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Shimazu Tadatsune, a prominent figure of the early Edo Period, held significant wealth and power, boasting a stipend of 605,000 koku. Born in 1576, he was designated as the heir to the Shimazu clan shortly before the Battle of Sekigahara, where his father fought on the losing side. Despite his uncle Yoshihisa being the primary successor to the clan's leadership, his lack of heirs led to Tadatsune's appointment as successor due to his other uncle Hisakazu's passing in Korea. Assuming control in 1602, Tadatsune's father retained much of the authority until his demise in 1619.

The Shimazu clan's military prowess was renowned, and Tadatsune himself was celebrated for his valor. Notably, during Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s Korean Campaign, he and his father led an army of 8,000 samurai, repelling a Chinese Ming army of 100,000 soldiers.

In 1602, following the Battle of Sekigahara, Tadatsune pledged allegiance to Tokugawa Ieyasu, symbolizing loyalty, and was honored with the name Matsudaira Iehisa. This was a significant gesture as Matsudaira was Ieyasu’s original family name, and Tadatsune also adopted the first part of Ieyasu’s name as his given name, signifying a deep honor.

Tadatsune diligently worked to ensure the Shimazu clan's prosperity, rooting out corruption and disloyalty among his retainers. He strategically annexed the Ryukyu (Okinawan) Islands in the mid-1609, allowing them semi-independence to facilitate trade with China, which believed the islands were under their control. This decision bolstered the Shimazu clan's economic strength and positioned Japan favorably in trade affairs.

Interestingly, the trade activities associated with the Ryukyu Islands are believed to have introduced cockroaches to Japan, as these insects stowed away among the traded items and subsequently spread across the nation. Shimazu Tadatsune passed away on April 7, 1638, at the age of 62.

 


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