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Unformatted text preview: ainst the Phaeton, which was armed with fifty cannon, and the attack
was delayed. Meanwhile, after a few days, the Phaeton, having seized 232 Heterodox Trends and interrogated the Dutch merchants and having demanded and received supplies from the Japanese, departed. It was a brief incident, but
it greatly shocked the shogunate and contributed to the mounting xenophobia among shogunate officials and others.
We observed at the beginning of the last chapter that the seclusion
policy implemented by the shogunate in the seventeenth century, although it greatly reduced Japan’s foreign contacts, was not intended, so
far as we can judge, to make Japan a permanently “closed country.” But
shogunate leaders at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth, faced with a new and potentially very dangerous
threat from abroad, chose to regard seclusion as the fixed law of the
Tokugawa state, even calling Japan sakoku (literally, “chained country”),
a term first used in 1801.20 To enforce sakoku, the shogunate in 1825
went so far as to declare a policy of “Don’t Think Twice” (ninen naku)
toward unwanted foreigners. If foreigners (meaning Westerners other
than the Dutch) should enter Japanese waters or land on Japanese soil,
they were to be driven away forthwith.
In that same year, 1825, a scholar of the Mito school, Aizawa Seishisai (1781–1863), published a book, entitled New Proposals (Shinron),
that became one of the most influential political writings of its time. The
Mito school, as noted earlier in this chapter, had been established by the
Mito han in the seventeenth century to undertake the research for and
writing of The History of Great Japan, a lengthy chronicle of Japan covering the period from 660 b.c. to 1392 that focused on the imperial succession. Called the “later Mito scholars” to distinguish them from the
early Mito scholars who first undertook work on The History of Great
Japan, Seishisai and his contemporaries of the Mito school concocted a
potent ideology, articulated in New Proposals, that they advanced to deal
with the foreign threat that then confronted Japan. The basis of this ideology, which was much in...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.
- Spring '13