Question 1. Tokugawa policy towards Japanese isolation from the outer world was conditioned by one motive –necessity to survive. In order to protect the existing socio-political order in the state, Tokugawa dynasty had to handle threats to country’s unity and stability. By closing Japan to foreigners, Tokugawa solved three problems at a time. From the foreign policy perspective, it protected the country from the colonization by Spain and Portugal. From the perspective of the domestic affairs, prohibition of direct foreign trade weakened daimyos’ influence, which was challenging the ruling dynasty’s authority. The final benefit of isolationism was unification of Japanese nation. Japanese socio-economic changes were more benign and successful than Chinese, because rationale and actual reality of two countries were different. Chinese policy was more centralized and strict, since it was dictated by the huge territory of the empire, while Japanese approach was more population-friendly and targeted development of the wealthy and educated middle class (Gordon, 2003).
Question 2. Chinese, Japanese and Korean policies of isolationism managed to fulfill their main aim – to keep the states unified and protected from harmful influence of the Western empires. Japanese and Korean approaches were more enlightening than Chinese one. They’ve protected their people from the outer world, but also managed to educate them in Dutch academic tradition and create a strong middle class. China, on the other hand, was building strict central regime, based on obedience and fear (). In any case, isolationism policy did one good thing for all three states – they survived and avoided fates of Mughal and Ottoman states. Without isolation policy, national markets would be opened to European products, which would result in disruption of local manufacturing industry and import-export imbalance. The colonization would result in social turmoil and feudal system destruction. Presence of British East Indian Company would dictate the economy favorable for the Crown. Finally, local authorities would lose all power. States as they were before could have ceased to exist, just as Ottoman and Mughal Empires (Turku, 2009).
Gordon, A. (2003). A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present.
Oxford, OX: oxford University Press.
Turku, H. (2009). Isolationist states in an interdependent world. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.