Yasuke (弥助 or 弥介 ) was a man of African origin who served as a kashin (家臣 , retainer) under the Japanese daimyō Oda Nobunaga.
In 1579, Yasuke arrived in Japan as a slave of the Italian Jesuit missionary Alessandro Valignano, Visitor of Missions in the Indies, in India. Yasuke was one of the several Africans to have come with the Portuguese to Japan during the Nanban trade and is thought by some to have been the first African that Nobunaga had ever seen. He was also present during the Honnō-ji Incident, the forced suicide of Nobunaga at the hands of his general Akechi Mitsuhide on 21 June 1582.
According to Histoire ecclésiastique des isles et royaumes du Japon, written by Jesuit priest François Solier of the Society of Jesus in 1627, Yasuke was likely from Mozambique. No further account corroborates this alleged assumption. This would be consistent with other accounts of Africans from Mozambique in Japan. According to Fujita Midori, the first African people who came to Japan were Mozambican. They reached Japan in 1546 as shipmates or slaves who served Portuguese captain Jorge Álvares (not to be confused with another explorer of the same name who died in 1521).
In 2013, a Japanese TBS television program titled Sekai Fushigi Hakken! (世界ふしぎ発見！ , "Discovery of the World's Mysteries!") suggested that Yasuke was a Makua named Yasufe. This name seems to be derived from the more popular Mozambican name Issufo. However, the program provided little evidence for its conclusions. The Makua are not documented as having had any significant contact with the Portuguese based in Mozambique until 1585.