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    As Nam Gi-ju anticipated, a heated debate was taking place between Todo Takayuki and his retainers at his residence.

    “We must oppose this! It’s like placing a blade at our throats!”

    “Exactly! Even if we allow Asako Bay, Ofunakoshi is too close to Izuhara! We must stop this at all costs!”

    On the other hand, there were quite a few retainers in favor of the proposal.

    “We should accept Joseon’s proposal! Those pirates are troublesome for us anyway. It’s a plan to borrow a knife to kill someone!”

    “Agreed! Those pirates disobey us more often than they listen! We should deal with them using this opportunity!”

    Watching his retainers fiercely arguing for and against, Todo Takayuki felt a headache coming on.

    Both sides had a point.

    After the previous Joseon invasion, Tsushima had been on high alert for any moves by Joseon. They needed military strength they could use in case of emergency.

    The pirates were also in a difficult situation.

    As the Muromachi Shogunate firmly grasped power, the pirates began facing restrictions in their movements.

    On top of that, they had suffered a decisive defeat and great losses in their offensive against the Ming Dynasty during the Tsushima Invasion in the first year of Sejong’s reign. Since then, they needed a suitable place to hide.

    Since the interests of both sides aligned, the pirates often used Tsushima as a hideout.

    No, it could be seen as the number of pirates among Tsushima’s residents had increased.

    However, as things turned out this way, it became a headache for Todo Takayuki as well.

    It was not easy to control the pirates.

    As both sides were in a deadlock, Hatoyama, the eldest among them, spoke up.

    “In my humble opinion…”

    As Hatoyama began to speak, not only the retainers but even Todo Takayuki lent an ear.

    It was because someone who had remained silent until then had spoken up.

    With everyone listening attentively, Hatoyama shared his thoughts.

    “I believe we should accept Joseon’s proposal, but with some adjustments.”

    “Adjustments?”

    “Yes. We can lend out Asako Bay, but we must not give up Ofunakoshi. It would pose a problem for the defense of Izuhara.”

    Not only the retainers but even Todo Takayuki nodded at Hatoyama’s words.

    Hatoyama continued.

    “While it is appreciated that Joseon is offering compensation, 20 nyang of silver per month is too little. No matter how barren Tsushima may be, we cannot give it up for such a cheap price.”

    “Exactly!”

    Todo Takayuki strongly nodded at Hatoyama’s words.

    However, another retainer cautiously raised an objection.

    “But will Joseon really agree to that? 20 nyang of silver per month amounts to 240 nyang of silver in a year. Considering we receive 100 seom of rice from Joseon as annual tribute, that’s double the amount. Joseon will think it’s sufficient.”

    At those words, Hatoyama’s voice grew louder.

    “The land value of Tsushima is even higher than that! If they want to end it with a mere 240 nyang, it’s better not to accept Joseon’s proposal at all!”

    Hatoyama, who had shut down the objector, bowed to Todo Takayuki and advised.

    “According to rumors heard recently, those Joseon bastards enjoy haggling. 20 nyang of silver is surely just bait! If we swallow it whole, the whole world will know of our retainers’ incompetence! We must obtain as much as possible through negotiation!”

    “Obtain as much as possible… Hatoyama, what else should we gain besides more money?”

    “Monopoly offices!”

    “Monopoly offices? Hmm…”

    At Hatoyama’s words, Todo Takayuki stroked his beard.

    Tsushima’s environment was barren. Therefore, they had to obtain many necessities from outside the island, and in the process, they had to suffer from merchants’ profiteering. However, if monopoly offices were established, this problem could be greatly resolved.

    “But will the King of Joseon allow the establishment of monopoly offices?”

    “They are also a subject of Joseon. If a subject makes a request, would the king not grant it? Additionally, we should add a clause stating that the families of the naval forces stationed at the port must also reside there in exchange for lending the port.”

    “The families of the naval forces? Ah! As hostages?”

    Todo Takayuki’s words were met with a nod from Hatoyama.

