Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

Related Topics

Japan and Philadelphia
Philadelphia and Japan have had a special friendship for 150 years.

Quakers: The Society of Friends
According to an old Quaker joke, the Holy Trinity consists of the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, and the neighborhood of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia and Japan

{Commodore Matthew Perry}
Commodore Matthew Perry

There may have been earlier contacts, but the strong relationship between Philadelphia and Japan seems to trace mainly to the 1876 Centennial Exhibition here when the awakening Japanese decided to introduce themselves to Western peoples. Japan closed itself off from the rest of the world in 1600, and Matthew Perry opened them up in 1854 by shocking them with a display of how far Western culture had pulled ahead of them. When they saw the black smoke coming out of the smokestacks of the steam battleships, and particularly when they saw all those big guns could destroy a town whose own guns could not reach them, the Japanese military government saw it had to do something drastic.

Matthew Perry, the Commodore, was Oliver Hazard Perry's younger brother and a career naval officer. It is very likely he suggested a Japanese overture to President Millard Fillmore, whose brief presidency was mostly occupied with trying to compromise his way out the coming Civil War in America. Reacting to a mixture of just enough implied force, and just enough understatement, the Japanese agreed to let American whaling ships refuel and resupply in Japan, to be hospitable to American shipwrecks, and to allow more unspecified landings. As the Japanese tell it, the Emperor had been displaced by the Shogun for several centuries and was restored to power in 1867. Essentially, forces pressing for westernization and trade had pushed aside more militaristic feudalism under the Samurai. By 1876, they were ready to show the world how far they had come.

Originally published: Friday, June 23, 2006; most-recently modified: Friday, May 31, 2019

You got to push it-this essenital info that is!
Posted by: Benon   |   Jan 4, 2012 11:23 PM
It's great to read something that's both enojayble and provides pragmatisdc solutions.
Posted by: Tish   |   Jan 3, 2012 4:24 AM