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The Korean Crisis of 1873 and Early Meiji Foreign Policy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 March 2011


Post-Restoration Japan faced a number of serious problems in its relations with East Asia and the West, all of which came to a head in seikan ronsō, the clash in the Council of State, October 1873, over sending a punitive expedition to Korea. Essentially this was a struggle to define the nature of the Meiji Restoration—how radical would it be—and to decide who would control the politics of Japan's renovation, but intermixed with these domestic issues were several questions of foreign policy. To Japan's leaders, the Ryukyus, Taiwan, and Sakhalin were as important as Korea; security of the frontier in East Asia as significant as equal treaties with China and the West. And for historians with the advantage of a century of hindsight, the debate is important evidence in assessing the strength and sophistication of expansionist sentiment in early Meiji Japan. Does modern Japanese imperialism date from this period as consistent and persistent government policy or simply as a set of commonly held aspirations and desires, stronger in some than others or more evident outside of government than within it? To assist in answering these questions there is a wealth of Western and Japanese language diplomatic correspondence and numerous memoirs, letters, and diaries. The clash pitted die returning members of the Iwakura embassy and their allies at home against prominent officials in the caretaker government. The envoys, who had gained from their journey to die West a better understanding of international politics and the instability of the world order as well as a clearer perception of the gigantic transformation Japan must undergo, won with the argument of restraint abroad and rapid reform at home. But were the differences primarily in methods and timing and not ultimate intentions? Were Japan's leaders only biding their time until domestic strength made foreign adventurism possible, as is often charged? There is little evidence that Iwakura's group had such ulterior motives. In the grosser sense of the existence of an elaborate plan of conquest, there was no imperialist conspiracy. In the more complex sense of consistency of dreams, aims, or ambitions, there was more continentalism among public critics than officials. The victors in the debate wished to create a strong and enlightened state capable of taking whatever measures seemed necessary, whether at home or abroad. Expansion into frontier regions therefore was always a possibility but even then for security and prestige rather than overseas dominion. Such thinking guided the government for the next twenty years. However more research is needed on the basic character of Meiji Japan's political and economic institutions, the expansionist sentiments of the government's critics, changing concepts of security, and Japan's response to Western imperialism.

Copyright © The Association for Asian Studies, Inc. 1972

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The author, Associate Professor of History, University of Maryland, College Park, wishes to thank the university's Graduate Research Board for financial assistance. Portions of this article were read at the 1970 Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs, University of Indiana, Bloomington.

1 This standard interpretation of seikanron has been questioned by Haraguchi Kiyoshi. He argues that there was little difference between the parties te the dispute, however dramatic the quarrel, and that “it is difficult to find qualitative differences between the character of the government before and after the political changes” of October 1873. The anti-Korean expedition people “succeeded to and developed the policies of the caretaker government and did not make any amendments which touched upon their fundamental character.” See Nihon kjndai no keisci [Formation of the Modern Japanese State] (Tokyo, 1968), p. 168.

Haraguchi's account of the activities of the caretaker government (orususeifu, a term used both by contemporaries and by Japanese historians to designate those in charge of the central government in the absence of the Iwakura mission, 1871–1873) is excellent, but he has glossed over the problems of early Meiji foreign policy and has a very poor understanding of the aims of the Iwakura mission, its relations widi the caretakers, and its contribution to evolving modernization policies before and after the trip abroad. The radical reform programs would have been jeopardized had Saigō and his chief supporters succeeded in their bid for power, October 1873. Furthermore, the earlier reforms were not simply continued but rethought, refined, and amended. Haraguchi's mistake, I think, is to confuse decrees and legislation with implementation.

2 The aims of the mission were outlined in an exchange between Sanjō Sanetomi and Iwakura Tomomi, October 1871, Iwakura kō jikki [Authentic Records of Prince Iwakura], ed. Iwakura ko kyūseki hozonkai (Tokyo, 1927), II, 926–938; Japanese Foreign Ministry, Nihon gaikō bunsho (NGB) [Japanese Diplomatic Documents] (Tokyo, 1936), IV, 62–73.

3 The pledge may be found in several sources: Iwakura kō jikki II, 948–952; NGB, IV, 102–103; Tokutomi Iichirō, Kōshaku Yamagata Aritomo den [Biography of Yamagata Aritomo] (Tokyo, 1933), II, 274–276.

4 The best summary is in Haraguchi, Nihon kindai kokka no keisei, pp. 104–158.

5 This is my conclusion after a survey of the genesis of the major measures, 1867–73; the letters written by Iwakura and his colleagues while abroad; and the mission's politics and policies after returning to Japan. Ōkubo and Itō, furthermore, made a quick return trip in the spring of 1872 for new credentials and were therefore on hand for discussions of the conscription act and shizoku stipends.

6 A typical example of such sentiments may be found in Kido to the cabinet (naikaku), 8th lunar month 1872 (September 3-October 2); Kido to Inoue Kaoru, October 16, 1872, Chūta, Tsumaki (ed.). Kido Takayoshi bunsho [Papers of Kido Takayoshi] (Tokyo, 19291931)Google Scholar, IV, 382–388, 397–404.

7 The original documents were destroyed in a at the Foreign Ministry, 1873, but fortunately there is a virtually complete set of copies, including the official reports of the mission, in the library of the Naikaku Sōridaijin Kambō (Secretariat of the Prime Minister). The numerous items in this collection, Ō-Bei taishi zensho (Complete Records of the Mission to Europe and the United States, as listed in the Dajō ruiten catalogue), testify that the ambassadors were well-informed of events back home and kept tight reins on their political power.

