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[[File:Gasshukoku_suishi_teitoku_kōjōgaki_(Oral_statement_by_the_American_Navy_admiral).png|thumbnail|left|300px|Japanese Woodprint of Commodore Perry and other US seamen]__NOTOC__
On July 8, 1853, American Commodore Matthew Perry led his four ships into the harbor at Tokyo Bay, seeking to re-establish for the first time in over 200 years regular trade and discourse between Japan and the western world. Although he is often credited with opening Japan to the western world, Perry was not the first westerner to visit the islands. Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch traders engaged in regular trade with Japan in the 16th and 17th centuries. Persistent attempts by the Europeans to convert the Japanese to Catholicism and their tendency to engage in unfair trading practices led Japan to expel most foreigners in 1639. For the two centuries that followed, Japan limited trade access to Dutch and Chinese ships with special charters.