Showing posts with label japan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label japan. Show all posts

U.S.-Japan Mutual Defense Treaty

This was an agreement between the United States and Japan, which concluded in 1955, that allowed the United States to maintain its major security presence in Japan. Because of the communist threat in the cold war, the government of Yoshida Shigeru of Japan agreed to a U.S. tawaran to create the Self-Defense Force (SDF) at a modest size of 180,000 troops in 1954. By allowing the Japanese government to train a modestly sized defense force, the constitution of 1947 was kept intact.

The original treaty was replaced in 1960 by the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, which marked a significant change from the one-sided alliance to a more balanced relationship based on shared responsibility for defense.

For the Japanese, the treaty provided a commitment from the United States to defend Japan against an armed attack, and it also required the United States to consult the Japanese government on the use of military bases on its soil.


Consultation was required to ensure that any major changes to U.S. operations or force deployments would be approved by both governments. For the Eisenhower administration, the treaty ensured a greater commitment to a stable alliance to support U.S. interests in Northeast Asia.

Gradually Japan took a greater share for its defense. In 1962 Japan began to pay some of the cost of U.S. military installations in Japan. The United States returned OkinawaThis and the Ryukyu Islands to Japanese control. Beginning in the mid-1970s, U.S. forces were gradually reduced in Japan.

In the late 1970s a new series of agreements were implemented to transfer the responsibility for protecting specific sea lanes to Japan. Along with its expanded commitments, Japan broke the former 1 percent spending cap for defense and began purchasing American-made aircraft.

The collapse of the Soviet Union brought renewed focus to the U.S.-Japan defense alliance and lessened the need for a major U.S. military presence in northeast Asia. At the same time, Japan began to take on a greater international role. However, in 1991, the Japanese government was forced to decline requests to send troops to participate in the First Gulf War, bowing to parliamentary opposition.

The next year, the Japanese government passed a new law authorizing Japan to participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations, with contingents of Japanese troops. The expansion of Japan’s international commitments were reaffirmed in 1996 with the Clinton-Hashimoto Security Declaration, in which the U.S. committed to maintain 100,000 troops in the Western Pacific region that included Japan.

In 1999 the Japanese Diet passed the Law Concerning Measures to Ensure the Peace and Security of Japan in Situations in Areas Surrounding Japan. It authorized the use of force in "rear areas" surrounding Japan, partly in response to Communist North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons.

After 2001 Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and Maritime Defense Forces participated in U.S.-led military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Washington encouraged and supported Japanese efforts to contribute to the war on terror.

Treaty of San Francisco

The Treaty of San Francisco, signed on November 8, 1951, and implemented on April 28, 1952, restored full sovereignty to Japan after its unconditional surrender at the end of World War II and ended the U.S. occupation.

The negotiations over the treaty revealed differing notions of what had caused World War II and of what Japan’s role in the world should be. Engineered primarily by the United States, the treaty quickly became caught up in the cold war rivalries.

In March 1947 U.S. general Douglas MacArthur, who headed the Allied Occupation Authority in Japan, ignited a heated debate about the proper terms of Japan’s rehabilitation when he publicly stated his preference for a relatively short U.S. occupation, believing that Japan had been democratized and demilitarized and that a long occupation would only create resentment.


This view was countered by those who pushed for massive reparations from Japan as well as its complete demilitarization. This group believed that the lax enforcement of the Versailles Treaty, which had ended World War I and established terms for the German reparations and demilitarization, had created the conditions for World War II.

A different assessment of the Versailles Treaty emerged among those who advocated a "soft" approach to the peace treaty. This group, which eventually included U.S. secretary of state Dean Acheson as well as MacArthur, argued that it was the harsh conditions of Versailles that had, by humiliating and isolating Germany, contributed to the rise of Nazism. This group also worried that the United States should be careful not to overextend its military presence in Japan.

The negotiations were complicated by cold war diplomacy. The United States worried about granting Soviet Russia and the newly established communist People’s Republic of China a significant role.

It also wanted to guarantee that Japan would become a U.S.- friendly bulwark against communism in East Asia. In particular, the U.S. military wanted to retain control over Japan for an extended period to guarantee access to its military bases in the area.

The United States eventually adopted a "piecemeal strategy" of granting Japan full sovereignty and disregarding the calls for a longer occupation. It met the concerns of the British Commonwealth of Nations with a U.S.-backed security network that would include Australia and New Zealand.

