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The American “Black Ships” that arrived in Tokyo Bay in 1853 put an end to Japan’s more than 200 years of self-imposed isolation and set in motion the events that would lead to the Meiji Restoration.

Although the ships threatened the survival of Japan as a nation, they also stimulated the country to undertake reform and open up to the rest of the world. The Black Ships represented the ultimate form of foreign pressure by prompting a realization that Japan would not be able to sustain its growth or maintain its independence if it refused to learn from other countries and undertake reforms on its own.

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