Japan-American Diplomatic Relations in the Meiji-Taisho Era

By Kamikawa Hikomatsu | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
PORT HYOGO OPENED TO FOEIGN TRADE

The problem of Imperial sanction of the treaties was settled but there remained to be solved the internal problem of punishing Choshu and the international problem of opening Hyogo to foreign trade. The Shogunate issued an order to feudal lords to mobilize soldiers for a punitive expedition on Choshu. The Shogun himself took up quarters at Osaka for this purpose. However, the Shogunate's forces were beaten at every battle, and the Shogun died at Osaka. A truce was made and Tokugawa Keiki was appointed the 15th Shogun. Soon afterward, when Emperor Komei passed away, the Shogunate issued an order to dissolve its forces and Emperor Meiji acceded to the Throne. While conditions of Japan were undergoing fast change, the problem of opening Hyogo also progressed.

It was agreed in the London Memorandum of 1862 that Hyogo and Ni'igata were to be opened to foreign trade on January, 1, 1868, with a Shogunate proclamation to that effect six months in advance. The British minister sent a note to the Shogunate on February 24, 1867, proposing negotiations with the diplomatic representatives for the opening of the promised ports at Osaka. The Shogunate petitioned the Emperor for sanction to open Hyogo, but could not obtain imperial approval. On March 11 and 12, the same year, the Shogun had an interview with French Minister Roches who advised him to open the ports of Hyogo, Shimonoseki, and Kagoshima so as to defeat the conspiracy of the Choshu, and Satsuma fiefs as well as the British minister's ambition. This advice is worthy of notice.

On April 26, 1867, the Shogunate again petitioned the Emperor for approval of the opening of the port of Hyogo.

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