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Japan and the Colonial Powers

Japan and the Colonial powers in the 19th century

C19th Japan was viewed by the Americans and Europeans as a possible colony but Japan had ideas of it’s own.

In 1853, four American warships entered Japanese waters, the intention of the Americans was to demand that Japan open her ports to trade. For 200 years, the Japanese shoguns had ruled that all foreign influence would be avoided, christianity was banned and all foreign people expelled. However the threat of American naval power coupled with famine and some terrible earthquakes forced the Shoguns to do deals and open it’s borders to the west. The treaties that the Shoguns had engineered meant they lost control over their custom duties, rebellions followed and the age of the Shogun came to an end. The Emperor of Japan was restored by the Samurai and an uneasy alliance was forged with the west.

Japan could see that western ideals would make Japan stronger, they established a univerity, minted a new money, the Yen and the economy grew.

The Japanese adopted a new slogan

‘Catch up, overtake’

They built a railway that forged the economy ahead. A new national slogan was adopted.

 ‘Rich Nation, strong army’

As Japanese strength grew, they went to war with China over Korea, territory they both wanted. Japan had a superior navy, China had to abandon interest in Korea and cede territory to Japan including Taiwan. With Japan showing immense naval strength and increasing military force it took on Russia who wanted it out of China. Japan emerged triumphant, it continued to occupy the Liaodong Peninsula in China and took control of Korea. The rest of the world took notice and the unfair trade tarrifs were revised.

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