The Japanese-Korean Treaty of Amity (日朝修好条規)

The Japanese-Korean Treaty of Amity refers to the treaty between Japan and the Joseon Dynasty concluded in 1876 and all agreements subsidiary to it. It is also called the Treaty of Ganghwa or the Bingzi Treaty of Amity, because it was signed after the Ganghwa Island incident on the year of Bingzi. It was an unequal treaty, as were many other treaties concluded in East Asia at that time.


The treaty was concluded between Japan and Korea after the Ganghwa Island incident in 1875, and consisted of 12 provisions of the treaty itself, 11 affiliated documents providing concrete contents, 11 trade rules, and official documents. All of these were included as one treaty.

It was described in the treaty that Korea was a nation independent from the tributary system of the Qing dynasty, holding state sovereign power, however it was characteristic of an unequal treaty with the provisions describing the establishment of one-sided consular jurisdiction and the loss of tariff autonomy.

Korea, which had engaged in only limited diplomatic relations up to this point, was able to open the country due to the treaty, however it was unequal to the Korean side as they did not have specialists in modern international law. Later, Korea concluded treaties with similar contents between other Western countries (the United States of America, England, Germany, the Russian Empire, and France). Because of this Korea would be dragged into the world of sweeping modern capitalism whether it liked it or not.

Exaltation of expulsion of foreigners in Korea

When this treaty was concluded, the powerful countries of Western Europe were spreading into East Asia, holding up the modern international law on one hand but practicing the principle of survival of the fittest on the other hand. At that time Korea was a tributary state of the Qing dynasty, but as its national policy was seclusionism, it had diplomatic relations with very limited countries. However, after the 1860s the wave of internationalization (foreign pressure) flooded into Korea, and the countries of Western Europe began to come over the sea. The encounters between Korea and Western European countries were generally not satisfactory. For instance, in 1866 the French army attacked Ganghwa Island in Korea in retaliation for the slaughter of Christians (known as the Byeong-in persecution), while in 1871, the United States of America attacked Ganghwa Island (an incident known as Shinmiyangyo) in retaliation for the General Sherman incident of 1866.

The person in office at that time was HEUNGSEON Daewongun, the real father of GOJONG (the king of Korea). Daewongun had already received information on the powerful countries of Western Europe from the Qing dynasty, so he firmly maintained the policy of national isolation. Daewongun knew the atrocities of West Europeans in China, and he actively promoted the wijŏng ch'ŏksa policy (defense of Confucian orthodoxy and rejection of Christian heterodoxy), which was not to admit ideas other than the doctrines of Zhu Xi, and also he believed in Sinocentrism, and because of this he presumed the Western Europe countries to be barbarous.
His firm attitude can be seen written on monuments which were erected throughout Korea, reading 'No fighting against encroachment of the Western barbarians means doing peace negotiations, and doing negotiations is selling our nation.'
At this time in Korea there was increasingly strong enthusiasm towards the expulsion of foreigners.

The pending problem between Japan and Korea: a problem of diplomatic correspondence

Among East Asian countries where the powerful countries of Western Europe were watching for a chance to invade, Japan was the first country that opened itself to the world and became a modern state through the Meiji Restoration, and it began to establish modern international relations not only with the West European countries but also with Asian countries around Japan. Right after the establishment of the Meiji government in December 1866, Japan sent Korea a diplomatic correspondence, that is to say a sovereign's message, through the So clan in Tsushima. That was because relations with Korea had been maintained through the So clan since the Edo period.
However, the Korean side refused to receive the sovereign's message because it used the words 'imperial' and 'imperial order.'
It can be said that the establishment of modern international relations was in difficulty from the beginning.

