Anglo-Japanese Friendship Treaty

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The Anglo-Japanese Friendship Treaty (日英和親条約 Nichi-Ei Washin Jōyaku?) between Britain and Japan was signed October 14, 1854 in Nagasaki. The United Kingdom was represented by Admiral Sir James Stirling, with the governors of Nagasaki (Nagasaki bugyō) representing the Tokugawa shogunate (Bakufu). The “treaty is also known as The Anglo Japanese Convention of 1854. This “treaty “ between Britain and Japan initially began when “Admiral Stirling entered the port of Nagasaki September 7, 1854 … and began his negotiations with the Japanese authorities” (Fox, 1941). Stirling explained in a letter the reason of his visit which “enclosed a copy of the Queen’s proclamation declaring war on Russia”, and also explained how this would “ultimately affect Japan” (Fox, 1941). After the Governor received the request he forwarded it to Yedo for the government’s reply. This journey would be 400 miles and would take a month for reply (Fox, 1941). Stirling continually tried to request for “most favored-nation treatment for the British” to Put them on the same level of treatment with China and the Dutch with no avail the Governor explained that “Japan’s longstanding intercourse with the Dutch and the Chinese must” put them above “newcomers” (Fox, 1941). By October 4 the Governor “reported that he had been empowered by Yedo to settle with Stirling and requested a definite proposal and Stirling sent a draft of a convention the next day”(Fox, 1941). The “Treaty” was finally agreed on and signed on October 14, 1854 in Nagasaki. Only Admiral Stirling signed the English Version of the Convention. The document was written in Japanese, English and Dutch “to benefit both parties” (Fox, 1941). Below is the English version-

Convention For Regulating the Admission Of British Ships Into The Ports of Japan
It is agreed between Sir James Stirling, Knight, Rear-Admiral, and Commander-in-chief of the ships and vessels of Her Britannic Majesty in the east Indies and seas adjacent, and Mezio-no Chekfu-no Kami, Obunyo of Nagasaki, and Nagai Evan Ocho, Omedski of Nagasaki, ordered by His Imperial highness the Emperor of Japan to act herein, that:-
1st

The Ports of Nagasaki [Hizen] and Hakodadi [Matsumai] shall be open to British ships for the purposes of effecting repairs, and obtaining fresh water, provisions, and other supplies of any sort they may absolutely want for the use of the ships.

2nd

Nagasaki shall be open for the purposes aforesaid from and after the present date, and Hakodadi from and after the end of fifty days from the Admiral’s departure from this port. The rules and regulations of each of these ports are to be complied with.

3rd

Only ships in distress from weather, or unmanageable, will be permitted to enter other ports than those specified in the foregoing Articles, without permission from the Imperial Government.

4th

British ships in Japanese ports shall conform to the laws of Japan. If high officers or commanders of ships shall break any such laws, it will lead to the ports being closed. Should inferior persons break them, they are to be delivered over to the commanders of their ships for punishment.

5th

In the ports of Japan, either now open, or which may hereafter be opened, to the ships or subjects of any foreign nation, British ships and subjects shall be entitled to admission, and to the enjoyment of an equality of advantages accruing to the Dutch and Chinese from their existing relations with Japan.

6th

This Convention shall be ratified, and the ratifications shall be exchanged at Nagasaki on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain, and on behalf of His Highness the Emperor of Japan, within twelve months from the present date.

7th

When this Convention shall be ratified, no high officer coming to Japan shall alter it. In witness whereof we have signed the same, and have affixed our seals thereunto, at Nagasaki, this fourteenth day of October 1854. (L.S.) James Stirling (Fox, 1941)

The written Japanese translations of one of Admiral Sir James Stirling’s letters to Nagasaki ぶぎょう(bugyoo) on September 7, 1854 negotiating the convention or “treaty”. Also the speech given by Stirling on October 4, 1854 just ten days before the signing of the “treaty” (Beasley, 1950).

It would be followed by the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1858.

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