It satisfied the concerns of the Philippines with promises of aid and security. The United States also decided that neither the Chinese Communist nor the Chinese Nationalist governments would be invited to the treaty conference. This formula won significant bipartisan support in the United States.

The official treaty conference took place in San Francisco in 1951. Fifty-one nations were represented (India chose not to attend). The United States engineered the simpulan result, causing delegates from the Soviet Union, Poland, and Czechoslovakia to walk out. Eventually 48 nations signed the treaty.

The simpulan terms of the treaty reflected a victory for the pragmatists who had worried that overly harsh conditions would push Japan away from the West. Although it stripped Japan of all territory gained since 1895 and rejected the pardoning of war criminals, the treaty established immediate sovereignty for Japan and limited reparations it owed to its World War II victim nations. The United States–Japan Security Treaty, signed two hours after the peace treaty, guaranteed a U.S. military presence.

Not all Japanese were happy with the treaty. Many Japanese wanted to see the process of democratization and demilitarization continued. They were surprised by the number of bases the United States maintained in Japan as well as the ban on diplomatic relations and trade with communist China.

In retrospect, the relatively generous terms of the treaty reformed Japan as an important member of the Western camp during the cold war. Japan never again threatened the security interests of the West or of other East Asian nations.

Liberal Democratic Party (Japan)

Liberal Democratic Party (Japan)

The dominant political party in Japan from 1955 to 1993 was the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). It began in 1955 with the merging of Shigeru Yoshida’s Liberal Party and Ichiro Hatoyama’s Japan Democratic Party, because both shared a common opposition to the Japan Socialist Party.

However the roots of the LDP date to the late 19th–20th century. Two Japanese political figures, Itagaki Taisuke and Saigo Takamori, played roles in the emergence of the modern LDP.

Japanese political development before the occupation by the United States after World War II can best be viewed in broad cycles. Modern Japanese history begins with the Meiji Restoration of 1868. Facing a continued challenge from the West to modernize and change their isolationist policies, Japanese feudal lords, samurai, and others overthrew the Tokugawa Shogunate that had ruled from 1603 to 1867.


The result was a complete alteration of the Japanese system in order to compete with the West. Japan then changed many of its old political, economic, and social institutions to conform with Western-style examples. From the Meiji Restoration came a series of cycles in Japanese political history that would continue until after World War II.

First came the Freedom and People’s Rights Era, with its associated demands for more liberalization, which lasted from 1878 to 1889. Japan then underwent a militarist period from 1894 to 1905 that was characterized by wars with both China and Russia.

Afterward, a cycle of liberalization known as the Taisho Democracy dominated the politics from 1912 to 1915 and again from 1918 to 1930. An age of militarism, again marked by international aggression, dominated the politics of Japan from 1931 to 1945. The beginnings of the Liberal Democratic Party can be traced to the Freedom and People’s Rights Era.

Itagaki Taisuke claimed a powerful role in late 19th-century Japan. He used his position to advocate peace instead of rebellion in order for the Japanese people to gain a voice in government.

In 1874 Itagaki and his supporters penned the Tosa Memorial, a criticism of the seemingly unchecked power of the oligarchy and a call for representative government. By 1878 Itagaki had become impatient at the lack of reform and moved to create the Aikokusha, the Society of Patriots, in order to achieve representative government.

In 1877 the Satsuma rebellion pitted the samurai led by Saigo Takamori against the citizen-based Meiji army. The Meiji victory solidified its position over the samurai. By 1881 Itagaki founded the Jiyuto, the Liberal Party, which favored the adoption of French styles of political representation.

At the same time, Okuma Shigenobu emerged as a voice in favor of the British model of representative government. Okuma founded the Rikken Kaishinto, the Constitutional Progressive Party, in 1882. The two opposition parties led to a pro-government party called the Rikken Teiseito, or the Imperial Rule Party, in 1882.

A number of violent and nonviolent demonstrations among the political parties soon led to government suppression and restrictions on political activism. Restrictions on the political parties led to fighting within the parties as well as with others.

The Jiyuto, which had fought against the Kaishinto, fell apart in 1884. Okuma also resigned his leadership of the Kaishinto party. A call for more democratic governance, through the movement for Freedom and People’s Rights, added to growing demands for a more politically liberal Japanese system of governance.

