The Only Counterplan (Part 1)
Followed by the Conclusion
by Yoshida Shoin (1858)

I respectfully offer this. In the first year of Kouka (1844), when the envoy of Holland turned up in Japan, we gave warning about the unusal event of the said arrival of black ships on this trip. Maybe for that sake, people boisterously made various war preparations. In that time, the situation was that people who advocated peace were few, and people who advocated in the direction of war were many. Ten years after that, it resulted that America, Russia, England, France and others turned up in Japan one after another. Above the others, the most worrying one for Japan was the arrival of America’s ship. Because of this, people who argued about war preparations increasingly used their voices loudly, but instead, many of the people who advocated war before converted to advocating peace. The people who advocated peace became many, and the people who advocated war became few.

The so called people who advocate for war are the closed-country (sakoku) ideologists. The people who advocate for peace are open-country-and-commerce ideologists. As for the matter of which policy we should take as a nation, if we consider (how) the various surrounding foreign countries are ruled thereafter from a splendid idea, there is no route except to open the country to commerce, I would think. If we chose the sakoku policy, and if we await the matter of the coming attack of a foreign enemy, our strength will weaken and our power will cower. There would be no other route except for the complete destruction of Japan. When Empress Jingu subjugated Korea, a paid sum of tribute to Japan, rather than China, was determined, a government was established, and we did commerce. When Tokugawa Ieyasu became seiitai-shogun, of course, (other countries) were free to sail, and conduct trade too. After that, a peaceful age continued for a long time. For that reason, the quibbling government officials were able to somehow in peace govern society. Thereupon those thoughts rising, (I remember that)in the 13th year of Kan’ei (1636), the arrival of ships as well as free foreign trade were prohibited. However, an open country and commerce became the foundation of the idea of a splendid nation, and this is the principle that remains transmitted from a long time ago. Sakoku is a quibbling method and in the following age, there were many evil practices.

However, this is quite a distressing problem: Now people who advocate opening the country with commerce do not embrace an entirely splendid idea. Rather they are avoiding war because they are faint-hearted. Therefore, I say their idea is inferior to people who advocated sakoku, unafraid of war. Therefore, the people who advocate peace really are afraid of it coming to war, and in their inner hearts is a feeling of shame. Whereupon the minute that I hear momentarily by chance advocacy for opening the country to commerce, as it is an excuse, the end result is I get rid of that feeling of shame. Also, rejecting peace, if the people who advocate war are attacked, my advocacy of Sonno Joi stumbles down. This point is a distressing thing.

対策一道 附論一則 四月中旬


戦争を主張する者はいわゆる鎖国主義者であり、和平を主張する者は、開国通商主義者なのです。国家としてとるべき方針はいずれかということが、雄大な構想のもとに周囲の諸外国を支配していこうと 考えるならば、開国通商以外に道はないと思われます。もし鎖国政策をとり、ただ外敵の襲って来るのを待ちうけるということになれば、勢力も弱まり、力も畏縮し、日本は亡び去る以外に道はないでしょう。神功皇后が三韓を征服された時も、韓より日本への貢納の額を定め、官府を設置され、通商が行なわれていました。徳川家康が征夷大将軍になった時も、もちろん航海は自由に行なわれ、通商も行なっていました。その後は平和な時代が打ち続き、そのため一時のがれの役人達も、なんとか無事に世の中を治めることが出来たのです。それで思いあがり、寛永十三年(一六三六)、航海および貿易の自由を、すべて禁止してしまいました。しかし開国通商は、雄大な国家構想の基礎になるものであり、これは昔から伝わる遺法なのです。鎖国は一時のがれの方法であり、次の時代にとって弊害の多いものです。