Economic History Seminar (2-6)

ESP (Emerging States Project) Economic History Seminar


Harald Fuess (Heidelberg University and Nichibunken) Western Consular Courts and Yokohama Treaty Port Society

4-5.30 pm Tursday the 22nd of July 2014

Lecture Room A, 5th Floor, GRIPS


Western extraterritoriality in Meiji Japan is mostly seen as a symbol of Western imperialism violating Japanese sovereignty and territorial integrity. Treaty revisions thus became the overarching policy goal of successive Japanese governments. While the image of Japan´s coerced and unwanted foreign relations is perpetuated by terms such as “opening Japan” and “unequal treaties” there is surprisingly little knowledge among Western historians of Japan on the actual workings of extraterritoriality in Japanese treaty port society. Based on research in various diplomatic archives and press publications this study covers the activities of Great Britain and the United States but emphasizes the hitherto neglected role of the continental European powers of Germany and France. In particular it explores the workings of the system of consular jurisdiction to argue that it helped to order and regulate the lives in Japanese treaty ports such as Yokohama across national boundaries and thereby contributed to a containment of Western imperialism in Meiji Japan.

Professor Fuess is Professor of History at the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” of Heidelberg University and a visiting scholar at the International Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto as well as Immediate Past President of the European Association for Japanese Studies. He has published on social, economic, legal, diplomatic and medical history of modern Japan.