The root of this problem lied in Japan and Korea's differing expectations regarding diplomatic relations. Japan attempted to change the style of the relationship with Korea from that of peace and amity based on the conventional tributary system to that based on a treaty, whereas Korea intended to maintain the conventional tributary system and establish a relationship with Japan under its framework. Because Japan used the words 'imperial' and 'imperial order,' which were only allowed to be used by the Chinese dynasty under the tributary system of the premodern era, Korea understood that Japan was attempting to stand at the top of the tributary system and get a higher position in the world than Korea.

Refer to 'the Messenger of Korea' for details of the Japan-Korea relation before the modern era.

Although Japan sent sovereign's messages to Korea several times after 1868, their relation were not smooth due to misunderstanding. Another reason was that Daewongun felt a great cautiousness against the debate over sending a military expedition to Korea in Japan which had occurred from the problem of diplomatic correspondence. Also, relations between bureaucrats of Japan and Korea became tense in Busan Metropolitan City. There was a contradiction between Korea, which wanted to maintain diplomatic relations just in the Japanese consular office in Busan like Dejima in Nagasaki, and Japan, which attempted to unify the diplomatic route by depriving the So clan in Tsushima of their diplomatic rights and urged Korea to open the country to the world. The Japanese consular office in Busan was established by Korea to entertain Japanese envoys and merchants especially from the Tsushima domain, but the Meiji government tried to deprive the Tsushima domain of the diplomatic rights and start direct negotiations with Korea. At that time Japan took over the Japanese consular office in Busan without the consent of Korea and changed it to the diplomatic establishment of Japan, to cause the situation to worsen. As a result Korea declared a suspension of the supply of necessary goods and illegal trades.

Japan did not just continue sending sovereign's messages to Korea. In 1870 when Japan finished the 'Hansekihokan' (returning of lands and people to the emperor), a challenge in the domestic policy, successfully, Japan concluded the equal treaty (Japanese-Qing Treaty of Amity) with the Qing dynasty, which was at the top of the tributary system, because it would be advantageous to diplomatic negotiations with Korea. As a result of that, Japan urged Korea to enter into negotiations, while Korea had been avoiding the diplomatic negotiations in order to maintain the tributary system.

The hard-liner Daewongun was disgraced in 1873, and the Empress Myeongseong group assumed authority, but relations between Japan and Korea did not turn better. The turning point was when Japan dispatched troops to Taiwan during the conflict between Japan and Qing that developed the following year. At that time Korea was informed by the Qing dynasty of the possibility that Japan would dispatch troops, so Yuan YU, Gyu-su PARK and others insisted that Korea should receive the sovereign's message of Japan.
YU and PARK insisted that the words 'imperial' and 'imperial order' written in the sovereign's message delivered by the Tsushima clan was not a statement to Korea but simply showed Japan's pride, and that to reject the acceptance of the message would be to oppose 'the way to peace and amity.'
In line with their insistence, the attitude of Korea against Japan softened slightly.

Diplomatic negotiations

There was a growing tendency to resume negotiations for diplomatic relations, and the negotiations started in 1875. Shigeru MORIYAMA and Hironobu HIROTSU, a councilor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from Japan and bureaucrats from Dongrae-Bu (the administrative districts in Korea) sat down at the negotiating table, but the same as before, there were differences between them about the words used in the sovereign's messages. Furthermore, as the Japanese persisted in the European and American style, such as Moriyama wearing Western clothes, to which the Koreans showed aversion, the negotiation did not go smoothly. As a result Moriyama returned to Japan in August. The Japanese got angry about the stagnation of negotiations, and they asked the Japanese government to resort to the gunboat diplomacy. This was the beginning of the Ganghwa Island incident.

Development of gunboat diplomacy: the Ganghwa Island incident

From April of 1875, the Japanese dispatched warships to the seas near Korea, and exercised demonstrational actions. Later, the Ganghwa Island incident occurred on September 20, and the Japanese occupied the fortress of Yeongjong Island. The victims of this incident included 35 dead on the Korean side and 2 dead or injured on the Japanese side. In the aftermath, Japan disarmed the gun battery, and confiscated these arms as spoils of war. This aggressive incident was clearly caused by the provocative behavior of Japan, but the Japanese aimed to use the Ganghwa Island incident as an opportunity to conclude the treaty.

