunate that it turn over those responsible, and also demanded the return of the tallies the shogunate had been given to engage in formal trade relations with China. Since those receiving these demands and claiming to represent the shogunate were in fact agents of the Ôuchi clan, and not true shogunate representatives, nothing came of the Ming Court's efforts.[5]

Weakened relations with the Ming led the shogunate, the Ôuchi, and others to seek relations with the Ming via the Ryûkyû Kingdom as intermediary.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Tanaka Takeo, "Japan's Relations with Overseas Countries," in John Whitney Hall and Toyoda Takeshi (eds.) Japan in the Muromachi Age, Cornell University East Asia Program (2001), 159-178.
  2. Sansom, George. A History of Japan: 1334-1615. Stanford University Press, 1961. p176.
  3. Schottenhammer, Angela. "The East Asian maritime world, 1400-1800: Its fabrics of power and dynamics of exchanges - China and her neighbors." in Schottenhammer (ed.) The East Asian maritime world, 1400-1800: Its fabrics of power and dynamics of exchanges. Harrassowitz Verlag, 2007. p23.
  4. Schottenhammer. p22.
  5. Hashimoto Yû. "The Information Strategy of Imposter Envoys from Northern Kyushu to Choson Korea in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries." in Angela Schottenhammer (ed.) The East Asian Mediterranean: Maritime Crossroads of Culture, Commerce and Human Migration. Harrassowitz Verlag, 2008. pp289-315.
  6. Gregory Smits, Maritime Ryukyu, University of Hawaii Press (2019), 205.