8 Iwakura's correspondence while abroad is in Takematsu, Ōtsuka (ed.), Iwakjira Tomomi kfinkei bunsho [Papers relating to Iwakura Tomomi] (Tokyo, 19271935)Google Scholar, V, 97–320. Some very interesting additional letters have been published in Meiji shiryō [Meiji Historical Materials], I, III, VI (1959–61), a series of pamphlets sponsored by the Meiji shiryō kenkyū renrakukai.

8 A conclusion borne out by evidence presented n i Haraguchi, Nikon kindai kokka no keisei, 145–148.

10 As indicated but not explicitly stated in Smith, T. C., Political Change and Industrial Development in Japan: Government Enterprise, 1865–1880 (Stanford, 1955), p. 30Google Scholar. Brief accounts of the riots may be found in the 1873 issues of the Japan Weekly Mail and John Black's journal The Far East.

11 NGB, VI, 20; Iwakura Tomomi kankei bunsho, V, 265–266, 280; Magoya, Katsuda (ed.), Ōkubo Toshimichi bunsho [Papers of Ōkubo Tosbimichi] (Tokyo, 19271929), IV, 508Google Scholar.

12 Evidence is in the Kido and Ōkubo diaries and correspondence: Kido Takayoshi bunsho, VIII, 129–122; Kido Takayoshi nikk) [Diary of Kido Takayoshi], ed. by Tsumaki Chūta (Tokyo, 1932–33), II, 406–424; Ōkubo Toshimichi bunsho, IV, 521–522. See also the letter of Godai Tomoatsu to Ōkuma Shigenobu, August 5, 1873, in the Ōkuma bunsho, MSS (Special Research Room, Waseda University Library), B213.

13 Iwakura Tomomi kankei bunsho, V, 330–324 (letter of September 19, 1873). He also told Samejima that there had been discussions about the conquest of Korea and an expedition to Taiwan, but there had been no action yet. The information on Soejima's efforts in China was still inadequate. However, “we can't ignore the riots in Sakhalin and must begin negotiations without fail.”

14 Public Record Office archives, London, Foreign Office (FO), 46/168, no. 87, October 8, 1873, Sir Harry Parkes to Lord Granville (46 is the number for the Japan file, and 168 designates the volume in the diplomatic correspondence).

15 His views may be pieced together from his letters for 1872–73 in Meiji shiryō and lwakura Tomomi kankei bunsho and also from the observations made by his secretary on the mission, Kume Kunitake, in Bei-Ō kairan jikki [A True Account of America and Europe] (Tokyo, 1878), 5 vols.

16 How much the shizoku were animated by arguments of national security or by the hard facts of economic distress is difficult to assess. It should also be remembered that there were numerous ex-samurai who did not revolt or disagree with the renovation policies.

17 An extensive analysis of the debate will be found in Hilary Conroy, The Japanese Seizure of Korea, 1868–1910 (Philadelphia, 1960), pp. 17–77. This supersedes the standard but now much outdated account by Ike, Nobutaka, “Triumph of the Peace Party in Japan in 1873,” Far Eastern Quarterly, II (May 1943), 286295CrossRefGoogle Scholar. In Japanese language sources, there is a good survey in Haraguchi Nihon kindai kokka no keisei, 158–167; and a more detailed version in Junnosuke, Masumi, Nihon seitō shi ron [Essays on the History of Japanese Political Parties] (Tokyo, 1965-1968)Google Scholar, I, 115–212.

18 There are several allusions to his illness in Kido Takayoshi Nikki, II, entries from September 15 to December 6 (424–461). His memorial on Taiwan and Korea, August, 1873, is in Kido Tsunoda, et al. (eds.), Sources of the Japanese to the byōdō, another word apparently for naikaku (cabinet) or set-in (central board of the Council of State).

19 Ōkubo Toshimichi bunsho, V, 53–64. English translations of the memorial are in Conroy, Japanese Seizure of Korea, pp. 47–49; Tsunoda, Ryusaku, et al, (eds.), Sources of the Japanese Tradition (New York, 1958), pp. 658662Google Scholar; and Iwata, Masakazu, Ōkubo Toshimichi, The Bismarck of Japan (Berkeley, 1964), pp. 168170Google Scholar.

20 Two articles by Sidney Brown support these conclusions: “Ōkubo Toshimichi: His Political and Economic Policies in Early Meiji Japan,” Journal of Asian Studies, XXI (February 1961), 183197Google Scholar; and “Ōkubo Toshimichi and the First Home Ministry Bureaucracy, 1873–1878,” Modern Japanese Leadership, ed. By Silberman, Bernard and Harootunian, Harry (Tucson, 1966), pp. 195232Google Scholar.

21 So gossip in the foreign community had it, diary of Ernest Satow, entry for October 26, 1873, MSS. Public Record Office (PRO 30/33/15/4). Conroy speaks of a “broken blood vessel” in Sanjō'i brain; see Japanese Seizure of Korea, p. 46.

22 Iwakura kō jikki, II, 80–83.

23 FO 46/168, no. 91 confidential, November 3, 1873 (reporting a discussion with Iwakura on October 28 and with Soejima the following day).

24 Hsü Shih-chieh, “Taiwan jiken (1871–1874)” [The Taiwan Incident, 1871–1874], Kokusai seiji (1964, no. 2), 40–41; Kabayama Sukenori documents, MSS, diary for 1872–73, in the Kensei shiryō shitsu (Room for Research on Constitutional History), National Diet Library, Tokyo.

