The Protestant Missions — March 30, 2011 at 2:29 am

Tumultuous times for Japan!

by

Viscount Mori Arinori was a Meiji period Japanese statesman, diplomat and founder of Japan's modern educational system.

The assassination of Viscount Mori

Important political events excited the minds of the people and made it harder to gain their attention for the consideration of Christianity. February 11, 1889, the new Constitution was promulgated. The conflict of new and old ideas was exemplified the same day by the assassination of Viscount Mori, the Minister of Education, because of an act of irreverence that he was alleged to have committed some time before by lifting with his walking-stick the curtain that hung before the holy place in the great Shinto shrine at Ise.

The treaty negotiated by Townsend Harris to be revised!

In the autumn of the same year great excitement arose over the question of treaty revision. The treaty with America negotiated in 1858 by Townsend Harris, and those with other nations modeled upon it, provided for a system of extra-territoriality by which, if a citizen of one of the treaty powers committed a crime or was defendant in a civil suit, he was tried in the consular court of his own nation. Also the amount of duty that could be levied on imports was limited. Mr. Harris, who desired to treat the Japanese in the most friendly way possible, and who hoped that after a few years such restrictions could safely be modified if not wholly removed inserted in his treaty an article providing that a revision ”may be made” after July, 1872, if desired by either party.

The wording was unfortunate, and at last it became practically necessary to get all the treaty powers to unite in assenting to a change before it could be made. The United States did indeed, at one time prepare a new treaty, but the Japanese Government, fearing the threat of other nations that under the “most favored nation” clauses they would claim for themselves all the benefits granted even conditionally to another, insisted, contrary to the wish of the American Minister, on having an article inserted by which the agreement should come into force only when all the other powers had made similar treaties, and this proviso made the whole document worthless. For a long time there had been increasing irritation against Western nations for their unwillingness to yield to Japan’s desires for control over her customs and the removal of extra-territoriality.

Townsend Harris was a successful New York City merchant and minor politician, and the first United States Consul General to Japan. He negotiated the "Harris Treaty" between the US and Japan and is credited as the diplomat who first opened the Empire of Japan to foreign trade and culture in the Edo period.

In 1889, however, it was announced that treaties with all the nations were on the point of being ratified. “They provided that for a few years to come foreign judges should sit with the Japanese upon the bench when cases concerning foreigners were to be tried. At once the ultra-patriots excited so strong opposition to a concession which they declared dishonorable that they caused the failure of the proposed plans. Dissensions in the Cabinet led to the resignation of the Minister President of State.

Assassination attempt on Count Okuma

A few days later Count Okuma, Minister for Foreign Affairs, was severely wounded by a person who attempted to assassinate him for assenting to the proposed arrangements. In addition to the excitement caused by these events, the minds of the people were much occupied by the election to local offices, and by preparations for the election of members to the first National Diet, which was to meet the next year. Political meetings were frequent and to some extent usurped the place that had been held by large public meetings for the preaching of the Gospel. These political gatherings were often very noisy and sometimes became the scenes of violence. It was perhaps partly a result of the turbulent habits thus formed that in places where Christian services held in theatres were formerly attended by quiet audiences, disturbances became common. Because of the difficulty of securing respectful attention, these mass meetings were less frequently held by the Christians.

Here is a books about Townsend Harris, written by William Elliot Griffis, ordering through my affiliate account will help support my site! Thank you!

See here for more on Count Mori Arinori

For more on Towsend Harris see here

Count Okuma’s Wiki page can be found here

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