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Unformatted text preview: an expanding,
dynamic economy. Shogunate reformers, for example, invariably sought
to resolve the economic suffering in certain sectors of society by calling
upon people everywhere to be more frugal; but, with very few exceptions,
they did not consider the possibility of expanding the national wealth
through an increase in foreign trade.
The apprehensions of Dutch Studies scholars of the late Tokugawa
period were further intensified by the mounting incursion of foreigners,
especially Russians, into the regions surrounding Japan. By the end of 222 Heterodox Trends the eighteenth century, Russian explorers and traders had pushed eastward across the northern reaches of the world and, in addition to establishing colonies in places such as Kamchatka and the Aleutians, were
making periodic probes into islands closer to Japan, including Hokkaido
(until this time in Japanese history inhabited almost exclusively by the
Ainu) and the Kurils. It is little wonder, therefore, that the Dutch Studies
scholars should turn their eyes northward in assessing the challenges and
opportunities presented by the outside world.
Among the most astute and imaginative of these later scholars of
Dutch Studies was Honda Toshiaki (1744–1821).16 Raised in one of the
northern domains of Japan, Toshiaki devoted his life to the study of a
wide range of Western subjects from mathematics and astronomy to military science, geography, and navigation. He also traveled widely throughout Japan, observing the social and economic conditions of different
regions, and even went by ship into the northern seas, perhaps as far as
Kamchatka. Toshiaki believed that Japan not only should seek to increase
its foreign trade but also should expand territorially overseas. It was imperative first that Hokkaido, Sakhalin, and the Kurils be colonized to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Russians; then other islands
and territories in Asia and North America could be absorbed to form a
great Japanese empire whose capital, Toshiaki felt, should be situated in
Kamchatka. Toshiaki was particularly fond of...
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- Spring '13