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Japan

We have noted that as the last century closed the Japanese hero of the bloody Korean-Japanese conflict, Hideyoshi, died during the peace negotiation. As this 17th century began, Tokugawa leyasu, of royal blood, fought his rival generals and became the new shogun and brought order out of chaos by establishing a new currency, a money rather than a rice economy, a police network of the unemployed samurai and ruled as tyrant, while still giving young Emperor Go-Yozei some of the taxes. At the emperor's request Tokugawa issued an edict ordering the deportation of foreign priests, the demolition of churches and the renunciation of faith by Christians "who seek to change the government and obtain possession of the land". Still, in the first decade of the century Japan was a profitable rendezvous f or Portuguese traders. Every year the Macao carrack brought about 200 merchants to Nagasaki, where they would stay for 7 or 8 months, spending money freely. (Ref. 292 ) When Tokugawa sought to evacuate the Portuguese and Spanish friars, he was influenced by Will Adams, an English pilot of a Dutch ship, whom the shogun had kept as a prisoner but finally had him build 2 European ships. For this Adams was made a samurai and given an estate. Although against Portuguese and Spanish aggression, Tokugawa was not against all Christians and did not want to stop profitable trade with Protestants from Holland and England. But after his death in 1616

Tokugawa's heirs ran the administration of Japan for the hidden emperors for the next 252 years. (Ref. 12 )
, Catholic Christians were further persecuted and between 1620 and 1635 some 6,000 were crucified, some of them upside down like St. Peter. By that time 1 out of every 50 Japanese had been converted to Christianity and there were some Christian clan lords with armed infantry. The Emperor G-Mizu-no-o felt that his shogun was not doing his job of expelling those Christians, so he abdicated in 1629, putting a 7 year old girl on the throne, the first empress since 769. That was a sign to all that the Tokugawas were infringing on the imperial power and were fit to manage no one but little girls. Soon the shogun went to Kyoto to parley, with a great show of pomp and power, taking 307,000 retainers. After the meeting the shogun clamped down on all foreigners and closed the country except for a small Dutch trading post on a tiny island in Nagasaki harbor. Every time a Dutch or Chinese vessel did arrive there "on permission" a kind of fair was held and in the exchange Japan could export its silver and copper. Thus Japan still had some impact on world economy. It was the merchants of Osaka who were in charge of the internal trade. Japan would not be open again for 211 years. (Ref. 12 , 292 )

In 1657 fire destroyed most of Edo and killed more than 100,000 Japanese. (Ref. 222 ) The shoguns of the late part of the century were on the whole only mediocre. The so-called Genroku Age of letters and art developed between 1688 and 1703. During this time of isolation from the rest of the world, Japan kept her population stable by various devices, chiefly infanticide. Although rice had been grown some since the 1st century of the Christian Era, it was only in this century that it began to play a large part in the Japanese diet. Yedo (also Edo and later to become Tokyo) began to be the largest city, with over 500,000 citizens plus an enormous garrison of soldiers, with their families. The old capital of Kyoto sunk to second place. Merchant dynasties became established and some such as the Mitsui family have survived until today. They were sake manufacturers in 1620 and became the financial agent of both the shogun and of the imperial household in 1690. (Ref. 260 , 292 )

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Source:  OpenStax, A comprehensive outline of world history. OpenStax CNX. Nov 30, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10595/1.3
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