Japanese isolationism ends meet

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japanese isolationism ends meet

The first Dutch ship ever to arrive in Japan was the "Liefde " ("Charity" or "Love"); However, during the `sakoku-jidai`, the so-called seclusion period, Holland and . it had been at the end of the Hirado period, when free trading was allowed . Edo period Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa family, with each successive head The period of self-imposed national isolation came to a dramatic end in The Edo period (江戸時代, Edo jidai) or Tokugawa period (徳川時代) is the period between The Tokugawa (or Edo) period brought years of stability to Japan. . In the cities and towns, guilds of merchants and artisans met the growing .. forcing it to abandon its policy of seclusion and contributing to the end of the.

Always dependent on foreign trade, Japan was hard hit by the world depression that began in The farmers who had grown the silk that was exported to the United States found no market for their product once the roaring twenties and the craze for silk stockings collapsed with the stock market crash.

Japanese history: Edo Period

Japan's dramatic economic growth slowed, and social problems increased, especially in the countryside. At the same time that the leaders of imperial Japan pursued modernization and economic growth, they continued to address the issue of Japan's unequal status in the international order.

Inmore than forty years after Commodore Perry pried Japan open to the outside world, Japan finally succeeded in revising the unequal treaties so that it regained its legal parity with the Western powers. Japan fought a war against China in over the control of Korea and gained Taiwan, Japan's first colony.

InJapan signed an alliance with Great Britain, which signified a dramatic increase in international status, and inJapan won a war against Russia, one of the major Western powers. In the process Japan expanded its empire, annexing Korea in Japan was allied with the United States and Britain in World War I, and expected territorial gains at the Versailles peace conference in Instead Japan met with strong opposition from the United States, and again learned the lesson that the West regarded imperialism very differently if it was the imperialism of an Asian rather than a European power.

The failure of the Japanese to get a clause on racial equality inserted into the covenant of the League of Nations was an insult that was compounded in when the United States barred all Japanese from immigration.

The setbacks and insults from abroad, against a background of economic depression, sowed public frustration with the political leadership at home. Even more, military units under the field commands in Manchuria grew impatient with the politicians' apparent inability to translate any of their military victories into political gains. Increasingly, Japanese were persuaded by the militarists' contention that Japan's security lay in consolidating her access to markets and resources in Asia.

Japan's Quest for Power and World War II in Asia The impatience of field commanders in Manchuria finally showed inwhen they used a local provocation as an excuse to put all the Japanese territory in Manchuria under control of the military. The move presented Japan's civilian government at home with an accomplishment that it could not afford to ignore. The military-industrial machine went into high gear, pulling Japan out of its depression as it continued to expand Japanese hegemony across the Far East.

Japanese troops invaded China inand French Indochina insetting up puppet governments to administer areas too vast to be controlled by the Japanese armies.

Alarmed by Japan's increasing usurpation of Western prerogatives in the Far East — and disregard for the rights of the local populations — the United States delivered an ultimatum to Japan: In the context of rapidly worsening relations, Japan decided to make a daring surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Augustwhere 90 percent of the U.

The preemptive strike bought Japan time — it took the United States, many times its superior in industrial strength, a full year to gain the offensive on Japan. Japan's string of early successes — the Philippines, Hong Kong, British Malaya and Singapore, and the Dutch East Indies — left its navy scattered across the Pacific while its army was bogged down in China.

When the United States recovered its forces lost in Pearl Harbor, its navy and army were able to conduct an "island-hopping strategy" of cutting off the Japanese commands one by one from their supply routes. Bythe U. Its cities devastated by fire bombing, its economy barely functioning and its people on the brink of starvation, the Japanese government still held out hope that with the assistance of the Russians, Swiss, or Swedes they would be able to negotiate an end to the war.

Unaware of the secret agreement among Allies at Yalta, Japan was shocked when Russia too entered the war against Japan. Two days earlier, the United States had dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, a medium-size industrial city.

Inshogun Iemitsu forbade travelling abroad and almost completely isolated Japan in by reducing the contacts to the outside world to strongly regulated trade relations with China and the Netherlands in the port of Nagasaki. In addition, all foreign books were banned.

Despite the isolation, domestic trade and agricultural production continued to improve. During the Edo period and especially during the Genroku era -popular culture flourished. New art forms like kabuki and ukiyo-e became very popular especially among the townspeople.

The most important philosophy of Tokugawa Japan was Neo- Confucianismstressing the importance of morals, education and hierarchical order in the government and society: A strict four class system existed during the Edo period: The members of the four classes were not allowed to change their social status.

Outcasts, people with professions that were considered impure, formed a fifth class. Inthe ban of Western literature was cancelled, and several new teachings entered Japan from China and Europe Dutch Learning. New nationalist schools that combined Shinto and Confucianist elements also developed. Even though the Tokugawa government remained quite stable over several centuries, its position was steadily declining for several reasons: The protestant Dutch, whose first objective was trade and not the propagation of the Christian faith, had arrived and established their credibility just in time.

This is how the special relationship between Japan and the Netherlands began. Contacts with Asian countries such as Korea, China and Taiwan naturally went back to much earlier times. It was a status which actually lasted over two centuries, from toand as the only western country with such privileges, Holland held a very special position.

It was the door through which knowledge on science and medicine, and products and armaments from the Netherlands and Europe were imported into Japan through the Dutch settlement on Deshima, the man-made fan-shaped island in the Bay of Nagasaki. Simultaneously the Dutch generated great wealth exporting Japanese products and knowledge to the west.

