The Sakoku Edict: Why The Japanese Couldn't Leave Their Own Country For Two Centuries

InterestingShitPublished: June 28, 2017Updated: July 3, 20174 plays$0.01 earned
Published: June 28, 2017Updated: July 3, 2017

In the 1600s Japan was not a big fan of Western culture. To emphasize that point it banned its citizens from traveling abroad with a penalty of death if they did for over 200 years.

Sakoku (literally "country in chains" or "lock up of country") was the foreign policy of Japan under which no foreigner or Japanese could enter or leave the country on penalty of death.

The policy was enforced when missionaries from Spain and Portugal came with ambitions to spread the Christian faith in Asia. Christianity was forbidden in Japan and rewards were offered to anyone who will give out the location of Christians to the authorities.

No one was allowed to enter or leave the country. If people were caught leaving it, they would be mercilessly executed. Japanese people who were abroad and wanted to return were also prohibited. Japanese ships were prohibited from leaving Japanese waters and foreign ships were not allowed to approach. The only fleet allowed to dock were the Dutch East India Company, who they trusted.

Almost 220 years after the enforcement of Sakoku, American warships were sent to intimidate the Japanese into trading and in 1853, Japan opened it's borders once again.

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