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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

THE HYOGO DEMONSTRATIONWhile things were at this stage


THE

HYOGO DEMONSTRATION

While things were at this stage, Sir Harry Parkes, representative of Great Britain, arrived upon the scene in the Far East. A man of remarkably luminous judgment and military methods, this distinguished diplomatist appreciated almost immediately that the ratification of the treaties by the sovereign was essential to their validity, and that by investing the ratification with all possible formality, the Emperor's recovery of administrative power might be accelerated. He therefore conceived the idea of repairing to Hyogo with a powerful naval squadron for the purpose of seeking, first, the ratification of the treaty; secondly, the reduction of the import tariff from an average of fifteen per cent, ad valorem (at which figure it had been fixed by the original treaty) to five per cent., and, thirdly, the opening of the ports of Hyogo and Osaka at once, instead of nearly two years hence, as previously agreed.

Among the penalties imposed upon Choshu by the four powers which combined to destroy the forts at Shimonoseki was a fine of three million dollars, and the Bakufu, being unable to collect this money from Choshu, had taken upon themselves the duty of paying it and had already paid one million. Sir Harry Parkes's plan was to remit the remaining two millions in consideration of the Government endorsing the three demands formulated above. It need hardly be said that the appearance of a powerful

squadron of foreign warships at the very portals of the Imperial palace threw the nation into a ferment. The eight vessels cast anchor off Hyogo in November, 1866, and it seemed to the nation that the problem of foreign intercourse had been revived in an aggravated form.

Once again the anti-foreign agitators recovered their influence, and inveighed against the Bakufu's incompetence to avert such trespasses even from the sacred city. Under the pressure brought to bear by these conservatives, the Emperor dismissed from office or otherwise punished the ministers appointed by the shogun to negotiate with the foreign representatives, and in the face of this humiliating disavowal of Bakufu authority, the shogun had no alternative except to resign. He did so. But the Imperial Court hesitated to accept the responsibilities that would have resulted from sanctioning his resignation. The Bakufu were informed that the Emperor sanctioned the treaties and that the shogun was authorized to deal with them, but that steps must be taken to revise them in consultation with the feudatories, and that Hyogo and Osaka must not be opened, though the proposed change of tariff-rate would be permitted. Nothing definite was said about remitting the two million dollars remaining from the Choshu fine, and Sir Harry Parkes was able to say triumphantly that he had obtained two out of three concessions demanded by him without having given any quid pro whatever.

THE LAST OF THE TOKUGAWA SHOGUNS


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