The Creation of Modern Sino-Japanese Relations

In this lecture, Joshua A. Fogel, Professor at York University, discusses how in 1862, the Japanese government, seeing the writing on the wall of international relations and recognizing that it would be impossible to continue keeping itself from much greater foreign contacts, launched its first foreign mission. Fifty-one Japanese sailed aboard the newly purchased and renamed Senzaimaru to Shanghai where the entire panoply of Western powers could be viewed in microcosm. They met with French, British, Dutch, and Chinese officials and merchants, and a handful of the Japanese kept detailed travel accounts of their adventures. The Chinese bureaucracy also kept extensive records of meetings with these unexpected visitors—right in the midst of attacks on the city of Shanghai by the Taiping rebels. Only a few years later, the government that sent them was overthrown and the new Meiji regime installed. By 1871, the two countries had signed a completely equal Treaty of Amity. Sino-Japanese relations had been completely transformed. The lecture is supported by the Dr. S. T. Lee Fund for Historical Studies.