Two major phenomena helped define Japan's foreign relations in the early modern period: the ban on international maritime travel and trading, and the Japanese adaptation of a Sinocentric rhetoric governing foreign relations with tributary states. In this article I will describe and analyze how these phenomena emerged and evolved, with special emphasis on the role they played in shaping Japan as an early modern nation state and forming for it a sense of “national identity.” My examination will focus on them especially in the context of Japan's relationship with its East Asian neighbours, and I place particular emphasis on four points.
1 This paper originally appeared as “Nihongata kai chitsujo no keisei” in Nihon
shakaishi 1, Retto
kokka . Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1987.