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What effect did European visitors have on Japanese society?

European visitors significantly influenced Japanese society, introducing new technologies, ideas, and prompting the end of Japan's isolationist policies.

The arrival of European visitors, particularly the Portuguese in the 16th century, marked a significant turning point in Japanese history. Prior to this, Japan had been a largely isolated society, with limited contact with the outside world. The Europeans brought with them new technologies, such as firearms, which had a profound impact on Japanese warfare and society. The introduction of guns, for instance, led to a shift in the balance of power, as those who controlled the new weapons had a significant advantage over their rivals.

Moreover, the Europeans also introduced new ideas and beliefs, particularly Christianity. The spread of Christianity posed a significant challenge to the existing social and religious order in Japan. It attracted a considerable number of converts, particularly among the lower classes, and led to social unrest and conflict. In response, the Japanese authorities implemented policies to suppress Christianity and reassert control.

The presence of Europeans also prompted significant changes in Japan's foreign policy. The Japanese authorities became increasingly concerned about the threat posed by the Europeans, particularly after witnessing their colonisation of other parts of Asia. This led to the implementation of the Sakoku policy in the 17th century, which effectively closed Japan off from the outside world for over two centuries.

However, the arrival of American Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853 marked the end of Japan's isolation. Faced with the threat of military force, the Japanese authorities were forced to open up their country to foreign trade and influence. This marked the beginning of the Meiji Restoration, a period of rapid modernisation and westernisation in Japan.

In conclusion, the arrival of European visitors had a profound impact on Japanese society. They introduced new technologies and ideas, challenged the existing social and religious order, and prompted significant changes in Japan's foreign policy. Despite attempts to resist their influence, the Europeans ultimately played a key role in ending Japan's isolation and ushering in a period of rapid change and modernisation.

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