Saturday, April 30, 2016

Perry Expedition and the Opening of Japan (Part 9): The Treaty of Kanagawa

Commodore Perry Meeting the Japanese Commissioners
Yezaiman proposed Yokohama as a new location for a meeting. But would the Americans agree and what other hurdles did Perry faced to achieve his goal of a treaty. Explore the obstacles that Perry and the Japanese commissioners faced before signing a landmark treaty that changed Japan forever.

Prelude to the Meeting

For days after Yezaiman proposed Yokohama as the location for the meeting between Commodore Matthew Perry and the Japanese commissioners, American survey boats scouted the shores of the village. Scouting parties reported that Yokohama had a perfect harbor for the squadron. Few days later, Yezaiman went on board the flagship Powhatan with a translator Moriyama Yenosuke, who later became a diplomat. They handed over a letter of credence for the Japanese representatives. They included Hayashi Daigaku no Kami, Lord Izawa of Memasaki, Lord Ido of Tsushima and Udono Mimbusco. Then, Yezaiman and Captain Adams had small discussion on American request for coal and other provision as per letter of the President. Finally, the meeting between Perry and the Japanese representatives was set on March 8, 1854.

Initial Meeting Between Perry and the Japanese Commissioners

On March 8, 1854, Commodore Perry prepared for his conference. He ordered his warships to line up in the coast in anticipation of any hostilities. Before leaving for the shore of Yokohama, he received news that an additional commissioner just arrived – Matsusaki Michitaro, a high official in the Bakufu.

Talks were to be conducted in what the Americans called the “treaty house.” The official narrative of the expedition descried the location:

“… the “treaty house,” was placed upon a level plain near to the shore, and contiguous to the village of Yokohama… The treaty house had been hastily erected of unpainted pine wood, with peaked roofs, and covered a large extent of ground, having a reception hall of forty to sixty feet in area, and several adjoining apartments and offices. From each side extended yellow canvas screens divided into panel-like squares by black painted stripes. On the exterior walls of the building was spread a dark cloth, upon which was represented in bright colors some device which was said to be the arms of the third commissioner, Izawa, Prince of Mimasaki.”

The Japanese saw the enclosure as to bring privacy and dignity to the event, but Perry thought otherwise. He viewed the place a “pen.” In military standpoint, it provided cover for the Japanese from the gunfire of the warships in case of the worst scenario. He then ordered his officers to demand the removal of the enclosure under the threat of cancellation of the meeting. The Japanese complied and immediately removed the enclosure.

At eleven o’clock, Perry set out for the shore. Like before, he went along with 500 sailors, marine, officers, and a musicians. Before noon, Perry embarked from the Powhatan signaled by the roar of the guns of the Macedonian in respect. After Perry landed, the party set out in an impressive parade along with a lively band said to be playing the Star Spangled Banner. At the treaty house, the talks between the Commissioners and Perry began. The Japanese commissioners handed over their government’s reply to the President's letter.

The reply stated Japan’s incapability to provide immediate reply to the demands of the President. Nevertheless, they allowed American ships to resupply in Nagasaki. Perry then discussed the creation of a treaty between the United States and Japan and suggested using the treaty between China and the United States as a basis.

The US-China Treaty of 1844

The treaty Perry pointed out was the Treaty of Wanghia signed in 1844 between the United States and the Qing Empire. It guided American access to China in five different ports. It set the tariff rates for trade and the rules concerning maritime issues, such as treatment of shipwrecked sailors and warships, pirate attacks, and conditions of American ships during wartime between China and other foreign powers. It provided the proper channels for issues such as disputes and debts. It gave Americans extraterritoriality rights within China. The deal was comprehensive that settled American activities within China and Perry wanted it to be the basis for a treaty with the Japanese.

Notes from Commodore Perry

In addition to using the Wanghia Treaty as a framework, Perry also submitted a note to the Japanese commissioners with additional proposals. In the note, he urged the Japanese to safeguard the safety of American sailors, and to allow setting up signal poles in the coast of Edo Bay. In another note he submitted, he argued to the Japanese that Americans had the desire of securing the welfare of their country as well as that of Japan. He added that trade between the two countries would result to additional opportunities for Japanese living in America. After Perry submitted his notes and received a draft of the reply of the Japanese “Emperor” to the letter of the American President, the meeting concluded.

