First Treaty Between Japan and Any Western Nation On Display
Press Release · Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Washington, DC

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March 3, 2004

First Treaty Between Japan and Any Western Nation On Display
National Archives Commemorates 150 Years of U.S. - Japan Relations

WHAT: All four language versions of the Treaty of Kanagawa, the first treaty between Japan and a western nation, will be displayed on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty, March 31, 2004. The exhibition will also include a letter from President Fillmore to the Japanese Emperor; pages from Commodore Matthew Perry's correspondence to the Secretary of the Navy, and the ratification and proclamation of the Treaty by Japan and the United States.

This is the first time in 35 years that all four versions of the treaty have been displayed together.

WHO: Marvin Pinkert, Director of Museum Programs and curator of this exhibition will be available for interviews.

WHEN: 10 AM Wednesday, March 24, 2004

WHERE: Special Exhibition Gallery, National Archives Building, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The exhibition will open to the public on Saturday, March 27 in the Special Exhibition Gallery and will remain on display through Monday, September 6. The public should use the Constitution Avenue entrance to the building. Hours are: 10:00 A.M.-5:30 P.M. through March 31; 10:00 A.M.-7:00 P.M. April 1 through the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend; 10:00 A.M.-9:00 P.M. Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

BACKGROUND: Sent by the Fillmore Administration with a small fleet including the latest steam powered ships, Commodore Perry negotiated a treaty of friendship that would protect the rights of American whalers and provide for coaling ports. The "opening" of Japan was a major effort to establish the United States as a power with worldwide interests.

The original treaty negotiated by Commodore Matthew Perry, was written in Chinese, Dutch, Japanese, and English. Since neither the Japanese nor the Americans could speak the others' language and no Japanese-English dictionary existed, the treaty was negotiated in Chinese and Dutch which were familiar languages to both parties. The Chinese and Dutch versions were written as a means of resolving discrepancies between the Japanese and the English language version of the treaty.

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For press information, please contact the National Archives public affairs staff at 301-837-1700 or 202-501-5526.


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