Ansei Treaties

Ansei Treaties


unequal treaties concluded by the USA and other powers with Japan from 1854 to 1858, the Ansei years (the official title for the years of Emperor Komei’s reign, 1854–60). The treaties brought to an end more than two centuries of Japanese isolation from the outside world. In 1852 the government of the USA sent M. Perry’s squadron to Japan. Under threat of arms, he obtained the signing of the first Japanese-American treaty on Mar. 31, 1854, in Kanagawa, opening the ports of Hakodate and Shimoda to American vessels without, however, the right of trade. On Oct. 14, 1854, Japan signed an analogous treaty with England, and on Feb. 7, 1855, one with Russia. The American consul general T. Harris, who arrived in Japan in 1856, used blackmail and threats to make the Japanese sign a new treaty that was more advantageous for the USA on June 17, 1857; a year later, on July 29, 1858, a one-sided trade agreement was concluded. On the model of the Japanese-American trade treaty of 1858, Japan signed treaties with Russia (Aug. 19, 1858), England (Aug. 26, 1858), and France (Oct. 9, 1858).

The Ansei treaties established free trade with Japan for foreign merchants and drew Japan into the world capitalist market. They gave foreigners extraterritorial rights and consular jurisdiction and deprived Japan of customs autonomy, binding it to low import duties. After the incomplete bourgeois revolution of 1867–68 in Japan, the question of abolishing the unequal treaties was posed sharply. However, the persistent efforts of the Japanese government to accomplish this were not successful until 1894, when England at last entered into a treaty abolishing the unequal articles of the Ansei treaties—with the exception of the limitation on customs autonomy—as of 1899. New treaties along the lines of the Anglo-Japanese agreement of 1894 were concluded between Japan and the other powers. By the trade agreements of 1911, the last limitations on customs autonomy were abolished, although Japan had in effect taken little account of these limitations from the time of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05.


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