Yang Zai

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  • Chinese/Japanese: (Yáng Zài / Yô Sai)

Yáng Zài was a Ming official who in 1369 led the second mission to demand tribute from Japan, and in 1372 the first mission to demand tribute from the Ryukyuan kingdom of Chûzan.

After arriving in Dazaifu in 1369 and meeting with Prince Kanenaga, Yáng was imprisoned for three months while five of his men were beheaded. Yáng was eventually permitted to return safely to China, and a new mission, this time led by an official named Zhào Zhì, traveled to Dazaifu and was ultimately successful in convincing Prince Kanenaga to begin sending tribute missions, to quell the wakô, and to take on the title of King of Japan.

Prior to returning to China, Yáng is believed to have traveled directly from Kyushu to Okinawa, where he may have met with King Satto of Chûzan, explaining to him the meaning and functioning of tributary relations, and then returning to the imperial capital of Nanjing via Fuzhou. Yáng then returned to 1372 to Ryûkyû in a more official capacity in 1372, bringing with him official imperial edicts demanding tribute; King Satto quickly agreed and formal tribute and investiture embassies were exchanged between the Ming and Chûzan shortly afterward.


  • Gregory Smits, Maritime Ryukyu, University of Hawaii Press (2019), 62-65.