|Isolation from the Outside World
Exporter of Copper and Silver
Contributing to the Wealth of the Nation
|Exporter of Copper and Silver|
|However, Japan did not choose total isolation during this period. There were restrictions, but there was also trade with Holland, China, the Ryukyu Kingdom (now Okinawa Prefecture, but an independent kingdom into the latter half of the 19th century), and Korea.
Japan's main imports in the second half of the 17th century were raw silk and silk goods, medicines, and spices. Goods like copper, camphor, pottery, and marine products were exported to pay for them.
Today more than ever, Japan relies on a wide range of imported natural resources, including coal, crude oil, and iron ore; but from the mid-16th century to the beginning of the 17th, Japan was a resource-rich country-to the extent that silver, and then copper, were its principal exports. Although it varied from year to year, Japan's total copper output from the end of the 17th century to the beginning of the 18th was around 6,000tons/year-the highest in the world at the time. Copper accounted for 60-70% of Japanese exports, and it was loaded onto ships at Japan's only international trading port, Dejima in Nagasaki Harvor. From there, copper was transported to China, Southeast Asia, and India, not to mention distant Europe. In the first half of the 1670s, the volume of Japanese copper exported to Europe reached between one-third and one-half the output of Sweden, Europe's major producer of the day. This had a significant impact on the European copper exported at that time was supplied by Sumitomo.