On July 8, 1853 Commodore Perry of the United States sailed into the Japanese harbor at Edo Bay. There, he insisted on a treaty that would force Japan out of its isolationist state. The U.S. wanted to be able to open the ports of Japan to trade, and create a friendship with the country of Japan. To make this happen, Perry threatened the Japanese with superior weapons, and promised to attack if they did not sign the treaty. In this way, the nation of Japan was drawn out of its isolationist state. ( Commodore Perry and the Opening of Japan, U.S. Navy Museum). They soon became an industrialized nation, and in about 50 years were able to beat the great force of Russia and gain Korea. And about 90 years after the ports were opened, they attacked Pearl Harbor, a U.S. military base. The attack on Pearl Harbor was an indirect result of the Opening of Japan by the U.S.

      The Japanese are a very proud people. They think of themselves as god’s chosen race. When Commodore Perry sailed into Japan and forced them to sign the treaty, the Japanese were humiliated. As god’s chosen, they felt that they should not be forced into something like this. Despite the fact that the treaty specifically stated that there would be peace and friendship between the two nations, it does not seem all that surprising if there were some different feelings about it as well. It is very hard to forget such humiliation. This remembered humiliation could have pushed Japan to attack Pearl Harbor all those years later. We cannot prove this, as we cannot read the minds of the Japanese and see their intentions. However, it seems quite plausible that this could have been on their minds as they attacked. (Understanding Pearl Harbor, Eri Hotta)

      Before the Opening of Japan, Japan was an isolationist country. Besides some small ports where the Dutch and Chinese were allowed to trade, the country was completely shut off from the rest of the world. This was one of the reasons that the U.S. was able push their way through the barriers that the Japanese had put between themselves and the rest of the world; they had superior weapons that the Japanese had never had the technology to invent, because of the isolation. However, the Japanese quickly made up for this setback after the Opening of Japan, when they felt the desire to catch up with the rest of the world technology wise. They industrialized and were able to form strong weapons and navy, strong enough to take on Russia and beat them within 50 years. ( Meiji Period, Japan-Guide.com) They were then able to use that technology against us in the attack on Pearl Harbor. If the U.S. had never interfered, there is no telling how much longer Japan would have been an isolationist country. It could have been many more years, long enough so that they wouldn’t have the technology necessary to attack at the time of Pearl Harbor. If we had not brought them out, leading to the industrialization of the nation, they might not have been able to attack us at all.

      The Attack on Pearl Harbor and the Opening of Japan were huge shifts in the history of our two nations. Both are events that changed the course of the two countries. The Opening of Japan didn’t directly cause the attack on Pearl Harbor. However, the lasting effect that it had on Japan indirectly helped lead to the attack on Pearl Harbor 90 years later through the humiliation it caused and the industrial revolution that stemmed directly from it. Despite the fact that the two events were so far apart, the attack on Pearl Harbor would not have happened if the U.S. had not opened Japan to the rest of the world nearly 150 years ago.


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