Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
History and American Studies
Department Chair or Program Director
Major or Concentration
Dutch East India Company (VOC) merchant François Caron describes Tokugawa Japan as a rigid political hierarchy controlled by the Shogun, similar to the governments established by absolute monarchs in Europe. Caron understands and insightfully describes Tokugawa society by emphasizing perceived and real similarities between Tokugawa Japan and Early Modern Europe. He struggles to understand religious differences between these societies, but his description of Japanese religious practices still reflects how the Shogunate utilized Buddhism and anti-Christian policies to uphold their rule. Caron also depicts Tokugawa Japan as a land of plentiful resources prime for lucrative trade. He includes the writings of other VOC officials in his work, who suggest that the VOC can maximize their profits in Japan by conforming to Tokugawa social and political norms. Caron’s account supports a revisionist perspective in scholarship about Tokugawa Japan, which suggests that political and technological similarities between Tokugawa Japan and European colonial powers forced European merchants to negotiate with the Shogun and compete against each other to eke out an existence in Japanese international commerce.
Hinson, Cegan, "Caron's Japan: Tokugawa State and Society through a European Lens" (2023). Student Research Submissions. 542.
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