By 1889 popular demand led to the enactment of the Meiji constitution. Modeled after that of Prussia, the constitution resulted in a limited democracy. A representative body, the Diet, of directly elected members came into being. Ultimately, the government was run by bureaucrats much like its Prussian example.

By 1890 the call for more direct representation resulted in the first national election. Both the Jiyuto and Kaishinto reorganized for the elections and combined to win over half of the seats in the House of Representatives. The first two decades of the 20th century brought the transformation of the Freedom and People’s Rights into the Liberal Party and later the Seiyukai.

The abad of political parties, however, gave way to the militarist period of 1931 to 1945. After the war the modern Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) emerged as the result of a merger between the Liberal Party and the Democratic Party.

The LDP reflected a broad coalition of those calling for military protection by the United States and the economic rebuilding of the war-torn infrastructure under a capitalist system. The first postwar government was LDP-created, and the party would dominate until the 1990s.

Kyoto Treaty

Kyoto Protocol participation map 2010. Green and dark green indicates countries that have ratified the treaty. Grey is not yet decided. Brown is no intention of ratifying. Red is announced its intention to withdraw in Dec 2011

The purpose of the Kyoto Treaty, also known as the Kyoto Protocol, is to reduce global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Countries that ratify the Kyoto Treaty agree to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 5 percent below their 1990 level by the year 2012.

The treaty was first proposed in 1997. The Kyoto Treaty took effect on February 16, 2005, after ratification by Russia met the requirement that the treaty be ratified by countries accounting for at least 55 percent of global carbon emissions.

As of September 2005 156 countries representing over 61 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions had signed the treaty; notable exceptions included the United States and Australia. Developing countries such as China and Russia are exempt from the requirement that they reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


Greenhouse gases contribute to global warming through what is known as the “greenhouse effect.” The analogy refers to a greenhouse used for gardening, in which sun rays are allowed to penetrate the glass walls and ceiling and warm the air within the greenhouse, and the warmed air is prevented from leaving the greenhouse by those same glass walls and ceiling.

In the case of Earth, the planet is warmed by solar radiation which can penetrate Earth’s atmosphere, but a proportion of radiation reflected off the Earth cannot escape back through the atmosphere due to its different wavelength. Scientists estimate that without the greenhouse effect, the average surface temperature on Earth would be –18°C.

The Kyoto Treaty allows nations to engage in carbon emissions trading. This means that a signatory may increase their carbon emissions and remain within compliance by purchasing “credits” from countries that have decreased their emissions.

Countries can also qualify for credits by engaging in clean energy programs and fostering forests and other natural systems referred to as “carbon sinks” because they remove carbon dioxide from the environment.

The current concern with greenhouse gases has to do with the increasing quantities of those gases, and the role they are believed to play in global warming, that is, an increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere. It is the consensus scientific opinion that global temperature has risen 0.4 – 0.8ºC since the late 19th century and that human activities are the cause of most of this change.

Scientists who endorse the global warming hypothesis predict that the rise in temperature will continue to intensify with increasing industrial development and the resultant increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Predicted effects of continued global warming include a rise in sea level, leading to coastal flooding, extreme weather, and food shortages due to crop failures.

Not all scientists accept the global warming hypothesis, however. Alternative explanations include the argument that the increase in temperature has not been clearly established, that it is within the range of normal variation to be expected over time, or that it is due to the period when measurement began having been unusually cold. Others argue that although the global temperature does seem to be rising, there is no proof that the rise in temperature was caused by human activity.



Osaka is situated on both banks of the Yodo River and along the eastern shoreline of Osaka bay. Osaka’s old name was Naniwa. According to legend it was founded by Jimu, the first legendary emperor of Japan, who landed in Osaka bay in 660 b.c.e. In 313 c.e., Emperor Nintoku made Osaka his capital.

Various other emperors in subsequent times, such as Kotoku in 645 and Shomu in 724, also resided in Osaka. However, the city of Osaka gained prominence in the 16th century when it became a popular Buddhist religious center.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi built the castle of Osaka on the site of the great Buddhist monastery and made it his headquarters as he dominated Japan in the late 16th century. Osaka also rose to economic prominence as the city, along with Kobe and Yokohama, became the main trading links with Korea and China. Osaka became even more important under the Tokugawa Shogunate and was established as the commercial capital of Japan.

Christianity was first preached in Osaka by Father Gaspar Vilela in 1559. By 1564, five churches were erected in Osaka City and its periphery. Between 1577 and 1579, the number of Christians in Osaka were estimated at between 9,000 and 10,000, which grew to an estimated 25,000 by 1582.