25 Kuroda Kiyotaka, head of the Kaitakushi, the Colonization Office in Hokkaido, was so angered by reports of Russian attacks on Japanese settlements in Sakhalin that he reversed his previous moderate counsel and recommended in a letter to the central government, September 2, 1873, that Japan do something about Russian violence (Kurod a documents, MSS, Kensei shiryō shitsu, National Diet Library). I suspect, however, that Kuroda's purpose was in part diversionary—to move the Saigō faction awa y from its Korean fixation and to suggest a bargaining point for negotiations with Russia over the boundary problem. The northern question is surveyed in Azusa, Ōyama, “Meiji shoki no hokuhō ryōdo mondai” [Some Problems concerning the Northern Territories in Early Meiji Japan], Koku-saihō gaikō zasshi, 60 (1960), 3967Google Scholar (Special combined issue).

26 Tōrai was a walled enclosure in the village of Ch'oryang, a short distance north of the city of Pusan, the site of the original trading post; it was named after Tongnae, the prefecture in which the village was located. Because of its earlier history and proximity to the city, the depot is also often referred to as the Pusan trading post (see McCune, George W., “The Japanese Trading Post at Pusan,” Korean Review, I [June, 1948], 1115Google Scholar). Two complementary accounts in English of Japanese-Korean difficulties, 1868–73, are: Conroy, Japanese Seizure of Korea, pp. 17–50; and Chien, Frederick Foo, The Opening of Korea (Hamden, Conn., 1967), pp. 1823Google Scholar. The best source from the Korean side for late Tokugawa-Korean relations and the background to seikanron is Ching Young Choe, “The Decade of the Taewŏngun: Reform, Seclusion, and Disaster,” Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard, 1960, pp. 391–484. A convenient survey in Japanese covering the years, 1868–1871, is Kobayashi Katsumei, “Meiji shoki ni okeru tairiku gaikō; shoki seikanron o meguru Kido to Iwakura” [Continental Diplomacy in Early Meiji Japan; Kido and Iwakura on Early seikanron], Rehjshi hyōron, no. 107 (July 1959), 68–78.

27 Kido Takayoshi nityi, II, 118. Tokyo had recently learned of the refusal by local Korean authorities responsible for Tōrai (the prefect of Tongnae and the commander of Pusan Fort) to treat with an envoy dispatched the previous year; Choe, “Decade of the Taiwŏngun,” p. 464.

28 To Anne, December 8, 1871 (Rodgers Family Collection, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress). Rodgers had been questioned on several occasions by Iwakura and other officials about conditions in Korea. In particular, the Japanese were interested in the efforts of Frederick Low, American minister to China, and Commodore Rodgers to negotiate with the Koreans in the summer of 1871. Ernest Satow, secretary of the British Legation in Japan, believed that Rodgers had recommended war against Korea as a way of consolidate ing Japan's internal situation (diary entry, November 26, 1871, MSS, PRO 30/33/15/4). The American secretary of state, Hamilton Fish, was at this point inclined to rely on China to persuade Korea of the wisdom of treating the shipwrecked humanely but to honor Korea's right to refuse negotiations on the establishment of commercial relations (State Department, China Dispatches, no. 77, April 22, 1871, Fish to Low; microfilm, National Archives).

29 FO 46/143, no. 121, December 21, 1871, Adams to Granville. Adams surmised that there had been considerable support for war with Korea at a recent cabinet discussion. As Iwakura had indicated, however, another mission was sent early in 1872 to ask for a new treaty with Korea. See Choe, “Decade of the Taewŏngun,” pp. 465–73.

30 FO 46/153, no. 64, April 1, 1872. Soejima's dismissal of a clerk named Maruyama Sakura in March, 1872, for privately plotting a bolder Korean policy (he was collecting money for weapons and a warship) lends credence to this assertion. The Foreign Ministry had assumed sole control over Japan's relations with Korea in September, 1871, shortly after haihan chiken, and Sō Shigemasa, ex-daimyō of Tsushima (now the prefecture of Iwabara), whose family had long had the responsibility of mediating between Korea and Japan, had been given a post in the ministry.

31 Instructions, Soejima to Hanabusa, NGB, V, 345 (dated September 20, 1872). A copy of the instructions and also of Soejima's explanation to the Council of State of Hanabusa's mission were sent to the ambassadors, thus keeping them apprised of the latest attempts at a settlement. For Hanabusa's reception, see Choe, “Decade of the Taewōngun,” pp. 473–479. Much has been made of the so-called warship on which he travelled, but according to Grace Fox the Japanese navy in 1872 consisted of seventeen vessels which for the most part “were small wooden craft, out of date and nearly useless,” Great Britain and Japan, 1858–1883 (Oxford, 1969), p. 260. American Minister DeLong's dispatches to the State Department were contradictory and ambiguous. He first wrote that Hanabusa was under orders to submit to insult and to refrain from doing anything which might provoke hostilities (no. 286, September 30, 1872). Later, he said that the mission was a success. Hanabusa had been met with politeness, and there should be no immediate complications (no. 307, November 21). The next day, he charged that Korea had been consistently rude to Japan and “its punishment had been resolved upon.” Hanabusa's trip had really been “planned and executed to mislead Korea into the belief that such an adjustment had been obtained as is entirely satisfactory to this country” (no. 309, November 22). He further claimed on December 7 that die Japanese were lulling the Koreans into a false sense of security, R. G. Watson, the recently arrived chargé of the British Legation, reported Hanabusa's difficulties to his government, adding that “considerable discontent seems to have been excited amongst a certain class in this country by the uncourteous treatment to which he was subjected.” Nevertheless, according to Soejima, the relations between Japan and Korea “would remain on the same footing” (FO 46/156, no. 162, December 16, 1872). For the subsequent moves of Saigō and Soejima, see NGB, VI, 226–247; and Tamamuro Taijō, Saigō Takamori (Tokyo, i960), p. 131.

