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Mozambique Seeks Cooperation With Osaka-Kansai Expo Pavilion; Considering Featuring Foreign-Born Retainer of Oda Nobunaga

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Jose Antonio Justino Nhalungo, left, Mozambique’s acting ambassador to Japan, visits the remains of Azuchi Castle in Omihachiman, Shiga Prefecture.

Mozambique’s acting ambassador to Japan recently met with the mayor of Omihachiman, Shiga Prefecture, and sought that city’s cooperation with Mozambique possibly featuring a foreign retainer of feudal leader Oda Nobunaga in its pavilion at the 2025 Osaka-Kansai Expo.

The request was made by Jose Antonio Justino Nhalungo during his talk with Omihachiman Mayor Osamu Konishi. Mozambique plans to showcase at the pavilion its exchanges with Japan through the historical figure known as Yasuke.

A retainer of Oda Nobunaga in the the Sengoku warring states period, Yasuke is believed to have been born in Mozambique.

Nhalungo visited Omihachiman after Toshihiro Takagi, chairman of the Azuchicho chamber of commerce and industry in the city, became acquainted with people from Mozambique this summer through business. Takagi is familiar with the history of Nobunaga and Yasuke, and invited Nhalungo and others to visit the city.

According to documents including “Shincho Koki,” a chronicle of Nobunaga written by an aide, Yasuke was a servant brought from India when an Italian missionary came to Japan. Yasuke was reportedly introduced to Nobunaga in February 1581 and gained his favor.

“Shincho Koki” described Yasuke as being 26 or 27 years old and having the strength of 10 men. It is unknown what happened to Yasuke after the Honnoji Incident in 1582.

Meanwhile, the Tensho Ken-o Shisetsu-dan, a delegation of Japanese youths to Rome organized by the missionary and others, made a stopover on an island in Mozambique on its way back to Japan in 1586. The delegation spent six months on the island waiting for seasonal winds to change direction.

In his closed meeting with the mayor, Nhalungo sought the city’s cooperation, saying his country is considering introducing the relationship between Japan and Mozambique through Yasuke in the expo pavilion, according to city officials.

Touching on the 450th anniversary of Yasuke’s arrival in Japan in eight years, Nhalungo said his embassy is also considering organizing something to commemorate that occasion and sought cooperation.

Mayor Konishi expressed his willingness, saying: “In 2026, Azuchi Castle will celebrate the 450th anniversary of its construction. It would be nice if we could do something together for both events, including the 450th anniversary of Yasuke’s arrival in Japan.”

Following the meeting with the mayor, the group visited the ruins of Azuchi Castle and the Azuchi Jokaku Shiryokan museum, both in the Azuchicho area of the city, with Takagi acting as guide.

Nhalungo told reporters that Yasuke is a hero in Mozambique, and he would like to cherish the relationship between Japan and Mozambique.