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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien



Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
Jochi Kioizaka Bldg. 2F
7-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 102-0094, Japan
Tel: 03 – 3222 5198, Fax: 03 – 3222 5420


Early Modern Japanese-Spanish Relations between Micro and Macro History

April 17, 2013 / 6.30 P.M.

Birgit Tremml, University of Tokyo

During the sixteenth-century, when no uniform etiquette existed, two types of foreign relations dominated encounters in the China Sea region and consequently shaped the formative period of intercultural diplomatic relations. These were namely the hierarchical Chinese Middle kingdom world order and European concepts of friendly exchange inter pares. Strangely enough, Japan under the rule of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu encompassed both systems. Japan was the first ‘sinicised’ nation that aimed at developing equal state relations with both European and Asian nations. Given that the Spaniards in the Philippines were one of the earliest and most frequent negotiating partners of official Japanese actors until the 1620s, a closer look at the case of early modern Japan not only brings to light hybrid forms of diplomatic cultures but also uncovers surprising intrinsic similarities of both concepts of foreign relations. I suggest examining individuals who intermediated between representatives of Overseas Spain and Japanese authorities who had a crucial impact on long-term diplomatic encounters. At the same time, non-state actors such as different private merchant associations also shaped diplomatic cultures in the macro-region due to their constant encounters with ruling authorities of different nations and cultural backgrounds. This talk will therefore introduce selected case studies and discuss combining micro- and macro-historical approaches in a systematic comparative analysis of verbal and non-verbal communication between the Philippines and Japan.

Dr Birgit Magdalena Tremml is currently a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Research Fellow at the University of Tokyo Institute of Advanced Studies on Asia. She received her PhD from the University of Vienna in July 2012 with a study of proto-global dynamics in the China Seas, entitled “When political economies meet: Spain, China and Japan in Manila, 1571-1644.” Her current research focuses on the micro-level of intercultural diplomacy and the diplomatic actors related to Japanese long-distance trade.