Oda Nobunaga - Japanese General

Ashikaga Shogunate and took control of half of Japan, becoming the virtual dictator in the 1570s. He ended a number of civil wars that had been waged throughout Japan, but his early death ensured renewed fighting.

Oda Nobunaga was born in 1534 in Owari Province in Honshu. His father was a government official who served under the Ashikaga Shogunate and became wealthy.

After his father’s death when he was 17, he grew the family landholdings and made himself lord of Nagoya Castle, which became his first headquarters, where he raised and trained a loyal band of military retainers. Oda began his conquests in 1555. Meeting with success, he decided to lead his men to reunify Japan.

Nobunaga’s first aim was to secure his flanks from attack, and he formed an alliance in 1562 with Matsudaira Motoyasu, who later became Tokugawa Ieyasu, that secured his heartland of Owari, a fertile region of Japan, with Nagoya as an important trading city. Next he moved his army toward Kyoto, the imperial and shogunal capital. Nobunaga used new military technology, including the arquebus and muskets, to great advantage.

In 1568, Nobunaga started to involve himself in Kyoto politics, first by supporting the new shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki. He would later oust him in 1573, thus ending the Ashikaga Shogunate. To protect his position, Nobunaga then built the mighty Azuchi Castle on Lake Biwa.

With the reins of government in his hands, Nobunaga was determined to make important changes. One of his first acts was to remove road tolls, to help increase domestic trade and diminish the wealth and control of the local daimyo (nobles) who collected them.

Azuchi Castle
Azuchi Castle
Another of his targets was the powerful Buddhist Tendai sect, headquartered at Enryakuji. Nobunaga was successful and destroyed most of the Enraykuji monastery. Another Buddhist sect, the Ikko sect, however, proved to be more of a problem.

Nobunaga began to battle them from 1570. After bitterly fought campaigns, he finally prevailed in 1580, capturing their headquarters near Osaka and massacring the rest of the remaining defenders.

Nobunaga was a harsh and vengeful ruler who forced many of his opponents to commit suicide. But he was generous to his supporters and rewarded them with confiscated farms and land previously owned by the temples. Nobunaga was friendly toward Christian missionaries and allowed Jesuits to build a church in Kyoto. His motives included the belief that Christianity would erode the influence of the Buddhist sects.

By 1582, Nobunaga had defeated many of his opponents, had unified much of the country, and had nearly half the provinces of Japan under his rule. On June 21, 1582, Nobunaga was ambushed while at Honnoji, a temple of the Nichiren sect located near Kyoto, by Akechi Mitsuhide, an aggrieved vassal.

Oda Nobunaga began the work of establishing a unified government in Japan after power had slipped away from the declining Ashikaga Shogunate. His career was cut short, but his goals were continued by his greatest general, Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

Neo-Confucianism in Japan

Neo-Confucianism in Japan
Neo-Confucianism in Japan

Neo-Confucianism was the revival and reinterpretation of the thoughts and principles of the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius (551–479 b.c.e.) in China in the 11th century. Neo-Confucianism was used as state policy by the Tokugawa Ieyasu Shogunate (1603–1867) as a means of social control.

It emphasized paternalism and promoted a strong central government. The studies promoted by Neo-Confucianism also led to an increase in the practice of traditional Shintoism and the study of Japanese historical texts.

Its central tenet was that harmony could be established and maintained in society only through creating and nourishing proper relationships between superiors and inferiors. Superiors have the duty to behave in a wise and benevolent manner toward social inferiors, who in return should behave with restraint, propriety, and, above all, obedience toward their superiors.

When Tokugawa Ieyasu rose to prominence, Japan was decentralized and power was divided among feudal domains. It was questionable whether the shogunal government would be able to enforce its will over the outlying regions. Tokugawa drew from the teaching of Fujiwara Seika (1561–1619) in utilizing Neo-Confucianist ideas to draw the country together.

Though ultimately successful it required a long and complex struggle over the regional nobility. The promotion of Bushido, or the Way of the Warrior, also reinforced the bonds between patrons and followers in a code of honor as a meaningful objective in life.

Three Schools of Thought

There were three schools of Neo-Confucianist thought in Japan. They were the Kogaku, the Oyomeigaku, and the Shushigaku schools. Of these, the most influential was the Shushigaku, which was promoted by the Tokugawa Shogunate; it was based on the work of the Chinese philosopher Zhu Xi (Chu Hsi 1130–1200).

