Saturday, April 30, 2016

Perry Expedition and the Opening of Japan (Part 7): In Between Two Visits

Abe MasahiroAfter Perry ended his first visit, the Japanese reacted differently on what to do next. Meanwhile, the Russians arrived demanding the same thing as Perry. Explore the divide within the Japanese government and the arrival of the Russians.

Japanese Reaction

Shogunate officials went on a crisis mode after Perry left in July 1853. With the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyoshi ill and dying, much of the decision making power went to the chief elder of the ruling council – Abe Masahiro. He faced the difficult task of deciding whether to agree to the American demands and open Japan or maintain the country isolated, which in case, might lead to military confrontations. Abe wanted to study the situation further and its implication by unexpectedly and unprecedentedly asking the advice of various Daimyos or local lords.

Never before the Shogunate asked the advice of the Daimyos. Most if not all powers in the land was centralized to the Shogunate. So Abe’s actions were unheard of. After Perry left, the Letter of the President of the United States to the “Emperor” of Japan was translated and distributed among the Daimyos. Along with copies of the letter, Abe asked for their stand. The answers revealed a division on opinions.

Some sought to maintain isolation, while others stood for the opening of Japan. From the former, the extreme nationalist group believed in the retention of the Sakoku or Closed-Country policy. Tokugawa Nariaki, a prominent Daimyo of Mito, a relative of the Shogun, and an ally and friend of Abe Masahiro, believed Japan must stand up against the foreign “barbarians.” He even sent a memorial to Abe right after Perry’s departure. It stated ten reasons why Japan should not concede to the barbarians.

On the memorial he boldly reasoned for war. He first stated that such act, allowing foreigners to roam Japan, would be a disgrace to their generation and their forefathers. Americans would spread Christianity, which Nariaki dubbed as an “evil sect.” Trade would be detrimental to Japan as it would cost its precious metals for “trashy little articles.” He viewed giving trade right to Americans meant giving other Europeans the right as well. He reminded what happened to China might and possibly happened also to Japan. He implied that trade would be one sided as Japan had no capability to engaged in trade across oceans and seas. Moreover, he showed to the Shogunate that samurais went to Edo in anticipation of conflict, and he wrote, “Is it wise to disappoint them?” He reminded the Shogunate that the actions in Uraga embarassed the daimyo in Nagasaki, who held the traditional position of handling foreign affairs. He added allowing the barbarians act so arrogantly, undermined the position of the Shogunate even to the poor and the illiterate. And lastly, he argued that war with the foreigners would awaken the martial spirit of the Japanese people, which had became dull and weak due to the long peace that the country experienced. These became his main arguments in pushing for war against the Americans or any foreigner that would arrive in Japan’s shores.

Tokugawa Nariaki’s belief came as a result of growing nationalism developing in his domain of Mito. One of Mito’s famous scholar Aizawa Seishisa wrote the Shinron or the New Theses published in 1825. In the New Theses, Aizawa criticized the weakness of the Bakufu in terms of defense and the problems of centralizing too much power to Edo. Eventually, Aizawa’s work inspired many isolationist and nationalist Japanese decades after its publication. His idea resulted to a slogan that isolationist and nationalist used – jo-i, expel the barbarians.

Others, however, accepted trade and opening of Japan to foreigners with reservations. For centuries, Dutch learning or Rangaku prevailed in the Southern Japan, in particular in Nagasaki and the Satsuma Domain. When Abe asked for the stand of various Lords, the Daimyo of Satsuma, Shimazu Nariakira, advised to open the country. Another influential Daimyo, Ii Naosuke also believed that Japan needed to open up its door. But, most of those who stood in opening Japan believed in moderation. They agreed to trade, because the realities of politics said so, but they do not agree to concede too much to foreign demands. They believed that trade must be made profitable to finance the strengthening of their country’s defenses – an idea that later developed into the famous Meiji Era slogan of Fukoku Kyohei, strong economy, strong army. W. G. Beasley wrote in The Modern History of Japan, many of the Daimyo’s agreeing to the abolition of the Sakoku believed “Trade was inevitable… not desirable.”

