American Diplomacy in the Orient/Chapter VI

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American Diplomacy in the Orient by John W. Foster
Chapter VI
Published in 1903

VI

THE TRANSFORMATION OF JAPAN

THE United States in 1854 had attained a com- mercial and industrial position among the nations of the world, which for rapidity of growth and for im- portance was unprecedented in history. It was an era peculiarly fitted for the development of American com- merce. The unsettled political state of Europe, which had materially reduced its productiveness, had but added to the trade of the United States in the Atlantic ; while the settlement of California had created a new centre of energy on the Pacific, and greatly stimulated national interest and effort in commercial intercourse with the East. It was but natural, then, that the peo- ple of the United States should have received the announcement of the success of the Japan expedition with satisfaction at the prospect of material benefit which it offered, and with pride in the American enter- prise and skill which had opened a new field for their activities.

Up to the period when this expedition was initiated the two neighboring empires of the Far East had pre- served a uniform policy in their relations with the Western nations. This policy was steadily persisted in to the point where warlike opposition was encountered. When confronted by a serious display of force, the


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dissimilar character of the two peoples dictated a di- vergent course of conduct. The Chinese with blind obstinacy adhered to their policy, while the Japanese, though a warlike people, were able to discern the situa- tion of affairs and yielded to the inevitable.

The government at Yedo negotiated with the Ameri- can plenipotentiary under the persuasive influence of his warlike fleet, and made the best terms possible rather than hazard the consequences of a military con- flict. But much had yet to be done by way of ne- gotiation before Japan was opened to commerce and intercourse with the world. The first step, however, had been taken and the spirit of the age would not permit a backward movement.

The first appearance of a foreign vessel in the Bay of Yedo after Commodore Perry had taken his departure was that of the American clipper-ship Lady Pierce. She had been fitted out by her owner for a pleasure voyage, and, anticipating the success of the Perry mis- sion, sailed from San Francisco for Japan. Fifteen days after the commodore left, the Lady Pierce entered the bay " as a token of peace and amity." En route at Honolulu a shipwrecked Japanese was taken aboard, and for his return the thanks of the authorities were tendered. The vessel attracted great attention by the symmetry of her model and the elegance of her appoint- ments. Orders were received from the capital that " similar hospitality to that displayed toward Com- modore Perry " should be extended. During the stay the vessel was furnished with all needed supplies, and at its departure presents were sent the captain from the


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Shogun. But notice was given that thereafter all foreign vessels must resort to the new treaty port of Shimoda, as they would not be permitted to enter the Bay of Yedo. The favorable change in the demeanor of the authorities was very marked. 1

The government of the United States lost no time in taking advantage of the privileges secured by the Perry treaty. The eleventh article provided for the residence of a consul or agent in Shimoda eighteen months after the signing of the treaty. Exercising some license as to this provision, a consul-general was appointed July 31, 1855, to reside at Shimoda, and a month earlier a consul was named for Hakodate, the other open port. Townsend Harris, of New York, was selected for the post of consul-general. His school education was confined to the academy of his native town, but his taste for study caused him to read exten- sively and also to acquire a knowledge of the French, Spanish, and Italian languages. He was trained for mercantile pursuits, and for many years was a mer- chant in the city of New York. For six years previous to his appointment he was engaged in commerce in the East as supercargo and merchant, and in this way had become familiar with the people of the Orient.

He was also charged with the negotiation of a new treaty with Siam, the one made by Mr. Roberts in 1833 not having proved fully adequate for the pro- tection of American interests. This duty he was en- abled to discharge successfully, and, after a short delay,

1 The China Mail, August 24, 1854.


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continued on his voyage to Japan in a naval vessel which had been placed at his service. 1

The San Jacinto with the consul-general on board reached Shimoda, August 21, 1856. Mr. Harris kept a journal during his residence in Japan, and as he sailed up the coast in sight of Fujiyama, he makes this entry : " I shall be the first recognized agent from a civilized power to reside in Japan. This forms an epoch in my life, and may be the beginning of a new order of things in Japan. I hope I may so conduct myself that I may have honorable mention in the his- tories which will be written on Japan and its future destiny." As indicated in this extract, he at all times during his mission evinced a laudable ambition, but it was tempered with a well-becoming degree of reserve.

From his first intercourse with the officials at Shimoda he was met with obstruction, evasion, and prevarication which sorely tried his patience. The governor said that it was not expected that a consul would be sent unless some difficulty should arise, and that no arrangements had been made to receive him and no proper house could be had. He advised the consul-general to go away and return in a year. At the official interview granted him and Commodore Armstrong of the San Jacinto, Harris was again requested to go away, and when he declined the commodore was asked if he would take a letter to the United States expressing a desire for the consul's removal, but he also declined. He was then asked if he would write his government and

1 For negotiations in Siam, Fankwei : The San Jacinto in the Seas of India, China, and Japan, by Dr. W. M. Wood.


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explain why Harris could not be received, and when answered in the negative, it was proposed to Harris to write and ask for his own removal.

