Japan-American Diplomatic Relations in the Meiji-Taisho Era

By Kamikawa Hikomatsu | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
SEETHING NATIONALISTIC SENTIMENT AND THE WESTERN POWERS

I. Frequent Explosions of Anti-foreign Sentiment

A. The Namamugi Case

In July, 1861 some masterless samurai attacked the British legation at the Tōzenji, at Shiba. Again on September 14, 1862, four British were killed near Namamugi (now included in the city of Yokohama) by retainers of the Kagoshima Fief.* The foreign residents in Yokohama were alarmed and enraged. They held a general meeting, at which they passed a resolution for retaliation and demand for the payment of reparations. Some were even of opinion that they should land marine corps and attack the quarters of the Satsuma samurai in Edo. The British and French ministers rejected this motion saying that it was too rash. The foreign legations were of the opinion that no fault lay with the four victimized British who crossed on horse- back in front of the daimyo-procession of Kagoshima. The American minister strongly opposed the retaliative measure saying that "it was a Japanese custom for common people and even samurai to dismount and pay respect to a daimyo when they met a daimyo-procession." When the Satsuma samurai received the Imperial praise for this killing of the British, the advocates of 'Reverence for the Emperor and Expulsion of Foreigners' were encouraged in their movement. Inspired by this Imperial praise, Takasugi Shinsaku and Inoue Monta, retainers of the Choshu Fief, set fire to the British legation at Gotenyama, Shinagawa, and planned to attack the foreign settlement at Yokohama.

____________________
*
The Kagoshima and Satsuma Fiefs are identical

-51-

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