What would have happened if the shogunate had refused Perry’s demands?
In 1853, Perry arrived in Uraga and submitted a letter from the President of the United States, demanding the opening of Japan to the Shogunate. Thereafter, there were various disputes in Japan, but in the face of overwhelming Western military power, the Shogunate reluctantly accepted Perry’s request and concluded a series of unequal treaties with the U.S. and other Western nations. This is historical fact, but what would have happened to Japan if the Shogunate had immediately rejected Perry’s demands? In this essay, I will discuss that.
First of all, to refuse Perry’s request means to confront the intentions of the President of the United States head-on, so it would not be surprising if a battle broke out immediately on the spot. Since the Shogunate’s retainers in Uraga were confronted by four black ships equipped with cannons, they were ready to fight. Therefore, it is only a matter of time before a battle between Japan and the U.S. will happen.
Another thing to consider is the appearance of the United States. At the time of Perry’s arrival, the U.S. was engaged in colonial competition with other Western nations in Asia, and the U.S. did not want to make the fact that the U.S., a major power country, could not pass an opinion to Japan, a small Asian nation without modern military power, and left without giving it. Therefore, the U.S. would probably use its military to further threaten the Shogunate. However, Japan, already tinged with the color of Joi of the barbarians, would be united as one, and would show a serious opposition. Even if the U.S. had huge warships, the shogunate would not have to fight a naval battle, and in an age when there was no need to worry about air strikes, the Japanese would have a good chance of winning a land battle.
The point to consider here is that, in any historical context, land battles are always protracted, and it seems likely that the battle between the U.S. and Japan would be protracted as well. In true history, Perry died in 1858, and in 1861, the Civil War broke out in the United States. Under these circumstances, it may be difficult for the U.S. to remain strong and continue fighting the Shogunate. At first, the U.S. might overwhelm Japan with modern weapons, but as the war drags on, it is possible that a stalemate, or a situation in which Japan has a slight advantage, will develop, and the fact that the U.S. was unable to defeat Japan will be created. With that fact, Japan might not have had to sign unequal treaties with other Western countries in the past.
To summarize my conclusion from the above considerations, I suppose that Japan’s refusal to accept Perry’s demands may at first create a critical situation, but as the battle drags on, Japan may gradually gain the upper hand, and with that fact, Japan may be able to negotiate with the Western nations in an advantageous manner.