32 For a résumé of the negotiations, 1870–1873, see Ōyama, “Meiji shoki no hokuho ryōdo mondai,” 41–45, 66; and Peter A. Berton, “The Russo-Japanese Boundary, 1850–1875” (unpublished essay, East Asian Institute, Columbia University, 1951), pp. 55–60. Primary materials include Soejima Taneomi documents, MSS, Kensei shiryō shitsu, document 82; NGB, V, section 6; and FO 46/140, no. 133, July 11, 1871, confidential, Adams to Granville (reporting Iwakura's remarks on the northern question to Sir Harry Parkes).

33 Conversation of March 6, 1873, NGB, VII, 323–33; Berton, “The Russo-Japanese Boundary,” p. 57.

34 For the dual status of the Ryukyus, vassal of Satsuma and tributary of China, see Robert Sakai, “The Ryukyu (Liu-Ch'iu) Islands as a Fief of Satsuma,” pp. 112–134, and Ch'en, Ta-tuan, “Investiture of Liu-Ch'iu Kings in the Ch'ing Period,” 135–164, chaps, in Fairbank, John K., ed., The Chinese World Order, Traditional China's Foreign Relations (Cambridge, 1968)Google Scholar.

35 Details on the background of the Taiwan problem may be found in Kabayama Sukenori, MSS, document 267; Seinosuke, Fujisaki, Taiwan shi to Kabayama Taishō [Admiral Kabayama and the History of Taiwan] (Tokyo, 1926), pp. 220293Google Scholar (this contains portions of Kabayama's manuscript diary, but there are some discrepancies in dates); Soejima MSS, document 67; NGB, VII, 5–15; Ōyama, “Meiji shoki no hokuhō ryōdo mondai,” pp. 48–50; and Hsü, “Taiwan jiken,” pp. 39–42.

36 LeGendre's earlier career and employment are well-treated in two articles by Gordon, Leonard H. D., “Early American Relations with Formosa, 1849–1870,” The Historian, XIX (May, 1957), 279287Google Scholar; and “Charles W. LeGendre: A Heroic Civil War Colonel turned Adventurer in Taiwan,” Smithsonian Journal of History, III (Winter, 1968-1969), 6376Google Scholar. For more details, there is the impressive multiarchival study of Su-fei Yen, Sophia, Taiwan in China's Foreign Relations, 1836–1874 (Hamden, Conn., 1965), 125170Google Scholar. The English originals of the first set of LeGendre memoranda, 1872–73, have apparently been lost, but Japanese translations have been preserved in the Japanese Army and Navy Archives (JANA, T131, Microfilm Reading Room, Library of Congress); and in the Okuma MSS, Waseda University, some of which have been published in Ōkuma bunsho [Ōkuma papers] (Tokyo, 1958-), Waseda daigaku shakai kagaku kenkyūjo (ed.), I, 17–40. There is an English summary in Yen, pp. 175–180.

37 As of December 9, 1873, according to the Kabayama MSS, document 267. Soejima had made up his mind at least by November 22, when the Council of State had urged him to postpone his project. There was opposition from Inoue Kaoru and Shibusawa Eiichi on financial grounds and from Ōkuma, who suggested commissioning an envoy to sound out China's attitude before sending troops (Hsü, “Taiwan jiken,” p. 40).

38 On November 22, DeLong wrote to Secretary of State Fish that the Japanese government in response to the restless military had decided to allow a war either with China or Korea—or to permit an expedition to Taiwan. He insisted that he and LeGendre were urging the Japanese to try diplomatic measures before resorting to force and were succeeding. However, it is likely that the two gave more aggressive advice than DeLong thought it wise to admit to the State Department,

39 Secret, undated memorandum by Smith, copies of which have turned up in Soejima MSS, document 70; Kabayama MSS, document 263 (original) and document 264 (typed copy); and in JANA (T131, R34-F45153–66). I am inclined to agree with Yen (Taiwan in China's Foreign Relations, p. 200) that it was written during the following spring when the rationale for a Taiwan expedition was being reexamined but would add that it seems to reflect earlier opinions. Smith argued that if China could not or would not punish the aborigines, Japan had the right to do so. But first Japan should seek China's permission, for in the eyes of the world Taiwan was Chinese territory and a Japanese invasion would be regarded as an act of hostility. Even so, such action would probably win backing in the international community, since Japan was more likely than China to extend civilization to the savages. The Kabayama version concludes with the comment (probably Kabayama's) that Japan must possess all or part of Taiwan in order to protect the Ryukyus. In subsequent advice to Soejima's successor, Smith unequivocally stated: “Aboriginal tribes are subjects, whether quiet or turbulent, of the recognized empire which has taken and held possession of the civilized portion of the island.” They were domestic dependent tribes under China's jurisdiction like the Indians in the United States. To invade Taiwan without China's permission was therefore technically a hostile act (March 22, 1874, Okuma MSS, A4505, C781). LeGendre contradicted him at length and won the support of another foreign adviser, the French jurist Gustave Boissonade, who said that LeGendre knew more about Taiwan than Smith and agreed that Japan's expedition was legal under existing international law (Ōkuma MSS, C452; Ōptima bunsho, I, 49–74). The point of this lengthy note is simply that the Japanese were on the whole being encouraged by their foreign advisers, 1872–74, to believe that an expedition would be both humane and legal. However, there was still uncertainty, even among Western powers in East Asia, about the proper application of international law, itself a shifting collection of precedents, rules, and maxims; and the Japanese in mastering it would also develop a strong measure of cynicism.