Meeting with a refusal at all points and being noti- fied by Harris that, if not received at Shimoda, he would go in the San Jacinto to Yedo, the governor provided a temple for his accommodation, but said that three of its rooms would be required for the Japanese officials who had been assigned " to aid and protect " the consul. To this Harris objected, saying that he would have in his house none but his own suite and servants. He was finally installed and the American flag unfurled from a high staff in front of the con- sulate. His next trouble was that guards were sta- tioned about his house, nominally for his protection, but manifestly as spies and to restrain his movements. After vigorous protests these were removed. Then he was forced to complain that his servants were not per- mitted to make purchases and were dependent on the officials for supplies. By slow degrees he brought the authorities to comprehend and respect his rights as a foreign representative.

Although he held the rank only of consul-general, Mr. Harris had been clothed by his government with diplomatic powers, and immediately on his arrival he dispatched a letter to the minister in charge of foreign affairs at Yedo, informing him of his arrival and character, and also transmitting a letter from the Sec- retary of State of the United States. As soon as he could adjust himself to his surroundings and secure a proper recognition of his official rights, he set to work


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to correct some of the misunderstandings which had arisen respecting the Perry treaty. The Japanese had denied the right of Americans to reside in the treaty ports. They had also fixed a grossly inadequate value on American coins used in purchasing supplies and in trade, and had raised various other questions. After per- sistent demands, commissioners were appointed to nego- tiate with him, and on June 17, 1857, ten months after his arrival, he concluded and signed with them a treaty. By this convention the right of permanent residence in the treaty ports was granted to Americans, the rate of American currency was fixed at its true value, juris- diction was granted to the consuls to try Americans for offenses committed in Japan, and the rights and privi- leges of consuls were more clearly defined. These were important concessions secured by the patient, though persistent, American representative, but they had been obtained by him under trying circumstances. The Jap- anese obstructions were a severe trial, but the apparent neglect of his own government was even more dispirit- ing. For more than twelve months after his arrival he was without a single communication from Washington, and he lived practically the life of a hermit. The only white person with whom he had intercourse was his secretary. His stock of European provisions was long exhausted before a naval vessel brought him a new supply, and his health felt the effects of the exclusively Japanese fare. Yet there was still before him new tests of his patience and official endurance, though to be finally crowned with even greater success. 1

1 For details of Mr. Harris's residence at Shimoda, see his Journal in Life of Townsend Harris, by W. E. Griffis, Boston, 1895.


176 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

Mr. Harris brought with him a letter from the Presi- dent of the United States to the emperor of Japan, and soon after his arrival he had applied for an audience of the emperor to present the letter, which would involve a journey to the capital. Such an event as the official visit of a diplomatic representative of a Western nation to the capital and his reception by the Shogun (or Tycoon) was without precedent in Japanese history. Evil portents had followed the advent of Perry. A fearful earthquake had destroyed a large part of Yedo and the surrounding towns. This was followed by a typhoon by which more than a hundred thousand lives were lost. And even at that time the capital was be- ing ravaged by an epidemic of cholera whose victims amounted to thirty thousand. In the minds of the peo- ple, Providence was pronouncing condemnation against the intrusion of the foreigners.

But the American representative was urgent, and in order to avoid the alternative of having the President's letter borne to the capital by another fleet of warlike vessels and delivered under the guns of the intruders, it was finally decided to permit the peaceful visit of the diplomatic representative and to grant him a personal audience of the Shogun. Shimoda was situated several days' travel from Yedo, and the journey was made over- land. The escort which conducted the American " am- bassador," as he was termed by the Japanese, to Yedo presented a picturesque appearance. First came an avant-courrier on horseback with guards, attendants, and criers to clear the way. Next was the " standard- bearer " carrying the American flag, a strange ensign


THE TRANSFORMATION OF JAPAN 177

to the warlike Japanese, made more striking by the peculiar dress of the bearer, decorated with the coat of arms of the United States, and surrounded by guards. Then came the "ambassador" mounted on horseback with a bodyguard, followed by his morimono, or chair of state, and its bearers ; the secretary on horseback, with guard and chair ; a long retinue of servants, with pre- sents and baggage; also the vice-governor and mayor of Shimoda, with soldiers and attendants. The whole train numbered some three hundred and fifty persons.

The journey lay mainly over the Tokaido or imperial highway, and consumed a week. Notice had been given along the route of the coming of the " ambas- sador." The bridges were all put in order, the streets of the towns swept, and the municipal officials met the procession and escorted the embassy through the irre- spective precincts. Large numbers of people crowded the highways, and knelt with averted heads as the " great man " passed, perfectly well behaved and in silence ; the officials only saluting by the usual prostra- tion, touching their heads to the ground. The single disagreeable incident occurred as the boundary line to the metropolitan province was reached, when Mr. Harris was informed that according to an immemorial law, from which none were exempt, his baggage must be in- spected. This he positively refused to permit, and after much parleying he gained his point, and the procession moved on across the sacred boundary.

The day which would have concluded the journey and marked his entrance into Yedo fell upon Sunday, but the representative of a Christian country declined


I

178 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

to go forward, and halted to spend the Sabbath accord- ing to his custom. "Ever since I have been in this country," he records in his journal, " I have refused to transact any business on that day. . . . They now fully understand my motives, and they respect me for them." It was the first Sunday in Advent. He says, " I read the whole service for the day with Mr. Heusken [his secretary] as my clerk and congregation." Later he describes similar observances of the day in the capital, and says he not only read the service in a loud voice so that the Japanese might hear it, but also told his offi- cial attendants that it was the Christian service. "I shall be both proud and happy if I can be the humble means of once more opening Japan to the blessed rule of Christianity." He was soon to have his prayer an- swered.

