Japan's change from being an isolationist state

"Japan was a bright comet suddenly tracing a path across the sky, exploding into the vision of an outside world that for centuries had hardly taken notice of it" (Duus 3). While most nations to the west of the land of the rising sun took time to reach their position as a superpower, Japan accomplished the task in a period of a generation.As a result of Commodore Perry's arrival on the island nation along with other European nations forcing Japan into commerce with the West, Japan had completely altered its entire structure of government, culture, and military.Japan had seen the power and strength of the western nations and reorganized itself to mirror these superpowers.The Meiji Restoration period brought about many changes to the traditionalist way of existence on the island, and the incorporation of these new and western ideas was quicker than anyone could have expected.Before the West knew what had occurred, Japan had built itself up a military and government that vied with any European nation.It was, in fact, the influence of the West that changed Japan from an isolationist state into the militaristic superpower it had become in thefirst half of the twentieth century.
Before the arrival of Commodore Perry and his fleet, Japan did virtually no trade with outside countries.A few Chinese ships were allowed in here and there, along with a handful of Dutch merchants, but save for those few, the nation of Japan was a mystery to the Western world.Except for the few Dutch, all Europeans had been expelled from the island since 1640.In this time period, the Tokugawa shogunate had ruled over Japan, and the nation enjoyed a long period of peace (Colton and Palmer 544).This peace was lucrative to some Japanese, and yet was an unbeneficial period of history for others.The merchant class was second from the bottom rung in Japanese society next to the common foot soldier, and yet though this period of peace…


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