On the very next day, the Japanese official handed over the official copy of the reply letter. Moreover, an event for the exchange of gifts between the two countries was discussed and planned.

Exchange Gifts between Japan and the United States

After much deliberation since March 9, finally, the Americans gave the gifts of the United States to Japan on March 13. The gifts included weapons, inventions, as well as innocent civilian items. But the inventions turned out to be the most interesting for the Japanese.

Various types of weapons were given as presents to the Japanese Emperor. New and modern rifles, muskets, carbine, and pistols were given in addition to various swords. Then came civilian and peaceful items, such as books, perfume, and a telescope. Various beverages followed like wine, champagne, and tea. In addition, Clocks and a chart of standard American measurements were presented to the Japanese.

But the most sought after by the commissioners and other officials was the miniature train set. The Americans assembled the sizable rail and placed the locomotive and its carts, where a person could ride on. To the amazement that hit the playfulness of the officials, the train set worked. Some Japanese officials even rode the train set like children riding a carnival ride. Indeed, it was a peaceful and unusual episode in a serious talks concerning the future of a country.

Treaty Talks Resumed

After the turnover of gifts. Discussions on the terms for an agreement pressed on. The Americans presented what they want, and the Japanese presented their reply and their terms. Compromises were needed to be made. And eventually, a compromise indeed happened.

From March 14 to 15, the Americans asked for the opening of Napha in the Lew Chew Islands and Matsmai in the Northern Japan. A conference between the commissioners and Perry was supposed to be held in March 16, but the weather prevented it from happening and was eventually moved to the following day, on March 17. The commissioners bluntly rejected using the Sino-American Treaty as a reference on grounds of different situation and laws. They remained adamant in allowing immediate trade. They proposed trade to be conducted in Nagasaki for five years as a trial period before deciding whether to open other ports as well. And trade in Nagasaki would commence not immediately but in the following year. Nevertheless, they affirmed allowing castaway Americans’ welfare as well as provisioning American ships under the condition of payments in form of gold and silver coins.

Japan added new stipulations for the agreement and Perry gave them a reply. As stated above, Japan agreed to open Nagasaki to American ships for provisions. American sailors drifted to Japan would be sent to Nagasaki, however, officials would have to constrict their movements for security purposes such as possibilities of a castaway being a pirate. They also wanted Americans to refrain from interacting with the Dutch and the Chinese. “Deliberation between the parties” would also be needed during the sale of goods and services within the ports. Concerning the opening of the Lew Chew Islands and Mastmai, the Japanese government in Edo had no power over them.

The Japanese stipulations showed their prevailing concerns and hesitations. They agreed to most of the request from the letter of President Fillmore, except for the immediate opening of the entire country to trade. They consented in opening Nagasaki to American ships but their activities of trade was limited to buying supplies and only allowed within five years as they took on the letter’s proposal of a trial period of five years. Moreover, even though they agreed to secure American castaway sailor’s welfare and provisioning American ships, they wanted to limit their movements under security pretext of piracy. They limited supplying ships to Nagasaki and even asked for non-interaction between the Dutch, Chinese, and the Americans. Edo washed its hands over the issue of Lew Chew and Matsumai, but even in this part, it had facts set up. Lew Chew answered to Satsuma Domain while the north, Matsumai answered to their local Daimyo.

Perry prepared and presented his reply. He welcomed Japanese decision to open Nagasaki but he urged them to open another port as Nagasaki was not in any American shipping routes. He bluntly and profoundly rejected Japan’s stipulation to constrain the movements of American sailor drifted to Japanese coast due to their paranoia on pirates. And he equally gave an infatuating no to Japanese demand of prohibiting Americans from interacting with the Dutch and Chinese in Nagasaki, which he found insulting. Perry, however, agreed to some Japanese proposals, such as the sending of shipwrecked ships and sailors to Nagasaki or whatever port designated to Americans, deliberation on sale of goods and services in the port, as well as Japan’s non-interference on the issue of the Lew Chew Islands. Perry also decided to hold separate negotiations with the Daimyo of Matsmai.