40 His initial instructions were issued December 19, and the following day the Foreign Ministry sent official notification to Peking (Yen, Taiwan in China's Foreign Relations, p. 169).

41 Saigō left Tokyo, December 10, 1872, and returned April 5, 1873. See Kabayama MSS, document 267. Hisamitsu and Saigō were not on good terms. When the Emperor visited Satsuma in the summer of 1872 on a royal tour, Hisamitsu had sent a strongly worded memorial denouncing the central government's slavish acceptance of Western ideas and had refused to see Saigo, one of the attendants. Saigo, as much as the progressives, was responsible for a policy which was ruining the country.

42 Two good summaries of this view of early Meiji diplomacy are Haraguchi, Nihon kindai kokka no keisei, pp. 154–156; and Yasuoka Akio, “Meiji ishin to gaikō” [The Meiji Restoration and Diplomacy], Ōkurayama ronshū (October, 1968), 241–251.

43 This honor was not won easily either from the Chinese or the foreign diplomatic community (see Public Record Office, China Correspondence, FO 17/749, no. 156, July 7, 1873, Wade to Granville; no. 159, July 19; no. 163, July 21; 228/518, no. 136, confidential, May 29, 1873). On the audience question and Soejima's role in solving it, the reports from American Minister Low arc much less reliable than those from the British Legation.

44 To an economic determinist, peaceful expansion of trade is a contradiction in terms, but Akira Iriye puts the question of conspiracy, ad hoc response to events, imperialist expansion, and anti-expansionism into good historical perspective in “Imperialism in East Asia,” Crowley, James (ed.), Modern East Asia: Essays in Interpretation (New York, 1970), 133138Google Scholar. Much in the same vein is my introduction, The Emergence of Imperial Japan (Lexington, Mass.; 1970), viixivGoogle Scholar.

45 Soejima may also have been waiting for Saigō to return to Tokyo (Kabayama MSS, document 267). In the Council of State, Inoue Kaoru was worried about Soejima's capacity to make mischief while in China and thought it would be better to send a lower-ranking official whose words and acts could be disavowed if necessary. It would not be wise to get involved in a war while in the midst of internal reforms; letter to Ōkuma, March 1, in Ikujirō, Watanabe (ed.), Ōkuma Shigenobu kankei bunsho [Papers relating to Ōkuma Shigenobu] (Tokyo, 1932-1935), II, 3738Google Scholar.

46 Final instructions and credentials were issued February 28 and March 9, 1873, including a letter from Sanjo advising Soejima to negotiate as the occasion demanded and to observe international law and justice (Yen, Taiwan in China's Foreign Relations, p. 181; JANA, T131, R-34, F44854–61). The Chinese were officially informed only of Japan's desire to exchange treaty ratifications and extend congratulations to their Emperor on his accession to the throne. Soejima was given full power credenrials as an Envoy Extraordinary Ambassador Plenipotentiary, but the notice to the Chinese governmerit did not make this clear.

47 Iwakura Tomomi kankei bunsho, V, 299–211. In this letter, Sanjō did not single out the Korean issue as crucial. He reported simply that Hanabusa had gone to Korea, handled everything well, and returned unharmed. DeLong had told Fish (no. 320, December 7, 1872) that Japan was also planning active measures in Korea, but I have found little evidence that this was so.

48 Iwakura Tomomi kankei bunsho, V, 212–222. The Japanese government was also very frank in divulging the aims of the mission to the diplomatic community. Soejima, for example, told Chargé Watson that his ostensible object was to exchange ratifications of the treaty but the more special purpose was to obtain satisfaction for the massacre of Ryukyuans in 1871 by Taiwan savages. “He added that if the Chinese government admitted their jurisdiction over these savages, they would doubtless punish the offenders, and lay an indemnity, but if they declined that responsibility the Japanese government were resolved themselves to take whatever measures might be necessary in order to obtain satisfaction” (FO 46/166, no. 64, March 7, 1873). Soejima would be equally open with diplomatic representatives in China. DeLong's report to Fish is in no. 323, December 20, 1873.

49 During the period of delay between his initial appointment and departure for China, Soejima spoke of taking the southern part of Taiwan right away by negotiation and the rest of the island either by force or diplomacy within the next four or five years (letter to Ōkuma, February 17, 1873, Ōkuma Shigenobu kankei bunsho, I, 32–33).

50 The best account, by far, of Soejima's activities in China will be found in Yen, Taiwan in China's Foreign Relations, 175–190; additional information, largely based on the LeGendre MSS, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, is in Sandra Caruthers, “Charles LeGendre, American Diplomacy and Expansion in Meiji Japan, 18681893” (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Colorado, 1966).

51 British Minister Wade was very harsh on LeGendre, but was favorably impressed by Soejima (FO 17/631, no. 148, September 4, 1871; 17/654, 131, confidential, May 25, 1873). LeGendre reciprocated Wade's feelings, describing the British minister as a man of “irrascible spells and unjustifiable transports of rage” (letter to Orville Babcock, July 2, 1873, LeGendre MSS, Library of Congress).