The entrance of the American representative into Yedo, following the flag of his country, was a memora- ble event in Japanese history. It was effected with considerable pomp, and was witnessed by hundreds of thousands of people in perfect silence and good order. After the customary preliminary visits to the chief min- ister of state and others, the audience of the Shogun and delivery of the President's letter took place. The details of this ceremony had been in the main agreed upon before the departure from Shimoda. When it was suggested to Mr. Harris that he should perform the usual prostrations in the presence of the Shogun, he peremptorily refused and said he would consider it an insult if the subject was ever again mentioned to him. It was arranged that he would be received with


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the ceremonies usual in European courts, he making the three customary bows on appearing in the imperial presence. He describes his uniform as follows : " My dress was a coat embroidered with gold after the pat- tern furnished by the state department, blue pantaloons with a broad gold band running down each leg, cocked hat with gold tassels, and a pearl-handled dress-sword." In contrast with the attitude of the American represent ative, all the officials present at the audience including the chief minister of state, the princes, and even the three brothers of the Shogun, prostrated themselves in his presence and only moved by crawling on their hands and knees.

Mr. Harris records that the prince, who had been assigned to accompany him during the audience, after- wards told him " that all who were present were amazed at my ' greatness of soul/ at my bearing in presence of the mighty ruler of Japan ; they had looked to see me ' tremble and quake/ and to speak in a faltering voice." While Mr. Harris enters this in his journal, he says he is inclined to think there is an admixture of " soft-sawder " in it. The audience was followed by a dinner sent by the Shogun to the diplomat's apart- ments, and later by an exchange of presents, among those of the American prominently appearing cham- pagne and liquors. 1

The great work which Harris had in hand still re- mained to be accomplished the granting of residence to diplomatic ministers at the capital and the opening

1 For journey and audience, Harris's Journal, Griffis, chaps, xi. and xii. For Harris's letter, July 3, 1858, Littell's Living Age, 1859, p. 567.


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of Japan to commerce and Christianity. It was a labor which required great patience and toil, and continued through several months. Commissioners of high rank were delegated to conduct the negotiations with him ; and although men of the first intelligence in the em- pire, they acted with the simplicity of children in their conferences with the American negotiator. Twenty years after the event the papers of the Shogun were made accessible to the American legation at Tokio, and a translation of the accounts of some of these confer- ences as recorded by the imperial commissioners was transmitted to the Department of State, which shows a curious state of mind on the part of the commis-


sioners. 1


Mr. Harris was invited by them to state what he de- sired to accomplish in the negotiations, and to give them an account of the condition of political and com- mercial affairs in the outer world. He discoursed to them for more than two hours, and this was followed by a series of questions and answers. In his journal I he records that as the shades of evening began to gather he ordered in the lamps, " but the commissioners told , me I had fairly beaten them in my powers of endur- ance, and they must beg to be excused." The Japa- nese record shows that in the course of the conferences the commissioners asked, among other things, if it was becessary after establishing treaty relations to admit ministers, and when the American " ambassador " had replied in the affirmative, they asked

Question. What is the duty of a minister ?

1 D. W. Stevens to Secretary of State, Foreign Relations, 1879, p. 621.


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Answer. * * *

Question. What is the rank of a minister ?

Answer. * * *

Question. What kind of a thing is the law of na- tions ?

Answer. * * *

Question. Let us now hear what is meant by open- ing ports like other nations.

Answer. * * *

Question. Is there anything more we ought to know?

.Answer. * * *

In his record of these conferences Mr. Harris says : " I may be said to be engaged in teaching the elements of political economy to the Japanese. . . . They said they were in the dark on all these points, and were like children ; therefore I must have patience with them. They added that they placed the fullest confidence in all my statements. ... I then gave them champagne, which they appeared to understand and to like." Champagne seems to have been an important factor in the diplomacy of the Orient.

By his forbearance and painstaking method of ex- planation and instruction, Harris won the confidence of the imperial negotiators, and by yielding on non-essen- tial points and demands which the Japanese could not well concede, he succeeded in obtaining a treaty which completely satisfied his own government and was ac- cepted as a model by all the European nations. Much delay in its signature was occasioned by the opposition of the daimios and other influential dignitaries. A


182 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

copy of the treaty was carried to the sacred city of Nikko and laid upon the tomb of the founder of the Shogunate, in the hope that some revelation might come from the spirit-land. It was likewise submitted to the Mikado's court without avail. After all his la- bors, Harris began to fear that his work would come to naught, and in his intense anxiety he fell ill, which en- abled the court of Yedo to show its tender regard for him in the healing services of its physician.

Two concurrent events at last led to the consumma- tion of his ardent hopes. Prince li-Kamon, a man of resolute character and one who foresaw the future, be- came chief minister of state. The war which England and France were waging against China seemed to be nearing its close, and the great armaments employed in Chinese waters would be free to come to Japan with their ambassadors to dictate treaties. Mr. Harris made the most of the situation, and urged the Japanese to act promptly and thereby " save the point of honor that might arise from their apparently yielding to the force that backs the plenipotentiary, and not to the justice of his demands." Prince li put aside all opposition and directed the Harris treaty to be signed. The American, without the aid of ships of war, had fought his diplomatic battle single-handed, and had won. When the experienced British, French, and Russian ambassadors sailed into the Bay of Yedo, escorted by mighty fleets, they found the arduous part of their task already accomplished.