Zhu Xi was the principal founder of Neo-Confucianism in China. He emphasised the role of the thought of Confucius and his follower Mencius. He also integrated the concept of human nature (li) with matter (chi) as the essence of the nature of humanity.

Zhu and his followers stressed the need for the rigorous investigation of ethical conduct and personal actions as part of the systematic evaluation of the universe. This was found to be of great use in Tokugawa Japan and helped to support the bakuhan system of social hierarchies because it was interpreted to promote stability.

The Oyomeigaku school was based on the thought of the Chinese philosopher Wang Yangming (Wang Yang-ming 1472–1529), who combined an idealistic interpretation of Confucianism with a career of military and governmental service. Wang stressed the need for the intuitive understanding of the world and the importance of self-knowledge and self-study.

This strongly contradicted Zhu’s attempt to understand the world through the study of existing, external texts. The Kogaku school was dedicated to resurrecting the original thought of Confucius and Mencius, which its proponents held had been contaminated by the interpretation of Neo-Confucianists.

The return to “Ancient Learning,” which is central to Kogaku, would bring a return to a better time than the present. The person most credited with formulating the Kogaku school was Ito Jinsai (1627–1705), who established the School for the Study of Ancient Meaning, which has lasted into the 20th century.

Ito Jinsai established a reputation for a humanitarian approach to the world and promoted a life of selfless diligence. These contending schools of thought in Japan conflicted with each other. However Neo-Confucianism provided a means of legitimation for the shogunate established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ensured its success as the central control of Japan.


The city of Nagasaki is situated on the southeastern coast of the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. Nagasaki is port of entry for vessels coming from the south and the west.

Nagasaki was opened as an important trading port for the Portuguese in 1571 by Omura Sumitada, a major daimyo (feudal lord) of the area. Earlier, Francis Xavier, a Spanish Jesuit priest, had reached Nagasaki as the first Christian missionary to Japan. Initially, Oda Nobunaga, the military leader of Japan, tolerated Christianity.

However, his successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, banned Christianity in 1587 because he was afraid of the intense rivalry among the Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, and English and feared the success of Christian missionaries in winning converts. Tokugawa Ieyasu, the successor of Hideyoshi, was initially friendly toward the Christians.

In 1614, however, he banned Christianity, as he too was afraid his authority could be challenged by the growing influence of the missionaries. One of the most infamous massacres took place in Shimabara, Nagasaki Prefecture, in 1638; 30,000 Japanese Christians were massacred.

 The Dutch, whose Protestant faith was considered safer than the Catholicism of the Portuguese, were however allowed to continue trading in Japan. But Dutch activities were confined to the artificial island of Dejima in Nagasaki harbor under severe restrictions. As Japan’s only window to the Western world, Dejima became the center for Western or Dutch learning for two centuries.

Chinese ships however were allowed to trade in Nagasaki. Ships came to Nagasaki harbor from all parts of China and imports from China to Nagasaki included silk, sugar, metals, medicine, and books. Japan’s main export to China was copper, primarily through Mitsui, Mitsubishi, and Sumitomo companies. During the 17th century, the number of Chinese settlers in Nagasaki rose to 10,000.

Japanese Invasion of Korea

Japanese Invasion of Korea
Japanese Invasion of Korea

Japanese warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi dreamed of conquering China and launched two invasions of Korea, in 1592 and 1597, in order to do so. Although he ultimately failed, the wars inflicted terrible devastation on Korea. Because as its overlord the Ming dynasty in China sent a large army to aid Korea, the war also considerably weakened the Ming dynasty.

In the 16th century, Japan underwent constant civil wars as the Ashikaga Shogunate weakened and various feudal lords sought supremacy; in fact this period was called the “Warring States” abad in Japanese history. Hideyoshi was an ambitious general who rose from obscurity. By 1590, he had destroyed all rival lords and unified Japan, freeing him and his large army to conquer new lands.

His target was China and to reach China he needed passage through Korea. When Korea refused his demands he led an invading army of 160,000 men, landing on the southern tip of the peninsula and advancing northward. The inferior Korean army was overwhelmed, King Sonjo abandoned his capital city Seoul and fled, and his two sons were made captives.

