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Background To Trading With Meiji Japan

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Chapter Summary

Japan was in contact with Europe for a brief period in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and a tiny trade began to grow with Dutch, English, Spanish and, especially, Portuguese merchants. The bakufu then took a series of measures which effectively isolated Japan from the outside world. Among the first group of traders to arrive at Yokohama was the Liverpudlian William Gregson Aspinall, who set up a 'Tea Inspector and General Commission Agent'. The result of this rising level of activity was that many more merchants and entrepreneurs were attracted. In many respects Yokohama was well placed to take advantage of this situation for the port lay close to the main silk-producing areas so was the obvious outlet for these districts. The progress of Yokohama shows that by the end of the Meiji era in 1912 it had become one of the world's largest and most important ports.

Keywords: bakufu; Meiji era; trade; Yokohama



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