The treaty, signed July 29, 1858, provided for diplo- matic agents to reside at the capital, and consuls at all


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183


the open ports. Commerce was authorized, additional ports were opened, and a tariff and trade regulations were agreed upon. Americans were permitted to reside at the capital and at all the open ports, jurisdiction over them was given to their consuls, and the free exercise of their religion was guaranteed. Other provisions were made, and the treaty was so broad as to remain practically the basis of Japan's relations with all the Western countries for a period of forty years, or until the empire was finally released from its pupilage in 1899, and admitted freely into the family of nations.

Lord Elgin, governor-general of India, and British ambassador accompanying the forces in China, reached the Bay of Yedo the month following the signature of the Harris treaty, having stopped on the way at Shi- moda to confer with the American diplomat, from whom he obtained a copy of his treaty, and secured the aid of his secretary, Mr. Heusken, as interpreter. He re- mained in the bay nine days, in which time he signed a treaty modeled after that of the United States, and delivered to the Japanese government a yacht as a pre- sent from the queen of Great Britain. The French and Russian fleets were in the harbor during the same month, and following the example of the British, their representatives negotiated similar treaties. 1

Happy auspices attended the sequel to the signature

1 For Harris negotiations, Harris Journal, Griffis, chaps, xiii. to xvi. ; Harris Letter, July 6, 1858, Littell's Liv. Age, 1859, p. 571 ; Nitobe, 113 ; 1 Japan, by Sir E. J. Reed, London, 1880, p. 252 ; Narrative of Lord Elgin's visit, etc., Lawrence Oliphant, New York, 1860 ; London Examiner, Nov. 6, 1858, in Littell's Liv. Age, 1858, p. 893 ; 1 The Capi- tal of the Tycoon, by Sir R. Alcock, London, 1863, pp. 208-222.



184 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

of the Harris treaty. It provided that the ratifications should be exchanged in Washington, and the faithful representative brought about a proposition from the Japanese government to make the exchange the occa- sion of a special embassy to Washington. As the United States had been the first nation with which Ja- pan had made a treaty, so, said the ministers of state, " the first mission ever sent abroad by our nation "

i should be to that country. The suggestion was cheer- fully accepted by the government at Washington, and it was determined to bring the embassy in naval vessels of the United States. Some delay was occasioned, how- ever, by the necessity of securing an exception to the law inflicting the penalty of death upon any one leav- ing the empire. The embassy consisting, officials and attendants, of seventy-one persons, sailed from Japan in February, 1860, the thoughtful Harris having planned the journey so that his Japanese friends might see his capital in the genial month of May.

/ The embassy was received in San Francisco with cor- dial welcome, transferred at Panama to another man- of-war, and brought direct to Washington. Here they were made the guests of the nation, received in state by the President, and entertained by the Secretary of State. The cities of the Atlantic seaboard vied with each other in extending hospitalities and honors. They attracted universal attention and friendly and favorable comment, their dignified deportment especially being noticed, the general newspaper remark being that " they were quite as dignified, intelligent, and well bred as any gentlemen in any country or time." On the other


THE TRANSFORMATION OF JAPAN 185

hand, the Japanese were greatly pleased with their re- ception, and amazed at what they saw. The chief am- bassador, Shimmi, wrote home in glowing terms of their treatment : " Though I have not yet seen the capital, I have already amassed knowledge and experience enough to pile up a mountain or fill up a sea. But of these, were I to speak with you, three fourths will be a relation of what I grieve for for our country." The embassy returned to Japan by the same route and] method as they came. 1

Upon the ratification of the treaty Mr. Harris was commissioned as minister, and continued at his post tih 1 May, 1862. He had under date of July 10, 1861, asked the President to accept his resignation and ap- point his successor. He wrote : " The extraordinary life of isolation I have been compelled to lead has greatly impaired my health, and this, joined to my ad- vancing years, warns me that it is time for me to give up all public employment." Secretary Seward, in ac- cepting the resignation, said : " I regard your retirement from the important post you have filled with such dis- tinguished ability and success as a subject of grave anxiety, not only for this country, but for all the West- ern nations." The Japanese government was likewise very expressive in its regret at his departure. The ministers for foreign affairs, in a letter to Secretary Seward, recognized his perfect knowledge of affairs, his friendly conduct, and the great value of his services to their country, and regretted that he could not continue as minister.

1 S. Ex. Doc. 25, 36th Cong. 1st Sess. ; Harper's Weekly, May and June, 1860 ; Nitobe, 159.


186 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

The discoverer or explorer of regions before unknown has always commanded just admiration, but the pioneer following in his footsteps and by patient toil securing to civilization the new found lands is too often forgot- ten by those who reap the fruits of his labor. The same is true in the great world of commerce. He who first enters a new field which gives promise of exten- sive trade is remembered and honored by future gener- ations, while the man who comes after him and by persistent effort, unadorned with adventure or novelty, makes possible the development of a profitable com- merce, receives but slight commendation as recompense for faithful service. So it was in the case of Japan. The name of Commodore Perry is familiar to every American, while that of Town send Harris, the nego- tiator of the first commercial treaty with Japan, and the founder of diplomatic intercourse, is comparatively but little known and his achievements but little remembered. The genius of Perry had unbarred the gate of the island empire and left it ajar ; but it was the skill of Harris which threw it open to the commercial enterprise of the world.