    “That’s right. Furthermore, it provides a solid basis for establishing monopoly offices. Aren’t there Joseon subjects there?”

    “Indeed!”

    As Todo Takayuki seemed to lean towards lending the port, a retainer who had been opposed hurriedly spoke up.

    “Even with hostages, it’s too dangerous! Although Asako Bay and Izuhara are separated by mountains, if the Joseon army truly sets their mind to it, they can cross over at any time! And other lords will laugh at us for giving up territory for a mere pittance!”

    Hearing the objection, Hatoyama countered again.

    “A visible enemy is safer than an unseen one. If the Joseon army enters Asako Bay, we can quickly prepare by placing a few swift soldiers in between! But if we completely block the Joseon army, do you think Joseon will sit still? They will surely hold a grudge, and we’ll have to spend several times more troops to monitor them! And do you think a mere 20 or 30 warships worth of soldiers can take over Tsushima?”

    In the previous Tsushima Invasion, the Joseon army had mobilized a total of 227 ships, large and small, with a force of 17,285 men. (Note 1)

    ***

    Hatoyama paused for a moment and caught his breath. After composing himself, Hatoyama bowed to Todo Takayuki and spoke.

    “Let the other lords laugh at us! There is a saying, ‘sleeping on firewood and tasting gall’. We must diligently save up the wealth Joseon provides, strengthen our military preparations, and accumulate war funds. Don’t we need to reclaim the lost territory taken by the Ouchi clan?”

    “Indeed!”

    At Hatoyama’s words, Todo Takayuki leaped up from his seat and shouted.

    The Ouchi clan, having suffered great losses in the armed conflicts on the main island of Japan, had advanced into Kyushu.

    In the process, a conflict arose with the native power of Kyushu, the Shoni[1] clan. As a result of that armed struggle, the Shoni clan lost a significant portion of their territory, and the Todo clan, who were backed by the Shoni, had to retreat, losing their dominance over Kyushu.

    Having made his resolve, Todo Takayuki shouted to his retainers.

    “Let the other lords laugh! Sleeping on firewood and tasting gall, sleeping on firewood and tasting gall! We will thoroughly prepare our military and reclaim our lost territory! Until then, we will thoroughly cater to Joseon’s whims while taking as much as we can!”

    “Yes, my lord!”

    At Todo Takayuki’s order, the retainers replied in unison.

    ***

    The next day, Todo Takayuki, his retainers, and the Joseon envoys gathered again.

    After exchanging simple greetings, Hatoyama resumed the negotiation on behalf of Todo Takayuki.

    “We have deeply considered the proposal you mentioned yesterday.”

    “Is that so? Have you reached a decision?”

    To Nam Gi-ju’s words, Hatoyama replied.

    “I think some adjustments are necessary.”

    “Adjustments, you say?”

    “That’s right. First, we have decided to lend only one port to Joseon, Asako Bay.”

    “Only Asako Bay?”

    “Yes. Ofunakoshi is too close to Izuhara. Many residents of Tsushima are still haunted by the nightmare brought by the previous Joseon invasion. For the sake of reassuring the residents, Ofunakoshi is absolutely out of the question. But you are free to use Asako Bay as you wish.”

    At Hatoyama’s words, Nam Gi-ju nodded and muttered to himself.

    ‘His Highness the Crown Prince was right again. Does this mean we proceed with plan B?’

    During the brainstorming session while formulating plans before departure, Hyang had predicted that Tsushima would propose in this manner.

    Since the possibility of things going as Hyang predicted could not be ignored, a revised plan for this situation was also created and approved by Sejong.

    Anyway, since Tsushima had made a proposal, Joseon also had to give an answer.

    “This is not a decision I can make alone, so could you give me some time?”

    “Very well.”

    Pausing the meeting briefly and returning to his lodging, Nam Gi-ju discussed with the vice envoy.

    “It’s just as His Highness the Crown Prince predicted.”

    “Indeed. Then we should proceed with plan B, right?”

    “We should. Let’s take some time. How about a game of Go?”

    “Sounds good!”

