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What Was the Sakoku Policy of Japan and What Were Its Consequences?

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Can the country survive and continue to run by itself? Japan was a country which is ruled by a number of emperors and they did not allow Japanese people to leave the country and do not allow any foreigner to enter in Japan. Sakoku means closed country and Sakoku policy was in use for many decades in Japan. While Sakoku, Japan’s long period of isolation from 1639 to 1853, kept it closed off from much of the world, one upshot was the rise of cultural touchstones that persist to this day. In earlier days Sakoku was beneficial but afterwards the Tokugawa it became a big problem. Sakoku policy was made to benefit the ruling class but at the end of Tokugawa period, it made the country weak economically, politically and socially.

Japan was not doing much trade or any other type of business with other countries especially the western world which was pushing the Japan economy downwards because Japan was missing a huge market. Japanese were only allowed to do trade at Dejima which is constricted port at Nagasaki. This island is separated from the mainland, so no foreigner can enter in Japan and one of the functions of Sakoku policy was this also. In the article, it is mentioned that “Trade continued to grow for several decades to a peak in 1661. On the Japanese side it was imports and not exports that provided the drive” (Louis Cullen, 2017, p.70). Japanese having an import from Dutch people but exports from Japan were very low. Which was also putting pressure on the Japanese economy. This was one of the biggest disadvantages because spending was so high on goods as compared to income.

Japan after the removal of Sakoku policy got some problems with it because Japan was closed country and do not have any political relationship with other countries. The political power was not stable in Japan so they were unable to maintain some control on the disputed lands. Japan lost some of its land to Russia. “The Meiji leadership, with its power base still not established and faced with other pressing issues, while also being fearful of Russia, ultimately sacrificed Sakhalin for the greater goals of national development, stability and demarcation” (Walker, 2015, p. 212). Japan was not in the position to fight with Russia because of Sakoku policy. Japan did not have a good relationship with other countries and also was not stable financially and politically to stand against Russia. The military of Japan was not advanced in technology because they were closed country so they do not get know about the outer world.

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Japanese government also do not want any influence of foreigners on the Japanese people to secure their land and culture which was good for Japan. Text related things which were written in other languages were banned in Japan. It is stated by Annette Keogh that foreign merchants were not allowed to carry their books or documents until they are in Japan and all foreign language text was banned by officials. “All communication between merchants is done through interpreters because Japanese government do not want their people get any wrong ideas or influences from foreigners” (Keogh, 2004). Japanese people only know their language and very little number of people also know how to speak Chinese. Which played very significant role in protecting their traditions and beliefs about son God and myths about their Emperors.

Japanese people were separated from world socially because of Sakoku policy. People were not allowed to enter and not allowed to go out. Americans try to communicate with Japanese and it is said by Amir Lowell Abou-Jaoude that “Americans dispatched their naval ships two times but they were not able to communicate with each other and on third time bombardment in sea and near land and forced Japan to open and trade with them and culture is also exchanged and shared between both countries” (Abou-Jaoude, 2016). Japan would start talking with America before the bombardment but they do not know English so Japanese were unable to speak because of Sakoku policy. “After the American incident Japanese start sending the student to abroad to acquire the technological skills so they can be ready from next time” (Beasley, 1999). Japanese were not open socially with other countries and with western cultures because they do not want that their people speaking in other language than Japanese.

Thus, as seen in this essay, it is impossible for a country to survive in isolation, as it will ultimately have devastating consequences, and Sakoku's policy confirms this.

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What Was the Sakoku Policy of Japan and What Were Its Consequences? (2022, October 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 6, 2023, from
“What Was the Sakoku Policy of Japan and What Were Its Consequences?” Edubirdie, 28 Oct. 2022,
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