Mutsu diplomacy (陸奥外交)

Mutsu diplomacy means a foreign policy of a Minister of Foreign Affairs Munemitsu MUTSU under the Second Ito cabinet in the Middle Meiji Period.

In the Japanese history of diplomacy, the name Mutsu appeared for the first time when he signed the Japan-Mexico Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation with Mexico as a minister to the United States of America, in 1891. It was the first full-scale equal treaty for Japan. When the Second Ito cabinet was established in 1892, he was appointed a Minister of Foreign Affairs by Hirobumi ITO. Mutsu is said to have been felt less confident by the Emperor Meiji because he had once been considered a ringleader of the Risshisha no goku (Imprisonment of the Risshisha [Self-reliance Association]) (the Emperor Meiji agreed about his assumption of a Minister of Agriculture and Commerce in the First Yamagata cabinet but showed annoyance.), however, Ito highly appreciated his ability.

Mutsu was against 'treaty enforcement movement' of the hard-line foreign policies faction centering on the hard-line six parties and others and worked to dissolve the extraterritoriality with the United Kingdom, aiming at incremental revision of treaties. As a result, the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce and Navigation centering on the abolishment of extraterritoriality and tariff hike was signed on July 16, 1894. And in the matter over the Korean Peninsula rocked by the Tonghak Uprising and others, he advocated hard line toward Qing with a vice chief of staff Soroku KAWAKAMI, and started the Sino-Japanese War, gaining favorable neutrality from the United Kingdom and the Russian Empire, which caused that Japan carried on the war advantageously from the beginning to the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki.

In the later Triple Intervention, he stood firm against the plan of preventing intervention by convening of the conference of the nations of the world that was promoted in the conference in the presence of the emperor, and decided to return the Liaodong Peninsula in order to concentrate on leaving the results of the war in Japan as much as possible, eliminating the intervention from the world powers. Mutsu was from non-domain clique and gained political foundation inside the government only by Ito's confidence, but he was a sworn friend of Nobuyuki NAKAJIMA and Toru HOSHI who belonged to the Liberal Party (Meiji) that had an adversarial relationship with statesmen of domain cliques. By collaborating with them who were pushing for realistic changes in government policy, aiming at participation in the administration, Mutsu dismissed the pressure by the hard-line six parties who condemned Mutsu diplomacy 'weak-kneed' because he yielded to the Triple Intervention and couldn't recover the tariff autonomy, then pursued and promoted the foreign policy with level-headed analysis based on the power politics. Japan paved the way for expansion into East Asia such as Korea, Manchuria and others through the realism and imperialism diplomacy of Mutsu diplomacy.

[Original Japanese]