August 12, 2003

Japanese pirates

Interesting post on Japanese pirates from Katrina of Isfogailsi:

One of the problems, as I understand it, in trying to study Japanese pirates, in particular those of the Inland Sea, or at least those who worked fairly close to home for the most part, is the question of professional piracy versus incidental. Piracy is in it's barest form is unlicensed trade, too, so what is piracy and what isn't depends a great deal on what the government bothers to define as. (I remember, from high school, being lectured on the fuzzy distinction between piracy and privateering.) So it seems that a large number of pirates were often just people involved in sea industry--fishing, shipping and the like--who did this sort of stuff as a sideline. Rather different from the famous Western pirates, but I don't know if it's different from Western piracy as a whole.

I think the Great Age of Piracy was different -- although I imagine there was a relatively high turnover rate. Most Western articles of piracy specified the number of pieces of eight to be paid to injured crewmen (so much for an eye, a hand, a leg); on the other hand, the buccaneers really had the whole world at their disposal -- and a vast increase in the amount of international trade coming from both the Old World and the New to plunder -- which made it possible to go "on the account" for far longer periods of time.

Posted by Ideofact at August 12, 2003 11:50 PM