From Peril to Profit: Opium in Late-Edo to Meiji Eyes

Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi

in Opium Regimes

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2000 | ISBN: 9780520220096
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924499 | DOI:
From Peril to Profit: Opium in Late-Edo to Meiji Eyes

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This chapter focuses on nineteenth-century Japan. It notes that the Tokugawa and Meiji regimes, both before and after 1868, enjoyed almost total success at controlling opium within Japan's borders, and both employed this control to enhance state consolidation and centralization of power. The chapter notes that Japan also established an opium regime in China and sold refined narcotics, doing so in the face of ever-mounting Chinese resistance and international censure. It furthermore explores the historical origins of Japanese involvement in the opium trade by examining changing Japanese views of opium use in Qing China. The chapter demonstrates how the mechanisms of sakoku furthered political consolidation in Tokugawa Japan, and argues that Meiji Japan used opium to move away from being a co-victim of Western imperialism to become a co-predator in China.

Keywords: Japan; Tokugawa regime; Meiji regime; opium; refined narcotics; opium trade; Qing China; Western imperialism

Chapter.  8963 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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