52 Soejima's chief assistant, Yanagihara, and his interpreter met with two Yamen ministers and the Chinese intendant of customs at Shanghai. There are Japanese versions of the interview in NGB, VI, 177–79; and Iwakura Tomomi kankei bunsho, VII, 491–500 (Soejima to the Central Board, August 8, 1873); but I have not yet seen a Chinese set of minutes although I assume from Li's letters and comments made by the Tsungli Yamen in May, 1874, that there was a record of some sort (Yen, Taiwan in China's Foreign Relations, pp. 217–218; NGB, VI, 75–77). There is a partial English translation, omitting the remarks on Macao and Korea, of the Japanese record in Yen, pp. 187–189. LeGendre gave Orville Babcock, President Grant's secretary, a résumé of the interview in his letter of July 2 (LeGendre MSS, Library of Congress). Research in Chinese archives and private records on the resumption of official Sino-Japanese relations in the 1860's and 1870's has so far been disappointing, and one can draw only tentative conclusions about Chinese motivations and diplomatic flexibility. The best account I have seen is in Albert Philip Ludwig, “Li Hung Chang and Chinese Foreign Policy, 1870–1885” (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Berkeley, 1936), pp. 119–162. It provides more extensive coverage than the much cited survey article by Tsiang, T. F., “Sino-Japanese Diplomatic Relations, 1870–1894,” Chinese Social and Political Science Review, XVII (April, 1933), 1106Google Scholar. There is sufficient indirect evidence to indicate that the interview took place substantially as described in the Japanese minutes but that both parties drew their own conclusions for their own purposes and were guilty of a certain amount of distortion. The lack of follow-up discussions, as indicated in the text, would seem to be the real source of the trouble and subsequent recriminations. Yanagihara did indicate that the Japanese were planning punitive measures, and the Chinese did stage military displays for Japan's benefit—or so the foreign community thought. However the Japanese were sufficicntly stung by accusations of bad faith in 1874 to take greater care thereafter to sound out the Chinese. And the Chinese privately admitted to themselves (Li to the Tsungli Yamen, August 26, 1874): “The local officials of Fukien never seriously investigated and managed the case [of Taiwan]. No matter how they argue about it, China is not entirely in the right....” (Yen, p. 251).

53 NGB, VI, 160. China also disclaimed control of Korean affairs, he wrote.

54 Yen, Taiwan in China's Foreign Relations, pp. 189–190.

55 Chien, The Opening of Korea, pp. 9–10.

56 FO 46/167, no. 67, August 25, 1873, and enclosed memorandum, confidential, August 20. I have no evidence yet that Soejima spoke directly with Wen-hsiang about Taiwan or Korea. In this conversation with Parkes, Soejima also mentioned sending a ship or ships to aboriginal Formosa widiin a month. American Minister DcLong credited unofficial sources (probably LeGendre) with the information that China had disclaimed jurisdiction over aboriginal Taiwan and Korea, “leaving Japan free to deal with the barbarous inhabitants of each of these countries.” They should both be under the Japanese flag in twelve months, he predicted, and dieir ports open to world commerce (no. 458, August 4, 1873).

57 The classic statement on China's world order is in Fairbank, John K. and Teng, S. Y., “On the Ch'ing Tributary System,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, VI (June 1949), 135346Google Scholar. There is a succinct restatement in Hsu, Immanuel C. Y., China's Entrance into the Family of Nations (Cambridge, 1960), pp. 316CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Although I am by no means expert in Chinese sources, it does strike me that this view is overly Sinocentric and greatly idealizes traditional China's foreign relations, much as Americans are apt to impute more benevolence to the Monroe Doctrine or manifest destiny than was diere. In their treatment of the aborigines, for example (on the mainland and in Taiwan), the Chinese policy was not so much one of laissez faire as first grabbing what they wanted and then magnanimously deigning to live and let live. The West has been accused of not understanding the complexities of the Chinese universal state, and this is true, but the Japanese were giving the impression of being just as confused about the difference between vassal and dependency relationships in the Chinese order and protectorates in the Western system of international relations. Chien reviews this question skillfully in The Opening of Korea, pp. 12–17; 212–213, footnote 58. Ping-ti Ho alludes to coercive Sinicization of non-Han ethnic groups in his remarks on the extension of China's internal frontiers, in “Salient Aspects of China's Heritage,” China in Crisis, ed. By Ho, Ping-ti and Tsou, Tang (Chicago, 1968), I, 46Google Scholar. See also the remarks by Ho's discussants, 42, 52.

58 Wright, Mary, “The Adaptability of Ching Diplomacy, The Case of Korea,” Journal of Asian Studies, XVII (May 1958), 363381CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

59 Fairbank, The Chinese World Order. The Japanese Foreign Ministry (Gaimushō), though a very recent addition to the Japanese government, was already much more professional, far-sighted, and given to careful planning than China's Tsungli Yamen, which had been created in i860 under pressure from the Western powers.

60 There is extensive evidence on this point. In the State Department, China correspondence, there is Low to Fish, no. 264, June 13, 1873. For British Minister Wade's dispatches, see: FO 17/654, no. III confidential, May 1, 1873; no. 131, May 25; no. 143 confidential, June 4; 228/518, no. 136 confidential, May 29; 17/749, no. 163, June 21, 1873; 17/655, no. 175, August 20, 1873; and 17/673, no. 74 confidential, May 1, 1874.

