Great Britain and the Opening of Japan, 1834-1858

Great Britain and the Opening of Japan, 1834-1858

Great Britain and the Opening of Japan, 1834-1858

Great Britain and the Opening of Japan, 1834-1858

Synopsis

Reissue in paperback (with new Introduction) of the 1951 classic analysis of the crucial years leading up to the Meiji restoration in which Britain provided Japan with its wealth and power model.

Excerpt

For over two hundred years, under Tokugawa rule, the ports of Japan were closed to Western ships and commerce, save only for a limited trade conducted by the Dutch at Nagasaki. In 1853, however, Commodore Perry of the United States Navy led his squadron of "Black Ships." into Edo Bay to deliver a letter from the President and request a treaty of commerce and friendship with Japan. In the following year, having given the Japanese time to consider his proposals and meditate upon his display of force, he returned to conclude the first of the nineteenth- century conventions with that country. The work Perry began was completed by Townshend Harris in July 1858, when the Treaty of Kanagawa opened Japan to American trade; and the lead so given was followed by other Western countries anxious to establish treaty relations. After 1854, and again after July 1858, British, French, Russian and Dutch representatives hastened to conclude similar agreements. For Britain, Rear Admiral Sir James Stirling negotiated at Nagasaki in 1854 and Lord Elgin at Edo in 1858. Neither succeeded in making any important change in the treaty-pattern established by the Americans.

The fact of American leadership in the opening of Japan has long been recognised. The negotiations of Perry and Harris, and the events which led up to them, have accordingly been investigated in some detail. Much less attention has been paid to British actions, however, and no general agreement has been reached on the nature and objectives of British policy, especially for the two decades before 1854. This study has been undertaken in an attempt to trace an accurate narrative of British policy towards Japan in the years 1834 to 1858. Most of the events to which it refers . . .

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