In the recent research on one epoch-making event in the history of Sino-Japanese relations; namely, the Ming Dynasty conferring the title of “King of Japan” on the head of the Muromachi Bakufu, a revision has been made in the dating of the event from 1402（Jianwen 4）to 1404 （Yongle 2）. However, such an interpretation has not by no means been backed up with authoritative historiographical evidence.
If we attempt to confirm this dating utilizing methodology from the science of diplomatics, in which historical facts are ascertained one step at a time by measuring the accuracy to what extent the available sources of evidence are removed from actual fact or event in question, the choice of 1404 leaves only two candidates for the title, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. From the viewpoint emphasizing the actual substance of “feng” 封（vassalage）---that is, the head of the Muromachi Bakufu being recognized within East Asian international society as Japan’s head of state---the author of the present article argues that the year 1402 is a far more significant date.
In the documentation issued by the emperor of China for implementing “feng” status, various forms were used depending on the perceived rank of the conferee: for example, there existed such forms as gaoming 誥命（direct imperial appointment）, zhao-shu 詔書（imperial edict）and chiyu 勅諭（imperial directive, admonition）. Referring to the case of the three princes of the southern, central and northern regions of the Ryukyu Islands, whether in their interregional affairs or in their relations with the Ming Dynasty, besides the document conferring “feng” issued by the emperor, we also observe the issuance of official calendars, seals and crowns in orderly fashion according to specific purposes. The selection of the specific imperial “feng” document form can also be ascertained in the case of the Ryukyus, as well as changes in the practice occurring over a relatively short period of time.
In addition, a survey of “feng” conferees among the Dongnayi 東南夷 “barbarians” of the coastal states from East Asia to India, reveals that during the Hongwu and Jianwen eras（1368‐1402）only two, the heads of Korean states of Koryo and Chosun, had been conferred via gaoming, the most prestigious form of investiture, in contrast to the reign of Emperor Yongle, who lavishly issued gaoming and accompanying seals to countries far and wide, according to a diplomatic posture focused on rendering authoritative, but benevolent, rule over the whole world, symbolized by the great maritime voyages being led during the time by Commander Zheng He to destinations as distant as Kenya.
Finally, as to the extant sources related to the Japanese archipelago, including the Ryukyus, the author praises this body of historiography composed of several original diplomatic documents, as well as two compilation of diplomatic records, the “Rekidai-hoan” by Ryukyu Kingdom and the “Zenrinkokuho-ki” collected in Muromachi era Japan, as irreplaceable in gaining an understanding of the East Asian international order during the Ming Period.
This article explores gifts bestowed on foreign ambassadors at the stage of Roman diplomacy marking the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE and the practice’s significance for the establishment of the Republic’s hegemony over the Greek and Mediterranean Worlds, in order to shed light on the change in Rome’s methods of managing foreign affairs which occurred around the end of the 3rd century.
The article begins with one case of gift-giving which took place in c. 170, to draw attention to the fact that pecuniary gifts were given by the Senate in the course of its official contacts with foreign delegations. The Romans skillfully induced the foreign diplomats to take the gifts, thus placing them individually in debt to Rome and garner favor for the Republic among their fellow citizens, in line with the idea of reciprocity embedded at that time within the culture of the Mediterranean World. Through further examination of similar examples, the author identifies the earliest extant reference in the historical record to this practice of influencing foreign diplomats with personal gifts as occurring in 205, and shows that from then on the practice was in continuous use by the Romans, at least during the period of their rapid advance into the Greek World.
The author’s analysis of pecuniary gifts given to Roman individuals by their foreign counterpoints lends further support to the argument that the former had not understood such an approach to diplomacy before the end of the 3rd century, much less put it into practice. Roman statesmen and even citizens were not in the habit of accepting such gifts in that earlier time, and were wary concerning clandestine, “under the table” approaches to foreign relations. Moreover, they were unable to refuse such gifts or treat such gestures from their foreign counterparts graciously, in contrast to the Romans in the cases of 205 onwards who used skilfully the mechanism of gift-giving in the contacts with foreign dignitaries.
Based on the above investigation, the author concludes that the Romans finally noticed the possibility of gift-giving and/or approaching foreigners through channels apart from formal ones around the end of the 3rd century, and rapidly expanded such diplomatic methods in conjunction with formal diplomacy, as well as escalating foreign military aggression.