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Common Information

Although European decisions during the 16th and 17th centuries to explore, trade with, and colonize large portions of the world brought tremendous economic wealth and vast geographic influence, the enormous success of European maritime ventures during the age of exploration also engendered a litany of unintended consequences for most of the nations with which Europe interacted. Due to their incredible military force, religious zeal, and uncompromising goal of profit, Europeans often imposed their traditions, values, and customs on the people with whom they traded. They frequently acted without regard to the long-term welfare of others as their principal concern was short-term economic gain. Since many nations that traded with Europe placed high value on their historical customs, some natives became deeply disconcerted by the changes that occurred as a result of European power. These factors, coupled with perennial domestic political instability, caused numerous countries to grow increasingly resistant to European influence.

One potent example of this ideological shift can be seen in the actions of the Tokugawa government of Japan. In its Seclusion Edict of 1636, the government attempted to extricate cultural interactions with Europe from the intimate fabric of Japanese society. The Edict attempted to accomplish this by focusing on three areas. First, it sought to curb cultural exchange by eliminating people bringing European ideas into Japan. The Edict stated, "Japanese ships shall by no means be sent abroad….All Japanese residing abroad shall be put to death when they return home." Second, the Edict focused on limiting trade. Articles 11 through 17 of the Edictimposed stringent regulations on trade and commerce. Third, the government banned Christianity, which it saw as an import from Europe that challenged the long-established and well-enshrined religious traditions of Japan. The government went to considerable lengths to protect its culture. Article eight of the Edict stated, "Even ships shall not be left untouched in the matter of exterminating Christians."

With the example of Japan and the examples of other countries that chose a different response to European influence, it is perhaps not too far of a stretch to conclude that Japan made the right decision in pursuing a path of relative isolationism. As history unfolded during the next 400 years, in general, countries that embraced European hegemony, whether by choice or by force, tended to suffer from pernicious wealth inequality, perennial political instability, and protracted underdevelopment.

Q.

Common Information Question: 4/7

Based upon the passage, the author would likely agree most strongly with which of the following statements:

 A.

European decisions made during the 16th and 17th centuries in dealing with Japan represent an aberration from the typical pattern of European decisions

 B.

Japanese rulers who responded with ferocity to European influence bear part of the responsibility for the caustic European-Japanese relationship that ensued

 C.

With the hindsight of history, Japan likely made the appropriate decision in extricating itself from European influence

 D.

European religious and cultural values conflicted with European economic behaviour toward Japan

 E.

The width and breadth of Japan's cultural fabric suffered from its seclusionist policies

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Solution:
Option(C) is correct

The correct answer cannot contradict any part of the author's views. An answer that has a text to support it but is later contradicted in the passage cannot be the correct answer. Further, the author summarizes his views in the last paragraph.

A. The first half of the first paragraph and the opening sentence of the second paragraph explicitly contradict this, noting that "numerous countries" resented Europe's imperialism.

B. The passage does not deal with who is to blame for caustic relations, but rather Japan's response and its ramifications.

C. This is the author's summary toward the end of the passage: "it is perhaps not too far of a stretch to conclude that Japan made the right decision in pursuing a path of relative isolationism."

D. The author makes little differentiation between the religious, cultural, and economic values Europe espoused: "Due to their incredible military force, religious zeal, and uncompromising goal of profit, Europeans often imposed their traditions, values, and customs on the people with whom they traded."

E. The author never discusses the cultural ramifications of Japan's policies. The closest the author comes to this is simply to state that Japan likely made the correct decision in implementing seclusionist policies (which would imply that Japan's culture did not suffer severely).


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