The SAGE Handbook of Modern Japanese Studies includes outstanding contributions from a diverse group of leading academics from across the globe. This volume is designed to serve as a major interdisciplinary reference work and a seminal text, both rigorous and accessible, to assist students and scholars in understanding one of the major nations of the world.
Chapter 1: Modern Japan in History
Modern Japan in History
How and when did modern Japan begin? Conventionally, histories of this topic embark with the Meiji Restoration in 1868 and the advent of a modern nation state that more or less endures to this day. Alternatively, they depart from 1853, when the arrival of Commodore Perry's ‘Black Ships’ signaled the ‘Opening’ of Japan and, with it, a notional leap forward into something called modernity. To those inhabitants who were not yet aware that their islands needed opening this came as a surprise; something was clearly afoot, but apart from the fear of upheaval who knew what it meant? The Americans and Europeans, however, thought they knew exactly what was going on. Now that commercial treaties – subsequently decried as ‘unequal’ – had been imposed on the ...