Gustave Duchesne de Bellecourt
Gustave Duchesne, Prince de Bellecourt (1817–1881) was a 19th-century French diplomat who was active in Asia, and especially in Japan. He was the first French official representative in Japan from 1859 to 1864, following the signature of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between France and Japan in 1858.
Gustave de Bellecourt was Secretary of the French legation in China in 1857, under Jean-Baptiste Louis Gros. He participated to the operation against China in the Second Opium War. In 1858, Gustave Duchesne de Bellecourt arrived in Japan as the secretary of the mission for the Franco-Japanese Treaty of Trade and Amity, led by Jean-Baptiste Louis Gros.
The following year, he went again to Japan, arriving on 6 September 1859, and became the first French representative in the country, with the title of "Premier ministre plénipotentiaire de France au Japon". He was assisted by the translator Father Girard.
Duchesne, who had been a witness to Western interventions in China, was a strong advocate of the use of force to govern relations with Japan. He supported the French intervention in the 20 July 1863 Bombardment of Shimonoseki by Captain Benjamin Jaurès and the August 1863 armed intervention of the British in the Bombardment of Kagoshima.
Duchesne however was strongly criticized by the French government for taking such bellicose steps, for the reason that France had much more important military commitments to honour in other parts of the world, and could not afford a conflict in Japan.
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|French Ambassador to Japan