Beyond Perry's Black Ships: The Emergence of United States-Japanese Diplomatic Relations, 1840s-1870s
The narrative of Commodore Perry single-handedly opening Japan to the outside world has been accepted as common knowledge. Scholars agree that Perry did not have any assistance whatsoever. When reading about how Perry opened the isolated country, the tactics scholars write about include his tough demeanor, violence, and cold persistence that persuaded the Japanese to see reason and open a dialogue with the United States Navy. Scholars have continued to accept this narrative as fact because of primary sources like Perry’s journal that gives details on how he exerted dominance over the Japanese and pressured them into agreeing with him that signing a treaty was the best course of action. In fact, Perry is best known for his role in the opening of Japan in both United States history and Japanese history, making this monumental moment his greatest accomplishment and legacy after his death. While Perry’s participation in the initial opening of Japan is unquestionable, his sole role in the opening of the isolated country should be challenged. There is evidence that two Western-educated Japanese men assisted in the establishment and continuation of United States-Japanese relations throughout Japan’s modernization process. These two men were Nakahama Manjiro and Joseph Heco.
Blackburn, Michelle, "Beyond Perry's Black Ships: The Emergence of United States-Japanese Diplomatic Relations, 1840s-1870s" (2020). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI28262598.