The first British minister to Japan, after becoming fully conversant with the situation of affairs, gave Har- ris great credit for skill and estimated highly the value of his services to all nations. By the Japanese he is held in grateful remembrance. He reflected great honor upon his country, and justly deserves to rank among the first diplomats of the world, if such rank is measured by accomplishment. 1

1 U. S. Dip. Cor. 1862, pp. 799, 812, 816 ; 1 Alcock's Capital of the Tycoon, 208 ; Nitobe, 115.


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The enforcement of the treaties of 1858, whereby diplomatic ministers were established in the capital and certain of the ports opened to foreign residence and commerce, was the signal for a manifestation of great discontent throughout the empire. Perry's treaty had been bitterly opposed by most of the leading daimios, and they had steadily set themselves against all foreign intercourse. Towards the Shogun and his government, which had made the treaties, their attacks were mainly directed, but the foreigners were destined to experience the first assaults.

The dual form of government, which had existed for centuries, was involved in the controversy. The Mi- kado, or emperor, resided at the interior city of Kioto, and had been kept in virtual retirement, being sover- eign only in name. The Shogun, the military com- mander, whose ancestors had usurped the executive functions of government, was the real ruler of the em- pire. But many of the daimios had long been restive under the usurper, and the feeling of discontent was already widespread at the time of the coming of Perry.

The treaties added fuel to the flame, and the cry was raised, " Honor the Mikado, and drive out the foreign barbarians." Harris's journal shows that he scarcely understood the internal situation at the time of his negotiations. He frequently charges the Japa- nese officials with bad faith and falsehood, in protesting that they could not yield to his demands because of the prejudice and opposition of the enemies of the govern- ment, when subsequent events showed that they were sincere in these declarations. After he had been in




188 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

the country more than a year, he makes this entry : " Among the mysteries of this mysterious land, none is more puzzling to me than this Mikado." In 1858, after his treaty had been agreed upon, he records the great contempt with which the Mikado was spoken of by the Yedo officials, who claimed that he was " a mere cipher." And yet, when the authorities found it neces- sary to send his treaty to Kioto for approval, he began to suspect that the Shogun's government was an empty sham, and that the real ruler of Japan was the Mikado. 1

The first few years after the treaties of 1858 were times of disorder and violence. Even the life of Mr. Harris was threatened while the negotiations were in progress. In 1859, during the visit of a Russian fleet, one of its officers and two men were killed in the streets of Yokohama. Early in 1860 an interpreter of the Russian legation was mortally wounded, and the captains of two Dutch vessels were hacked to pieces. In March, li, the regent of the Shogun, who had caused the treaties to be signed, was assassinated for the alleged reasons that he was "making foreign in- tercourse his chief aim," and had insulted the Mikado's decree. Then Mr. Heusken, the useful and worthy secretary of the United States legation, was murdered in the streets of Yedo in January, 1861. The next year the British legation was attacked by a foreign- hating mob and two of the British guards were killed. Bands of lawless men, ronins, were abroad stirring up

1 Harris's Journal, 122, 270, 313; Chamberlain's Things Japanese, 385.


THE TRANSFORMATION OF JAPAN 189

opposition to the foreigners, and the Shogunate seemed powerless to repress them.

During this year occurred one of the most celebrated cases of assaults upon foreigners. A Mr. Richardson, an Englishman, with a few friends, while riding on the Japanese highway near Yokohama, was attacked and killed by some of the followers of the prince of Sat- suma, one of the most powerful daimios of the empire and a bitter opponent of the foreigners. The conduct of the Englishman which caused the assault seems to have been very foolhardy, but the British minister made a demand upon the Shogunate for $500,000 and upon the daimio of Satsuma for $125,000 as an indemnity. The Shogunate after some delay agreed to the payment of the first sum, but the prince of Satsuma refused. A British squadron was dispatched to Kagoshima, the daimio' s capital, which was bombarded and burnt, after which the indemnity was paid. 1

This lesson, however, was not sufficient to teach the anti-foreign element the futility of attempting to rid their country of the intruders. Numerous acts of vio- lence occurred in 1863, among which was the burning of the American legation in Yedo. Hon. R. H. Pruyn, of New York, had succeeded Mr. Harris in 1862,

1 A Japanese statesman, writing sixteen years after this event, says : " There were many cases where fatal collisions were purposely provoked by foreigners, the results of which were no more a matter of satisfaction to us than of regret. Such was the case of Richardson, the Englishman, who willfully tried to ride through the train of the state procession of the prince of Satsuma, and was killed by a retainer of the prince, an act which, at that time of feudalism, was entirely justifiable, because such discourtesy to a princely retinue was deemed an unpardonable outrage." Matsuyama Makoto, N, A. Rev. Nov. 1878, p. 412.


