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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

The revised document limited them to Hirado


Twelve years previously, the merchants of London, stimulated by a spirit of rivalry with the Dutch, had organized the East India Company, which at once began to send ships eastward. As soon as news came that the Dutch were about to establish a trading station in Japan, the East India Company issued orders that the Clove, commanded by Saris, should proceed to the Far Eastern islands. The Clove reached Hirado on the 11th of June, 1613. Her master, Saris, soon proved that he did not possess the capacity essential to success. He was self-opinionated, suspicious, and of shallow judgment. Though strongly urged by Will Adams to make Uraga the seat of the new trade; though convinced of the excellence of the harbour there, and though instructed as to the great advantage of proximity to the shogun's capital, he appears to have harboured some distrust of Adams, for he finally selected Hirado in preference to Uraga, "which was much as though a German going to England to open trade should prefer to establish himself at Dover or Folkestone rather than in the vicinity of London." Nevertheless he received from Ieyasu a charter so liberal that it plainly displayed the mood of the Tokugawa shogun towards foreign trade:

"(1) The ship that has now come for the first time from England over the sea to Japan may carry on trade of all kinds without hindrance. With regard to future visits (of English ships), permission will be given in regard to all matters.

"(2) With regard to the cargoes of ships, requisition will be made by list according to the requirements of the shogunate.

"(3) English ships are free to visit any port in Japan. If disabled by storms they may put into any harbour.

"(4) Ground in Yedo in the place which they may desire shall be given to the English, and they may erect houses and reside and trade there. They shall be at liberty to return to their country whenever they wish to do so, and to dispose as they like of the houses they have erected.

"(5) If an Englishman dies in Japan of disease or any other cause, his effects shall be handed over without fail.

"(6) Forced sales of cargo and violence shall not take place.

"(7) If one of the English should commit an offence, he should be sentenced by the English general according to the gravity of his offence."*

*In this article, Ieyasu recognizes the principle of extra-territorial jurisdiction.

The terms of the above show that Saris was expected to make Yedo his headquarters. Had he done so he would have been practically free from competition; would have had the eastern capital of the empire for market, and would have avoided many expenses and inconveniences connected with residence elsewhere. But he did not rise to the occasion, and the result of his mistaken choice as well as of bad management was that, ten years later (1623), the English factory at Hirado had to be closed, the losses incurred there having aggregated L2000--$10,000. It has to be noted that, a few months after the death of Ieyasu, the above charter underwent a radical modification. The original document threw open to the English every port in Japan; the revised document limited them to Hirado. But this restriction may be indirectly traced to the blunder of not accepting a settlement in Yedo and a port at Uraga. For the foreign policy of the Tokugawa was largely swayed by an apprehension that the Kyushu feudatories, many of whom were not over-well disposed to the rule of the Bakufu, might derive from the assistance of foreign trade such a fleet and such an armament as would ultimately enable them to overthrow the Tokugawa. Therefore, the precaution was adopted of confining the English and the Dutch to Hirado, the domain of a feudatory too petty to become formidable, and to Nagasaki, which was one of the four Imperial cities, the other three being Yedo, Kyoto, and Osaka.


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