Slave trade of Japanese by Portuguese

Japanese slave trade is a subject that few people have heard about. Just another one of many dark topics about Japan. It is a fact that the first contact between Portuguese and Japanese took place in 1543, but it was only during the 19th century that there was a concrete relationship between the two nations.

One of the most notable results during contact between Japanese and Portuguese was the introduction of new phonemes in the Japanese language such as pa (ぱ/パ) pe (ぺ) pi (ぴ/ピ) po (ぽ/ポ) pu (ぷ/プ). However, commercial relations were not the only thing that existed between Japan and Portugal.

At the same time, Portuguese bought Japanese for slave trade and sold them abroad, including Portugal.

Slave trade of Japanese by Portuguese

The Japanese slave trade

Japan had contact with Europe for the first time in 1543, through the Portuguese. Two of the three breakthroughs for Japan that emerged from this chance encounter are well known – firearms and Christianity.

The third not so well known was the slave trade. Long before that, Japanese slaves were being bought and sold not only across Asia, but in Portugal and Argentina. Some slaves were captives in civil wars, sold by their Japanese captors to Portuguese traders.

Slave trade of Japanese by Portuguese

Others sold their children into slavery to lift them out of crushing poverty or were traded for gunpowder. Women were sold as concubines by brothel owners, distant relatives or by their own husbands.

The Portuguese authorities were unfavorable to the trade, as it brought Portugal and Christianity to a low profile, dampening the potential for trade and religious conversion. There were quick efforts to stop the traffic, but Portuguese traders refused to give up their slaves.

The end of Japanese slavery

The King of Portugal Sebastião feared that the church's high importation of Japanese sex slaves was having a negative effect on Catholic proselytism, so he ordered it banned in 1571. Consequently, foreigners were expelled from Japan, which caused further cultural isolation. of 250 years.

Slave trade of Japanese by Portuguese

It all happened when Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the man who unified the archipelago of Japan, was infuriated when he learned of the enslavement and trade of his own people.

He led a campaign to end foreign relations with Japan. Later, Hideyoshi ordered the Jesuits to release Japanese slaves and forbade Christian proselytizing in Japan.

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