Ieyasu and Tokugawa Japan's global ambitions

Mar 2010
77
Tokugawa Japan's global ambitions



I'm reading the second Volume of Prof. Yoshi Kuno's "Japanese Expansions on the Asiatic Continent". This volume starts with the 17th century Japan, and relations between Japan and Occidental nations compose a large portion of the book.

According to the author, three Japanese warlords palyed important roles in the 16-17th century Japanese history. Nobunaga, who laid the foundation work of unifying Japan; Hideyoshi, who unified Japan and tried to expand his dominion to the Asian mainland; Ieyasu, who tried to establish Japan as the commerical center of Asia. Ieyasu's effort was followed by a couple of successors, but was eventually abandoned due to the national security consideration. A seclusion policy followed subsequently and the door to Japan was shut to the rest of the world.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the major European trade partener with Tokugawa Japan is Spain. The Spanish merchants are usually Catholic priests. Catholic communities since Hideyoshi's reign had been restless and sometimes militant. Catholic people in Japan took great pride in sacrificing themselves defending their religous belief instead of shogun's interests. Hideoyoshi believed Catholicism is not compatible with Japan's national interests and therefore had taken anti-Christian measures during his reign.

Although Ieyasu was no less aware of the potential threats brought to his nation by the spread of Catholicism, he adopted a rather mild policy (compared to Hideyoshi) towards the Catholics. The reason is Ieyasu tried to establish Japan as the commerical center of Asia. In order to achieve his goal, he had to rely on commerce between Japan and the Spanish empire. A less harsh policy towards the Catholics benefits the commerce. To help negotiate a trade treaty with the Spanish empire, he even sent an embassy to lower california and ordered members of the embassy to get baptized in San Francisco to show Japanese people's eagerness to accept Catholicism. After the baptization, his embassy went as far as Rome and Genoa to negotiate business.

Even though Ieyasu tried hard to establish commercial ties with Spanish American colonies and even Spain itself, trade between Tokugawa Japan and Spain remained mainly between the Phillipines and Japan. One of the major reasons is Ieyasu's steadily growing suspicion of the Christian, which caused Spanish suspicion and antagonism in return. Anti-Christian laws were eventually promulgated when Ieyasu realized accomodation with the Catholics did not really boost trade. Brutal persecution followed when laws were ineffective to force the Christian renounce their religon. In the end, when all other measures failed to stop western priests from sneaking into Japan and propagate Christianity, Japan closed its door to the outside world.

Strife among Japan's major western trade parteners accelarated Japan's seclusion. Holland, Britain, Portugal and Spain all tried to extend their influence into Tokugawa Japan. The Portuguese even supported Christian rebellions against the shogun, the letter containing the rebellion plot was intercepted by the Dutch when they caught a Portugese ship near Cape Good Hope. After receiving the letter from the Dutch, the Tokugawa shogun was outraged and expelled all Portuguese from Japan.


 
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Mar 2010
77
I found some videos on YouTube that I thought might be interesting for people on this forum. Then I realized it's illegal to share the links to those videos so the original post has been removed.[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdVXPo7tDNw"][/ame]
 
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