Iemitsu Tokugawa – the shogun who enforced the 1635 edict
During the previous Oda Nobunga’s reign, European goods and ideas were encouraged to come over. Many Japanese converted to Christianity and bought European goods for their house and usage in their daily lives. After Nobunga’s death, however, the new emperor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, began to suspect that the Europeans in the country were not to be trusted, and thus enacted this edict. It stayed in place for over 200 years, effectively secluding Japan from the rest of the world (2). This majorly hurt the development of Japan as a nation.
This changed things culturally as items, ideas, and even people previously accepted became taboo. A Japanese person returning from living abroad could be put to death, as could followers of Christianity, basically any Westerner and the Priests who taught it- Japan didn’t want any Western influence on their people (1). Certain traded goods, were no longer allowed, or had to go through a specific process and could only be sold in certain areas of Japan (2). There was an obvious fear in the people, and they had no choice but to submit to the cruel policies. Stores akin to black markets sold items illegally, and Japanese Christians had to hide their religion for fear of being caught, though there were many martyrs who refused to give up their religion(2). The society no longer had a desire to be open or welcoming, and Japan was shut back into itself.
There was a distinct lack of techonological change in Japan due to the edict. Europe was in the midst of the Industrial Revolution, creating new machines and useful equipment rapidly. Since Japan was sectioning themselves off from the world, they were unable to gain new technologies. While the rest of the countries were expanding their reach, their technologies, and their ideas, Japan chose to stay within itself (1). Although the Japanese saw this edict as a way to prevent Western ‘infection,’ it actually was a major blow to their advancement.
Trade majorly effected the economic change. The only people who could purchase items from foreign merchants were Japanese merchants. No longer could samurai nor peasants purchase directly from the source(2). This gave merchants a major upper hand-instead of everyone purchasing items for the same price, merchants could raise and lower prices as they pleased. The people didn’t have a choice in the matter. Merchant now held more power and profit than even samurais. A major gap was formed between the commoners and other classes, even moreso now.
2 & Picture) http://rekishinihon.com/2013/05/10/edict-of-1635-and-its-inception/