When entering a foreign country, one usually fills out an immigration form asking for a set of personal details such as one's name, nationality, date of departure, destination, and the purpose of one's visit. In addition, one needs to answer several questions, for example, whether he has any banned substances or objects like drugs or weapons, whether he have a criminal record, and so on. Furthermore, one has to waive any rights to appeal an immigration officer's decision and finally declare and sign that all answers are true and correct.
While many assume that this familiar system is specific to the modern age, historical documents show us that this supposition is not valid. In fact, we can find a similar system in the early modern Ryukyu Kingdom, though little attention has been paid to it. To demonstrate this system, I will begin introducing a document left by a shipwrecked Chinese captain coming to Ryukyu in the late eighteenth century:
The captain Li Zhenchun states that: We received a permit for sailing from the government of Min prefecture in Fujian on December 24, 1770, loaded wood under the Nantai bridge on May 13 in the next year, sailed from Min'anzhen for Shandong on May 24, and arrived on June 24. Though we left for Fujian on December 2, after purchasing beans, on the next day, a storm broke our mast and halyards, which made it impossible for us to navigate and caused our ship to drift into Yaeyama Island in your country on the 22nd. Now we are living on board here. There is no Christian missionary, arsenic, Epicanta gorhami [, which is a terribly virulent insect including cantharis], or any other poison with us. None of us are disguised as Chinese people clothed in Chinese clothes. Also we have no weapons. If you find any violation as such, we should be tried by the national laws. There is no lie in this report.