The Last Samurai

the last samurai

What us rhe danger of Westerization snd modernization of japan?

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For nearly 250 years, the islands comprising the nation of Japan kept a silent vigil in the far reaches of the Pacific Ocean. By the early 1600s, foreigners had been expelled and Christianity outlawed. Occasional attempts atcontact by western nations, who alternated between intrigue and frustration, met with stony faced orders to leave. All this changed in 1853, when the United States sent Commodore Matthew C. Perry to Japan with a letter from President Millard Fillmore to the emperor, and orders (actually written by Perry himself) to obtain a treaty. Two connected factors necessitated these actions. The first involved the lucrative China trade, driven by profit and the alluring scents of tea and peppers, the luxury of exotic silks and the delicacy of fine porcelains. The second was the need for a refueling station for the coal-powered, smoke-billowing steam ships which had so astounded the Japanese upon Perry's arrival. These ironclad monsters needed huge amounts of coal, leaving little room for cargo on the trips to and from China and San Francisco. Japan happened to have plenty of coal deposits and found itself encompassed within the American idea of manifest destiny as the stepping stone to China. Perry completed his mission in 1854 and within the next few years, technologically inferior Japan was intimidated into a number of unequal treaties with America, Britain, France and Russia. The Dutch also pressed their advantage in having been the only outside western contact with Japan during the isolation years through a small, tightly controlled trading post on the island of Deshima outside of Nagasaki. It appeared as if Japan might be headed for the same fate as China, to eventually lose central control to competing spheres of foreign influence.



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