The question of how Japan was able to successfully “modernize” in the nineteenth century apparently still attracts serious scholarly attention. Two recent studies offer new perspectives on this question by examining the transnational flows of people, information, and trade goods in the treaty port of Yokohama. While previous studies of the treaty ports relied heavily on Western accounts, these draw from Japanese sources to contribute a sense of Japanese agency to the familiar story of Japan's economic “opening” to the West. Nor do they place as much emphasis on international politics—there is scant mention, for instance, of extraterritoriality or the struggle for treaty revision.1 The focus instead is on Japan's adaptation to modern capitalism and burgeoning commerce with Europe and America. Amid our global turn toward populism and economic nationalism, these make for thought-provoking reading on the promise and consequence of global trade.

In addition, these two studies on...

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