By Sanvi Gupta, published July 1st, 2022
Imagine living in an area where moving out of your own country was forbidden, and if you tried to travel to another location, you would receive brutal punishment. Japan is home to numerous traditions and celebrations, honoring cultural heritage, family, friends, and events throughout the year. From weddings and birth celebrations to numerous matsuris, seasonal changes, and the ringing-in of the new year, Japanese traditions and celebrations are a wonderful way to learn about the culture. In fact, a lot of major events have taken place in Japan. One of the most impactful ones in Japanese history is the Isolation Policy.
During the isolation policy, a lot of freedom was taken away from the Japanese citizens. Due to heavy pressure from the West to convert the Japanese to Christianity, which was believed to be superior, the Shogun of Japan had no option but to stop the citizens of Japan from transporting from one place to another. If a citizen was caught, he was to be imprisoned, or even worse, put to death.
I believe that Western influences were the most significant factors in Japan’s isolation policy. The isolation policy was suggested by the Shogun because there was no other possible route but to appease the West. And so, the Shogun took charge and changed history in Japan for a lifetime.
First, the Western influences threatened the Japanese citizens to convert to Christianity during the early 1600s.. One reason why I firmly believe that the Western influences had the most impact on Japan was due to the multiple threats it posed to Japan. If the citizens refused to listen, the West Regions may have challenged the shogun’s authority and changed the entire ruling system to fit their ways. The Christians wanted everyone to share their beliefs. In addition to it all, the Japanese citizens were put into a dilemma where, if they decided to listen to the Christians, they would lose their traditions and beliefs which they held close. On the other hand, refusing to listen to the Christians would lead to execution. Many people were put to death just because of wanting to follow their own faiths and cultures
However, the increase ofWestern influences did lead to a lot of economical and agricultural growth within the Japanese industries. Being isolated from other countries and villages meant that all the crops and wheat the citizens grew would be directly distributed among themselves and not be traded with others. This led to a large increase in the country’s inventory. No trades took place at that time of the century, leading to more space for farming to continue and livestock to be sold within the country. Furthermore, isolation from the rest of the globe gave more room for economic growth, as Japan was able to open more job opportunities and chances for people to advance further within their country. Exporting and importing items from other countries would have left Japan with a very unstable economic standing.
In conclusion, despite many negative events taking place during the Edo period when Christianity wanted to take over Japanese religions and traditions, a lot of benefits arose such as the growth of the economy and agricultural industries. Japan had to suffer from a lot of wrongdoings which immediately got me connecting these historic events to the North American residential schools. I was reminded of residential schools due to the amount of power the white settlers had over the Indigenous Communities. What made matters worse was that kids who were even 5-8 years of age were forced to leave their parents and resistance would lead to severe punishment to the family. We hope to never repeat the barriers which kept us all apart from one another. Let’s create bridges of peace, not bridges of war!