61 Wright, “The Adaptability of Ching Diplomacy,” p. 380. Moreover, Li had reported to the throne, early in 1871, in reference to Japan's request for a treaty: “Japan is very near to us and will always be a danger to our country. I have learned that Japan, after concluding treaties with occidental nations, has purchased machinery and gunboats, imitated and built cannons, constructed Western countries to learn all kinds of technical arts and crafts. Their purpose is really a wish to be strong in order to resist foreign aggression. After all, Japan is near to us unlike the occidental nations. If we approach Japan with friendliness, it might be serviceable to us. If we refuse Japan, it certainly will become our enemy” (adapted from Ludwig's translation, “Li Hung-chang and Chinese Foreign Policy,” p. 134).

62 FO 17/749, no. 193, September 10, 1873, translations of Soejima's letters to the Yamen, June 2 and June 4, 1873. NGB, VI, 163–165.

63 Letters from Saigō in July and August to his brother and to Sanjō reveal that he still supported the Taiwan project and wanted the government to decide upon it quickly but that it was no longer the main issue with him. See Saigō Takamori bunsho [Papers of Saigō Takamori] (Tokyo, 1923)Google Scholar, Hayakawa Junsaburō (ed.), pp. 94–96, 272. Neither did Soejima give up the Taiwan expedition in agreeing with Saigō's wishes on Korea.

64 NGB, VI, section 6; Chien, The Opening of Korea, pp. 20–21; Tamamuro, Saigō Takamori, pp. 131–132.

65 Shigemaro, Tsuda (ed.), Meiji Seijō to shin Takayuki [The Meiji Emperor and his humble servant Takayuki] (Tokyo, 1928), p. 277Google Scholar.

66 Cited by Yoshitake, Oka, “Kokuminteki kokuritsu to kokkai risei” [National Independence and the raison d'etre of the State], Kindai Nihon shisōshi kōza [Studies in the Political Thought of Modern Japan], VIII (Tokyo, 19591961), 13Google Scholar. Conroy labels Saigō's policy “pro-war, pro-conquest, pro-expansion,” in Japanese Seizure of Korea, p. 31. Tamamuro finds nothing new in seikanron, 1871–73. It was “a diplomatic strategy to stand against the Western countries by invading Korea.” It was advocated in late Tokugawa times by Yoshida Shōin, Hashimoto Sanai, and Katsu Kaishū; and it was heard again in 1871 at the time of hoihan chiken” (Saigō Takamori, p. 127). I think it only fair to add that Katsu Kaishu's views, like Kido's, became much more moderate. There is an interesting and persuasive discussion of Saigō's role in Haraguchi, Nihon kindai kokka no keisei, 159–163. Saigō's medical problems (during the time of the Satsuma rebellion) are attributed by James Buck, without citation of sources however, to large body weight, the strain of fighting, and “the progressive enlargement of a hydrocele” (“Japan Last Civil War, The Satsuma Rebellion of 1877,” Military Review, XL [September, 1960], 25Google Scholar).

67 Hansuke, Matono, Etō Nampaku [Biography of Eto Shimpei] (Tokyo, 1914), II, 289298Google Scholar.

68 Etō to Iwakura, October 15, 1873, Iwaktira Tomomi kankei bunsho, V, 341–344.

69 Haraguchi, Nihon kindai kokka no keisei, pp. 164–165.

70 For the pre-mission views of Iwakura, Kido, and Ōkubo on Korea, see Kobayashi, “Meiji shoki ni okeru tairiku gaikō,” pp. 68–73.

71 My résumé of the debate is based on the Iwakura, Kido, and Ōkubo documents for September-October, 1873 (diaries, letters, and memorials), all of which have previously been cited. Also helpful was FO 46/168, no. 91 confidential, November 3, 1873, Parkes to Granville. The American minister to Japan, John Bingham, was in the process of learning his job, and his dispatches to the State Department were quite inaccurate on internal politics.

72 “Opinion on our Sakhalin Policy,” May 1873, Ōkuma bunsho, I, 208211Google Scholar.

73 Haraguchi suggests that an invasion of Korea for the purpose of placating the samurai could just as easily have set off peasant rebellion because of resulting economic chaos. “If this view is correct, then the antiwar faction took peasant uprisings more seriously than the spectre of samurai revolt,” Nihon kindai kokka no kinsei, p. 167.

74 See W. G. Beasley, The Basis of Japanese Foreign Policy in the Nineteenth Century (an inaugural lecture, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1955), pp. 20–24; Sansom, George, The Western World and Japan (London, 1950), pp. 347349Google Scholar.

75 “Imperialism in East Asia,” 134–137.

76 Iwakura kō jikki III, 83.

77 Kōshakji Yamagata Aritomo den, II, 308. Katsu Kaishū, minister of the navy, was also not in favor of a war (FO 46/168, no. 91 confidential, November 3, 1873).

78 Azusa, Ōyama (ed.), Yamagata Aritomo ikensho [Memorials of Yamagata Aritomo] (Tokyo, 1966), pp. 6164Google Scholar (July, 1874).

79 Kido Takayoshi bunsho, VIII, 132–133.

80 Ibid, VIII, 149 (February 1874).

81 Bei-Ō kairan jikki, III, 90–93.

82 NGB, VII, 420–21; Ōyama, “Meiji shoki no hokuhō ryōdo mondai,” 53–58. Having denied that China controlled aboriginal Taiwan for lack of effective administration, Japan could hardly continue to claim southern Sakhalin. For an indication of the research and thought which went into Iwakura's formulation of a policy, see Iwakura Tomomi kjmkei bunsho, VI, 256–263; VII, 446–553 (a survey of the Taiwan, Korea, Sakhalin, and Ryukyu problems).