For both sides, Deshima was more than just a window on a new world. A short time before, inthe Dutch had founded the East Indian Company VOCthe idea behind this being to unite many smaller trading companies into the one powerful organisation which would make it easier to acquire vessels and dominate the trading world.

The VOC can be seen as the world's first shareholder company. Besides trading, the Dutch government authorized the VOC to initiate contacts with foreign 'authorities'.

A second trade permit received stated that the Dutch were to be allowed to trade in all Japanese ports and expressed the hope that many Dutch ships would do so. This document is today in the National Archives in the Hague. They arrived in Hirado and after presentation of an official letter from Maurits, Prince of Orange, the Dutch received official permission to open a trading post.

This first trading post was founded by Jacques Specx on the island of Hirado on the north-west coast of Kyushu. Hirado was a convenient location for trade with Taiwan and China, but did not overly impress the Dutch because most wealthy merchants lived in nearby Nagasaki. In the periodthe Dutch could move around the country freely and enjoyed unrestricted contact with the Japanese.

In Hirado they set up a foundry and built a well. However, in the early period trade was not profitable due to the limited contacts with other VOC outposts.

  • How Japan became the first nation to end China's isolation
  • Victoria and Albert Museum

This problem was addressed by piracy of heavily loaded Portuguese trading ships. The Portuguese understandably complained and the Japanese government responded by banning piracy in Japanese waters. The threats of interference caused the Shogun to gradually apply a stricter policy in contacts with foreigners, both the Southern Barbarians Portuguese and the Red-Haired Barbarians Dutch. In Tokugawa Ieyasu issued a ban on Christianity and evicted missionaries and prominent Japanese Christians from Japan.

This ban was strictly enforced and many Japanese Christians were martyred and had to flee or hide.

japanese isolationism ends meet

In Japanese subjects were forbidden to leave the country and board foreign vessels without special passes, and soon afterwards all departures from the country were forbidden. Such children were not allowed to have contact with the Japanese anymore - a ruling which led to tearful scenes when they had to be parted from their mothers.

The Hirado City Museum displays a touching letter of the time written on kimono-silk, the so called Jagatara-bun by Koshioro. After the Japanese government relaxed the rules somewhat and family news 'onshin' was allowed.

To limit contacts of the Portuguese with the Japanese, the shogunate decided to build a special island for them. Its name was Deshimaand Portuguese resided here from towhen they were forced out of the country on suspicion of support to the Christian rebels during the Shimabara revolt.

With Deshima vacant, the shogunate found ways to restrict the freedom of movement of the Dutch. In they finally found a good reason to confine the Dutch to Deshima. Head merchant Francois Caron had two warehouses built of stone to prevent loss by fire - a common threat in those days.

The Dutch had to tear the warehouses down and move to Deshima. From then on for more than years Holland would be the only western country permitted to have contact with Japan and the Japanese.

Dutch-Japanese relations

This fan shaped island in Nagasaki bay measured but 15, square meters approximatelysquare feetabout the size of Dam Square in Amsterdam. It meant the Dutch became Japan's window on the world. The most famous teacher is Philip Franz von Siebold, of German origin, who taught many scholars about western science, medicine and other matters of cultural value.

In the context of limited contacts between Japanese and foreigners, the Dutch had to live under strict rules. They could not leave without official permission and Deshima was prohibited for women.

japanese isolationism ends meet

An exception was made for the public women of Murayama district, who were allowed to stay one night at a time on the island. Permission to leave the island was only granted for official visits to the governor or the Shogun, the so-called "Edo Sanpu" or court journey to Edo. So life was not ideal for the Dutch. Most of the time in a person's year was spent idle.

Only the arrival of ships, mostly in the period August to October, was a busy time.

japanese isolationism ends meet

The vessels had to be unloaded, cargoes unpacked, repacked, and traded. The ships had to be reloaded with Japanese goods for the rich merchant traders of the VOC. It was the time for stories and messages from home. At this time government regulations made business less profitable than it had been at the end of the Hirado period, when free trading was allowed.

Goods had to be sold at fixed prices decided upon in advance.

Edo period

Maximum prices for import and export goods were set, and goods which remained unsold had to be taken back. But in spite of all these regulations, the VOC still made profits and continued to trade mainly silk for gold, silver, copper and camphor.

Also lacquerwork, porcelain and tea were bought and exported to Batavia or Europe. Contrary to what one might conclude, Deshima was a popular posting among VOC employees.

One reason for this was that the Japanese Government, beside the official trade, gave permission for limited personal trading as well, a privilege which provided employees with additional income sometimes reaching levels of more than 20 times their normal annual salary.

The "opperhoofd", whose salary was guilders a year, was recorded as making as much as For political reasons, both in Japan and Europe, profits and trade on Deshima deteriorated in the 18th century. The Japanese authorities set out new regulations on such affairs as the numbers of ships permitted and the exchange rate between silver and gold - initiatives that restricted profits for the trading Dutch. This was the era of the French Revolution and the loss of the once mighty Dutch command of the seas.

Opperhoofd Hendrik Doeff became dependent on the kindness of the Japanese for food and clothing. But Doeff did not waste his time. He continued his writing of a Dutch-Japanese dictionary and invested special efforts in maintaining good relations with the Japanese authorities. Doeff kept the Dutch flag flying in Deshima: After the Portuguese were expelled, the Dutch language gradually took over and the role of translator and interpreter became critically important.