Treaty of Kanagawa

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The Treaty of Kanagawa was signed in 1854 and allowed the United States to use two ports and open an embassy in Japan; it opened a system of trade between the two nations and included a most favored nation clause. The arrival of the powerful American fleet under Commodore Matthew Perry forced Japan to act. Japan now began signing similar treaties with other powers, and thus began the process of opening up of Japan to outside influences after centuries of closure.

Further reading

  • LaFeber, Walter. The clash: U.S.-Japanese relations throughout history‎ (1988) excerpt and text search
  • Pletcher, David M. The diplomacy of involvement: American economic expansion across the Pacific (2001) excerpt and text search

Text of Treaty

The United States of American and the empire of Japan, desiring to establish firm, lasting and sincere friendship between the two nations, have resolved to fix, in a manner clear and positive by means of a treaty or general convention of peace and amity, the rules which shall in future be mutually observed in the intercourse of their respective countries; for which most desirable object the President of the United States has conferred full powers on his commissioner, Matthew Calbraith Perry, special ambassador of the United States to Japan and the august sovereign of Japan has given similar full powers to his commissioners, Hayashi-Daigaku-no-kami, Ido, Prince of Tsus-Sima; Izawa, Prince of Mmimasaki; and Udono, member of the Board of Revenue.

And the said commissioners after having exchanged their said full powers and duly considered the premises, have agreed to the following articles:

Article I – There shall be a perfect, permanent and universal peace, and a sincere and cordial amity, between the United States of American on the one part and between their people, respectfully, (respectively,) without exception of persons or places

Article II – The port of Simoda, in the principality of Idzu and the port of Hakodadi, in the pricipality of Matsmai are granted by the Japanese as ports for the reception for American ships, where they can be supplied with wood, water, provisions and coal, and other articles their necessities may require, as far as the Japanese have them. The time for opening the first named port is immediately on signing this treaty; the last named port is to be opened immediately after the same day in the ensuing Japanese year.

Note- A tariff of prices shall be given by the Japanese officers of the things which they can furnish, payment for which shall be made in gold, and silver coin.

Article III – Whenever ships of the United States are thrown or wrecked on the coast of Japan, the Japanese vessels will assist them, and carry their crews to Simoda or Hakodadi and hand them over to their countrymen appointed to receive them. Whatever articles the shipwrecked men may have preserved shall likewise be restored and the expenses incurred in the rescue and support of Americans and Japanese who may thus be thrown up on the shores of either nation are not to be refunded.

Article IV – Those shipwrecked persons and other citizens of the United States shall be free as in the other countries and not subjected to confinement but shall be amenable to just laws.

Article V – Shipwrecked men and other citizens of the United States, temporarily living at Simoda and Hakodadi, shall not be subject to such restrictions and confinement as the Dutch and Chinese are at Nagasakil but shall be free at Simoda to go where they please within the limits of seven Japanese miles from a small island in the harbor of Simoda, marked on the accompanying chart hereto appended; and shall in like manner be free to go where they please at Hakodadi, within limits to be defined after the visit of the United States squadron to that place.

Article VI – If there be any other sort of goods wanted or any business which shall require to be arranged, there shall be careful deliberation between the particles in order to settle such matters.

Article VII – It is agreed that ships of the United states resorting to the ports open to them, shall be permitted to exchange gold and silver coin and articles of goods for other articles of goods under such regulations as shall be temporarily established by the Japanese government for that purpose. It is stipulated, however that the ships of the United States shall be permitted to carry away whatever articles they are unwilling to exchange.

Article VIII – Wood, water provisions, coal and goods required shall only be procured through the agency of Japanese officers appointed for that purpose, and in no other manner.

Article IX – It is agreed, that if, at any future day, the government of Japan shall grant to any other nation or nations privileges and advantages which are not herein granted to the United states and the citizens thereof, that these same privileges and advantages shall be granted likewise to the United States and to the citizens thereof without any consultation or delay.

Article X – Ships of the United States shall be permitted to resort to no other ports in Japan but Simoda and Hakodadi, unless in distress or forced by stress of weather.

Article XI – There shall be appointed by the government of the United States consuls or agents to reside in Simoda at any time after the expiration of eighteen months from the date of the signing of this treaty; provided that either of the two governments deem such arrangement necessary.

Article XII – The present convention, having been concluded and duly signed, shall be obligatory, and faithfully observed by the United States of America, and Japan and by the citizens and subjects of each respective power; and it is to be ratified and approved by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate thereof, and by the august Sovereign of Japan, and the ratification shall be exchanged within eighteen months from the date of the signature therefore, or sooner if practicable.

In faith, whereof, we, the respective plenipotentiaries of the United States of America and the empire of Japan aforesaid have signed and sealed these presents.

Done at Kanagawa, this thirty-first day of March, in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ one thousand eight hundred and fifty-four and of Kayei the seventh year, third month and third day.

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