Q.What opened the doors was not the summons from without but an explosion from within.
Explain the crisis in the Bakuhan (Bakufu) system in the light of the above statement.
To European observers in the third quarter of the 19th century the collapse appeared to be both sudden and catastrophic, and the impression that it represented a complete transformation still remains among many Westerners. Yet, in reality, it came as the culmination of a series of developments that had been steadily weakening the Shogunate, and profound though the subsequent changes undoubtedly were, Japan carried into her modern era many vestiges, economic as well as political, of the older forms.
The contention that the main cause of the Shogunate’s collapse was the forced opening of the ports to foreigners cannot be sustained, although pressure from abroad was undoubtedly a contributory cause. From the later years of the 18th century the difficulty of preserving seclusion, the keystone of Tokugawa policy, was increasing. English and other European traders were insistent on the need for opening up relations with Japan, and they tried repeatedly to obtain from the Shogunate the right of calling at the ports and trading with the people. The Russians landed in Saghalien and made attempts to establish diplomatic relations with the Japanese government. The settlement of the west coast of the United States brought American ships to the Western Pacific, and many were frequently observed plying in Japanese waters. For a time the Shogun was able to evade the demands for permission to trade or to shelter. However, Commodore Perry’s forceful entry into Suraga Bay in 1854, and his refusal to leave without an agreement, is often regarded as an end to Japanese policy of isolation.
Once the breach was made, it was inevitably enlarged. In 1858, the Japanese government was compelled to sign treaties which conferred rights of trade on British, French and other nationals. Five ports were opened to foreign shipping and extra-territorial rights were granted to foreigners. The irresistible might of Westerners’ naval equipment was demonstrated to the clans most hostile to this enforced change of policy by the bombardment of Kagoshima and Shimonoseki in 1863 and 1864. Foreign aggression thus brought to light the weakness of the old regime, emphasized the need for change and determined the nature of the transformation in Japan’s economic and political life that subsequently occurred. However the view, once widely held in the West, that the bombardment of Kagoshima was the paramount cause that impelled Japan to adopt the foreign civilization has been criticized by some historians. They point out that the foreigners and their ideas were the occasion, and not the cause, of the destruction of the dual system of government. Their presence served merely to hasten what was already inevitable. According to these historians the main cause of the changes in Japan were from within and not from without; from...