Wada Rizaemon was a prominent Japanese trader in Southeast Asia in the early years of the 17th century.
A Japanese Christian originally from Nagasaki, he fled to Macao when the Tokugawa shogunate issued bans on Christianity in 1614. He later found work as an agent for a Portuguese vessel, trading chiefly in raw silk in the ports of Quang Nam. He then relocated to Tonkin in 1626 along with his wife. There, he established himself in the silk and copper trades, and eventually gained a position in the Le Dynasty imperial court. In 1652, he became the second-highest official in Tonkin, as a supervisor for foreign commerce in the port. Two years later, in 1654, he helped broker a treaty between the Tonkin authorities and the Spanish Governor of Luzon.
Wada was also a significant investor in Chinese and Dutch trading endeavors, though he was also financed in turn, receiving roughly 1,000 taels a year from his mother-in-law, which he used to pay for shipping goods to Japan aboard Dutch ships. This woman's daughter, Wada's wife Ursula, served as a translator and intermediary for Portuguese merchants in Tonkin as well.
Following Wada's death in 1667, his wealth and property were confiscated or dispersed.
- William Wray, “The Seventeenth-century Japanese Diaspora: Questions of Boundary and Policy,” in Ina Baghdiantz McCabe et al (eds.), Diaspora Entrepreneurial Networks, Oxford: Berg (2005), 79.
- "Wada Rizaemon," Nihon jinmei daijiten, Kôdansha.
- Wray, 87.
- Wray, 86.
- Wray, 89.