After the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1598, Tokugawa Ieyasu began to complete the unification of Japan. Finally in 1600, he completed his work and established the Tokugawa Shogunate which lasted for two-hundred sixty-five years. Ieyasu constructed his government headquarters in Edo, now named Tokyo. The Japanese social classes, which had been in place long before Ieyasu, were made even more strict and nearly impossible to move up or down a social class. The top social class was the Samurai and the Daimyos, who were the regional lords of specific areas of Japan. Only the Samurai and the Daimyos had special privileges, such as carrying a sword or wearing hair in a topknot. The second highest social class was the farmers because they kept Japanese society alive by producing all of the food. Next were the artisans, who made all of the goods. The lowest social class was the merchants because they only traded common good and were not viewed as productive members of society.
On July 8, 1853, American Commodore Matthew Perry sailed to Edo, now Tokyo, demanding the release of American prisoners, the right to refuel American ships near Japan, and the opening of Japanese ports to American trading ships. However, the Japanese declined his demand, and Perry was sent away . Despite his setbacks by the Japanese government, Perry was not to be thwarted. He returned once more in February, 1854 with seven warships to threaten the Shogunate. Japan had only two choices: sign a treaty and allow foreign traders into Japanese ports, or go to war with America . Knowing that America was far more advanced and would win any war waged against Japan, Tokugawa Iesada, the shogun when Perry arrived in Japan, allowed Commodore Perry to enter Japan and discuss a treaty . On March 31, 1854, Japan and America finally signed the Treaty of Kanagawa, allowing foreign trade in Japan and a refueling spot for American ships. This led to the signing of many more treaties between Japan and other countries such and Great Britain, Russia, and France. Ironically, however, the treaties and foreign trade would eventually lead to the downfall of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
There are twelve different articles within the Treaty of Kanagawa; some involve American trading rights within Japan, while others pertain to
Due to a large number of American whaling and naval vessels in the Pacific Ocean, Article III was written to ensure that American sailors would be taken care of in the event of a shipwreck. Any shipwrecked sailors found off the coast of Japan were required to be taken either to the port of Simoda or Hakodadi until an appointed American citizen came to Japan to take them back to America. Also, any Shipwrecked Japanese sailors were to be taken to an American port until an appointed Japanese citizen arrived. Any expenses for either of the two countries were nonrefundable. Article IV was an addition to Article III, stating that shipwrecked American sailors must be treated as they would be treated in other foreign countries. They are only to be governed by fair and just laws.
Article V specifies the traveling restrictions for any American citizens visiting or living in the ports of Simoda or Hakodadi. They are forbidden to travel outside a boundary of seven miles from the center of each port. This article in the treaty was clearly abolished in later years, as today there are thousands of American citizens living all across Japan, not just near Simoda and Hakodadi. Article VI complements Article II, stating that if there is anything else needed on the American ships other than water, coal, wood, and food, then everything must be carefully planned and discussed to ensure the transactions are completed smoothly. Article VII allows American ships to exchange gold and silver coins, clothing, and other
Article IX is perhaps the most important within the Treaty of Kanagawa. This article conveys that in the future, if Japan grants any privileges or advantages to any other nation, then these same privileges and advantages must also be granted to the United Sates. Over time, this gave the United States many more trading rights with Japan than it had resulting from the Treaty of Kanagawa. Article X is another complementary article; however, this time of Article III. It allows American vessels to enter Japanese ports other than Simoda and Hakodadi only if in distress or if there is severe weather. Other than these conditions, all American ships must sail into either Simoda or Hakodadi. Article XI involves diplomatic relations between the United States and Japan. Eighteen months after signing the Treaty of Kanagawa, the United States may send Consuls or Agents to the port of Simoda if either of the two nations feels that it is necessary. The last article of the Treaty of Kanagawa was a conclusion, saying that in order for the treaty to take effect, it must first be signed by the President of the United States and approved by both the United States’ Senate and the government of Japan.
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