Prisoners from Nambu: Reality and Make-Believe in Seventeenth-Century Japanese Diplomacy
On July 29, 1643, ten crew members of the Dutch yacht Breskens were lured ashore at Nambu in northern Japan. Once out of view of their ship, the men were bound and taken to the shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu, in Edo, where they remained imprisoned for four months. Later the Japanese government forced the Dutch East India Company representative in Nagasaki to acknowledge that the sailors had in fact been saved from shipwreck and that official recognition of the rescue (i.e., a formal visit from a Dutch ambassador) was in order.
Prisoners from Nambu provides a lively, engrossing narrative of this relatively obscure incident, while casting light on the history of the period as a whole. Expertly constructing his tale from primary sources, the author examines relations between the Dutch East India Company and the shogunal government immediately following the promulgation of the seclusion laws (sakokurei) and anti-Christian campaigns.