Bodleian marks anniversary of first Japanese trade agreement

2 October 2013 

shuinjo_web 

A special event is being held at the Bodleian Library today (2 October) to mark the 400th anniversary of the first trade agreement between England and Japan.

The document, produced in 1613 following negotiations between Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and the East India Company, has been held at the Bodleian since the 1680s and is the only copy in existence.

Known as Shuinjo, it gave English ships trading privileges in Japan and allowed Englishmen to settle there.

Today's mini-symposium at the Bodleian features a series of talks on Shuinjo and the subject of international relations.

The manuscript will be on display to the public in the Entrance Hall of the Bodleian Library, Old Schools Quadrangle, until Sunday.

Ieyasu, the military leader on whom the main character in James Clavell's 1975 novel Shogun is based, made the trade agreement with John Saris, captain of the first English voyage to Japan on board the Clove.

The document has been translated as follows by Izumi Tytler, Bodleain Japanese Librarian:

Item: The ships that have now come to Japan from England for the first time will be allowed to trade in all goods without hindrance; they will be exempted from customs and other duties. Item: As for the goods aboard, they should be listed separately according to their use and the list should be submitted.

Item: Their ships shall be allowed to arrive in any port of Japan; if they lose their sails and helms owing to storms, there will be no objections to their coming into any inlet.

Item: In due course a residence shall be granted to the Englishmen anywhere they like in Edo; meanwhile they may build a house and reside and trade there; as for their return to their own country, it is up to them. (At their departure) they should dispose of the house built by them.

Item: If an Englishman dies of illness, or any other cause, in Japan, his possessions shall be sent forth (to England) without fail.

Item: Forced sales by violent means shall not be allowed. Item: If any of the Englishmen commits an offence, he shall be sentenced according to the gravity of the offence; the sentences shall be at the discretion of the English commander.

Wherefore as above,

Keicho 18, Eighth Month, 28th day
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