The Korean cause was saved from complete ruin by the emergence of Admiral Yi Sun-sin, who built a fleet of “turtle ships,” the world’s first wooden ships with steel plating, which repeatedly defeated the Japanese navy, thus disrupting their supply lines. Meanwhile, China responded with 200,000 troops, who captured Pyongyang and pursued the Japanese forces southward until they only held the southern tip of the peninsula.

Peace negotiations proved fruitless and were broken off because China demanded that Hideyoshi acknowledge Chinese overlordship while Hideyoshi demanded a part of Korea to be ceded to him, the marriage of a Ming princess to the Japanese emperor, and Korean princes as hostages.

Undaunted, Hideyoshi launched a second invasion in 1597 but proceeded no farther than Korea’s two southernmost provinces because both the Koreans and the Chinese relief army were prepared. When Hideyoshi died in 1598 his army quickly returned home. In 1606, Tokugawa Ieyasu, the new shogun of Japan and Hideyoshi’s successor, made peace with Korea.

Admiral Yi Sun-sin in his turtle ships
Admiral Yi Sun-sin in his turtle ships

The two Japanese invasions inflicted terrible sufferings on the Koreans. Whole areas were devastated and depopulated and many historical sites and libraries were burned. The Yi dynasty of Korea never fully recovered its authority and the country its prosperity.

The retreating Japanese moreover took many looted treasures and took as prisoners men with skills, most notably Korean potters, who built up Japan’s ceramics industry. Hideyoshi’s dream of ruling Japan died with him because his son was too young to rule, allowing another feudal lord, Tokugawa Ieyasu, who had not participated in the Korean campaigns, to seize power.

Finally the cost of the war weakened the already declining Ming dynasty in China. Additionally, the sending of a large army to Korea denuded southern Manchuria of Ming garrisons and paved the way for the rise of the Manchus.

Defending Korea
Defending Korea

Genroku Period in Japan

Genroku Period in Japan
Genroku Period in Japan

Between 1688 and 1704, a rapidly expanding economy resulted in the expansion of the three major cities in Japan—Kyoto, Osaka, and Edo (Tokyo)—and the emergence of an urban culture.

This was the result of 80 years of peace under the Tokugawa Shogunate, when many people chose to move from samurai castles or villages to urban centers. The Genroku period saw Edo as the administrative capital, Osaka as the commercial center of the country, and Kyoto, the former imperial capital, retaining some of the artistic talent.

Although the period covers the years 1688–1704, some cultural historians use the term to refer to the whole period, of the rule of the fifth shogun, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, which lasted from 1680 until 1709. During this period, there was a massive increase in the number of towns people (chonin) who started to throw off the restrictions of the traditional Japanese lifestyle.

They indulged in creative expressions such as changes in dress, food, and customs. The emerging urban class accumulated possessions on a far wider scale than before and filled their houses with furniture and paintings. With more spare time they indulged in extravagance and devoted themselves to making and spending money.

At the end of the 16th century, improved printing techniques originally developed in Korea were introduced into Japan. By the 1670s, books were available more cheaply, and hence accessible to the urban middle class and wealthier artisans, satisfying their hunger for learning.

Typical books dealt with literature, history, and philosophy. In addition there were large numbers of books imported from China and Korea.

During the height of the Genroku period, stories were published that dealt with ordinary life in the cities and the exploits of samurai. One popular writer and poet, Matsuo Basho (1644–94), traveled extensively around Japan during the 1670s and 1680s and described the country as well as created an anthology of poetry, including some in haiku form.

There was also interest in more artists who produced woodblock prints in the genre known as ukiyo-e. Suzuki Harunobu (c. 1725–70) was the first artist to produce full-color woodblock prints, developing a multicolor technique using between four and 10 colors. As a result of advances in printing, illustrated books became popular, as well as handbills and advertising for theatrical performances and geisha houses.

In other areas of the arts, such as the Bunraku puppet theater and Kabuki theater, attendance increased with many ordinary people watching performances that had been the preserve of the daimyo and the samurai. Most actors who had previously worked in traveling troupes began to work in semipermanent theaters that allowed them to have a more settled life.

The result was that acting became a more respectable profession. Playwright Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653–1724) was the first to use the Bunraku puppets to show everyday themes and ordinary emotions, writing a total of 100 plays, which were performed to large audiences.

Although the Genroku period came to an end in the early 18th century, the literary and artistic advances were to be revived again during the Bunka-Bunsei period (1804–29), when Edo emerged as the sole cultural center of Japan.