His specific area of expertise is Chinese social history and East Asian maritime history.
Dr Nakajima’s publications include Disputes and Order in Rural Society during the Ming Period: An Analysis Based on Huizhou Documents (2002) and Huizhou Merchants and Ming-Qing China (2009).
From the 15th to the early 16th century, when the Melaka Sultanate flourished as the greatest entrepôt in Southeast Asia, the Ryukyu Kingdom developed its intermediary maritime trade network which linked China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asian port states. Rekidai Hōan, a voluminous collection of diplomatic documents issued and received by the Ryukyu Kingdom, includes a total of 19 documents exchanged between the Ryukyu Kingdom and the Melaka Sultanate from 1463 to 1511. Contemporary Chinese sources, such as Ming Shilu (Ming Veritable Records), also offers some information on diplomatic relations between Ryukyu and Melaka. In addition, various sources written by the Portuguese who occupied Melaka in 1511, reported aspects of actual conditions of Ryukyuan trading activities in Melaka with which official diplomatic documents offers little information.
In this paper, I will discuss the aspects of diplomatic and trading relations between Ryukyu and Melaka in the heyday of the “Age of Commerce” in Southeast Asia, by analyzing Rekidai Hōan and the other sources. I will examine the development of the relationships between the two states, focusing on topics, such as the human component of Ryukyuan trading vessels, exchanges of formal gifts, and troubles that accompanied Ryukyuan trades and voyages. I will also refer to the relations between the Laksamana of Melaka and Ryukyuan envoys. I will then survey the overall situations of Ryukyuan trading activities in Melaka on the eve of the fall of the Sultanate by summarising various Portuguese sources.