Hugh Fraser (diplomat)
Fraser headed the British Legation in Tokyo as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary. He headed the British delegation in the final stages of the negotiations which led to the signing on 16 July 1894 of the revised treaty (called the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce and Navigation) between the United Kingdom and the Empire of Japan. This replaced the "unequal treaty" signed by James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin in 1858 and led to the abolition of extraterritoriality in Japan in 1899. Thus was Japan freed from the commercial and political burdens imposed by the unequal treaties signed with foreign countries.
Life and career
Just out of Eton and not quite eighteen, Fraser was appointed, as an unpaid attaché at The Hague in January 1855, and was sent to Dresden the following month. He moved to Copenhagen in November 1857 and passed an examination in August 1859 to become a paid attaché. He was appointed to the British legation in Central America in September 1862 and subsequently served in Stockholm, and Rome.
After a brief engagement of six weeks, Fraser and wife set out for Peking where Hugh Fraser served as Secretary of the Legation. For two years he served as Chargé d'Affaires while British Minister Sir Thomas Wade was on leave.
His appointment to Tokyo was announced in April 1888 and commenced on 1 May 1889.
Death in Japan
Fraser died aged 57 in his post at Tokyo and was buried on 6 June 1894 in the foreigners' section of the municipal cemetery at Aoyama in central Tokyo. With a ceremonial procession arranged by the British architect Josiah Conder, the coffin was carried out of the British Legation at 3.00 pm, and reached St. Andrew's Church, Shiba Koen at 4.00 pm. Many mourners came to pay their respects, including Japanese government ministers and all the Foreign Representatives. The funeral service and committal were conducted by the Bishop Edward Bickersteth.
Obituaries were published in The Japan Weekly Mail and the Nichi Nichi Shinbun, a semi-official Japanese newspaper. The latter stated: "The singularly just and impartial views taken by him on all occasions were erroneously supposed...to be unwarrantably friendly to Japan....In private life, he was kind, modest, and reserved, winning the respect and love of everybody, both Japanese and foreign, that came into close contact with him. A man of firm resolution, he was never moved from the path of duty by the clamours of his nationals in the settlements."
- List of Ambassadors from the United Kingdom to Japan
- Anglo-Japanese relations
- Foreign cemeteries in Japan
- Ian Nish. (2004). British Envoys in Japan 1859-1972. Folkestone, Kent: Global Oriental. ISBN 9781901903515; OCLC 249167170
- UK in Japan, Chronology of Heads of Mission