Saturday, April 30, 2016

Perry Expedition and the Opening of Japan (Part 8): Second Arrival of Perry

Drawing of Perry's Squadron during the Second Visit
After the Russians left, Perry rushed back to Japan, only to face an obstructionist Japanese tactics. But with an old friend from the previous visit, the path towards Japan’s opening began. Explore Perry’s return to Japan and difficulty that both sides faced from each other.

On the Way to Japan

On December 1853, Perry received news from Japan, concerning the “Emperor”. He received information from the head of the Dutch factory in Dejima Island, Nagasaki that the Shogun or what he they thought as the “Emperor” passed away a month after his departure. Along with the news came a message from Edo requesting the “Admiral,” as the Japanese called Perry, to postpone his return to Japan to prevent any internal destabilization during the succession period.

Perry, however, ignored the request of the Japanese government. As a matter of fact, he returned earlier than he promised. He viewed the news of the “Emperor’s” death as a mere delaying tactic by the Japanese government because no such news concerning the Emperor being ill or dying was mentioned before. Perhaps, the Japanese commissioners did not disclose the condition because it might signal weakness within the government. But also, it might just be a misunderstanding because the one that passed away was not the Emperor but the Shogun; so the Japanese possibly did not bother to tell Perry the condition of the Shogun because all his diplomatic and official letters and notes were addressed to the Emperor. Regardless, Perry needed to return to Japan earlier for other reasons.

Besides the demise of the Shogun, Perry confirmed a Russian expedition (the Putiatin Expedition) went to Japan. For him, this expedition aimed to get ahead of the Americans in obtaining trade rights with Japan and gaining the prestige of becoming the man and country that opened the isolationist Land of the Rising Sun. Luckily for Perry, the Crimean War forced the Russians to stay away from open seas to avoid the British and French forces. Perry must take their absence as his chance and immediately return to Japan with a much larger force, as he had promise.

On February 1, 1854, Perry’s naval squadron began to sail for Japan. He had the sailing warships Macedonian, Vandalia, Lexington, and Southampton proceed to Japan. Meanwhile, Perry sailed for Japan on board the Powhatan and along with other steam driven warships, the Susquehanna and Mississippi, on February 7, 1854. The Supply followed Perry on February 8, 1854. On course of the steamers, they rendezvous with the Saratoga and five of them sailed for Japan.

Perry needed to achieve several objectives through continuous use of gunboat diplomacy. First he must secure a reply from the Japanese government to the 1852 Letter of President Millard Fillmore. He must then negotiate and secure a treaty of friendship and trade. In case of Japan’s refusal to submit to his demands, he had the intention using force by taking Lew Chew Islands, a vassal of Satsuma Domain and of the Shogunate.

On February 11, 1854, Perry arrived in the Izu Peninsula. Upon his squadron’s arrival to the Peninsula, they discovered the Macedonian ran on ground. The steamships towed Macedonian to deeper waters and they proceeded not to Uraga but to American Anchorage. And on the 13th, to the displeasure and horror of the Japanese, the “black ships” returned to Edo Bay and worst, closer to Edo.

In “American Anchorage”

Japanese officials boarded the Powhatan right after the American anchored their ships. Led by Kurakawa Kahiyoye, the Japanese officials were welcome by Captain Henry Adams. Like before, Perry refused to talk to any Japanese officials not equal to him in rank, and Captain Adams served as his representative. Adams inquired the whereabouts of who their former middleman that they thought as the governor of Uraga, Kayaman Yezaiman. The officials replied that Yezaiman had an illness and incapable of visiting them at that moment. Then, they demanded the Americans to return to Uraga Bay. But Captain Adams insisted the squadron’s present condition and even threatened to sail closer to Edo if they were continued to be ordered to sail back south.

Moving the black ships away from Edo was the main objective of the Japanese officials. Allowing the Americans to remain there was a stab to the heart of the Bakufu as it disgrace them and make them vulnerable mortally. Nevertheless, another priority of the Japanese was to maintain peace, they knew they were no match to the large American squadron anchored nearer to the capital. And so they tried to force the Americans to go further down the bay in any means that were peaceful and deceiving.  

On the following day, the Japanese took another tactic to force the Americans to sail away from Edo. The Japanese delegation notified the Americans that the commissioners were on their way to meet Perry in Kamakura, a place even farther than Uraga. Adams protested but the Japanese politely said that the location was negotiable in Uraga. The day ended with both sides failing to conclude on the issue of location.

On the 18th, the Japanese informed the Americans that the commissioners arrived in Uraga. In irritation, Perry handed over to the Japanese a note, requesting that he must be received in Edo itself, as per custom in international diplomacy. Eventually, the Americans agreed to send Captain Adams and the Vandalia to talk to the commissioners in Uraga to negotiate the issue of location. In the 20th, the Americans informed the Japanese of their plan to fire their guns out of respect and observance of George Washington's birthday, to which the Japanese who shocked the Americans of their knowledge of Washington enthusiastically asked if whether they could participate. On the 21st, the Vandalia arrived in Uraga but the weather prevented Captain Adams from going ashore, only on the 22nd he landed. Upon his landing the guns of the Vandalia roared in honor of the United States of America’s first President’s Birthday.
Captain Adams then talked to the head of the commissioners from Edo, Lord Hayashi of Daigaku. Lord Hayashi once again urged the Americans to proceed to Uraga or Kamakura to receive the reply. Then, the Japanese commissioner received a letter from the American captain written by Commodore Perry. The letter argued that Uraga was unsafe for the ships of the squadron and that he had to go to Edo to properly introduce himself to the Emperor, submit his letter of credence, and hand over the gifts of the American people. Captain Adams added to Perry’s claim that Uraga was unsafe and used his delay as an example of its hazards. The Japanese asked for three days to give their answer and the conference ended.

Visit of an Old Acquaintance

On February 23, 1854, an old acquaintance of the Perry expedition boarded the Vandalia in Uraga. Kayaman Yezaiman visited the Americans. He was then asked on his condition and he replied that his absence had been caused by an illness. He then pleaded Captain Adams to convince “Admiral” Perry to consider Uraga as the place for the meeting. He left empty handed.

On February 24, 1854, the Japanese commissioners gave their answer. They profoundly refused to allow Perry to go to Edo and even to allow the Americans to stay in American Anchorage. They maintained their position that the Americans must go to Uraga. The stalemate on the location of diplomatic talks remained.

But on the following day, a breakthrough happened. Yezaiman arrived in the flagship of the American squadron and tried one last time to make the American move to Uraga. He asked if the Americans needed supplies and fuel to which they affirmed. But then, Yezaiman said that it would only be furnished in Uraga and the atmosphere turned sour. The Americans warned Yezaiman if supplies and fuel did not arrived in their present location, then the squadron “would send [go] on shore and procure it by some means.” Yezaiman understood it well and suddenly turned his course. He proposed the “Admiral” and the commissioners meet in the nearby village of Yokohama in Kanagawa, not far from the American Anchorage. Yezaiman surprised the Americans on his sudden change and he just laid the foundation of the treaty that would change Japan’s history.

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.

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