The Ming Dynasty and Tokugawa Shogun A comparison of Japanese Leadership styles

The Ming Dynasty and Tokugawa Shogun of Japan both sought to provide the Japanese people with a sense of order and social stability during periods of civil unrest and trade expansion. Both leadership styles found that exploration through expedition were advantageous to their government. The Ming Dynasty however, saw a great decline in expeditions and a rise in isolationism, a policy of remaining apart from the political affairs of other countries. Apart from political differences, the Ming Dynasty experienced economic prosperity through the Columbian Exchange and was able to trade maize, sweet potatoes, and peanuts, doubling their population between the 17th and 19th centuries.

Byodo Temple, Japan

While the Ming Dynasty saw a period of nationalism and internal growth, Tokugawa Japan saw an expansion of weapon and maritime importance and subsequent military advancements, including the adoption of European firearms and the invasion of Korea. Tokugawa Japan also saw an influx in trade, most notably; the exportation of silver, copper and pottery and the importing of printing presses and clocks.

While each leadership style reflected a difference in religious attitudes, technological advancements, and economic expansion, it still wouldn’t be fair to deem one style more “positive” or “successful” than the other during their respective periods; I believe that each ruling style helped to organize the goals of the Japanese government in order to help stabilize their state and spur fruition within their people.

Personally however, I see more potential in the Tokugawa style of leadership, as I believe that through trade and diversifying a state’s culture, economic and civil prosperity is guaranteed to follow, especially in comparison to the isolationist policies of the Ming Dynasty.

Nijo Castle, Kyoto, Japan


"isolationism." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . 4 Feb. 2017 <>.

"Isolationism during Ming Dynasty." Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy. . 4 Feb. 2017 <>.

Fernandez-Arresto, Felipe. "Chapter 18." The World: A History. 3rd ed. Vol. 2. N.p.: Pearson Education INC, 2016. N. pag. Print.


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