Maritime Chinese from Fujian and Guangdong settled in Manila and by around 1600 the Chinese population there exceeded 15,000. These Chinese merchants took the silver back to China, used it to buy raw silk thread, silk cloth, and china, and brought these back to Manila to sell. The maritime Chinese conducted the same kind of trade with the Japanese in Nagasaki during the Edo period. When the Europeans set out for the New World in search of gold and silver, the Japanese were entering a period of gold, silver and copper mine development on a scale unparalleled in the history of mining. Through this development, Japan not only became the only country in the world that was self-sufficient in gold, silver and copper but also started exporting huge amounts of them to China. From the Sengoku period (1467_1568), Japan purchased a wide variety of commodities (cotton, tea, china, raw silk thread, silk fabric, etc.) from the maritime Chinese, paying for them with silver.
After the Japanese were forbidden from going overseas in the Kanei era (1624_1644), the maritime Chinese and Dutch brought Chinese merchandise to Nagasaki and took away silver in return. Japanese silver also found its way to China via Korea by way of Tsushima and Ryukyu (now Okinawa), which was ruled by the Japanese domain of Satsuma (now Kagoshima Prefecture). From the Kanei era onwards, the Dutch were the only Europeans able to obtain silver from Japan which, together with the New World, had become one of the world_s two biggest silver-producing regions. From the Europeans_ viewpoint, this meant that Holland held a monopoly on trade with Japan. Japan had established itself as an important part of the world economy.
Japan_s Epoch-Making Copper Coin Supply Capacity
Modern money systems are characterized by the use of three types of coin_gold, silver, and copper. In 1601 (the 6th year of the Keich_era), the Keich_gold and silver coins (_an, koban, ichibukin, ch in and mameitagin) were minted in Japan with the aim of nationwide circulation. In 1605, 1 ry_of gold money was officially set as equivalent to 50 momme of silver money (ry_was unit of currency and momme was units of weight). The success of the Tokugawa shogunate_s minting of copper coins is particularly worthy of mention. As we have seen, Japan did not achieve the diffusion of its own government-minted currency until the Edo period (1603_1868), depending until then on Chinese copper coins. Since the rapid inflow of copper coins in large quantities began in the middle of the twelfth century, Chinese copper coins were used in Japan for almost five hundred years. During the twelfth century, for instance, as many as 70 different types of Song coin were imported into Japan, and in 1242 (the third year of Ninji era) 10 kammon of copper coins, said to be equivalent to the amount minted by the Southern Song in one year, were brought in by just one voyage. The earliest documents in Japan referring to the circulation of copper coins are the T_aiji Monjo (record), which mentions the sale of the estate of T_aijig_in Yamato Province (now Nara Prefecture) for 27 kammon, and the T_i Hyakug_Monjo (record), which documents the sale of farmland in Kyoto in the years 1162 and 1176. In the late twelfth century an order was issued prohibiting the circulation of Song currency but it proved ineffective. In the thirteenth century, valuation in terms of cloth was terminated in 1226 and taxes were calculated in terms of money from then on.
In the Muromachi period (1333_1568), large quantities of Ming coins (taich_ts__ k_u-ts__ eiraku-ts__ sentoku - ts__etc.) were imported into Japan, promoting the diffusion of tax payment using money. This was known as the kandaka system, which was based on valuation in terms of kan, the monetary unit for copper coins. During the Edo period, the nengu, the payment of the basic land tax collected from the peasantry, was based on the kokudaka system in which tax was assessed in terms of rice measured in koku. This replaced the system of tax payment using imported currency. The most widely circulated of the imported coins were the eiraku coins. Using these as their model, the Tokugawa shogunate minted the Keich_coins in around 1606 (Keich_11) and the Genna coins in 1617 (Genna 3), but they were unable to replace the imported coins.