190 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

and assumed his duties in the height of the agitation against foreigners. When his legation was burned, he took up his residence in another house and refused to leave the capital, although his European colleagues had withdrawn to Yokohama, where they were under the protection of their men-of-war. Finally the govern- ment informed him that it could no longer protect him, and he was escorted by a large armed force to a Japa- nese steamer and taken to Yokohama. He secured from the Shogunate a payment of $10,000 to the mother of Mr. Heusken, the murdered secretary of legation ; also $10,000 for losses on account of the burning of the legation ; and various other sums for injuries suffered by American citizens and vessels. He, however, sought to exercise the utmost moderation in his attitude towards the government, and carried his friendly spirit so far as to awaken the suspicion of the British and some other ministers of his complicity with the Japanese. 1

The Mikado's party had become so strong as to lead the Shogun to obey the summons to Kioto to confer with the emperor, a visit which was without precedent in the past three centuries. From Kioto the Shogun issued an order, which was delivered to the foreign representatives, " to the effect that the ports are to be closed and the foreigners driven out, because the people

i U. S. Dip. Cor. 1861, 1862, 1863, subject, "Japan" ; Nitobe, 75 ; 1 Reed's Japan, 255-267 ; Rein's Japan, 349 ; Alcock, vol. 1, chaps, xi., xiv., xvi., xvii., vol. 2, chaps, ii., iii., viii. ; Griffis's Mikado, 591 ; 1 Adams's History of Japan, 138, etc. ; The Story of Japan, by David Murray, New York, 1894, p. 344. For Prince Ii, The Life of Ii Naosuki, by Shimada Saburo, Tokio, 1888.


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do not desire intercourse with the foreign countries." To this order Mr. Pruyn replied that the citizens of the United States had the right of residence and trade granted by treaty. " The right thus acquired will not be surrendered and cannot be withdrawn. Even to propose such a measure is an insult to my country, and equivalent to a declaration of war. . . . The determi- nation of the Mikado and Tycoon, if attempted to be carried into effect, must involve Japan in a war with all the treaty powers."

During the difficulties with which the Shogunate had been surrounded on account of the treaties, the action of Mr. Pruyn, in contrast with the attitude of the British and French ministers, had been of a concilia- tory and forbearing character. Hence the Japanese sought to detach him from concerted action with the European powers, but he refused to listen to the sug- gestions. The Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, approved his conduct, and wrote: "You will represent to the minister of foreign affairs that it is not at all to be expected that any one of the maritime powers will consent to the suspension of their treaties, and that the United States will cooperate with them in all neces- sary means to maintain and secure the fulfillment of the treaties on the part of the Japanese government." This action of the government of the United States constitutes an exception to its general policy of avoid- ing cooperation with European powers, but the con- dition of affairs in the East and the community of interest of the treaty powers made such action to a certain extent desirable, if not necessary.


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Strengthened by the instruction of the Secretary of State, and taking advantage of his friendly relations with the Shogunate, Mr. Pruyn induced the ministers of foreign affairs to recall their letter ordering the closing of the ports and the withdrawal of the for- eigners. It is highly probable that the Shogun's action in issuing the order of the Mikado was merely perfunctory, and that his government never expected to attempt its enforcement, knowing full well that it would not be obeyed by the foreigners. Envoys had been sent by it to the governments of Europe asking for the suspension of the treaties and the postponement of the opening of the new ports, but they failed in their purpose, and it was apparent to well-informed Japanese that the country would not be permitted to take a backward step. Upon the withdrawal of the notice for the expulsion of foreigners, the representa- tives of the treaty powers, recognizing the embarrass- ments which surrounded the Japanese government, con- sented to the postponement of the time for the opening of the new ports of Yedo, Hiogo, and others. 1

Concurrently with these negotiations an event oc- curred which hastened the adjustment of the internal troubles of Japan and a definite settlement of its for- eign relations. The prince of Choshiu, a powerful anti-foreign daimio who was in open rebellion to the Shogun, had sought to close the strait of Shimonoseki, which connected the Inland Sea of Japan with the

1 U. S. Dip. Cor. 1863, 1864, subject Japan " ; Nitobe, 78 ; 1 Reed's Japan, 263 ; History of Japan, by Kinse Shiriaku, translation, Yokohama, 1873, p. 30.


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Chinese waters and was regarded by the maritime nations as an ocean highway. The prince had fortified the narrow passage which intersected his territory and guarded it with armed vessels. An American merchant vessel passing through the strait was fired upon, and, later, ships of other nationalities were similarly treated. When the news reached Yokohama, the United States naval steamer Wyoming was in the harbor, and, upon consultation with Mr. Pruyn and at his request, she proceeded to Shimonoseki, and on entering the strait was fired upon by the vessels and batteries. She returned the fire, sinking one of the vessels and badly damaging the other two. She passed through the strait and returned, engaging the batteries, with the loss of four men killed and seven wounded.

About the same time French and Dutch naval vessels had a similar experience. As a result of these attacks, a meeting of the representatives of the treaty powers was held at Yokohama, at which it was decided to or- ganize and dispatch an expedition to open the strait, if it was not done by Japan within twenty days. The Shogun being powerless in the matter, the expedition sailed. It consisted of nine British ships of war, four Dutch, three French, and one United States chartered steamer, the Jamestown, U. S. N., being detailed to protect Yokohama. The latter was the only man-of-war in Japanese waters, the civil war in the United States requiring all other of its naval vessels elsewhere. The attack upon the daimio's forts and vessels began Sep- tember 5, 1863, and continued until the 8th, when he, defeated at every point, made an unconditional submis-


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sion, and thenceforward the strait was open and free to the commerce of the world.

