The Sakoku (Isolationist) Period In Japan Never Happens

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Teriyaki, Apr 18, 2019.

  1. Teriyaki Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2018
    From 1633 to 1639, the nation of Japan closed its doors to the outside world at the edicts instituted by Tokugawa Iemitsu. Westerners and Christian missionaries were forcibly removed from mainland Japan, the only point of contact with the Western world being the Dutch outpost on the island of Nagasaki that was operated by the East India Trade Company. It wasn't until 1853 that the gates of Japan were forced open (metaphorically) by Commodore Matthew Perry to American trade and Western influence.

    What it Tokugawa Iemitsu never issued his edicts closing Japan off to the outside world? How would Japan have changed as a result of having an open policy rather than a closed policy for that 200 year period?
     
  2. FillyofDelphi Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2017
    Its important to remember that one of the main goals of the Tokugawa Shogunate, after the extended period of anarchy that was the Warring States, was insuring peace and stability. An open policy, in which forgein interests can deal directly and as much as they please with various regional clans and missionaries continue to create religious divisions/tensions among society, there's a real risk the Shogun will start seeing his authority wavering and the rise of feuding clans which, as the age of East Asian Imperialism is coming up, could run the risk of Japan facing an India like steady decline and encroachment of European power
     
  3. Homer Simpson & the Brain World Conquering Drunk *burp*

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2015
    What about a middle ground: the Sakoku Period happens, but only lasts long enough for Japan to pull itself back together before reopening relations with the rest of the world on its own terms.
     
  4. BellaGerant Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2017
    Even after 200 years of isolationism, the tozama daimyo in the west (especially the Shimazu of Satsuma and the Mori of Choshu) still held a grudge against the Tokugawa and were the ones to spearhead the shogunate's demise 260 years after Sekigahara. Opening up Japan to western trade makes those western daimyo even more powerful, which would destabilise Japan even further and risk another period of civil war (the Boshin War being a mercifully short result of opening up the country and the tozama's long term hostilities towards the Tokugawa shogunate). Opening up Japan even earlier means the tozama get richer and more powerful vis-à-vis the shogunate even sooner, which could potentially mean an earlier, perhaps less decisive, era of instability and internal conflicts.
     
  5. Nivek Resident Videogame Expert

    Joined:
    May 4, 2009
    Location:
    Santa Marta,Magdalena,West Venezuela
    Or the opposite, Japan was very strong at the time and was very happy adopt western weapons, doctrine and other things,we could see tokugawa trully using shogun as a title figthing more and slowly expanding specially as china might be declining, or the opposite, we could see this making Korea and china(the latter very hard) to move more to adress the issue in east asian geopolitics
     
    Xenophonte and Fabius Maximus like this.
  6. Homer Simpson & the Brain World Conquering Drunk *burp*

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2015
    And that's why I asked.
     
  7. FillyofDelphi Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2017
    Also a possability, though I'd argue my position is more likely. Given the base of Tokugawa power is far from the larger areas of European commercial influence and missionary activity, and the Shogunate monopolizing control of the new technology and consolidating the wealth that comes from it is a tricky affair given he depends on deferring to the Diaymo to maintain stability and keep the nation functioning smoothly and profitably, it's dubious weather he could maintain his position of advantage towards rivals that they enjoyed immediately post-Warring States and insured by locking in the political status quo. For example, the merchant class is inevitably going to get wealthier and unlike in our timeline, this will be a steady, deep process. They are going to start demanding social status above their rock-bottom station, and will be the ones with the closest connections to the Europeans who have an interest in gaining concessions and limiting the growth of a high tax, strong state.
     
  8. BBadolato Fifth Picturewraith

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2012
    Japan would be a ticking timebomb. Sekigahara left plenty of the lords of the Western Army with grudges, and like the Ashikaga, before them, the Tokugawa relied on having allied daimyo's even if the Tokugawa managed to keep Japan "open" and Daimyo weaker the power of daimyo is not an easily resolved question.
     
    trurle and BellaGerant like this.
  9. JorgeGG Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2009
    Location:
    Santiago de Chile, South America
    I think there would more unwanted trade and cultural exchange with China. I would interesting how cheap Japanese goods and rice drive down economically parts of Japan.

    Tought, the mix or competition between Chinese knowledge and Rangaku ("Dutch learning") would be interesting.

    Also the main colonial powers of the time (Dutch, Spain and Portugal) would cause to have a more divided Japan and very fluid and complex system of alliances. Perhaps a Second Sengoku period (Age Warring States). All this hampering any move to social stability that the Tokugawa Shogunate sought out.

    On the religious side more Catholics and Protestant Japanese then in OTL, depending on which side do daimyo individually take.
     
    trurle likes this.
  10. Dathi THorfinnsson Daði Þorfinnsson

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2007
    Location:
    Syracuse, Haudenosaunee, Vinland
    I think the Tokugawa shogunate missed a huge opportunity.
    Sure, he needs to ban foreign missionaries / fifth columnists for Spain, but allowing Christianity as long as they swear loyalty to Japan, should be OK. Set up a national Catholic church independent of the Pope, and more importantly Spain. Allow Dutch Calvinism and English Anglicanism, potentially splitting even the Christian Bloc.

    Arming his loyal troops with modern (European style muskets made and improved locally) guns, and modern ship should give him the upper hand over the Daimyos. Attack and settle Taiwan as a way to stop up underemployed Samurai. In 100 years Taiwan could be well on its way to being an additional Home Island.
     
  11. Fabius Maximus Unus qui nobis cunctando restituit rem

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2013
    Location:
    Perfidious Albion
    How plausible would it be for the shogun to crack down harder on the defeated rebels after Sekigahara, maybe dispossessing the disloyal clans and incorporating their lands into the Bakufu domains? If he can pull it off, it would leave the shogun in a much stronger position vis-à-vis the other clans, and hence with less need to fear disturbing foreign influences.
     
  12. BBadolato Fifth Picturewraith

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2012
    The problem with Christianity is the same problem with Pure Land School and Ikko Ikki. Mass Movements that provide more support to the people are always going to cause problems, especially if the feudal landlords are allowed to exploit their peasants. With the Feudal system, it is less a lack of technology, and more it has to go. As long the Shogun's authority is derived from the military force of the daimyo, his power will always be in danger.

    It would be impossible. Technically there was no disloyalty Sekigahara was a clash between Toyotomi and Tokugawa supporters in a few campaigns and one decisive battle. In theory, he could give more lands out but, doing so would mean a full-scale war across Japan as Tokugawa allies would have to engage in conflict with Toyotomi loyalists, but the Tokugawa would still need to watch their allies.
     
  13. Xenophonte Quod natura non dat, Salmantica non præstat.

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2014
    Location:
    South America
    Perhaps from the western clans would rise to hegemony, one of them, replacing the Tokugawa Shogunate with one of their own.
    Even helping to create the conditions for the commercial class (allied with the new hegemonic clans) would get a better status and considerations. Also would be possible that the European monarchists example and the spread of western ideas as in the nineteenth century would help to create support for that the emperor could rule effectively.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2019
  14. trurle bored blue collar worker

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2013
    Location:
    Kyoto
    IOTL, Shogunate army failed to modernize fast enough prior to Boshin War due to mostly grass-root opposition among samurai social class. Muskets and cannons makes some sense if arming militia army, not the life-long professional warriors. Therefore, need to expel samurai elites to modernize army, and this was nearly impossible without very violent revolution.
    Also, i mentioned several times what wind patterns actually make Taiwan less accessible from Japan compared to Luzon (need to go directly against prevailing winds to get to Taiwan), at least until invention of steamships.