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Tokugawa Period

Tokugawa-PeriodIeyasu Tokugawa succeeded Toyomi Hideyoshi and in 1603 was given the title of shogun from the emperor. The Tokugawa House governed Japan for the next 265 years. The Tokugawa Shogun Period controlled about 25% of the farmland in the country at that time. It licensed foreign trade, operated gold mines, and ruled major cities including Kyoto, Osaka and the shogun’s capital Edo – known as Tokyo today.

Main highlights of the Tokugawa Period

During the 1630s, the main group of foreigners in Japan were Spanish, Portuguese, English, Dutch and Chinese. Fear that the Daimyo would gain more power in international relations, the Shogun, who wanted to take this position of international trade, ordered all but a few Chinese and Dutch out of Japan. These were known as seclusion edicts. The few Dutch and Chinese who remained were only allowed stay in Nagasaki, the new town linked to Europe until the mid-1800s.

Peace followed allowing Japan to develop at a time when the rest of the world was doing the same. Businesses grew, trading firms developed skills in finance and general management. Japanese arts flourished and by 1700 Edo was one of the worlds largest cities. Kabuki, the Japanese stage performance drama, was perfected. People developed strong work ethic and discipline in making crafts. The country had begun its road to success.

After the Treaty of Commerce (1858) between USA & Japan,a fleet of American navel vessels arrived into the bay near Edo. In it was Matthew C Perry on a mission to get Japan to open its doors to international trade. Once refused, Perry tried again the following year. It was then that Japan allowed America to station a negotiator called Townsend Harris. After many negotiations, in 1858 he succeeded and Japan signed a treaty of commerce with the United States. This treaty caused upset for many Japanese people. It meant US citizens were governed by US laws even on Japanese land. They were granted extra-territoriality and other privileges that were not given to the Japanese in turn. This made many Samurai furious, who killed numerous foreign officials and who also tried to overthrow the Shoguante.

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