History of Japan

Sakoku ("closed country") policy – Shogunate, central feudal government in Edo, prohibits western missionaries and most of merchants to enter, Japanese people are forbidden to leave. Building large ships is banned. Around 200 000 christians when the ban starts. Suspected christians were asked to step on a plaque with the image of Christ or Virgin Mary. Isolation delayed industrialisation.

1853 – With 2 coal-fueled steam ships and 2 sail warships Commodore Matthew Perry comes to the Edo Bay and asks Japan to open, gives a year to consider his message.

Herman Melville in 1851:

If that double-bolted land, Japan, is ever to become hospitable, it is the whaleship alone to whom the credit will be due; for already she is on the threshold.

United States wanted a good treatment of whaling shipwrecks in the Pacific Ocean and a place to restock coal for the ships. They were also interested in bringing christian values to Japan.

Even thought daguerreotype was invented in 1830s, no photographs from this period exists. A few litographs copied from daguerreotypes were confusing in terms of sword position being on the right, instead of expected left.

1905 – Hibiya riots as a result of an unfavourable peace agreement with Russia: north Sakhalin is returned to Russia and Russia pays no war reparations.