William Adams (sailor) : biography
William Adams (24 September 1564 – 16 May 1620), also known in Japanese as Anjin-sama (anjin, "pilot"; sama, a Japanese honorific) and Anjin Miura (三浦按針: "the pilot of Miura"), was an English navigator who travelled to Japan and is believed to be the first Englishman ever to reach that country. William Adams is the only officially-recognised Western samurai. He was the inspiration for the character of John Blackthorne in James Clavell’s best-selling novel Shōgun.
Soon after Adams’ arrival in Japan, he became a key advisor to the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and built Japan’s first Western-style ships for him. Adams was later the key player in the establishment of trading factories by the Netherlands and England. He was also highly involved in Japan’s Red Seal Asian trade, chartering and captaining several ships to Southeast Asia. He died in Japan at age 55, and has been recognised as one of the most influential foreigners in Japan during this period."So it was that this outspoken English seaman, rather than the wily Jesuits who had looked with jaundiced eyes upon all new-comers to Japan, became the medium through whom Ieyasu learned of the Western world and maintained those slender ties which bound his empire to Europe. Adam’s influence grew steadily, but, even more remarkable, there developed between the Englishman and the Japanese a friendship which was to endure until Ieyasu’s death." in Eastward ho! The first English adventurers to the Orient, 1931, by Foster Rhea Dulles p.127
Establishment of the Dutch East India Company in Japan
The Liefde’s captain, Jacob Quaeckernaeck, and the treasurer, Melchior van Santvoort, were also sent by Ieyasu in 1604 on a shogun-licensed Red Seal Ship to Patani in Southeast Asia to contact the Dutch East India Company trading factory which had just been established there in 1602, to bring more western trade to Japan and break the Portuguese monopoly on Japan’s external trade. In 1605, Adams obtained a letter from Ieyasu formally inviting the Dutch to trade with Japan.
VOC trading factory in Hirado (depicted here) was said to have been much larger than the English one. 17th-century engraving.]] Hampered by conflicts with the Portuguese and limited resources in Asia, the Dutch were not able to send ships until 1609. Two Dutch ships, commanded by Jacques Specx, De Griffioen (the "Griffin", 19 cannons) and Roode Leeuw met Pijlen (the "Red lion with arrows", 400 tons, 26 cannons), were finally sent from Holland and arrived in Japan on 2 July 1609. The men of this Dutch expeditionary fleet established a trading base or "factory" on Hirado Island. Two Dutch envoys by the names of Puyck and van den Broek, were the official bearers of a letter from Prince Maurice of Nassau to the court of Edo. Adams negotiated on behalf of these emissaries. The Dutch obtained free trading rights throughout Japan (in contrast, the Portuguese were only allowed to sell their goods in Nagasaki at fixed, negotiated prices) and to establish a trading factory there:
The Hollandes be now settled (in Japan) and I have got them that privilege as the Spaniards and Portingals could never get in this 50 or 60 years in Japan. (William Adams letter to Bantam).
After obtaining this trading right through an edict of Tokugawa Ieyasu on 24 August 1609, the Dutch inaugurated a trading factory in Hirado on 20 September 1609. The "trade pass" (Dutch: Handelspas) was kept preciously by the Dutch in Hirado and then Dejima as a guarantee of their trading rights, during the following two centuries of their presence in Japan.
Participation in Asian trade
A Japanese [[Red seal ship used for Asian trade – 1634, unknown artist.]] Adams later engaged in various exploratory and commercial ventures. He tried to organise the exploration of the Northern Passage from the East which would have greatly reduced the travelling distance between Japan and Europe. Ieyasu asked him if "our countrimen could not find the northwest passage" and Adams contacted the East India Company to organise manpower and supplies. The project however never materialised.