This book begins by showing how the use of the compass and an improved understanding of stellar navigation meant that commerce and contact between Asians were already increasing before the arrival of the Europeans in the region. The Koreans initially tried to divert the Japanese from piracy by allowing them to settle and trade in designated ports on the south coast of the peninsula. Later Chinese policy would mean that contact between Chinese and Japanese merchants would take place in South-East Asia, where Japanese settlements soon sprang up. The book examines sources in a number of Asian and European languages to illustrate the differing roles of the Japanese as merchants, mercenaries and middlemen in Korea, the Ryukyus, Formosa, Siam, Vietnam and Cambodia. It concludes by looking at their role as servants of the Dutch East India Company in Java.