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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

3rd Release 2018.12.1
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.9 from Siam, 20 July 1682

Our ship, originally fitted out in Siam, visits Nagasaki every year. Last year we left Siam on the 28th day of the 5th month [13 July 1681] and came here directly. The winds were unfavourable at sea and we encountered strong winds on the 15th day of the 7th month [17 August]. An adverse wind blew every day so on the 19th day of the same month [21 August] we decided to steer our ship towards Guangdong. On the 22nd day of the same month [24 August] we sailed into a place in Guangdong called Shiermen. Another ship from Siam, Ship No. 5, returned to Shiermen as well on the same day. Along with Ships No. 3 and No. 7, both from Guangdong, four ships in all stayed there during the winter. It was not until the 11th day of the 5th month [16 June] this year that the four ships, which had been staying at Shiermen, departed the harbour together. Of the four ships mentioned above, Ships No. 3 and No. 5 successfully sailed into favourable winds and have already entered here. Unfortunately, our ship and Ship No. 7 failed to catch favourable winds and entered the shallow sea off Guangdong where we were compelled to spend several days. We were fortunate enough to resume our voyage again and on the 8th day [of this month] we arrived off Nagasaki. Again, an easterly wind picked up suddenly and prevented us from entering the port. Because our ship is of a larger make and difficult to manoeuvre, we missed the port and drifted into the territory of Ohmura. As we have told you earlier, the situation in Guangdong is just as usual. Since four of us left there on the same day the story should be the same. There was nothing unusual at sea and we did not meet any strange ships, nor the accompanying ships [from Siam] mentioned above. There is nothing else to report to you.

The 16th day of the 6th month, Year of the Dog.

Ship No.25 from Siam, 28 September 1682

In Siam everything is just as usual and peace prevails all over the country. This is probably what the Siamese ships, which entered here earlier, have reported. Since last year Siam has not only been stricken by a serious famine but also plagued by a small-pox epidemic. This has caused the deaths of young and old alike. Apart from these [disasters] nothing unusual has happened.

In the 2nd month of this year a succession of four ships left Siam for Dongning to procure rice. Three of them left for Dongning, while our ship remained in the port [of Siam]. When the other ship was about to leave she found her hull damaged and was not able to leave Siam within the year. Apart from these four ships there were no other ships from foreign countries. Every year English ships visit Siam roughly around the 8th month. It is possible that they have entered the port of Siam by now. During our recent voyage we saw no ships at sea. Except for when adverse winds forced our ship to sail to Satsuma, we made no other stops. There is nothing else to report to you.

The 27th day of the 8th month, Year of the Dog.

Ship No.5 from Siam, 25 June 1683

Siam is just as usual and peace prevails. The ships bound for Nagasaki this year are five in all, including ours. One of them went to Guangdong to load cargo and passengers and should be coming to Nagasaki sometime later.

On the 14th day of the 5th month [8 June] a Dutch ship from Kelapa [Batavia] came to Siam.

