Negotiating with Imperialism: The Unequal Treaties and the Culture of Japanese Diplomacy (英語) ペーパーバック – 2006/9/15
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Japan's modern international history began in 1858 with the signing of the "unequal" commercial treaty with the United States. Over the next fifteen years, Japanese diplomacy was reshaped to respond to the Western imperialist challenge. Negotiating with Imperialism is the first book to explain the emergence of modern Japan through this early period of treaty relations.
Michael Auslin dispels the myth that the Tokugawa bakufu was diplomatically incompetent. Refusing to surrender to the West's power, bakufu diplomats employed negotiation as a weapon to defend Japan's interests. Tracing various visions of Japan's international identity, Auslin examines the evolution of the culture of Japanese diplomacy. Further, he demonstrates the limits of nineteenth-century imperialist power by examining the responses of British, French, and American diplomats. After replacing the Tokugawa in 1868, Meiji leaders initially utilized bakufu tactics. However, their 1872 failure to revise the treaties led them to focus on domestic reform as a way of maintaining independence and gaining equality with the West.
In a compelling analysis of the interplay among assassinations, Western bombardment of Japanese cities, fertile cultural exchange, and intellectual discovery, Auslin offers a persuasive reading of the birth of modern Japan and its struggle to determine its future relations with the world.
In the mold of Ronald Toby's seminal work on early modern Japanese statecraft, Michael Auslin offers a superb study of Japanese diplomacy, 1858-1872. There can no longer be any excuse for viewing the Japanese as passive victims of the unequal treaties. Auslin demonstrates their success at manipulating the Western powers and achieving their principal goal--protecting Japan's territorial sovereignty. (Warren I. Cohen, University of Maryland, Baltimore County)
In the first major reexamination of the 'opening of Japan' in decades, Auslin describes the changing diplomatic culture of Japan as the country's leaders sought to understand a world dominated by Western power, wealth, and ideas. Reflecting the latest scholarship on imperialism, the book treats Japan not as a passive victim of the West's coercive diplomacy but as a nation with its own agendas, strategies, and negotiating tactics. In addition, Auslin shows how Western powers were often willing to cooperate with Japan and help it incorporate itself into the globalizing world. Students of comparative imperialism, globalization, and Japanese foreign affairs will find this an indispensable work. (Akira Iriye, Harvard University)
Besides the merit of its specific subject, Auslin's succinct book in a more general sense provides a significant dismantling of historical and historiographical boundaries on a number of levels...Auslin is a capable writer; his analysis is astute, engaging and carefully crafted. (Robert G. Kane Pacific Affairs)
Negotiating with Imperialism breaks new ground in the study of modern Japanese diplomatic history. In it, Michael R. Auslin presents a wealth of detail on Japanese foreign interactions between 1858 and 1872 when Japanese and Western diplomats carried out a series of hard-fought negotiations that defined Japan's place in a new global environment. Following the long tradition of diplomatic historians, Auslin grounds his work on a thorough reading of British, American, and Japanese archival materials, but he also offers a compelling interpretive framework based on the premise of an evolving Japanese "culture of diplomacy." (M. William Steele Monumenta Nipponica)
Many studies have been published on the bothumatsu period, making it no longer easy for one scholar to discuss this entire span of time within a single conceptual framework. Negotiating with Imperialism blows some fresh air on to what had become the rather stagnant atmosphere of this intensely studied subject...It is the very clarity and persuasiveness of the book's perspectives on the issues and history that stimulate us to present such alternative interpretations. Without doubt, it will contribute to further enlivening the study of the opening of Japan. (Iokibe Kaoru Social Service Japan Journal 2007-04-01)
Japan's grievance against the unequal treaties was not that they were forced upon a reluctant government by more formidable powers. Its claim for revision was based on international law and focussed on three asymmetries that made the signatory powers unequal as to their rights and obligations. First, the treaties contained provisions for extraterritoriality which allowed foreign residents who broke Japanese law to be judged by their countries' officials. Second, they denied the Japanese the freedom to determine their own tariffs and set them at moderate rates, thereby committing Japan to the principle of free trade advocated by the British. Third, they included most-favored nation status for the Western signatories but not the Japanese.
Putting these treaties in their historical context reveals that what was later denounced as inequalities wasn't perceived as such within the framework of the bakufu's diplomatic culture. Indeed, specialized terms such as "consul", "tariff", and "extraterritoriality", had no specific counterpart nor even close meaning in Japanese. If anything, the bakufu authorities were rather satisfied with the provision of extraterritoriality, considered as as a traditional way of holding foreign merchants responsible for their own affairs and of isolating them in fixed residence areas like the Dutch in Dejima. Likewise, the most-favored nation rule, which allowed the "use of barbarians to control barbarians", was perceived as a guarantee that no foreign power gained a preponderant position. As for tariffs, unlike Qing China where the British took over the management of tariffs and foreign trade, Japan maintained control over its own customs.
Inheriting a tradition where diplomatic ceremony was, if anything, the essence of the region's international relations, the Japanese were most sensitive to issues of form and ritual. The treaty signing ceremonies satisfied their need for pomp and decorum. According to a contemporary witness, the agreement with England was "a most solemn and serious operation, employing copies of the agreement in Dutch, Japanese, and English, in triplicate, and requiring a total of eighty-four signatures." The treaty instruments were then carried in solemn procession through the streets of Edo. The style and rhetoric of treaty making thus gave an appearance of equality, respect, and even partnership, that obfuscated the realities of the unequal power relationship between the signatories.
Contrary to the Tianjin Treaty forced upon Qing China on that same year, the Ansei treaties were not treaties of defeat imposed after a war on a beaten nation, but negotiated agreements that both sides concluded ostensibly on their own free will. Even if the threat of force was present and the fate encountered by China loomed large in the mind of bakufu officials, coercion itself wasn't used. In fact, China was less a model for Japan's treaties with the West than another Asian nation, the kingdom of Siam, which had maintained its independence in the face of Western imperial expansion and where the American negotiator, Townsend Harris, had stopped to sign a commercial treaty on his way to Japan.
The treaties restrained Japan in many ways and the bakufu later implemented a strategy of foot dragging, noncompliance, and deception, in order to protect the core set of ideological, intellectual, and physical boundaries that formed concentric circles around Japan's national diplomatic culture. Following James C. Scott, the author analyses negotiation, Japan's weapon of choice, as a form of resistance in which Japanese officials soon became experts. Since Japan was not to be colonized, Western powers treated Japan from the beginning more "equally" than they did colonized states, such as India, or semi-colonized nations, such as China. Ultimately, the experience of treaty relations with Japan forced the Westerners to conceive a new type of international relations, one in which the supposedly subordinated, uncivilized partners played a true role, expressed through negotiation.