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Treaty of Kanagawa

Millard Fillmore

Treaty of Kanagawa: Millard Fillmore was the 13th American President who served in office from July 9, 1850 to March 4, 1853. One of the important events during his presidency was Treaty of Kanagawa that was negotiated by Commodore Matthew Perry's Mission to Japan.

Definition and Summary of the Treaty of Kanagawa
Summary and definition:
The Treaty of Kanagawa was the first treaty between Japan and the United States that was signed by Commodore Matthew Perry and Shogunate representatives of the Japanese government on March 31, 1854.

The Treaty of Kanagwa was agreed at the Convention of Kanagawa and was the basis of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, aka the Harris Treaty, that was signed on on July 29, 1858 by Townsend Harris, the first Consul General to the Empire of Japan.

Commodore Matthew C. Perry: 1853 Expedition to Japan
In March 1852, President Millard Fillmore ordered Commodore Matthew Perry (1794-1858) to command the U.S. Navy's expedition to establish diplomatic and trading relations with Japan - refer to Commodore Matthew Perry's Mission to Japan. During Matthew Perry's first expedition to Japan in 1853 he had intimidated the Japanese by exercising demonstrations of the military strength of the United States by arriving in Japan on steam powered ships and shelling Uraga using a new type of canons called the Paixhans shell gun - it would be called Gunboat Diplomacy.

Commodore Matthew C. Perry: 1853 Expedition to Japan
Commodore Matthew Perry left Japan on the July 14, 1853 declaring that he would return the following year to receive the Japanese response to the letter from President Millard Fillmore, to the Emperor of Japan.

The Convention of Kanagawa
When Matthew Perry returned to Japan on February 13, 1854 he met with Japanese officials at the Convention of Kanagawa to find that the Japanese had already prepared a treaty accepting the importance of demands in President Millard Fillmore's letter. The Japanese government had realized that Japan was in no position to defend itself against a foreign power, with superior military capabilities, and that Japan could not retain its isolation policy without risking war.

The Kanagawa Treaty (Treaty of Amity and Commerce) for kids
The Kanagawa Treaty between the United States and Japan was signed on the deck of the USS Powhatan flagship in Edo (now Tokyo) Bay on  March 31, 1854. The Kanagawa Treaty was the precursor to the "Treaty of Peace and Amity" and established formal diplomatic relations between Japan and the United States. The Kanagawa Treaty was not a commercial treaty, and it did not guarantee the right to trade with Japan - the treaty relating to important matter of trading rights was left to Townsend Harris who would become the first Consul General to the Empire of Japan. The terms and provisions of the Kanagawa Treaty were:

  • Peace and friendship between the United States and Japan and the exchange of diplomatic agents

  • Allowed for a US Consul in Shimoda

  • Opening two ports to American ships at Shimoda and Hakodate

  • Granted permission for US ships to buy supplies including coal and other necessary provisions in Japanese ports

  • Granted protection for US sailors

  • Agreed to open a harbor for trade within 5 years

The Kanagawa Treaty for kids: The Treaty of Amity and Commerce: The Harris Treaty
The Treaty of Amity and Commerce contained all the provisions of the Kanagawa Treaty negotiated by Commodore Matthew Perry.  The Kanagawa Treaty was re-named the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and its terms were concluded by Townsend Harris who had been appointed the first Consul General to the Empire of Japan. The Kanagawa Treaty, renamed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce also received yet another name - the Harris Treaty. The final Kanagawa Treaty (the Treaty of Amity and Commerce or the Harris Treaty) was signed on July 29, 1858. The additional provisions contained in the final Kanagawa Treaty concentrated on trade. The terms and provisions added to the final part of the Kanagawa Treaty were:

  • Opening of the ports of of Kanagawa, Kobe, Nagasaki, Niigata, and Yokohama to foreign trade

  • Permission for United States citizens to live and trade in the trading ports, protected by U.S. laws

  • Fixed low import-export duties

  • The right of missionary operations and teaching

The signing of the Kanagawa treaty signaled the end of Japanese isolation.

The Kanagawa Treaty for kids: Gunboat Diplomacy
Treaty of Kanagawa began a tradition of "Gunboat diplomacy". The term "Gunboat diplomacy" refers to foreign policy carried out with the backing of the threat, or use of, military force. "Gunboat diplomacy" is often associated with mid-nineteenth century American expansionism. The Matthew Perry expedition to Japan and the Kanagawa Treaty is therefore viewed by many to be an extension of the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, by which Americans believed they had a "God-given" right to spread their political doctrines and commerce across the continent of North America. The "Gunboat diplomacy" applied by Commodore Matthew Perry was applied, with disastrous results, by Pierre Soulé, the minister to Spain during the affair of the 1854 Ostend Manifesto.

US American History
1850-1865: Secession Era

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