The basic attitude of Japan at the treaty negotiations

Gustave Emile BOISSONADE, a foreign specialist in the Meiji government, gave an instruction to the envoy who would be dispatched to dispose the incident that they should not concede Korea the following points.

To open Busan Port and Ganghwa Port as trading ports.

To allow free navigation of the Sea of Korea.

Requirement of an apology for the Ganghwa Island incident.

Also he advised that if these requirements were not accepted, Japan should demonstrate a hard diplomatic position which includes the use of military action. This opinion was conveyed to the envoy without change by the Grand Minister Sanetomi SANJO as an unofficial message attached to the instruction. Furthermore, as a basic attitude towards Korea, Sanjo considered 'Japan should require suitable compensation,' while stating about the purpose of the envoy 'the main objective is to continue the negotiation, then conclude a treaty of peace, when they conclude the peace treaty and obey the demand to expand trading, we should regard this attitude as compensation for the battle ship and accept it' (emphasized and amended by the writer). These words included the comment of Arimasa MORI that they should consider not inviting the intervention of the allied western powers.

Besides, Japan faithfully practiced the hard diplomatic attitude including military action as recommended by Boissonade. Japan tried to coerce Korea by sending a guard of battleships and soldiers to accompany the envoy. Also, in case of a breakdown in negotiations, Aritomo YAMAGATA went to Shimonoseki City in Yamaguchi Prefecture, and prepared the forces of both Hiroshima City and Kumamoto City for action. Moreover, the gunboat diplomatic attitude of Japan was of course an attempt at urging Korea to submit, but at the same time it aimed to appease the complaints of the former samurai class who advocated the policy of conquering Korea by military force.

However, while Japan showed an oppressive military attitude on the surface, Japan at that time thought that the war would not be preferable from the point of military expenditure. Also the outbreak of war could have triggered the intervention of Russia and the Qing Dynasty, and because of this, Japan thought it best to avoid war as much as possible.

Japan's basic attitude towards negotiations was based on a combination of these two points.

They pushed forward with gunboat diplomacy as much as possible, while actually avoiding war as much as possible.

While emphasizing the reproof of the Ganghwa Island incident, they practically tried to conclude a treaty and establish modern international relationship with Korea, which had been left unsettled for many years.

Moreover, in order to avoid intervention by the Qing dynasty, Japan negotiated with the government officials of that state many times in advance. In the 19 century, in order to resist the invasion of the western powers in Asia, the Qing dynasty tried to shift the traditional international relationships in Asia to the modern ones with the Qing emperor in the center intactly to maintain the influential status by means of changing the subordinate countries under the tributary system, such as Korea, Vietnam and Ryukyu, to protected states, or merging them, thus promoted to make its subordinate countries protectorates.

At that period, the stage of complicated interaction began to appear in East Asia, where Japan, China, Korea and the powerful countries of Western Europe got involved together. As a result of that, the resumption of negotiations between Japan and Korea was realized, but at the same time it was triggered by another historical phenomenon.

Conclusion of the Japanese-Korean Treaty of Amity

The negotiation of the treaty was divided into two stages. The first stage was to negotiate the Japanese-Korean Treaty of Amity itself. The second stage was to negotiate the affiliated provisions and trade rules.

In the first stage of negotiations Ambassador plenipotentiary Kiyotaka KURODA and the Vice-envoy Kaoru INOUE from Japan and General of the Royal Brigade Heon SHIN and Minister of Rites Ja-seung YUN from Korea attended. The venue of the negotiation was Ganghwa Island, where the incident had occurred.

