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Open Japan to the World - Essay Example

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Open Japan to the World

Japan opened its ports and the Western countries slowly expanded their influence to trade and settlement in the treaty ports, The Japanese government underlines that the opening of the country did not mean any change in its policy and strategic goals. Japan was opened for contact with the rest of the world, including Christianity; missionary work was started in the open ports; but Christianity was still proscribed as an evil religion. As Japan emerged from more than two centuries of seclusion, feelings of past interactions with the West mingled with new information and feelings (Konishi 2007). For Japan, the past proposed a unique model for interpreting what was happening with the nation, and new developments to a certain extent changed traditional values. In 1856 Consul-General Townsend Harris was sent to Japan to negotiate a treaty of commerce, which was signed two years later (Miyoshi 82). In 1860 a Bakufu envoy was despatched to America to exchange ratifications of the treaty. It was the first time that a Japanese ship crossed the Pacific. At the same time with the conclusion of a treaty with the United States, Japan negotiated commercial treaties of commerce with Holland, Russia, England and France. Japan's trade with the West was officially started. It is possible to sayt hat the Bakufu was forced to open the state to foreign intercourse signified, in the eyes of the people in general, a lowering of its prestige. As a result anti-foreign movements were launched here and there, movements which finally came to be seen on as a means of attacking the Bakufu. The Bakufu was no longer powerful enough to rise the state out of the collapse into which it had fallen; all it could do was to make the best of the bad bargain by taking makeshift measures. This helped to speed up the downfall of the Bakufu. "To return to the initial question, the Embassy men were all too eager to accept the American welcome as genuine. As they once wanted to believe that Japan was China's equal, so they now wanted to regard Japan and the United States as on a similar footing" (Miyoshi 64).
For more than two decades the centralized power of the Tokugawa shogunate tied to establish and maintain an unprecedented political and social stability in the country. In order to maintain political stability a policy of social stability was introduced. All aspects of social life were managed, even minute details concerning food and clothing. As the Western countries began to search for new contact with Japan in the early nineteenth century, the great danger of trade and Christian propagation was again used as a powerful tool against such transformations. Considering that the Western nations in the mid- nineteenth century were quickly expanding their impact in the Far East through military force, trade, colonization, and Christian propagation, the Japanese doubt was reasonable. For instance, the Opium War in 1842 and the forced opening of China especially alarmed the shogunate and stimulated the improvement of military defense in Japan (Murase 273). In spite of this basic principle of noninterference, which was officially adopted in the following period if time, the presence of the Western countries in Japan was accompanied by consistent and even embarrassing demonstrations of their concern for the cause of Christianity (Konishi 2007). The following description of ...Show more

Summary

Before "the opening", Japan was isolated from the world economically, culturally and politically. The opening of Japan was connected with new economic relations between the USA and Japan in whaling industry. The fist attempts to "open" Japan was made in 1851 by John H…
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