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On The Introduction Of The Heliocentric System Into Japan

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Chapter Summary

On the subject of the introduction of the Copernican system into East Asia, Boleslaw Szczesniak's two articles 'The Penetration of the Copernican Theory into Feudal Japan' and 'Notes on the Penetration of the Copernican Theory into China from the 17th to the 19th Centuries' are the principal sources hitherto available in a Western language. The direct impact of the West finally reached the isolated islands of Japan in 1543, the year in which Copernicus' De Revolutionibus was published. Sixteenth-century Japan was subjected to Jesuit evangelism. From the late sixteenth century onwards, the Japanese government entertained suspicions against Christians, strictly forbade any belief in Christianity, and took steps to expel foreigners from the country. Motoki Ryōei's (1735-94) translations of Dutch works are significant not only as the first Japanese sources on the Copernican heliocentric system, but also as a landmark in the advancement of the study of Western languages in Japan.

Keywords: Copernican theory; De Revolutionibus; heliocentric system; western languages



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