The negotiations initially proceeded to Japan's advantage. First of all, before starting negotiations, the number of soldiers and carrying arms were talked about, but the Japanese refused the protests of Korea. In February 11, 1876, the main negotiations started. However, it can be said that the expectations of Japan and Korea were at cross-purposes from beginning to end. Korea thought from the beginning that the theme of negotiations would be an apology and compensation for the Ganghwa Island incident. That was because the Koreans were mindful of the attitude of Japan during the negotiation of the Taiwan expedition which had occurred between Japan and Ching several years before. However, as described before, Japan regarded the Ganghwa Island incident as just a stimulus towards conclusion of the treaty, and for them 'to conclude a peace treaty' was the main purpose.

The reason why Japan suddenly brought up the conclusion of the treaty was as follows. As Japan grew anxious that the negotiation of diplomatic relations at Busan repeatedly failed over the course of several years, it tried to solve the long-standing problem at a stroke by exercising a menacing negotiation at Ganghwa Island near Seoul special city, following the precedent of Matthew Calbraith PERRY's arrival at Edo Bay. In order to do this, before starting negotiations with Korea the Japanese side studied "Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan" written by Perry, so that they could imitate the attitude toward negotiations and later achieve conclusion of the treaty.

Surprised by the sudden offer of conclusion of the treaty, Korea at first refused it, but they decided to propose an amendment to the treaty presented by the Japanese. The reason why Korea accepted the treaty was as follows.

Korea could not prepare for the outbreak of war against the gunboat diplomacy of Japan. A powerful person in the Qing dynasty Hung Chang LI advised them to conclude the treaty. Gyu-su PARK and others, who advocated the theory of opening a country to the world, strived to persuade opponents.

The amendments proposed at the negotiation between Japan and Korea were: the description of the names of both countries; a negotiation partner to the envoy who was going to visit the other country, and his qualifications and number of visits; the place of the opening port and its number; status as a most-favored nation treatment, and others. The details will be described later, but an important point was that while Korea required amendments to maintain their honor as a tributary country, they did not mind at all about consular jurisdiction, which would later become a problem. Tariff autonomy, which was prescribed in the affiliated provision and trading rules concluded several months later, was also approved smoothly. As Korea was ignorant about international affairs, the provisions prepared by Japan were concluded without any amendments.

Even at the stage of treaty ratification, Korea was only interested in their honor. Namely, Korea required Japan not to demand the signature of the King of Korea at ratification. In the end, Korea made a new Imperial Seal called '朝鮮国主上之宝', and used this on the document at ratification. Finally on February 27, the treaty was concluded and ratified at Ganghwabu Renbudo.

Main contents of the treaty

The treaty of Peace and Amity consisted of 12 provisions, written in both Chinese and Japanese. Also they decided that the diplomatic documents of both countries should be written in Japanese and the legitimate language of Korea (namely Chinese), and the documents of Japan should be written in both Japanese and Chinese for the next 10 years.
The two countries should be described as 'Great Japanese Nation' and 'Great Korean Nation.'

Provision 1 - Korea is an independent country, so it is admitted that Korea is a nation that has equal rights with Japan.

This provision was specially inserted by Japan considering the situation of Korea as a client state of the Qing dynasty. Although the terms 'subject state' or 'client state' used under the tributary system have a different meaning in the international law of recent history and the present day, the same expressions are still used. There were several opinions about the situation of Korea at that time from the point of modern international law, but by inserting that sentence, Japan tried to unify the interpretation of Korea as an independent country under modern international law. The interpretation was an 'autonomous country,' or independent country. Japan tried to prevent the Qing dynasty from intervening in Korea by determining the interpretation. However, Korea did not understand as Japan intended. Under the tributary system, being an 'independent' state as well as an 'autonomous state' did not contradict each other. Or it can be said that the framework where the two terms 'client' and 'independent' conflict is an offspring of modern times. Even if the king of Korea showed loyalty to the Qing dynasty, Qing would not influence affairs of the state in Korea. For example, the Qing dynasty did not understand even diplomatic relations between Japan and Korea. From the viewpoint of modern international law, the relationship between the Qing dynasty and Korea was extremely ambiguous on the personal principle. The misunderstanding between the two countries for this provision had not been solved for years until the Shimonoseki Treaty, and at that time they reached a final settlement. This is the reason why the sentence of the provision 1 was almost the same as that of the Shimonoseki Treaty.

