Aliens in the East

Aliens in the East

A New History of Japan's Foreign Intercourse

Anniversary Collection

by Harry Emerson Wildes

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.

368 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 x 0.00 mm

  • ISBN: 9781512808391
  • Published: January 1937



In the early twentieth century, the Japanese accepted many modern western ideas, particularly industrialism. But, Harry Emerson Wildes argues, the people of Japan remained essentially the same as when the first foreigners stepped upon their shores in 1543: exclusive, intensely nationalistic, suspicious of strangers, set in a rigid and hereditary social system, and possessed of a mystic veneration of their emperor and their ancestors.

The author of this volume knows the Japanese from firsthand experience and has had access to historical data only recently available. He describes fully the uneven course of Japan's foreign relations, from the earliest struggles of the Dutch, Portuguese and British to establish trade with the empire, to the diplomatic problems of the of the 1930s. Of particular note are Japan's relations with the United States which started years before Commodore Perry obtained a commercial treaty in 1854, the first real concession to a western power. Japan's attitude toward Russia in the past is likewise enlightening. In addition to the economic relationships, the missionary angle is discussed as well as the internal political situation throughout the period.

Wildes argues that achieving satisfactory trade arrangements was difficult due to the Japanese temperament and the failure of foreigners to understand the almost fanatical distrust of outsiders which caused them in 1637 to go so far as to establish he death penalty for newcomers who landed on Japanese soil and exiles who left it and colored their attitude toward other nations for many decades.