Episode 417 – The Forgotten Past, Part 2

This week: how did the overseas slave trade from Japan continue despite a Portuguese ban? How was the trade finally ended? And what can we learn from this dark history?


De Sousa, Lucio. The Portuguese Slave Trade in Early Modern Japan: Merchants, Jesuits, and Japanese, Chinese and Korean Slaves.

Nelson, Thomas. “Slavery in Medieval Japan.” Monumenta Nipponica 59, No 4 (Winter, 2004).

Boscaro, Adriana. “Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the 1587 Edicts Against Christianity.” Oriens Extremus 20, No 2 (December, 1973).



A letter from the Portuguese viceroy in India to the Jesuit order describing the anti-Christian edicts of 1587.
Hideyoshi’s 1587 anti-Christian edict. It’s possible the edict was intended at least in part to drive home Hideyoshi’s intent to hold the Portuguese Jesuits responsible for the slave trade.
Macau in the 19th century. By the 1590s, Macau was a major trade hub and a destination for many enslaved Japanese taken out of Nagasaki.
A Portuguese ship being unloaded in Nagasaki. The Portuguese presence made the city a hub of the global slave trade. Note the presence of an African man in the bottom left, as well as the camel in the bottom right.

3 thoughts on “Episode 417 – The Forgotten Past, Part 2”

  1. The first one was a lot easier to listen to without hearing “enslaved person” instead of “slave” over and over again.

  2. Great podcast. Would you be able to cite sources for the complaints from the Portuguese clergy about Portuguese merchants taking Japanese female slaves and living with them “in sin” back in Portugal?

    1. That source is from the de Sousa book. I don’t have it on me so I can’t check exactly where he’s pulling from, but he is fluent in Portuguese so I’m assuming original documentation.

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