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What effect did Western Imperialism have on Japan?

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Michael Koren eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Westward imperialism impacted Japan. The Japanese had been closed to world trade until the 1850s. The United States, under the command of Commodore Matthew Perry, helped to open Japan to world trade. While Japan was never colonized by the western imperial powers, they realized that they would be foolish to resist the western desire to open their country to world trade.

Japan was really helped by opening their country to world trade. Japan realized it needed to become more modern if it wanted to be a world power. Japan did become an industrialized nation, and it eventually became a world power. Japan was able to learn from the western imperial powers. This impacted their development in positive ways.

Japan was unhappy with the some of the results of the Washington Naval Conference. Japan didn’t like the Five-Power Naval Limitation Treaty because Japan was allowed to have only three warships for every five that Great Britain and the United States were allowed to have. Japan felt it was being treated as an unequal second-class citizen by the western imperial powers with the provisions of this agreement. This helped to motivate Japanese aggression in the 1930s.

Japan benefited significantly from western imperialism.

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When Europeans were expanding their colonies around the world, Japan made the decision to isolate itself and limit exports as a way of protecting Japanese culture from dilution or western takeover.  Ultimately, Japan opened its borders when American Admiral Perry sailed into Edo Bay (modern-day Tokyo) and shocked Japan with America's superior naval technology and weapons.  Perry demanded that Japan open its ports to American trade; other countries were not as lucky, and were colonized by European powers.  Japan however was not colonized, but saw no choice but to open its borders to trade with other nations.

Westernization ended up benefitting Japan.  While some cultural elements were made unnecessary, like the samurai warriors, other aspects of Japanese culture...

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