PerryArrivingAtYokohama 1854 2

Arrival of US Ships

The beginnings and establishment of Imperial Japan began in 1853, when the United States forced Japan to open up trade. Japan modernized, and the events that followed would eventually lead to the end of the Tokugawa shogunate, and the Meiji Restoration that will become the signal for the establishment of the Empire of Japan.


For two centuries, Japan was isolated from the world. The Tokugawa shogunate issued a decree in 1653 to close its gates from the world, and a time of peace and prosperity, along with a flourishment of Japanese culture, began. In the centuries that followed, Western powers began to increase interaction with Japan, hoping to establish trade and open the gates of Japan. By the 1800s, Japan began to feel threatened by Western expansion in Asia.

In July 1853, American warships commanded by Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in Edo Bay and demanded that Japan should open its gates and establish trade with Japan, threatening to open fire if his demands were not met. The bakufu was thrown into turmoil, as debate raged whether they should agree or not. The emperor wanted to keep the foreigners out, while the daimyo rulers wanted to go to war. When an even larger naval fleet returned a year later, the chairman of the senior councillors, Abe Masahiro, decided to accept Perry's demands, and signed a Treaty of Peace and Anmity, which opened Japan's ports, and ended two centuries of isolation.


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