83 Iwakura kō jikkit III 224–225. LeGendre was still writing copious memoranda in 1874–75, and he urged the Japanese to give up Sakhalin, develop Hokkaido as rapidly as possible, open up Korea without delay, and watch the British as carefully as the Russians (December 23, 1874, C480, Okuma MSS, Waseda University).

84 NGB, VII, 208; Conroy, Japanese Seizure of Korea, p. 50; Chien, The Opening of Korea, pp. 22–26; FO 46/190, no. 33 confidential, February 22, 1875; FO 46/195, no. 165 confidential, December 6, 1875. In his February 22 dispatch, Parkes reported a long conversation with Moriyama before the latter's departure for Korea. The envoy's orders, he learned, were pacific. Moriyama was to try, as in 1874, to see higher officials and even to bring back a Korean envoy. He revealed that he had followed Perry's example with Japan in 1853 and given the Koreans notice of his return, but he confessed that he did not feel sanguine about his chances for success. Moriyama doubted that Korea could be opened without war and criticized the Japanese government for being too cautious. It would not even send him in a ship of war. Moriyama further claimed that he had “strongly advocated” war for some time. He realized that ships alone could not do the job and estimated that 20,000 troops would be required, one division to stay at the northern border and bar the Russians and Chinese and the other to march south and capture the Korean king. “But the object of such a campaign, he added, should be the opening of the country and not permanent conquest.” Moriyama questioned whether Japan could conquer and hold Korea as the British had done in India; furdier-more this probably would not pay. Parkes observed to the Foreign Office that Japan's ultimate policy would probably depend upon the results of Moriyama's probe and political conditions. Korea's treatment of the Emperor's envoys had now become a national question, and the Meiji government could not let wrongs pass unnoticed, just as Britian would not at Canton after the East India Company lost its monopoly. Korea's refusal to receive Japan's official representative was not unlike China's treatment of Lord Napier in 1834. The Japanese would have to exercise much forbearance in order to avoid a war with Korea.

85 FO 46/190, no. 24 confidential, February 8, 1875; 46/195, no. 182, December 31, 1875; 46/207, no. 123, July 25, 1876; FO 46/208, no. 163 confidential, October 11, 1876. When reassuring Parkes in February 1875, that Japan's motives in sending Moriyama to Korea were peaceful, Iwakura also stated that Korean independence was of the utmost importance to Japan and should be preserved, He elaborated upon this point in several conversations, 1875–1880.

86 Hsū, “Taiwan jiken,” pp. 42–45; Yen, Taiwan in China's Foreign Relations, 194–205 (LeGendre's second set of memoranda were more militant than the first); Masakazu Iwata, Ōkubo Toshimichi, The Bismarck, of Japan, pp. 179–183. Japan may have been encouraged to dispatch the expedition when it did to mitigate shizokti anger at the loss of Sakhalin as well as the cautious Korean policy. I have no direct evidence of this, but the British minister to China conjectured that DeLong had advised the Japanese government to indemnify itself with Taiwan should it give up Sakhalin or as the American “poetically put it,” Japan “should exchange the icicle for the sunbeam“ (17/673, no. 77 confidential, May 6, 1874). It is a long standing contention that the Japanese gave up the nordi to concentrate on the south, but security of the frontier in all directions was important to them as the Hokkaido colonization efforts testify.

87 As does Gordon, Leonard H. D. very strongly in “Japan's Abortive Colonial Venture in Taiwan, 1874,” Journal of Modern History, XXXVII (June 1965), 174176Google Scholar, but less so in his “Japan's Interest in Taiwan, 1872–1895,” Orient/West, IX (January-February, 1964), 4952Google Scholar, where he points out the varied reasons and implies that 1874 represents an aberration in early Meiji foreign policy. I agree with his observation (p. 54) that Iwakura and Ōkubo took greater risks as they went along, but I do not believe tha t the major reason for withdrawal after 1874 was failure but rather lack of whole-hearted commitment to begin with. It is important to distinguish between the Soejima and Iwakura policies, for the post-October, 1873, administration did not automatically inherit the Taiwan project. Soejima did want Taiwan, or part of it, as a colony, and so did many who were involved in the subsequent expedition. LeGendre in his memorandum for Ōkuma, March 13, 1874, wrote that the ostensible object of the expedition was to punish the aborigines but the real goal was to annex the island (C426, Ōkuma MSS, Waseda University), LeGendre, however influential he may have been, was not the policy maker; and his advice was heavily tinged with a desire to hold a lucrative post in a colonial government for Taiwan. Iwakura was uncertain at first about proceeding from chastisement of the aborigines to subjugation and wrote to Ōkubo that Japan could decide later whether to keep anything. The Japanese army and navy of-fleers, on the whole, were antiwar. Ōkubo was later reconciled to a strong policy, including the risk of war but for the purpose of winning recognition of Japan's right to punish the savages and securing an indemnity and not of colonizing the island. While getting ready for war, Japan was also making plans to cede to China any territory taken by Japanese troops (Hsū, “Taiwan jiken,” pp. 42, 47; Yen, Taiwan in China's Foreign Relations, pp. 232–235).

88 I must add—cautiously—that this conclusion is of course open to criticism, for many of the crises and incidents in Japanese-Korean relations, 1873–1894, require closer study and few scholars have as yet assessed Meiji Japan's interest in other regions of East and Southeast Asia, such as the Philippines. Beyond that, there are much larger questions about the nature of traditional and modern expansionism.

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