Provision 2 - ministers of Japan and Korea should reside in the capitals of each other's country.

In the original plan Japan required that ministers should be permanently stationed, but it was amended to 'at any time' so they could be dispatched only when they were necessary.

Provisions 4 and 5 - in addition to Busan Metropolitan City, where the diplomatic establishment of Japan was located, two more ports should be chosen and opened. When ports are opened, people can decide by themselves whether to borrow land and construct their houses, or borrow their houses from Koreans.

Negotiations about matters, such as the decision of ports to be opened, were scheduled for a later date. Two ports were opened, in Wonsan City in 1880 and in Incheon Metropolitan City in 1883.

Provision 7 - because the rugged and precipitous coast of Korea is extremely dangerous, the Japanese navigators should be able to measure the coast freely and make up a map to show the position and the depth in order to ensure safety of the navigation of passenger boats of both countries.

Provision 9 - free trade should be allowed, and left to the people of both countries. Government officials of both countries should not participate in it. They cannot restrict nor prohibit trade. However in the case of fraud or nonpayment of borrowing and lending, the government officials of both countries should regulate this and impose additional charges.

The provision regulated on free trade.

Provision 10 - if a Japanese commits a crime in a city where the port is opened, the Japanese government official will conduct a trial. Also if a Korean commits a crime, the Korean government official will conduct a trial. However, both sides should conduct trials under the state law and pass judgment as equally as possible without any modification.

The provision on consular jurisdiction
Sanetomi SANJO did not give any instruction about this provision. It was thought that this provision was inserted at the personal decision of the ambassador plenipotentiary, Kuroda, and his team. It can be said that the unequal nature of the treaty was determined by this provision. It was a one-sided treaty, because while the jurisdiction of trial was divided depending on nationality in Korea, the consular jurisdiction of Korea was never admitted in Japan.

One reason why Korea did not resist this provision was that they were indifferent to international law, as described before, but there was another reason that during the Edo period when they traded with the Tsushima clan, traditionally the criminals were given over to the Japanese in charge in the Japanese consular office, no matter whether it was a civil or criminal case. That was to say, Korea perceived that the custom at that time was provided in the treaty. After opening the ports, there was an influx of Japanese into Korea, and they realized that admitting that provision was a mistake.

The other provision that should be mention is that regarding most-favored nation status. The provision was provided as a matter of course in the original plan given by Japan, but due to Korea's strong demands it was deleted. The reason for that was that Korea did not intend to open the country to the powerful countries of Western Europe in the future, so that provision would not be necessary.

The negotiation of the subsidiary agreements of Japanese-Korea Treaty of Amity and trade regulations.

They did not decide about trade relations in detail in the provision itself. They just decided in the Provision 11 to talk again within 6 months. They resumed negotiations in Seoul from August 5. The representatives were the Resident Foreign Minister Okazu MIYAMOTO from Japan and In Hee CHO from Korea, a negotiator on behalf of the Korean government with a title of 講修官議政府堂上.

They had long arguments about those topics in particular, such as whether the ministers would establish the official residence (a problem of dispatch of ministers), whether Japanese government officials could move inland in Korea, the range of traveling for general Japanese in the places where ports were opened, and import and export of rice and grain. As a result of the negotiation, Japan withdrew the matters regarding establishment of the official residence and traveling inland in Korea, because of severe objection by Korea. The range of movement in the city with open ports was set within 10 Ri (Korean mileage). The export and import of grain was to be described in the regulations. As a result of negotiations over 12 times, details for subsidiary agreements of the Treaty of Amity (11 provisions) and the precise rules of trade regulations (11 rules) were established on August 24. It included an important agreement related to tariff autonomy, but the negotiation was settled in a short period without serious conflict.


