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On July 8, 1853, American Commodore Matthew Perry entered the waters of what is now Tokyo Bay, Japan, with four armed steamships. Perry’s show of military strength forced Japan to open its ports to trade with the West for the first time in more than 200 years.
 
Actually, Japan was not entirely isolated before Perry steamed into Tokyo Bay. Under a policy called sakoku, trade was simply extremely limited. China, the Netherlands, Korea, the island kingdom of Ryukyu, and the Ainu people could each trade with a single Japanese port. Japan strictly forbid any trade with the U.S.
 
Perry and his so-called “Black Ships” are usually regarded as an example of “gunboat diplomacy”—the pursuit of foreign policy with the threat of naval power. The Japanese were not familiar with steamships and, according to some accounts, thought the Black Ships were “giant dragons puffing smoke.” The heavily armed ships intimidated the inferior Japanese military and allowed Perry to demand to meet with government officials. He brought gifts for the emperor, including a working model of a steam train, a telescope, and a telegraph.
 
Today, Black Ship festivals in both Japan and the United States celebrate the opening of Japan to the West.
Noun

body of water partially surrounded by land, usually with a wide mouth to a larger body of water.

celebrate
Verb

to observe or mark an important event with public and private ceremonies or festivities.

emperor
Noun

ruler of an empire.

forbid
Verb

to disallow or prohibit.

foreign policy
Noun

courses of action or thought that guide a nation's relationship with other nations.

government
Noun

system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

gunboat diplomacy
Noun

pursuit of foreign policy with the threat of military power.

inferior
Adjective

of lower quality.

intimidate
Verb

to fill with fear or dishearten.

isolate
Verb

to set one thing or organism apart from others.

Noun

type of government with a king or queen as its leader, or the land ruled by that king or queen.

military
Noun

armed forces.

naval
Adjective

having to do with a government's navy, or military ships and crew.

Noun

place on a body of water where ships can tie up or dock and load and unload cargo.

regard
Verb

to consider or pay attention to.

telegraph
Noun

system of communication involving devices connected through electrical wires.

telescope
Noun

scientific instrument that uses mirrors to view distant objects.

threat
Noun

danger.

trade
Noun

buying, selling, or exchanging of goods and services.

U.S. Navy
Noun

military branch whose mission is "to maintain, train, and equip combat ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, and maintaining freedom of the seas."

West
Noun

having to do with the developed nations of Europe and North America.

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