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Wang Zhi

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  • Died: 1559
  • Chinese: 汪直 or 王直 (traditional characters)

Wang Zhi was a Chinese merchant and smuggler of the early-to-mid 16th century. Originally from Anhui province, he came to Japan for the first time in the 1540s. He and his thousand or so men, a mixed Chinese and Japanese crew, based at Hirado and enjoying the aid of the Matsuura clan lord, engaged in illicit trade, mostly importing Chinese silks into Japan in exchange for Japanese silver. As his activities were in violation of the Chinese hai jin bans, he was labeled wakô by the Chinese authorities.

Wang is also said to have served as a translator aboard the Portuguese ship (possibly a Chinese junk carrying Portuguese crew and/or passengers) which famously brought the first Western firearms to Japan, at Tanegashima in 1543.

References

  • Arano Yasunori. "The Formation of a Japanocentric World Order." International Journal of Asian Studies 2:2 (2005). pp185-216.
  • Marius Jansen, China in the Tokugawa World, Harvard University Press (1992), 6.
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