The appendix of provision 5 - Japanese people can employ Korean people by paying wages at the place where the port was opened. Japanese people can come to Japan if they have permission from the Korean government.

The first half of this provision was one of the instructions given by the Grand Minister Sanjo who insisted not to compromise, but Korea did not oppose it. If the part concerning coming to Japan interfered with negotiations, Japan were prepared to delete it.

The appendix of provision 7 - Japanese people can use the Japanese currency at cities where the port is open, and Korean people can use currency that they got through trade when they purchase Japanese products. Also Japanese people can carry Korean copper coins. Forgery of currency should be punished based on the law of the country.

Sanjo also instructed that the provision stating that Japanese people could use currencies of Japan and Korea was not to be compromised. Korea tried to prohibit use of the Korean copper coin called Sangpyeong Tongbo by Japanese people, but it failed because of opposition from Japan. As Korea relied on the import of copper, the material of currency, they worried that copper would flow out of Korea to Japan.

Appendix of provision 10 - Although Korea did not have diplomatic relations with other foreign countries, if the ships of those countries were shipwrecked and somebody drifted ashore, they would be sent to the city of an open port where a Japanese officer was stationed, and then the victims would be sent back to their own countries from there.

This provision was related not only to events between Japan and Korea, but also between Korea and other countries. This provision, which provided the obligation of humanitarian measures, was inserted by Japan as a requirement of the powerful countries of Western Europe toward Korea. Parks and Bingham, the American minister to Japan, gave extremely positive estimates to the insertion of this provision.


Regulation 6 - Admitting the export and import of rice and grain at the city of an open port.

As there had been a large outflow of rice to Tsushima before the conclusion of the treaty, Korea proposed the prohibition of the export and import of rice and grain, but Japan overcame the opposition from Korea successfully. After starting trade, Korean rice was exported excessively, and price of rice soared.

Regulation 9 - If illegal trade at a site outside the appointed ports was exposed by the government officials of the area, the criminal would be given over to the officer of the Japanese administration, and Japan should return all of the confiscated money and goods to Korea.

Except for the unfairly low tariff on the export and import of grains and on the ports, there were no points that caused a problem in the trade regulation itself. The character as an unequal treaty can be seen in the official document ('the correspondence attached to the appendix of the treaty of amity') which was handed over from Okazu MIYAMOTO to In Hee CHO, apart from the trade regulations.
This official document was treated as 'a document which should not be proclaimed to the people.'

A part of the official document - The products exported from Japan to Korea will not be imposed export duties in customs in Japan, while the products exported from Korea to Japan will not be imposed import duties.

It was a notification that taxes would not be imposed on trade between Japan and Korea. This sentence determined the loss of tariff autonomy. It seemed an equal treaty at a glance, but the ability to trade was already different, so it was remarkably disadvantageous to Korea.
Before the envoy visited Korea from Japan, Munenori TERASHIMA, the chief of the Foreign Ministry, gave his opinion to the Grand Minister Sanjo, 'Export duties to Korea will not be imposed from now on. As the imported products from Korea would be not so many and most of them were utilities, those would not be harmful to our country.'
He meant that because there would be little economic damage to Japan he proposed not to impose the tax.
In response to this, Sanjo instructed the envoy 'In order to promote trade, export and import duties will not be imposed on both sides. This is the point of the provision of trade (punctuation and emphasis were improved by a writer).'
Okazu MIYAMOTO proposed it faithfully, and Korea did not oppose it because of their ignorance of the international law, so the customs-fee system was established.

