Renegotiating Japan’s Unequal Treaties

A Window on Late Nineteenth-Century Diplomacy

Kaoru Iokibe. Translated by Fred Uleman

University of Tokyo Press

Renegotiating Japan’s Unequal Treaties

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Pub Date: February 2019

ISBN: 9784130270342

400 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $150.00£116.00

Renegotiating Japan’s Unequal Treaties

A Window on Late Nineteenth-Century Diplomacy

Kaoru Iokibe. Translated by Fred Uleman

University of Tokyo Press

Japan was compelled to open its doors to Western commerce in the 1850s and 1860s. Yet because the treaties signed at that time reflected the Western powers’ dominant position, Japanese foreign policy’s prime imperative in the initial decades afterward was to rectify these unequal treaties. This book, appearing in English for the first time, explains the political process of the negotiations attempting revision of the treaties in the context of events both inside and outside Japan.
This book brings a fresh perspective to a classic and still important historical issue: the character of the unequal treaties imposed on Japan by the West, and the character of the Japanese response to those treaties. The government’s efforts to revise the treaties—and popular responses to those efforts—were a crucible for Japan’s modern nationalism, just as recent efforts to revise the treaty relations between Japan and the United States have produced renewed articulations of nationalism across the political spectrum. By also bringing into view the efforts to revise the Sino-Japanese treaty of 1871, Iokibe offers a more dynamic understanding of a Meiji era history too often divided into separate histories of ‘Japan and the West’ and ‘Japan and Asia.’ He takes full account of recent works which challenge a simplistic view of the treaties as patently and obviously ‘unequal’ from the start. He then goes on to carefully specify the ways in which, and the moments at which, these treaties both functioned as unequal agreements and were understood to be unequal.Andrew Gordon, Harvard University
This pathbreaking work of diplomatic history sheds new light on the long and winding process of Japan’s negotiations for treaty equality with western nations in the Meiji era. Moving beyond standard accounts, Iokibe skillfully weaves together different threads—the government that vacillated between different diplomatic strategies, the media that grappled with secret negotiations, and the public that often harbored unrealistic expectations—to produce a compelling historical account of one of the most important policy issues of Meiji Japan. The fascinating narrative reveals what it meant for Japan to become a full-fledged nation and locates the roots of Japan’s double-standard diplomacy that sees the West as the model and China and Asia as junior partners or worse. A landmark achievement in diplomatic history, this book is a must read for those interested in modern Japanese history and for anyone seeking insight into the complex two-level game of domestic politics and international relations.Kiyoteru Tsutsui, University of Michigan
Author’s Introduction
Chapter 1. Foreign Minister Terashima Munenori and Tariff Administration
Chapter 2. Foreign Minister Inoue Kaoru and Police Administration
Chapter 3. The Preliminary Conference on Treaty Revision
Chapter 4. Between Conferences
Chapter 5. The Treaty Revision Conference
Chapter 6. Conclusion: Looking Back, Looking Forward
Afterword
Bibliography
Appendices

About the Author

Kaoru Iokibe is a professor at the Graduate School of Law and Politics, University of Tokyo.