Asia’s International Trading and Finance Centres
Edited by François Gipouloux
Chapter 3: 17th-Century Nagasaki: Entrepôt for the Zheng, the VOC and the Tokugawa Bakufu
3. 17th-century Nagasaki: entrepôt for the Zheng, the VOC and the Tokugawa Bakufu Patrizia Carioti THE HISTORICAL SETTING With the arrival of the first Portuguese in Japan in 1543, the Chinese intermediary role was clearly delineated: the Portuguese were accompanied to the Japanese coast of Tanegashima by Chinese sea-traders, or more precisely, by Chinese pirates.1 Soon after, Wang Zhi, the well known Chinese pirate established in Japan, brought the Portuguese to Hirado, where he had one of his bases, thanks to the protection of the daimyō Matsuura Takanobu, deeply involved in overseas trades.2 Yet, in those days, when Japan was in a period of civil war, the daimyōs of Kyūshū, still free from any control by central authorities, were all eager to establish trade relations with Portugal. And as we know, the daimyō Ōmura Sumitada succeeded in bringing the Portuguese to his domain, offering them Mogi, Yokoseura, Fukuda, and Nagasaki.3 In 1571, the port of Nagasaki was open up to the Portuguese and, at the same time, to the Chinese too: the Chinese trades and commodities were essential to Japan.4 Also the maritime activities carried out by the Japanese merchants were vivacious and important: many Nihon machi, the Japanese Overseas communities, were rising in South East Asia, joining the Overseas Chinese communities.5 Yet, toward the end of the 16th century, Toyotomi Hideyoshi rose to power and affirmed his rule on a reunified country. Therefore, the control of Japanese private maritime activities became increasingly strict. As a consequence,...
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