As the Founder & President of The William Adams Club, it is my great pleasure to compose an introduction for our newly created website. Challenges are involved here, led by the disarray caused by Covid-19 which seemingly is on the wane, but nevertheless it continues to affect Japan and many other parts of the world, at the time of writing. This means that our regular dinners and after dinner talks, and other activities, both in Japan and in the UK, are on hold for the time being. Whilst trapped in the doldrums the Club is planning for the future, with this website being integral thereto.Another challenge is the need for brevity in an introduction of this nature, accompanied by the further need for my message to stand the test of time, without the necessity to rewrite as we move forward. Both these challenges are dealt with by this website containing articles and announcements detailing what has been achieved thus far, along with a concise piece on the life of our hero. These I will tabulate later in this Introduction after explaining the Club history.
In the summer of 2015, I was stung into action by the realization that the 400th anniversary of the death of William Adams at Hirado was due on the 16th May 2020, and that the British community had not erected any monument in Japan in recognition of his major historical achievements. This was the case despite the fact that the activities of Adams are taught in Japanese schools, and that monuments have been erected in towns with an Adams connection, such as Hirado and Yokosuka.
I contacted my old friend Ian de Stains OBE, and invited him to my home for dinner on the 24th September 2015, being the 451st anniversary of the baptism of William Adams at Gillingham in England. ( his birth date was a few days earlier and not recorded, as was the custom in the 1500's.) The William Adams Club was formed that night to remember and promote the life and times of this English hero. Sadly, Ian's health soon deteriorated and he passed away on the 18th December 2017. He was a long-term executive director of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan ( BCCJ ). I want his initial support and enthusiasm to be recorded and recognized.
From this casual beginning, much has been achieved and the Club gathered considerable moss as it rolled forward purposefully. Our initial Mission Statement has now developed into the following : '' Primarily to remember and commemorate the life and achievements of William Adams, along with other British and Japanese nationals integral to the history of Japan-British relations, and furthermore to encourage tourism to any city, town or other place, which has a proven historical connection with William Adams.
''The Club initiated, funded, and energetically motivated the finding, excavation and identification of the remains of William Adams at Hirado, to coincide precisely with the 400th anniversary of his death at that town on the 16th May 2020. This achievement became international news, thereby giving The William Adams Club widespread recognition totally unthought of during that casual dinner on the 24th September 2015, between two British expatriates long established in Tokyo.
Elsewhere in this website the following key items can be located: - The William Adams Club Press Release - 16th May 2020, - The Daily Telegraph Article - 16th May 2020, - The William Adams Club - Statement - May 2020.
The Statement comprises 6 pages signed by Professor Richard Irving and myself. Professor Richard Irving, being a member of the Club, was deeply involved in the project to both excavate and identify the remains of William Adams. This technical statement was subsequently validated and reinforced by 9 independent experts, who produced a follow-up report for the globally renowned scientific magazine '' Nature ''.
Another attachment is an article I wrote in 2018 titled - '' First Briton In Japan ''. It was published in the British Chamber of Commerce magazine '' Acumen ''. This I consider highly relevant as, inter alia, it pinpoints the visions I pronounced a few years back which have either been largely sorted, or indeed will be in short course. An example of the former being bilateral relationships with the William Adams connected towns of Hirado, Usuki, Ito and Yokosuka, and an example of the latter being a more diversified membership with particular focus on Japanese folk, youth and both genders.
A further attachment is an article contributed by me titled - '' 400 Years Later '', which proves that even nowadays fresh material about Adams is being unearthed. Clearly, his support and achievements for the Dutch were much greater than originally thought.
At last our hero has been memorialized by the British inspired William Adams Club. An impressive sculpture stands in the compound of the British embassy in Tokyo, with especial thanks to the erstwhile British ambassador to Japan, Paul Madden CMG FRSG, who was exceptionally supportive. Elsewhere in this website photographs of the memorial are featured, and I provide herewith the wording on the black granite base of the monument. This is followed by what I have termed my '' verbal montage '', which I devised for summarizing the life and achievements of William Adams with minimal words. First the inscription depicting the basic essentials of this great navigator.
''Born Gillingham England - September 1564 Died Hirado Japan - May 1620 First Englishman to land in Japan - April 1600 Samurai & advisor to Tokugawa Ieyasu Joint negotiator of the first Japan-British diplomatic and trade agreement - September 1613 '' '' Maritime Apprentice, Mariner, Navigator, Captain, Fought Spanish Armada, Barbary Coast Trader, Married, Father, Adventurer, Survivor, First Englishman in Japan, Linguist, Ship Builder, Interpreter & Advisor to Tokugawa Ieyasu, Teacher, Hatamoto level Samurai, Estate Owner & Farmer, Merchant, Diplomat & Joint Negotiator of first Japan-British Diplomatic & Trade Agreement. ''Especial attention is drawn to a deeply researched article on William Adams by committee member Thomas Lockley, which embraces the essence of the life of this exceptional man.Also included is a summary of Patrons and Committee Members.
The William Adams Club is a not for profit organization, whereby the committee members work tirelessly and completely pro bono.
Poignantly and deliberately I have dated this Introduction the 16th May 2022, being the 402nd anniversary of the death of William Adams at Hirado in Japan.
Robin James Maynard MBE
Founder & President Emeritus
The William Adams Club
16th May 2022
16th May 2022