I enjoyed this article from the Economist online:
It's an interesting discussion of some of the rare international contacts with 19th century Japan prior to Commodore Perry's expedition. To tie it into the Austrian perspective - it's interesting to note that the Japanese government barriers to trade and cultural contacts were failing on their own. The article makes it seem almost inevitable. Certainly their transition to full "openness" would have taken longer without US intervention, but I wonder how Japan would have evolved without being forced open by American gunship diplomacy? Possibly their desire to strengthen and modernize their military would not have been so strongly inflamed - which might have had significant impact on the events of the 20th century.
I saw this article too. Pretty interesting. As I am moving to Japan next week, and have been planning to do so for a while, I try to educate myself on modern Japan as much as possible.
During this time, Japan knew very well what was happening to China. Instead of resisting the Western Powers, Japan tried a different approach. One that involved adopting Western government, militarism, economics, and technology. Thailand also avoided the China approach to dealing with foreigners.
In my opinion, if the Japanese didn't open to the U.S., they would have experienced a similiar fate as the rest of Asia at this time. Keep in mind that France and Great Britain were keeping a close eye on the situation, and Russia actually had a similiar expedition going on at the same time as Perry. It was called the Putiatin mission. The Putiatin expedition actually began in 1852, two years before Perry.
Anyway, after the U.S. and Japan signed their treaty (The Treaty of Kanagawa), other countries demanded the same treatment. If Japan refused any of them, the European powers would have forced their way in.