Convention of Kanagawa

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Ratification of the Japan-US Treaty of Peace and Amity, or "Convention of Kanagawa", 21 February 1855. Diplomatic Record Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Japan).
Japanese woodblock print of Perry (center) and other high-ranking US seamen
Foreigners in Yokohama in 1854

On March 31, 1854, the Convention of Kanagawa (Japanese: 日米和親条約 Hepburn: Nichibei Washin Jōyaku?, "Japan–US Treaty of Peace and Amity") or Kanagawa Treaty (神奈川条約 Kanagawa Jōyaku?) was used by Commodore Matthew Perry of the U.S. Navy to force the opening of the Japanese ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to American trade, and ended the Tokugawa shogunate's 200 year policy of seclusion (Sakoku).

Treaty of Peace and Amity (1854)[edit]

The treaty opened the Japanese ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to United States trade and guaranteed the safety of shipwrecked US sailors; however, the treaty did not create a basis for establishing a permanent residence in these locations.[1] The treaty did establish a foundation for the Americans to maintain a permanent consul in Shimoda.[2]

English text of the Kanagawa Treaty

Perry initially refused to deal with local Japanese officials and demanded to speak only with representatives of the Japanese head of state. At the time, Shogun Tokugawa Ieyoshi was the de facto ruler of Japan; for the Emperor to interact in any way with foreigners was out of the question. Perry concluded the treaty with representatives of the shogun, led by plenipotentiary Hayashi Akira (林韑?) and the text was reluctantly endorsed subsequently by Emperor Komei.[3]

The treaty was ratified on 21 February 1855.[4]

Later treaties[edit]

The Kanagawa treaty was followed by the United States-Japan Treaty of Kanagawa, the "Harris Treaty" of 1858, which allowed the establishment of foreign concessions, extraterritoriality for foreigners, and minimal import taxes for foreign goods. The Japanese chafed under the "unequal treaty system" which characterized Asian and western relations during this period.[5]

The Kanagawa treaty became a significant causative factor leading to serious internal conflicts within Japan — an upheaval which was only resolved in 1867 with the end of the Tokugawa shogunate and the beginning of the Meiji Restoration.[citation needed]

Similar treaties were subsequently negotiated by the United Kingdom (Anglo-Japanese Friendship Treaty, October 1854), the Russians (Treaty of Shimoda, 7 February 1855), and the French (Treaty of Amity and Commerce between France and Japan, 9 October 1858).

Kanagawa Treaty House[edit]

The Convention was negotiated and then signed in a purpose-built house in Yokohama, Japan.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "From Washington; The Japanese Treaty-Its Advantages and Disadvantages-The President and Col. Rinney, &c.," New York Times. October 18, 1855.
  2. ^ *Perry, Matthew Calbraith. (1856). Narrative of the expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, 1856.
  3. ^ Cullen, Louis M. (2003). A History of Japan, 1582-1941: Internal and External Worlds, p. 173-185.
  4. ^ Diplomatic Record Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Japan) exhibit.
  5. ^ Bert Edström, Bert. (2000). The Japanese and Europe: Images and Perceptions, p. 101.


External links[edit]