Nobunaga’s Ambition Realized: Dawn of a New Rising Sun

Chapter 137: Dutch or French

Chapter 137: Dutch or French

On September 25th, 1703, daijo-daijin Oda Nobuie received Guibert Bernier, a representative of the French East India Company also acting on behalf of the French crown. Bernier carried one of the many letters the CIO was sending to indigenous powers in Asia at the time, with Tidorese sultan Hamza Faharuddin being a notable recipient as well. In these letters, the French asked each and every recipient to join the ongoing war on their side, not only going over the legitimacy of Philip of Anjou as the rightful king of Spain but also warning of an Asia overly dominated by the Dutch without any counterbalance. To Japan specifically was a promise by the French that they would enjoy the territorial spoils upon their victory that would be assured by their entry in their words, although no territories were specifically noted as being part of the islands. Upon further questioning, Bernier assured the Japanese that specific territorial aims would likely be accommodated by the CIO.

3 days later, VOC representative Geert Buys presented a letter before Nobuie as well. This letter, aimed at dissuading Japan from intervening in the conflict, offered a favorable trade deal for Azuchi in return for Japanese non-intervention in the war. However, Buys quickly found out about France’s more enticing offer of territory and so upon consultation with the Dutch merchants in Sakai and Azuchi changed the VOC’s terms. The Dutch offer now handed the entirety of the Spanish Philippines except for Manila to the Japanese if the latter intervened against the Bourbon monarchy. Buys also added that with Japanese intervention, the war would be over in less than a year as the anti-Bourbon coalition already had the edge in the Asian theater of the Bourbon Wars.

With both sides now having made their bids to Nobuie, the daijo-daijin began to consult with his advisors and councilors and dwell on both offers. In order to get an accurate picture of the Sangui-shu’s sentiments, they would meet on their own, Nobuie citing “illness” as an excuse to not preside. Instead, he would be meeting with his inner circle of advisors including Tsuda Takeakira, foreign affairs magistrate Niwa Nagamori, and his mistress Otsuma (おつま), in order to discuss the matter away from the pressure of politics. At this time, the Sangi-shu was composed of the following members:
Nakanoin Michishige (中院通茂)
Sassa Katsutoo (佐々勝遠)
Ito Sukezane (伊東祐実)
Nagaoka Tsugutoshi (長岡嗣利)
Otomo Yoshitaka (大友義孝)
Kakizaki Norihiro (蠣崎矩広)
Kawajiri Shigehiro (河尻鎮煕)
Urakusai Hiroie (有楽斎煕家)
Mori Hironao (森熙直)
Hashiba Hidekuni (羽柴秀国)
Kanbe Yoshihiro (神戸吉熙)
Kaga Hisachika (加賀尚親)

Inaba Tomomichi (稲葉知通)
Akita Terusue (秋田輝季)
Yanagiwara Sukekado (柳原資廉)
Murai Munetada (村井宗忠)
Takatsukasa Kanehiro (鷹司兼熙)

Blue - court nobility, orange - Oda clan member​

Many opinions sprung out at the emergency Sangi-shu meeting to specifically address the Franco-Dutch matter. Initially, the most prominent one was one supporting non-intervention in order to not disrupt Japanese trade and continue the realm’s neutrality towards the European powers. This opinion was particularly voiced by the court nobility, traditionally the most pacifistic in the Sangi-shu. Anti-Catholic sentiment also played a part, with many of the traditionalist councilors uninterested in supporting a Catholic power or conquering Catholic lands in the Philippines. Those who supported intervening in the war, however, generally supported joining on the side of the French. Councilor Hashiba Hidekuni spoke of the need to remain engaged with the outside world, even if it meant risking bloodshed and conflict. After all, they had done so in their numerous interventions onto the mainland without question in order to keep Moscow out of the Amur region and support their Jurchen ally in the Amur Khanate. Kakizaki Norihiro also spoke in support of siding with the French in the war, noting that France’s weaker position in Asia and Spanish decline meant that staying out guaranteed a Dutch victory that would only solidify the VOC’s dominance in Southeast Asia. This, he argued, would limit Japanese trade opportunities and power, making it more dependent on just one power. Norihiro’s argument regarding Dutch power, in fact, was one first pitched by Bernier in the letter to the daijo-daijin.

By contrast, Nobuie’s own private meeting swiftly settled on a conclusion. To the daijo-daijin, remaining uninvolved was out of the question for Japan and leaned towards intervening on the side of the French. Similarly to many in the Sangi-shu, he found the acquisition of the rest of the Spanish Philippines worthless with the manpower that was going to be spent subjugating its Catholic subjects without also gaining Manila. By contrast, gaining key Dutch territories and ports in the East Indies would not only open up new markets for the Japanese but also allow Azuchi to gain new sources of revenue, strengthening its central authority including that of Nobuie himself. Niwa Nagamori would only confirm the daijo-daijin’s sentiments by adding that without Japanese intervention, the Dutch would be the overwhelming victors in the Asian theater of the global conflict and that Bourbon victory due to Japanese support would give Azuchi substantial leverage over the Europeans.

