World Trade Systems of the East and West

Nagasaki and the Asian Bullion Trade Networks


In World Trade Systems of the East and West, Geoffrey C. Gunn profiles Nagasaki's historic role in mediating the Japanese bullion trade, especially silver exchanged against Chinese and Vietnamese silk. Founded in 1571 as the terminal port of the Portuguese Macau ships, Nagasaki served as Japan's window to the world over long time and with the East-West trade carried on by the Dutch and, with even more vigor, by the Chinese junk trade. While the final expulsion of the Portuguese in 1646 characteristically defines the “closed” period of early modern Japanese history, the real trade seclusion policy, this work argues, only came into place one century later when the Shogunate firmly grasped the true impact of the bullion trade upon the national economy.


EUR €138.00USD $159.00

Biographical Note

Geoffrey C. Gunn, Ph.D. is a graduate of Melbourne and Monash universities in Asian history. Emeritus professor of Nagasaki University, he has also published such works as First Globalization: The Eurasian Exchange, 1500-1800 (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), as well as dedicated studies on Vietnam and Macau.

Table of contents

List of Tables and Illustrations
Note on Weights and Currencies

 Japanese Historiography
 The East-Southeast Asian Bullion Trade Zone
 The Book

1 Kyushu in the East Asian Trade Networks
 Spanish Manila and the Galleon Trade
 The Portuguese “Discovery” of the Kyushu Trade Networks
 The Ryukyu Tribute Trade
 Gold, Silver, and Copper Mines in Japan
 Japanese Maritime Trade with China and Korea
 The Portuguese Missionary Arrival in Kyushu

2 Merchants and Missionaries in the Foundation of Nagasaki
 Nagasaki’s Obscure Origins
 The Portuguese Merchant-Missionary Arrival in Nagasaki
 Nagasaki under Jesuit Rule
 The Manila-Japan Trade Connection
 Return to Imperial Rule (1588) and Persecutions

3 Nagasaki and the Silk Trade
 Setting the Scene on Silk Production and Procurement
 Functional Aspects of the Macau-Nagasaki Silk Trade
 The Portuguese Merchant Presence
 The VOC Silk Trade with Tonkin

4 The Dutch and English at Hirado
 The Dutch Establishment at Hirado (1609–41)
 The Dutch and the Contest for Taiwan (1604–61)
 The Zheng Family Dynasty
 The Dutch Trade at Hirado
 The English at Hirado (1613–23)

5 The Shimabara Rebellion (1637–38) Revisited
 Background to the Rebellion
 The Duarte Correa Manuscript and the First Stirrings of Rebellion
 The Battle for Shimabara
 Millennial Rebels or Economic Victims?
 The Anti-Christian Backlash

6 Nagasaki and the Southeast Asia Trade
 Drawing the Contours of the “Red Seal” Trade
 The Chinese Junk Trade at Nagasaki in the kai-hentai Records
 Status of the Junk Traffic in 1664
 Scale and Scope of the Nagasaki-Vietnam Trade

7 The Chinese of Nagasaki and their Social and Commercial Activities
 Origins of the Nagasaki Chinese Community under the Ming
 Chinese Temple Communities in Nagasaki and their Functional Role
 The Zheng Trade with Nagasaki during the Ming-Qing Transition
 The Restoration of the China Trade under the Qing
 The Seventeenth Century Chinese Legacy in Nagasaki

8 Nagasaki in the Age of Kaempfer
 Kaempfer’s Nagasaki
 Dutch Trade at Deshima
 A Dutch West India Company Account of 1721–23
 Carl Peter Thunberg’s Account of 1795
 Closed Door under Foreign Pressure

9 Parameters of the Bullion Trade Economy Network
 Portuguese Profits on the Silk-for-Silver Trade
 Putting a Value on the Dutch and Chinese Bullion Trade
 Portuguese and Dutch in the Global Copper Trade
 Reassessing the Silver Drain from Japan, the Role of Arai Hakuseki
 Nagasaki and the Asian Bullion Trade Reprised

 Global Economy and World System
 Stagnant Japan, Rising Japan, or Mid-Tokugawa Crisis?
 A Precocious Early Modernization?
 Nagasaki’s Pioneer Role in Japan’s Industrialization



A key resource for students of early modern Japanese history, local Nagasaki history, and to all interested in connected history with respect to China, Southeast Asia, and the global bullion trade.


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