The purpose of my research is to examine the "contract-trade", a key aspect of Dutch-Japanese trade in Nagasaki in the late Tokugawa period. The Nagasaki- kaisho, or the bakufu trading office, ordered Dutch merchants to import goods under contracts based on quality, quantity and even price. I want to learn when and how the system started, a topic that Japanese researchers have not fully explored.

German F. Meijlan, who served as chief factor in Nagasaki, declared in his Geschiedkundig Overzigt van den Handel der Europezen op Japan that it made the Dutch not merchants but "agents" of the Nagasaki-kaisho. Meijlan wrote that the Dutch in Nagasaki were compelled to participate in the contract-trade in 1752 or earlier, but he did not provide sufficient evidence to support this conclusion. In fact, in Japanese documents we cannot find any definite instructions of the bakufu or the Nagasaki magistrates creating the system. Therefore, the system seems to have evolved through interactions between the Nagasaki magistrates and the Dutch. In order to consider the background of contract-trade, I think it necessary to investigate the letters between the Nagasaki magistrates and the Dutch.