And yet they were the only available source of information about the West, because contact with foreigners was restricted to the Co-hong in Canton (Fairbank and Reischauer, 1989). Japan was far more interested than China in gaining knowledge both about and from the West. It created the Institute for the Investigation of Barbarian Books, which in 1811 was an office in charge of translating Western texts, and by 1857 became a school of Western knowledge and languages. Scholars of Western knowledge were allowed to speak out and divulge information freely (Reischauer, 1978). It is not surprising, then, that the Japanese officials were able to more clearly assess their situation in relation to the Western powers than their Chinese counterparts, and to make a decision based on facts instead of prejudices.
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