The Japanese International Agreements and the Fall of the Shogunate

  • Masahiro Kanai


In his article, the author presents a short period of one decade, in the mid 19th century, during which Japan opened itself economically to the world after more than two centuries (since 1641) of self-isolation. This process was initiated by the Americans, after the arrival of their navy in Japan in 1853, who proposed the establishment of trade links between the two countries. In 1858, a trade agreement was concluded, after long and intense negotiations. The opening up of Japan, which lived its traditional life, was strongly opposed both by the people on the Imperial Court and landlords. These supported the Court against the shogun who actually ruled Japan at the time (the shoguns had been in power since the Middle Ages). In 1867, the 15th Shogun handed over the power to the Emperor. This, however, did not stop Japan from opening itself and eventually becoming an economic super-power.