After giving his response to Japanese demands, he gave another one to the Japanese commissioners. Because Nagasaki laid away from any American routes, Perry sought to open an alternative ports, he wanted to open either Uraga or Kagoshima. The Commissioners rejected both, but they did presented Shimoda as another alternative. Shimoda was far away from Edo and more convenient to the Americans as it laid in the Idzu (Izu Peninsula) and closer to the Pacific Ocean

Another issue that arose concerning ports was Matsumai. The commissioners informed Perry that they and Edo had no power and control over the opening of that port, because another Lord had the power over the area. Perry demanded the Japanese government to convince Matsumai to open or he himself would go to Matsumai to conduct the negotiations. The commissioners asked until March 23 to give their answer. After the talks, Perry had the Vandalia and Southampton survey Shimoda.

On March 23, the commissioners’ reply arrived. Moriyama Yenosoke, the interpreter that went with Yezaiman, passed to the Americans the reply of the Japanese commissioners. They decided to offer the port of Hakodadi (Hakodate) instead of Matsumai. They added that Hakodadi offered a much better harbor that Matsumai. Perry and American officials considered the offer.

On March 24, 1854, gifts from the Japanese government arrived. It included lacquered furniture and paper boxes, silks, plates and trays, corals, silver feathers, bamboo stands, and even umbrellas. The Japanese also gave a dog to Commodore Perry as a gift. After the gifts, they offered entertainment to the Americans, giving them a show of their imposing Sumo wrestling. Samuel Williams, the Chinese interpreter of the expedition, described the spectacle as “a curious, barbaric spectacle, reminding one of the old gladiators.” On the 27th of May, the Americans treated the commissioners with a drill on board of the Macedonian, complete with a demonstration of weapons of the warships. The Americans then hosted them to a dinner with entertainment from minstrels, which also baffled the Japanese. During the dinner, the commissioners enjoyed various wine, meat, and pastries of the Americans. Also, the Americans presented the commissioners with four large cakes designed with the flags of the two countries and the coat of arms of the commissioners. The party ended well in good spirits.

Next day, talks resumed. Perry received reports from the Vandalia and Southampton that Shimoda was a good port. He also agreed to Hakodate as an alternative to Matsumai. Other several pressing issue was resolved during the meeting, such as the opening of the ports was to be within ten month and not immediately. He also agreed to limit the area in Shimoda where Americans could go – seven Japanese miles or ri from the city center. The Japanese then accepted Perry’s proposal that a consul would only be appointed a year after the signing of the treaty and not immediately.

Perry consented to some of the Japanese demands. He did not want to force the Japanese too much so as not to break their good faith. Nevertheless, a Treaty of Friendship seemed to be imminent from that point.

Kanagawa Treaty of Peace and Amity

On March 31, 1854, Perry signed the historic Treaty of Peace and Amity in Kanagawa (Yokohama) with the Japanese commissioners, Hayashi, Ido, Izawa, Udono, and Matsusaki. The two parties met in the “treaty house” and the two sides signed the four copies of the Treaty – a Chinese, Dutch, English, and Japanese versions of the agreement.

The agreement promised “perfect, permanent, and universal peace, and sincere and cordial amity” between the two countries. It opened Shimoda and Hakodate to American ships to purchase supplies. Any American castaway or ship wrecked in Japan would be brought to the assigned ports. It also gave American freedom to roam around Shimoda within the 7 ri from the city center. The agreement secured that any goods or “business” required by ships, “deliberation between the two parties” would be made. It allowed Americans to “exchange gold and silver coins” for any goods purchased in the ports. “Wood, water, provisions, coal, and goods required” were only to be procured from Japanese officials. It virtually granted the Americans the status of most favored country as it gave them the same privilege that Japan would give to any other nations. It allowed American ships to dock in non-designated ports in case of emergency. Lastly, it secured the appointment of a consul to reside in Shimoda eighteen months after the signing of the treaty.

Perry himself knew that the treaty fell short in opening all ports of Japan for trade. Nevertheless, he saw the treaty as a foundation for any future agreements. At least he achieve getting two ports open for American ships, secured a place for a consulate as well as the welfare of castaway sailors and a coal station for American ships. But most of all, Perry secured Americans privileges that Japan would give to any foreigners much credit to the most favored country status stated in the Treaty of Kanagawa.

The Japanese on the other remained adamant and cautious. They allowed the opening of Japan due to fears of hostility. But they did open carefully by limiting the area where Americans could roam around, and they secured opening ports away from Edo, which they could regard as a best thing out of a bad situation. They also managed to delay any negotiation of complete opening of Japan to trade with the United States. The trial period of five years gave Japan a breathing space to realize the condition of Japan in a rapidly changing world.

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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