Steamships changed the lives of the Japanese people in at least two major ways. First, steamships "opened" Japan. When American steamships came to Japan with their weapons it became clear to the Japanese that they needed to change to keep up with the West. Second, as the Japanese modernized, they learned to use and make steamships. This ability helped propel Japan to the status of a major world power. Japan's steamships defeated the Russians in a war, thus making Japan the first Asian country to defeat a modern European country in a war.