History of the U.S. and Japan

Beginning in the early 19th century, American merchants in China became interested in extending their activities to Japan. At that time, however, the shoguns who ruled Japan had implemented a policy of closed borders that made it very difficult for U.S. citizens and the Japanese to interact. There were, however, isolated cases of interaction. By the 1850s, a combination of growing U.S. interests and internal shifts in Japan brought about a dramatic opening in U.S.-Japanese relations.