Some also supported the opening of Japan or at least adopting western technologies. In the southern domains, adoption of Western technology proliferated. Satsuma domain used Dutch technology to make weapons and used European training to strengthen their forces. Edo approved it especially after Perry’s first arrival. A scholar of the Rangaku, Sakuma Shozan, coined the famous phrase “Toyo dotoku, Seito gakugei” or western learning and eastern ethics, which became the slogan of Japanese who welcomed foreign technology and interaction.

Arrival of the Russians

While the Shogunate mourned the passing of their Shogun Ieyoshi and they searched for their course of action, the Russians arrived to negotiate border issues and trade.  Luckily for Japan, conditions in Europe turned Putiatin’s attention away from Japan for quite some time.

In August 1853, Admiral Yevfimy Putiatin arrived in Nagasaki aboard his flagship the Pallas and accompanied by the warship Diana. They came as a result of news they received on Perry’s expedition in Uraga Bay, as they monitored America’s advancement in the Pacific with weary as it threatened their interest in the region. For a month, Putiatin attempted to negotiate a treaty of friendship with the Japanese as well as settle the issue of borders in the Kuril Islands. However, he met difficulties and delays.

Abe Masahiro the chief elder of the governing was not yet even finish in deciding on what to do with the Americans. The arrival of the Russians further burdened the government and Abe attempted to delay the negotiations with them. He used the mourning period for the death of Shogun Ieyoshi. Putiatin, however, threatened to sail to Edo itself. But then Abe informed them through a letter that negotiators from Edo would be coming to Nagasaki to begin talks. Putiatin estimated the arrival of the negotiators would arrive in January 1854 so sailed back to Shanghai for the meantime to repair and resupply.

On January 1854, Putiatin returned to Japan to start negotiations with the Japanese. The Japanese agreed to settle the issue of the northern borders but hesitant on the issue of trade. By February 1854, negotiations bore no fruit and Putiatin decided to leave Nagaski. Nevertheless, the Japanese promised the Russians status of most favored country in future treaty negotiations.

Putiatin, however, failed to secure a treaty with the Japanese in 1854 due to political developments in Europe. The Crimean War broke out and Russia fought with Britain and France, and the conflict reached Asia. Putiatin received orders to evade capture or destruction of the Russian Pacific fleet from the Anglo-French naval forces in the region. Thus, it took a year before Putiatin concluded a treaty with the Japanese in Shimoda.

Although Putiatin failed to secure a treaty with the Japanese, Perry felt threatened after hearing the news of Russian warships arriving in Nagasaki. He feared that the Russians might get ahead of him in securing a trade deal with the Japanese. As a response, he decided to return to Japan for a reply earlier than what he promised.

Explore also:
Beasley, W.G. The Modern History of Japan. New York, New York: Frederick A. Praeger, Publisher, 1963.

___________. The Meiji Restoration. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1972.

Bolitho, Harold. “Abe Masahiro and the New Japan.” In The Bakufu in Japanese History, edited by Jeffrey Mass and William Hauser. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1985.

Craig, Fairbank, and Edwin Reischauer. East Asia: The Modern Transformation. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1965.

Davis, Geo. Lynn-Lachlan. A Paper Upon the Origin of the Japan Expedition. Baltimore, Maryland: John Murphy & Co., 1860.

Franz, Edgar. Philipp Franz von Siebold and Russian Policy and Action on Opening Japan to the West in the Middle of the Nineteenth Century. Munich: IUDICIUM Verlag, 2005.

Fukuzawa Yukichi. The Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa. Translated by Eiichi Kiyooka. New York, New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.

Gordon, Andrew. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Hawks, Francis. Narrative of the Expedition of An American Squadron to The China Seas and Japan, Performed in the Years 1852, 1853, and 1854, under the Command of Commodore M.C. Perry, United States Navy by Order of the Government of the United States, Volume I. Washington D.C.: A.O.P. Nicholson, Printer, 1856. 

Henshall, Kenneth. A History of Japan: From Stone Age to Superpower. New York, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Jansen, Marius. The Cambridge History of Japan, Volume 5: The Nineteenth Century. New York, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Murray, David. Japan. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1896.

Nitobe Inazo. The Intercourse Between the United States and Japan: An Historical Sketch. Baltimore, Maryland: The John Hopkins Press, 1891.

Williams, S. Well. A Journal of the Perry Expedition to Japan (1853 – 1854) , Edited by F.W. Williams. n.p.: n.p., 1910.

No comments:

Post a Comment