Matthew Perry

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Commodore Matthew Perry, Japanese painting c. 1853

Matthew Calbraith Perry was a U.S. naval officer who headed an expedition to Japan in 1853–54 after several unarmed U.S. merchant ships were attacked by Japanese ships, under Shogunal orders to attack any approaching non-Dutch Western ships. He successfully made the Shogun agree to enter into trade and diplomatic relations with the West after more than two centuries of isolation. Through his efforts the United States became an equal power with Britain, France, and Russia in the economic exploitation of East Asia.