A comparison of view points – Different points comparing the treaties of five countries in Ansei era in Japan -

The conclusion of the Japanese-Korean Treaty of Amity drew the attention of other countries. For example, English Minister to Japan, Harry PARKES talked of his impression that the Japanese-Korea Treaty of Amity was similar to the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Amity and Commerce. The Treaty between the United States of America and the Empire of Japan which was the first treaty that Japan concluded, and the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the United States and Japan were models for the treaties that Japan later concluded with the powerful countries of Western Europe. As the Japanese-Korean Treaty of Amity was concluded based on the study of the treaties between Japan and the United States, it would be natural that Parkes felt the character of the Japanese-Korean Treaty of Amity was similar to that of the treaty between Japan and England. If it must be classified, the stipulation itself corresponded to the Treaty between the United States of America and the Empire of Japan, while the Appendix, and trade regulations and official documents corresponded to the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the United States and Japan.

Although they had similar characters, there were several different points. Describing Korea as 'an independent country' was a unique point of this treaty. None of the treaties between Japan and the powerful countries of Western Europe included similar provisions to this. Another characteristic of this treaty was that it did not include a description of most-favored nation status. What should be noted was that the provisions in the treaties between Japan and the countries of Western Europe served to strengthened the unequal character of this treaty. Parkes, the English minister to Japan, paid great attention to the point that the Japanese demand to Korea was heavier than that from Europe and the United States to Japan. The major differences are as below.

Although the employment of Korean people was a prerequisite condition, it was possible for the Japanese merchant ships to exercise coastal trade at places other than the cities where ports were opened. This was exactly the same as the strong request from the western powers imposed on Japan in those days.

The similarity is the establishment of the free-movement area for foreign residents in the cities with open ports, while the Japanese-Korean Treaty of Amity permitted foreigners to do business.

When the treaties between five countries in the Ansei era were concluded, even though Japan sacrificed extraterritoriality, they prevented foreigners from doing business. It is considered that as a result of that, Japan could have obtained additional time for domestic industrial development. However, Japan did not give such time to Korea in the Japanese-Korean Treaty of Amity.

The use of Japanese currency at the cities with open ports was permitted in the treaties between Japan and the countries in Western Europe, where the export of copper coins was not allowed, however. However, the export of copper coins was allowed in the Japanese-Korean Treaty of Amity, which caused the outflow of them.

The price of the port dues was different. In the treaty between Japan and Europe and the United States, the port due was 22 dollars (15 dollars for entrance + 7 dollars for clearance), while in the treaty between Japan and Korea, it was 5 yen for large ships like steamships, and 2 yen or 1.50 yen for the smaller ships, which was decided depending on the burden. The exchange rate of that period in the Meiji period was 1 yen to the dollar, so port dues were kept low at about a quarter of the price in this treaty. It was advantageous to Japan, which was leading trade and advancing into overseas markets.

There was freedom of export of rice and grain.

Japanese people could borrow land by negotiating directly with the Korean landowner.

From these points, it can be said that the Japanese-Korean Treaty of Amity had more severe provisions than those between Japan and Europe and the United States.

Selection of cities to open the port

The Japanese-Korean Treaty of Amity provided that two ports would be opened besides Busan, but negotiations to decide the exact places were proceeding with difficulty. Japan insisted that Songjon Village in Munchon City should be one of the possible sites, but Korea were reluctant because there was a royal tomb. Wonsan was proposed as an alternative site. Japan accepted it, and it was opened in May, 1880. Japan established a settlement covering 330,000m², and constructed a consular office there. Wonsan was considered as an important site not only for trade, but also as a foothold against Russia. Because of this the Meiji government actively promoted the policy of emigration.

Another city that Japan requested to open a port was Jemulpo, presently Incheon Metropolitan City. The negotiation ran into trouble extremely as Incheon was the outer harbor of Hanseong, the capital of Korea, but Korea compromised and notified Japan of their acceptance in February 1881. However, opening of the port was postponed because of the outbreak of the Imo Incident. Although the consular office was established in 1882, opening of the port was postponed until much later, and it was finally opened in January 1883. In September 1883, a settlement was established with an area of about 23,100m².