The only major concern was the ambiguity of French territorial promises, as nothing had been specified by Bernier. So, Nobuie decided to make his move and ask whether the Maluku (Spice) islands or Malacca could be given to Japan upon the war’s conclusion. Japanese presence in the Moluccas would also potentially expand Azuchi’s influence into various kingdoms and sultanates in the region that were currently under Dutch sway. Additionally, the daijo-daijin would also request the addition of Manila to Japan aside from the rest of the Spanish Philippines to the Dutch offer to sweeten a potential alternative. Bernie and Buys, seeking to reach a conclusion for their respective countries as quickly as possible, did not wait to consult with their companies’ respective councils. Only the input of merchants and other countrymen in Sakai and Azuchi would factor into their decisions. Ultimately, Buys, seeing Manila as too vital for the VOC’s interests, would decline Nobuie’s demand. By contrast, Bernier would agree to specify the Spice Islands as the territorial guarantee in the event of a joint Franco-Japanese victory in the Asian theater of the war, although Malacca was determined to be too vital for French interests. The decisions of these European diplomats shifted opinion within the Sangi-shu, souring the reputation of the Dutch in what was viewed as a slight by Buys while improving the image of the French as honest partners.​


1683 map of the East Indies, including the Maluku (Spice) Islands​

After hearing from the Dutch and French and receiving a report from Kakizaki Norihiro on the sentiments of the Sangi-shu, Nobuie made up his mind. On October 26th, he sent a notice for the Shinka-in to be summoned, any available nobles and daimyo attending and those in absentia sending proxies and representatives. The meeting would take place on November 2nd in the main hall of Azuchi Castle. This session would begin with Nobuie discussing the matter at hand being the question of intervention in the ongoing global conflict between the Bourbon dynasty and the anti-Bourbon Grand Coalition, specifically its Asian theater. He then asked for their respective opinions, and after a short pause none other than Kakizaki Norihiro spoke up in favor of joining the war on the French side. He would quickly be followed by Tokugawa Hiroyasu and Mouri Hironari, two important daimyo not on the Sangi-shu. A brief debate would break out after Takatsukasa Kanehiro spoke up in favor of neutrality between the pro-French and peace advocates. Notably, no one would speak in favor of siding with the Dutch, individuals like Shimazu Hirohisa lacking the confidence to argue for by now the least favored path.

Nobuie finally ended the debate and began to speak in favor of his decision in what would become one of the most immortalized line in Japanese history:
I cannot entrust the Netherlands with the fate of Asia. For the sake of all the people of this realm, let us join hands with France. I ask you all to follow my command in this endeavor.

Upon this declaration, all bowed to the daijo-daijin, most enthusiastically. As Nobuie left the main hall, he would smile as joyous exclamations echoed from the mass of those who had gathered. Although events and sentiments had led to this ultimate decision, the daijo-daijin had also skillfully managed and monitored the Sangi-shu and the Shinka-in directly and behind the scenes and had effectively moved his subjects towards his desired action.​


Oda Nobuie from the TV drama Genroku Taiheiki (元禄太平記) before the gathered Shinka-in​

The following month would see the finalization of what would be known as the Niwa-Bernier Agreement of 1703. In it, Japan committed to fighting on France’s side against the Netherlands, England, and Portugal as well as their native allies in Asia in return for the Spice Islands. The agreement also renewed and expanded upon previous trade treaties between the two countries. It would later be approved by both Versailles and Azuchi. The Niwa-Bernier Agreement would be the beginning of the Franco-Japanese alliance and would only be the second instance Japan attached itself so closely to another realm, the first being the Amur Khanate. With Nobuie’s decision, Japan was set to make its impact in the Bourbon Wars, a global conflict raging in the Americas, Europe, and Asia alike.​
I also added a paragraph in Chapter 136 regarding the elevation of Kanbe Tomoyoshi's son Yoshihiro to the Sangi-shu and the background behind that for anyone who wants to check that out.
Great Chapter. I’m wondering if the more Dutch-Aligned Daimyo, like the Shimazu, will cause any problems in the future of this conflict
not likely — it's not as if they're still in the 16th and 17th centuries at this point in time to have that warmongering attitude
not likely — it's not as if they're still in the 16th and 17th centuries at this point in time to have that warmongering attitude
Specially if they manage to score a victory and secure their objectives. one step closer to becoming the master of Asia for japan
A great victory for the French, regardless if they do better in war or not, Japan expanding their territory and influence is always good, hopefully the invasion of the spice islands will go smoothly
I wonder what is happening in the Philippines, Mexico, and Spanish America as of this moment, however.
Maybe we can see them going the Northern Pacific Route and colonize the Pacific Northwest, conflicting with Spain's claims to the North. Though, they're allies with the French and Pro-Bourbon Spanish, so we'll have to see how that develops.

I'm more curious about the Indian Ocean, as maybe the Franco-Japanese alliance opens the avenue to get territory in India, like yoking Dutch Ceylon.
I'm more curious about the Indian Ocean, as maybe the Franco-Japanese alliance opens the avenue to get territory in India, like yoking Dutch Ceylon.
eh, you can't help me; the Philippines is marinating in this long-term peacetime that I'm now somewhat expecting the expansion of the estates of religious orders to restart — now with a more nativised regular clergy and civil servants at that
The Maluku islands huh? Aren't the Philippines in the way though, could complicate reaching the new territories though from there Japan could expand onto New Guinea and Sulawesi and wait... is this a setup for a Japanese Australia lmao?

What does France stand to gain from victory in Europe again? Forgot. Mostly focus on Japan for this TL lol.
The Maluku islands huh? Aren't the Philippines in the way though, could complicate reaching the new territories though from there Japan could expand onto New Guinea and Sulawesi and wait... is this a setup for a Japanese Australia lmao?

What does France stand to gain from victory in Europe again? Forgot. Mostly focus on Japan for this TL lol.
The alliance with Maguindanao is probably still extant so they can probably help resupplying from there, which begs the question on how exactly capable are they on doing that, and then on how they have consolidated Mindanao.

Also — I just realised — if they indeed got that strong, didn't also that warranty a rivalry with Brunei?