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Japan-Thailand Business Forum

Japan Thailand Business Forum is an association which consists of persons who have once worked in Thailand as executives of various Japanese companies as well as government offices located in Thailand.

It was organized in August 2002 for a purpose of exchanging frank opinions with Thai authorities in regard to tourism, economy, investment and other various subjects.

Reports of Chinese Junks

8th Release 2019.5.1
Public Relations Committee of JTBF

It is considered that the trade between Japan and Thailand stopped during Japan's "sakoku" era starting in 1630s when Japan closed her door to the rest of the world. But it actually continued through intermediary of Chinese junks, which voyaged from not only Chinese coasts but also from Southeast Asian coasts. They were permitted to enter Nagasaki harbor of Japan but were obligated to report political and social situations of the country of departure. Those reports still remain to our public view. Mr. Yoneo Ishii, late honorary professor of Kyoto University, focused on reports of junks which came from Southeast Asian coasts, translated to English and edited to a book "The Junk Trade from Southeast Asia". Public Relations Committee of JTBF are intersted in introducing the book and are delivering, on this web site, selected reports of junks which came from Thailand. Will be released every month 2 to 3 articles in time sequence. We are grateful to Mr. Tadashi Ishii, son of Mr. Yoneo Ishii, for kindly accepting our request to use copyright of the book of Mr. Yoneo Ishii.

Ship No.98 from Pattani, 2 August 1687

Our ship was Ship No. 101 from Pattani last year, which came here but did not have the opportunity to dispatch any of her cargoes, except for a small portion which was sold to cover immediate expenses before she returned home with the remaining cargoes. Last year we left here on the 27th day of the I lth month [10 January] and headed for Pattani. On the 3rd of the first month [14 February] strong winds at sea damaged our sails and other fittings severely. We were compelled to go back to Ningbo to repair the damaged fittings. Since the season for travelling to Pattani was already over, we remained in Ningbo from whence we have come this time. Thus, our cargo consists of the items from Pattani which had returned with us last year together with yellow Tonkin raw silk and "Tonkin pongee" (note 1) procured in Ningbo.

Since we did not return to Pattani we have had no news about the country. As for Ningbo, there has been no change. Peace prevails in other provinces as well. Rice is cheap everywhere and nothing unusual has been reported on land or at sea. These peaceful situations have probably been reported to you by the ships from Ningbo which entered here earlier and there is nothing to add. People are impoverished in the three provinces of Fuzhou, Guangdong and Huguang which have been ravaged by civil war recently. (note 2) For the last three years crop harvests have been reduced by half which creates difficulties for the coastal areas. The provinces of Fuzhou and Guangdong have been at war with Dongning for a long time and these provinces have suffered from the effects of warfare. In Huguang province where Wu Sangui had been rebelling for several years, people were badly affected. The people had paid the Emperor for only half of their crops for three years. The annual crop levy of Huguan province amounts to 36,000 kan in silver, which has been reduced by half. The 7,000 kan levied on the annual crops of Fushou and the 6,300 kan on those of Guangdong has been reduced by half, a measure which has pleased the people greatly. (note 3) Also, government officials have become very honest which has made a big difference to previous years. There was nothing else unusual. When we left Ningbo we saw three other ships there. Another one from Batavia remained in Ningbo, which had visited Nagasaki last year and but was unable to return home because of a storm. Including the latter, there could be four ships coming here from Ningbo this year but not more. Our ship has 71 tojin on board, who are the same crew as last year. We departed from Ningbo on the 3rd day of the 6th month and called at Putuoshan on the 15th, where we came across Ship No. 99 which entered here just after us. We left together on the 20th day. We did not stop anywhere in Japan and came here directly. At sea we did not see any ships except for Ship No. 99 with whom we cruised within sight of each other every day. There is nothing else to report to you.

The 25th day of the 6th month, Year of the Hare.

note 1: A soft unbleached type of Tonkin silk fabric.

note 2: See 1-6 above for the "war of the three feudat01ies" in Guangdong, ending in 1681. This was followed by the death throes of the Zheng regime in Dongning (Taiwan).

note 3: This refers to a reduction in taxes on agriculture. One kan is approximately 4 kg of silver.

Ship No.107 from Siam, 30 August 1687

There was nothing unusual in Siam. Peace prevails all over the country. Ships from various countries visit Siam constantly. Usually two or three ships travel from Siam to Nagasaki, but this year ours is the only one because business is not good. Also, due to the existing laws on trade restrictions, we cannot effect any business from the cargoes we have laboriously brought here on a large ship. This year we are on orders from a Siamese minister to come alone, in order to examine the prevailing conditions in Nagasaki.

When we were about to leave Siam, we heard the following news about Cambodia. Rather than return to Dongning, the navy of Qin She under General Yang's command in Cambodia has been roaming around the neighbouring seas for several years with several thousand men aboard large and small military boats. (note 4) Since they had nothing to do and nowhere to stay, they went to Cambodia to expel the King of Cambodia (note 5) and place the Cambodian coasts under their control. While the King of Cambodia was in retreat in the mountains, General Yang's adjutant general Huang revolted against his master General Yang and killed him. (note 6) He then supported the Second King, a nephew of the First King, to rule the coastal region under [Huang's] occupation. For the past two years the First King in his mountain exile has been asking Siam for help.(note 7) [A few letters are missing in the original text.] (note 8) The Siamese reinforcements were stationed in the mountains. This year the First King finally returned from the mountains and expelled the Second King and Huang and his men. Huang's men had decreased in number and he had only a few ships left. Though he remained with the Second King, he had already lost his former power, and was finally defeated by the army from the mountains. Huang and his men fled to Guangnan [Hue] with the Second King of Cambodia under Huang's guard. Since then, it is said, the First King who was in the mountains has resumed the throne to reign in Cambodia as before. We are not familiar with the details, however.

Our ship departed from Siam on the 6th day of the 5th month [15 June] and on the 7th day of the 6th month [15 July] strong winds broke the main mast of the ship. More adverse winds added to our difficulties and we narrowly escaped death. We came across Ship No. 102 from Guangdong under Xie Chunguan's command, which has just arrived. We asked Xie Chunguan for a small quantity of ceramic bowls and plates to replace the Wu Qimin plates we had lost during the storm. We experienced strong easterly winds for the third time. However, since our ship, unlike others, is of Siamese make, strongly constructed from sturdy timber, she coped with the surging waves and we safely entered the port of Nagasaki. 114 people are on board, nine of whom are the same Siamese who came here last year. At sea we did not meet any other ship, other than that of the afore- mentioned Xie Chunguan. We did not stop at any port before entering here. There is no more news and this is all that can be reported to you.

The 23rd day of the 7th month, Year of the Hare.

note 4: See 1-8, 1-9, 1-19 above.

note 5: King Chey Chettha IV (Sor).

note 6: Huang Jin (for details see Ch'en, 1968, pp.425-437). See also report 5-8 below. where Huang Jin is given as Huang Zhen.

note 7: In 1685 when he was about to leave Siam, Gervaise wrote that the King of Siam "was planning to send to this prince [Sor] a relief force of eighteen thousand men overland and by sea a squadron of four or five great ships commanded by Portuguese and English captains, with sixty large vessels described as galleys, led by the bravest Siamese officers." (Gervaise, 1989, p.205). See Hisamitsu (1975), p.25.

note 8: The note of the original editor of our Japanese texts which implies a few letters found to be lacking in the original MSS.

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