The attack was followed by a demand on the Sho- gunate by the ministers of the four participating powers for an indemnity, which was fixed at $3,000,000, and after some delay and great embarrassment, because of the poverty of the treasury, it was paid. An equal share of the indemnity was allotted to each nation, although Great Britain had furnished the greater portion of the armament. The exaction of the indemnity under the circumstances has been the subject of much adverse criticism. The attempt to close the port was in viola- tion of international law ; but it was not the act of the government with which the powers had relations, and it claimed that, if time was afforded, it would bring about the removal of the obstruction. The sum paid to the United States remained in the treasury unused for twenty years. The public conscience was troubled as to the justness of the exaction, and in 1883 by an act of Congress the amount received was returned to Japan, and accepted by that government " as a strong manifestation of that spirit of justice and equity which has always animated the United States in its relations with Japan." None of the other three nations par- taking of the indemnity have seen fit to follow this example. 1

An incident connected with the Shimonoseki affair occurred which was not without influence on the later history of Japan. The year before, two youths, rnem-

1 U. S. Dip. Cor. 1863-4, " Japan " ; 22 Statutes at L. 421; U. S. For. Bel. 1883, p. 606 ; Griffis's Mikado, 593.


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bers of the Choshiu clan, had escaped from the country through Yokohama, notwithstanding the death penalty for such an act. Being inspired with the foreign-hating spirit of their prince, they went abroad for the purpose of learning what it was that made the Western nations formidable, in order that they might return and make use of their knowledge against the intruder. They made their way to London as common sailors, and there heard of the resolution of the Mikado to expel the bar- barians, and of the war which threatened their country as a consequence. Their patriotic fervor led them to return. They reached Shimon oseki just at the time of the attack of the foreign squadrons, and acted as inter- preters to their prince in the peace negotiations. As Marquis Ito and Count Inouye they are known among the public men of the " New Japan " as having borne an honorable and conspicuous part in its regeneration.

The effect of the severe lessons taught the powerful daimios of Satsuma and Choshiu by the foreign fleets was to convince them of the folly of continuing further their opposition to the barbarians, and that it would be the wiser policy for their country to avail itself of the influences and methods which had made the Western nations so powerful. These lessons were not without their effect also upon other of the Mikado's supporters, and the court of Kioto, while it continued its efforts to destroy the power of the Shogun, relaxed its opposition to the treaties and to foreign residence and commerce. The first important manifestation in this direction was the sanction by the Mikado of the treaties which the Shogun had made with the powers.


196 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

When Commodore Perry negotiated his treaty in 1854, he supposed that he was holding relations with the government of the emperor of Japan. He died without knowing his error. The treaties negotiated with the European powers succeeding that of Perry were signed by their representatives under the same delusion. The real conditions of the Japanese system of government had been fully set forth several years before in publications at Canton/ but do not seem to have been brought to the attention of Perry and those who immediately followed him. It has been seen that the true relation between the Shogun and the Mikado began to dawn upon Harris in the midst of the tor- tuous negotiations in which he was involved, and soon thereafter they were fully understood. It is to be noted, however, that no other course was open to those early negotiators than the one pursued by them. The Shogun had in his hands the executive functions of government, and at the time the Mikado did not pos- sess even the semblance of power.

Mr. Pruyn, both separately and in conjunction with his European colleagues, had repeatedly urged upon the Shogunate that it should obtain from the Mikado his approval of the treaties. In 1865 the Shogun and his ministers had taken up their temporary residence at Osaka, in order to be near the Mikado, and from that place they reported to the representatives of the foreign powers at Yokohama that the two heads of government were in friendly accord, and that the Shogun expected

1 2 Chinese Repository (1833), p. 319; 9 Ib. (1840), p. 500; 10 Ib. (1841), p. 10.


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soon to go to Kioto and obtain the Mikado's sanction of the treaties. Finally the diplomats, wearied with the delay, decided to go to Osaka in a body and bring about the much desired result. They were escorted by a squadron of nine men-of-war of different nationalities, and in a short time after their arrival the Mikado's order was published (November 24, 1865), and sent to all the daimios, giving " imperial consent to the treaties."

The value of such action was that thereafter opposi- tion to the treaties and to foreigners would be a viola- tion of the emperor's edict. Up to that time opposition to them had been evidence of loyalty to the Mikado. The result was a marked improvement in the attitude of the people towards the foreign residents, although attacks upon them by lawless persons did not entirely cease. The American legation was again established at Yedo, where it has since continued undisturbed. Mr. Pruyn, who had served his country as minister through four years of very trying experience, with much useful- ness to the government and credit to himself, resigned, and was succeeded in 1866 by R. B. Van Valkenburgh.

During this year another evidence of the liberal ten- dency of the Mikado's government was the repeal of the decree, which had been in force for more than two hundred years, prohibiting the Japanese from leaving their country. In transmitting notice of this repeal to his government, the American minister says, " Another barrier of Japanese isolation has thus been removed."

