This book offers a distinctive overview of the internal and external pressures responsible for the making of modern Japan. L. M. Cullen argues that Japanese policies and fears have often been caricatured in western accounts which have viewed the expansion of the west in an unduly positive light. He shows that Japan before 1854, far from being in progressive ecomic and social decay or political crisis, was on balance a successful society led by rational policymakers. He also shows how when an external threat emerged after 1793 the country became on balance more open rather than more oppressive and that Japan displayed remarkable success in negotiation with the western powers in 1853-68. In the twentieth century, however, with the 1889 constitution failing to control the armed forces and western and American interests encroaching in Asia and the Pacific, Japan abandoned realism and met her nemesis in China and the Pacific.
L. M. Cullen is Professor of Modern Irish History at Trinity College, Dublin and Visiting Research Scholar at the International Research Centre for Japanese Culture, Kyoto.