    As the Joseon envoys took quite a long time to return, Todo Takayuki turned to Hatoyama.

    “It’s taking quite a while.”

    “They may actually be taking time to coordinate, or they may be deliberately stalling.”

    “Deliberately?”

    “They’re probably trying to unsettle us. It’s a common tactic.”

    “I see.”

    ***

    It took about two shichen (approximately 4 hours) for Nam Gi-ju’s group to return to the meeting room.

    “Have you reached a decision?”

    “If you fully lend Asako Bay, we will accept the proposal.”

    “You are free to do as you wish with Asako Bay.”

    “Thank you. Then is everything settled?”

    “No. 20 nyang of silver per month is too little.”

    At Hatoyama’s words, Nam Gi-ju’s voice slightly rose.

    “You’ve already reduced the ports from two to one, and now you want more money?”

    To Nam Gi-ju’s words, Hatoyama explained the reason.

    “If we lend Asako Bay to Joseon, we need to relocate the people living there. Considering the relocation costs for those people, the tax revenue we won’t be able to collect until they settle in their new location, and the cost of consoling those displaced people, 20 nyang of silver per month is too little.”

    “So how much do you want?”

    “40 nyang of silver.”

    “You’re cutting the ports in half but doubling the cost? Does that make sense?”

    “Then depart from Dongnae.”

    At Hatoyama’s words, Nam Gi-ju’s face turned fierce.

    “I guess Tsushima’s merchants don’t need Waegwan.”

    This time, Hatoyama’s face turned fierce.

    They had each taken a jab at each other.

    The verbal sparring continued between the two sides.

    Since they had started off with strong blows from the beginning, the words exchanged were not pleasant.

    In the end, as the atmosphere on both sides turned hostile, Todo Takayuki intervened.

    “Now, now! This is a negotiation where everyone should benefit, so how can we proceed like this? I’ll make a compromise! Frankly, 20 nyang of silver is too little. But since we’ve also reduced the ports to one, let’s make it 30 nyang of silver. What do you say?”

    At Todo Takayuki’s mediation, Nam Gi-ju and the envoys withdrew and whispered among themselves.

    After a short while, Nam Gi-ju, who had taken his seat again, replied.

    “Since you have proposed a compromise, we will accept it.”

    “Thank you!”

    Delighted by Nam Gi-ju’s words, Todo Takayuki gave Hatoyama a slight wink.

    This was something the two of them had planned.

    By doing this, Todo Takayuki would be perceived as being favorable to Joseon and gain a positive evaluation.

    The problem was that Nam Gi-ju and the vice envoy were also exchanging glances.

    ***

    After that, fierce negotiations took place over various issues.

    ‘The Joseon naval forces stationed at Asako Bay must reside there with their families.’

    When Tsushima made this proposal, Joseon replied as follows:

    ‘Then we will build walls for the safety of the people.’

    There was a lengthy verbal sparring over this issue, but in the end, Joseon emerged victorious.

    ‘Instead of building walls, we will establish monopoly offices in the civilian residential area. And these monopoly offices will be accessible to unarmed residents of Tsushima.’

    Since the monopoly offices were also desired by Todo Takayuki and his retainers, an agreement was quickly reached on this matter.

    And through this agreement, Joseon was able to construct defensive facilities at a strategically important location.

    In this manner, fierce debates continued, but almost all the issues were as Joseon had anticipated—more precisely, as Hyang had anticipated.

    The Joseon envoys and Todo Takayuki, who had reached an agreement through the coordination of opinions, smiled with satisfied expressions.

    “Then all that remains is going to Kyoto.”

    To Nam Gi-ju’s words, Todo Takayuki immediately replied.

    “We will do our utmost to assist you. Then let’s depart as soon as possible!”

    ***

    At that moment, the ship carrying the secret envoys set sail for Kyushu.

    ***

    Note 1) Chapter 2, The Tsushima Invasion. Military Strategies of the Joseon Dynasty. Institute for Military History Compilation, Ministry of National Defense.

    1. 少貳[]

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