In Our Time

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of ideas


Japan's Sakoku Period

April 4th, 2013

Episode 286 of 552 episodes

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Japan's Sakoku period, two centuries when the country deliberately isolated itself from the Western world. Sakoku began with a series of edicts in the 1630s which restricted the rights of Japanese to leave their country and expelled most of the Europeans living there. For the next two hundred years, Dutch traders were the only Westerners free to live in Japan. It was not until 1858 and the gunboat diplomacy of the American Commodore Matthew Perry that Japan's international isolation finally ended. Although historians used to think of Japan as completely isolated from external influence during this period, recent scholarship suggests that Japanese society was far less isolated from European ideas during this period than previously thought. With: Richard Bowring Emeritus Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Cambridge Andrew Cobbing Associate Professor of History at the University of Nottingham Rebekah Clements Research Fellow of Queens' College and Research Associate at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge. Producer: Thomas Morris.

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