The problem of the permanent residence of ministers

Korea understood the conclusion of the Japanese-Korea Treaty of Amity was a revival of the relationship of peace and amity under the tributary system during the Edo period. Korea certainly did not think they were involved in modern international relations. For this reason Korea did not admit the necessity of mutual permanent residence of ministers of both countries. Korea insisted that ministers should be dispatched at any time such as occasions of congratulation or condolence as the messenger of Korea did, so they were very concerned about the permanent residence of a minister in the capital.

During the severe discussion between the two sides, minister resident Yoshimoto HANABUSA traveled often between Japan and Korea, and finally Japan established a consular office in Hanseong in December 1880, Hanabusa stayed there for a long term to create a fait accompli, and Korea had no choice but to concede. Korea also established a consular office in Tokyo in the same year.

In May 1876, Korea dispatched to Japan the training delegates whose members were yangban (traditional ruling class or nobles of dynastic Korea during the Joseon Dynasty) as a return salute envoy. Japan advised to do so, and the real purpose of the dispatch was to inspect the present state of Japan on the way to civilization. However, many of the dispatched yangban were conservatives, so that it was said that little was achieved. However, the second group of the training delegates led by Hong-jip KIM (born in 1842) met with the Qing dynasty minister to Japan Ruzhang HE and Zunxian HUANG, and brought back "A stratagem for Korea" written by Huang. Through the experiences of the second training delegates, negotiations with the Japanese government, and bringing back "A stratagem for Korea," the diplomatic policy of Korea changed to the policy of opening of the country to Europe and the United States.

Economic problems

A lot of Japanese people visited the Korean cities with open ports after the conclusion of the Japanese-Korean Treaty of Amity. For example, although there were only several hundred Japanese residents in Busan when the port was opened, this figure increased to a little less than 2,000 in 1882. Most of them were merchants from Osaka, Kyushu, and Tsushima. In proportion with the increase of Japanese people, the scale of trade between Japan and Korea became larger than that between China and Korea. However, in accordance with that, many problems occurred.

First of all, as a large amount of grain was exported from Korea, it brought about a serious rice shortage and the price of rice soared domestically in Korea. Next, tariff-free trade caused remarkable trade imbalance. Though it was rather too late, Korea realized the necessity of recovery of tariff autonomy, and started to impose tax to the merchants living in Busan. However it was frustrated by gunboat diplomacy by Japan. Korea dispatched envoys to Japan several times in order to revise the agreement on taxation, but it did not succeed. The provision on taxation was amended after the Treaty of Commerce between Korea and the United States was concluded, where taxation was provided, and Japan decided that they should not maintain the preferential provision anymore.

These economic problems mentioned above was related closely to the matter of consular jurisdiction. As the businessmen with political ties, Kihachiro OKURA and Zohei FUKUDA, and the holders of great capital such as the Bank of Daiichi started to enter the trade with Korea, the merchants in Tsushima were expelled economically and furthermore advanced violently to the outskirts of the open ports. The merchants in Tsushima began to cause troubles with Korean people, but naturally they were taken in and tried by the Japanese court.
This attitude of Japan was described as 'Balanced Imperialism.'

Influence of the conclusion of the treaty

As a result of the conclusion of the treaty, the Joseon Dynasty opened the country, which in practice led to the end of the national isolation policy.

By the gunboat diplomacy, the soaring price of rice, consular jurisdiction, and other factors overlapping, the bad feelings against Japan had been accumulated in Korea. This later caused the Imo incident.

After conclusion of the treaty, the Qing dynasty became positively involved with Korea in order to maintain the last subject state under the tributary system. The Qing dynasty started to change the position of Korea from a subject state under the tributary system to that based on modern international law. As Japan also started to scheme to put Korea under their control, the conflict between Japan and the Qing dynasty became more serious, and this became an indirect cause of the Sino-Japanese War.

[Original Japanese]