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Up through the Edo period, interaction with foreigners was forbidden and the country was closed off, the common perception being one of national isolation. However, now Japan is starting to reconsider that belief.

The first use of the word gisolationismh is said to come from 1810 in Nagasaki when Shizuki Tadao translated the Dutch book gHistory of Japanh by Kaempfer, changing gto keep it shut uph to gnationally isolateh, and used the term again in the same book saying, gthe theory of isolationh. By the end of the Meiji Era, this phrase came into common use.

It is generally thought that, in 1639 Portuguese ships that came to Japan where not allowed to land because of Japanese isolationism, and the only window to the outside world for Japan was Nagasakifs Dejima. But in the series of laws issued by the Edo Shogunate, the word gisolationismh was not used once, and Nagasaki was not the only window for trade abroad.


‡@   
In Nagasaki, trade was conducted with China and Netherlands

‡A    During the Tsushima clanfs trade with Korea, a messenger was dispatched to Japan when there was a change in Japanese Shogunate
‡B    The Satsuma (Kagoshima) clan interacted with China (Fuzhou) through the Kingdom of Ryukyu (Okinawa)
‡C    The Matsumae (Hokkaido) clanfs trade with the Yezo ; the northern Ainu also occurred.

Demand for Japanese silver and copper mineral resources being strong, Japanese copper coins were exported to many Asian countries and used there as currency.

There was also an active gathering of info on foreign countries through these four windows of trade. Thanks to this information gathering, the government was able to make timely policies regarding foreign countries, controlling immigration and limitations on travel abroad.

This is why we can say Japan was able to respond tactfully while the western powers were moving into East Asia at the end of the Edo Period.