CLOSED COUNTRY EDICT OF 1635
This was issued by the Shogun to his commissioners at the port city of Nagasaki, where foreigners (Europeans and Chinese) were allowed to trade and live.
1. Japanese ships are strictly forbidden to leave for foreign countries.
2. No Japanese is permitted to go abroad. If there is anyone who attempts to do so secretly, he must be executed. The ship so involved must be impounded and its owner arrested, and the matter must be reported to the higher authority.
3. If any Japanese returns from overseas after residing there, he must be put to death.
4. If there is any place where the teachings of the [Catholic] priests are practiced, the two of you [the Shogun is referring to his commissioners to whom this edict was addressed] must order a thorough investigation.
5. Any informer revealing the whereabouts of the followers of the priests must be rewarded accordingly. If anyone reveals the whereabouts of a high-ranking priest, he must be given one hundred pieces of silver. For those of lower ranks, depending on the deed, the reward must be set accordingly.
6. If a foreign ship has an objection (to the measures adopted) and it becomes necessary to report the matter to Edo,1 you may ask the Omura2 domain to provide ships to guard the foreign ship. . . .
7. If there are any Southern Barbarians3 who propagate the teachings of the priests, or otherwise commit crimes, they may be incarcerated in the prison. . . .
8. All incoming ships must be carefully searched for the followers of the priests.
9. No single trading city shall be permitted to purchase all the merchandise brought by foreign ships.
10. Samurai4 are not permitted to purchase any goods originating from foreign ships directly from Chinese merchants in Nagasaki.
11. After a list of merchandise brought by foreign ships is sent to Edo, as before you may order that commercial dealings may take place without waiting for a reply from Edo.
12. After settling the price, all white yarns5 brought by foreign ships shall be allocated to the five trading cities6 and other quarters as stipulated.
13. After settling the price of white yarns, other merchandise [brought by foreign ships] may be traded freely between the [licensed] dealers. However, in view of the fact that Chinese ships are small and cannot bring large consignments, you may issue orders of sale at your discretion. Additionally, payment for goods purchased must be made within twenty days after the price is set.
14. The date of departure homeward of foreign ships shall not be later than the twentieth day of the ninth month. Any ships arriving in Japan later than usual shall depart within fifty days of their arrival. As to the departure of Chinese ships, you may use your discretion to order their departure after the departure of the Portuguese galeota.7
15. The goods brought by foreign ships which remained unsold may not be deposited or accepted for deposit.
16. The arrival in Nagasaki of representatives of the five trading cities shall not be later than the fifth day of the seventh month. Anyone arriving later than that date shall lose the quota assigned to his city.
17. Ships arriving in Hirado8 must sell their raw silk at the price set in Nagasaki, and are not permitted to engage in business transactions until after the price is established in Nagasaki.
You are hereby required to act in accordance with the Provisions set above. It is so ordered.
1 Modern Tokyo, the seat of the Tokugawa government.
2 The area around the city of Nagasaki.
4 Members of Japan’s military aristocracy.
5 Raw silk.
6 The cities of Kyoto, Edo, Osaka, Sakai, and Nagasaki.
7 A galleon, an oceangoing Portuguese ship.
8 A small island in southwest Japan, not far from Nagasaki.