Adam Laxman

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Adam Laxman was sent as an official envoy from Russia to repatriate a number of Japanese castaways, and to negotiate for trade relations with Japan.

He arrived at Nemuro, on the eastern point of Ezo (Hokkaidô Island), in 1792/9, and met with officials of Matsumae han, requesting from them permission to travel to Edo to repatriate Daikokuya Kôdayû and a number of other castaways, and to negotiate for trading permissions. Matsumae officials stalled and kept Laxman in Ezo while Matsudaira Sadanobu and the other shogunate leaders decided what to do. In the summer of 1793, Laxman was granted permission to travel to Nagasaki, where such negotiations could take place. In the meantime, Daikokuya and his comrades were sent to Edo, where they were interrogated in an audience with Shogun Tokugawa Ienari.

Laxman never traveled to Nagasaki himself, but had his permit passed along to Nikolai Rezanov, who attempted to use it to enter Nagasaki harbor in 1804.

Historian Robert Hellyer has suggested that the shogunate's rejection of Laxman's requests to trade may have been informed in part by concerns about the financial costs of opening trade relations with a new partner. Laxman's arrival came only two to three years after policies had been put into place to reduce the financial costs to the shogunate of relations with Joseon Korea and the Dutch East India Company.[1]


  • Robert Hellyer, Defining Engagement, Harvard University Press (2009), 98.
  1. Hellyer, 111.