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Imperialism in Japan. By: Kaytlin Houghtaling and Vikram Biswas. Important events timeline. Sakoku. Sakoku period, after signing a treaty to give the U.S. trading rights. Important events timeline cont. Tokugawa Family Comes to Power. The Tokugawa family ruled from 1603 – 1868

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imperialism in japan

Imperialism in Japan

By: Kaytlin Houghtaling and Vikram Biswas


Important events timeline


Sakoku period, after signing a treaty to give the U.S. trading rights

tokugawa family comes to power
Tokugawa Family Comes to Power
  • The Tokugawa family ruled from 1603 – 1868
  • The Tokugawa’s established strict control over Japan
  • They made a feudal state, and limited Buddhist power, and strengthened neo-Confucian doctrines

The Tokugawa family’s mon (emblem). It is three hollyhock leaves inside of a circle

tokugawa ieyasu shapes japan
Tokugawa Ieyasu Shapes Japan
  • In an effort to impose political stability on a Japan badly divided by civil war from 1477-1603, Tokugawa Ieyasu (reign 1603-1616), a powerful daimyo (feudal lord) who had succeeded in uniting Japan under his personal rule, reinstated the office of the Shogun in 1603." (Global History Cultural Encounters from Antiquity to Present)
  • Tokugawa Ieyasu and Tokugawa Hidetada (1579-1632) and Tokugawa Iemitsu (1604-1651) through a series of decrees, froze the social order into four castes
    • Each caste knew their roles and responsibilities in society
  • Warrior-Bureaucrats
  • Artisans
  • Merchants
  • Peasants
the tokugawa leave their mark
The Tokugawa Leave their Mark
  • The most important change the Tokugawa made, was isolating Japan from the rest of the world
    • In 1635, they made travel in and out of Japan a capital offense
    • This sakoku(closed-country) period lasted until 1853
      • Before this, they had great trade routes, within Asia, and with Europe
    • The sakoku period was a prohibition on the political and cultural challenges presented by cross-cultural exchange, especially religion
      • In 1640, the Shogun banned Christianity because it challenged traditional views
    • To ensure total peace and stability, the Tokugawa claimed authority and control over Japan, including the emperor
    • The sakoku brought in a period of economic prosperity, artistic productivity, and political stability
    • With peace, and better nutrition, the population grew from 20 million to 30 million from 1600-1750
    • In 1750, merchants began to dominate the economy, challenging neo-Confucian Tokugawa leadership, and gaining greater power
    • In 1800, more peasants worked, leading to lower income, while tax stayed high, leading to the peasants revolting
    • Many samurais took up farming, because more money was there due to the limited economy, they lost their status and privileges, creating resentment against the Tokugawa
    • By the early nineteenth century, the social system constructed by Ieyasu Tokugawa began to fall apart
    • With visitors coming in from the west in 1853 (led by Matthew Perry), Japan nearly fell into chaos again
commodore matthew perry invades
Commodore Matthew Perry Invades
  • Negotiated to open doors to trade with Japan
  • On July 8, 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry led ships into Japan, led by the USS Powhatan, to give the emperor a letter from the President, Millard Fillmore
  • On March 31, 1854, Perry finally received a treaty from Japan, it included
    • Peace and friendship between the United States and Japan.
    • Opening of two ports to American ships at Shimoda and Hakodate
    • Help for any American ships wrecked on the Japanese coast and protection for shipwrecked persons
    • Permission for American ships to buy supplies, coal, water, and other necessary provisions in Japanese ports.
  • Commodore Perry tore down the wall that separated Japan from the rest of the world
  • Every July, Japan celebrates a black ship festival, in honor of Matthew Perry

Japanese portrait of

Matthew Perry. The

Caption says, “North

American Perry’s


meiji restoration
Meiji Restoration


  • When Japan went back to imperial rule.
  • Abolishment of feudalism.
  • Modernized Japan to the rest of society.
  • Military modernization was the key goal.
  • The Emperor was used to bring focus to national loyalty and sanctioned revolutionary changes.
the diet
The Diet
  • The Japanese Imperial Diet was a legislative body.
  • It was an attempt to make a more representative government during the Meiji period.
  • The emperor still had ultimate power but the diet was to try and give people some participation in the government.  
  • Japanese leaders saw some good in having people have some voice in the government but they generally believed the emperor should have most of the power.
  • They believed popular participation in political processes should be kept low.
  • The imperial diet was there to assist and approve the emperor’s exercise of his “rights of sovereignty, exercising all legislative, administrative, and judicial powers"
sino japanese war
Sino-Japanese War


  • It was a result of a dispute between China and Japan over influence in Korea. (an ongoing rivalry for between the two nations)
  • The treaty of Kanghwa had China allow Japan to recognize Korea as an independent state even though it was technically a Chinese territory.
  • China kept trying to reassert their influence on it which led to dispute between the two nations.
  • In 1894 there was a rebellion in Korea: the assassination of its pro-Japanese reformist prime minister.
  • Japan refused to withdraw forces and sent further reinforcements. War was declared. Japanese forces defeated the Chinese armies.
  • The victories of Japan were viewed as a vindication of the modernization programs of the Meiji restoration.

‘First Sino-Japanese War, major battles and troop movements’

russo japanese war
Russo-Japanese War


  • This war showed the violent struggles between two powerful nations in the age of imperialism.
  • The Russo-Japanese War developed out of the rivalry between Russia and Japan for dominance in Korea and Manchuria.
  • Japan forced Russia to abandon expansion policies in the far east.
political cartoon
Political Cartoon

This cartoon depicts Japan taking over Korean territory forcefully. The sign behind him reads “to Manchuria” which is the other area that Japan fought for dominance over during the Russo-Japanese War.

google map
Google Map,134.296875&spn=35.086286,79.013672&z=4

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