Places, Images, Times & Transformations

Ansei Treaties

Also known as the "unequal treaties." Trade agreements concluded between the Tokugawa shogunate and the United States, Russia, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and France in 1858, only five years after Commodore Matthew Perry ended Japan's policy of national seclusion. The U.S. treaty (Harris Treaty) served as a model for the treaties with the other nations. These treaties opened several Japanese cities to trade, provided for the exchange of diplomatic representatives, assigned living and recreational areas for foreign residents, set tariff rates, and sanctioned extraterritoriality. These unequal arrangements drew Japan, for the first time in 250 years, into a network of economic and political relationships with the West. Amendment of the treaties remained an important diplomatic issue throughout the Meiji period (1868-1912). (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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