In 1853 the Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled Japan was presented with a distressing ultimatum. American Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in Edo bay with a fleet of warships and demanded that the country be opened to Americans for rescue, refueling, provisions and, eventually, trade.
The Shogun’s bureaucratic government, known as the Bakufu, had until that point pursued a policy of almost complete isolation from the outside world.
Faced with an unprecedented challenge, the Bakufu solicited the views of the powerful Daimyo, hereditary nobility who led the feudal samurai clans of Japan. Many responded with written letters outlining their views on the necessary response.
For this assignment, you are to read the letters that Ii Naosuke and Tokugawa Nariaki produced for the Bakufu’s consideration, and write a paper of approximately 500 words that compares and contrasts the advice they give. You should outline points of similarity and difference in their advice and in the assumptions and beliefs that underly their views.
You should highlight any statements they make that stand out as showing notable ignorance or accurate knowledge of the capacities and threats posed by the foreign powers, and mention any of their predictions or warnings that were particularly prescient or inaccurate.
To provide context to help interpret the letters, you may wish to consult your textbook, and
Source of black ships and Samurai: https://visualizingcultures.mit.edu/black_ships_and_samurai/bss_essay01.html
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