A ship came from Cambodia last year with Chang Xiaoguan as captain. She left Cambodia on the first day of the 6th month [25 June] last year. At dawn of the same day she was wrecked in the shallow waters called Linlangqian off the coast of Champa. The Chinese crewmen on board were not injured but all the cargo was lost. The captain of the wrecked ship is now in Siam. The purser Lin Xiangguan, who had [also] been in Siam, is aboard our ship. When he was ashore at the site of the shipwreck he heard about a recent development in Cambodia. Yang Er,(note 1) a military governor, one of the retainers of Qin She of Dongning (note 2) had been cruising around the islands off the coast of Guangdong for several years on Qin She's orders, in order to establish control over the Guangdong coast. From time to time the imperial navy ventured out from Guangdong to expel [Yang Er's men] and it became difficult for them to stay in the sea bordering Guangdong. They roamed about, appearing sometimes in Guangnan and Cambodia. In the 11th month of last year [December 1682] Yang Er emerged in Cambodia with about 3,000 men on board seventy-odd military boats with the intention of sojourning in Cambodia for a while. The King of Cambodia (note 3) interpreted this as an attack by Yang Er and his men, and evacuated the city of Cambodia and fled into the mountains with his subjects. The tiny population of Cambodia, both military and civilian, could not have been more than several thousand, which was why they all fled into the mountains. Yang Er had, in fact, no intention whatsoever of occupying Cambodia and sent a messenger to the mountains asking the King to return. However, the King did not believe the messenger's word and did not dare come out of his mountain refuge. Thus, Yang Er's army remained in Cambodia. The news reached the King of Siam, who sent a ship to welcome Yang Er's party and to let them know that since Cambodia was sparsely populated and their food supplies not plentiful, they were invited to Siam. If they came to Siam they might be requested to defend the land. Yang Er Yuan declined the offer by saying he was a follower of Dongning and in the service of its navy. Therefore, he would not go to Siam. We gathered this information from the [Siamese] messenger's returning ship which we came across at the river-mouth of Siam while we were leaving the country.(note 4)

There is nothing else we can report to you. At sea we met a ship from Dongning which arrived here a little while ago. Another ship is following us, but we do not know its nationality. It will probably be arriving tomorrow. There is nothing else to report to you.

The first day of the 6th month, Year of the Boar.

note 1: Yang Er or Yang Yan-di was a former Ming general and leader of the anti- Manchu Zheng partisans, who took refuge with thousands of followers in Quang- Nam (Cochinchina, now central Vietnam). He surrendered himself to the clam or ruler of Cochinchina. Thai-Ton, who sent him south to settle My-Tho and Bien- Hoa in the turbulent Cambodian frontier area around modern Saigon (see Ch'en. 1968. pp.414-424). These letters are among the prime sources for Yang Er's 1682 intervention in the lower Mekong.

note 2: Qin She (Qinshe) was the childhood name of Zheng Kezang (1664-81). the illegitimate sone of Zheng Chenggong's son and successor Zheng Jing. When Zheng Jing left Taiwan in 1674 to resume the anti-Manchu struggle on the mainland. Zheng Kezang became Regent of Dongning (Taiwan). His administration was considered so even-handed that he remained in day-to-day control after Zheng Jing's return. After Zheng Jing's death in 1687 plots against him mounted and he was killed the same year; Chang Hsiu-jung. Anthony Farrington. et al., The English Factory in Taiwan 1670-1685 (Taipei: National Taiwan University, 1995). p.726.

note 3: King Chey Chettha (Sor).

note 4: Gervaise reports this incident as follows: "Two or three years later. three thousand Chinese whom the Tartars [Qing] had driven out of their country joined forces with the Cochinchinese and those Cambodians who had supported the retreat of their prince. Nac-Non put himself at their head and swooped down on Nac-Son, whom he defeated in several engagements. The Siamese troops were cut to pieces by his soldiers, and the defeated leader was obliged to take refuge in the dense forests to avoid falling into the hands of his conqueror. The only course open to him in this desperate situation was to ask for more help from the king of Siam. who agreed to venture ?ve hundred more of his best troops. But these were too few to be able to resist such large enemy forces and almost all of them were killed. even though. unusually for men of their country. they sold their lives unexpectedly dearly." (Gervaise. 1989, p.204).

Ship No.7 from Siam, 26 June 1683

The situation in Siam is as has been reported by Ship No. 5 from Siam which has entered already. Ship N o. 5 set sail on the 18th day of the 5th month [12 June], whereas our ship departed on the following day, which was the 19th day [13 June]. Therefore our impressions would be no different. Three ships were following us, one of which was going to load passengers and cargo at Guangdong and then travel to Nagasaki. All three ships should have departed ?ve or six days after us. During our recent voyage we did not come across any ships. We did not stop at any port. This is all we can report.

The 2nd day of the 6th month, Year of the Boar.

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