It does not fall within the scope of this volume to trace the internal contest which resulted in the trans- formation of the system of government of Japan. It


198 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

became apparent from the civil war in progress and the attitude of the treaty powers that the welfare of the country demanded the restoration of full power to the Mikado. One of the leading supporters of the Sho- gun, reflecting the sentiments of many of the daimios of his party, addressed an appeal to his chief, in the course of which he said : " The march of events has brought about a revolution, and the old system can no longer be obstinately persevered in. You should restore the governing power into the hands of the sovereign, and so lay the foundation on which Japan may take its stand as the equal of all other countries. This is the imperative duty of the present moment, and is the heart- felt prayer of Yodo."

Impressed with the wisdom of the course indicated in this appeal, the Shogun addressed a manifesto to his adherents, in which he stated that " It appears to me the laws cannot be maintained in the face of the daily extension of our foreign relations, unless the govern- ment is conducted by one head, and I purpose there- fore to surrender the whole governing power into the hands of the Imperial Court." This was followed by the formal tender of his resignation, which was accepted by the Mikado. Many of his followers, however, re- fused to acquiesce in the transfer of the executive power, and the civil war continued for a time ; but the Mikado was in the end completely triumphant.

The recognition of the Mikado as emperor was soon followed by an audience granted by him to the foreign diplomatic representatives, and later by the transfer of the seat of government to Yedo, which thenceforward


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was given the name of Tokio, meaning the " eastern capital." During the civil war the Mikado, who had so strongly opposed the treaties and foreigners, died, and was succeeded by his son, Mutsuhito, a youth of fifteen years, who is still the reigning sovereign. After the resignation of the Shogun and the restoration of peace, the emperor in 1869 took what is sometimes called the " charter oath," promising to give his people a deliberative assembly, to rule justly, and "to seek for wisdom in all quarters of the world."

In the same year an event occurred which is without precedent in the history of nations, and which is the highest testimonial of the patriotism of the public men of Japan. For ages there had existed in the country a feudal system of the most rigid character. The princes, or daimios, were the supreme rulers in their respective provinces, the lords of the domain, and entitled to the unreserved service of their retainers and the people. The most intelligent and thoughtful of the daimios saw that the emperor, to be all that the name implied and in a position to rank with the rulers of the Western world, must be possessed with the powers which the princes then enjoyed. Hence they brought about a voluntary surrender to the emperor by all the feudal lords of their titles, rank, lands, and revenues, and thus enabled the government to be thoroughly reorganized under the modern system of nations. 1

An interesting fact connected with Christianity was brought to light by the civil commotions and the

1 . S. Dip. Cor. 1867-1869, " Japan" ; Kinse's History, chaps, ii. and iii. ; Adams's History of Japan ; Rein's Japan, 355-375.


200 AMERICAN DIPLOMACY IN THE ORIENT

opening of the country to foreigners. It appeared that, notwithstanding the severe measures which had been adopted in the seventeenth century for the suppression of the " evil sect/' a considerable body of native Chris- tians numbering several thousand had secretly kept their faith, and the changed condition of the country emboldened them to make themselves known. This awakened the hostility of the government, and a proclamation was issued by the emperor reviving the ancient prohibitive decrees. The matter came to the notice of the American minister. He convoked his colleagues, and an identic note of protest was agreed upon and sent to the Japanese government.

On receipt of the proclamation by Secretary Seward, he replied to Mr. Van Valkenburgh that the President " regards the proclamation as not merely ill-judged, but as injurious and offensive to the United States and to all other Christian states, and as directly conflicting with the eighth article of the treaty of 1858, and no less in conflict with the tolerating spirit and principles which prevail throughout the world. You are advised, therefore, that the United States cannot acquiesce in or submit to the Mikado's proclamation." The minister was instructed to bring the matter quietly and in a friendly manner to the attention of the Japanese gov- ernment, in view of the civil disturbances, but to " proceed with firmness and without practicing inju- rious hesitation or accepting any abasing compromise." The other treaty powers adopted the same course, but not until after much discussion and delay on the part of the Japanese government did the persecution


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cease and were all the prohibitions against Christianity revoked. 1

The overthrow of the Shogun, the assumption of full power by the Mikado, thenceforth known only as Emperor, the abolition of feudalism, the removal of the capital to Tokio (Yedo), and 'the establishment of un- > qualified diplomatic relations with the Western coun-j ' tries, secured for Japan a recognized place among the powers of the world; but it had a long and weary journey to travel before it could take its place as an equal in the family of nations. After much hesitation and civil commotion, it had turned its back upon the past, but there was before it the task of reorganizing the administration of government, the judiciary, the social system, and commerce. A generation was yet to pass before the reorganization was to be complete in the estimation of the foreign powers.

True to his " charter oath," the emperor was to seek for wisdom in all quarters of the world. The leading nations of the earth were to have their share in advan- cing or retarding the development of the country, and in enabling it to attain the goal of the patriotic am- bition of its people. The United States had been fore- most in leading Japan out of its seclusion. The part which it was to play in the development of the new order of affairs will form the subject of a later chapter.

What the country had already accomplished com- manded the respect of mankind. The people of the Western world especially were prepared to welcome the

1 U. S. Dip. Cor. 1867, pp. 56, 63 ; 1868, pp. 749, 757, 796 ; 1870, 453-486 ; Murray's Japan, 379.


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dawning of a new era in the East. A sympathetic response was made to the motto which the Japanese inscribed over their exhibit at the Centennial Exposi- tion in Philadelphia in 1876 :

In the ancient Yamato Island, the sun rises : Must not even the foreigner reverence ? Media:Example.ogg