| 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 gisolationismh is said to come from 1810
in Nagasaki when Shizuki Tadao translated the Dutch book gHistory of Japanh by
Kaempfer, changing gto keep it shut uph to gnationally isolateh, and used the
term again in the same book saying, gthe theory of isolationh. 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 Nagasakifs Dejima. But in the series of laws issued by the Edo Shogunate, the word gisolationismh
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 clanfs 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) clanfs 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.