Japan Society E-Library

Japanese Envoys in Britain 1862-1964: A Century of Diplomatic Exchange

Edited by:Nish, Ian

Publisher:Global Oriental

First published:2007



‘In essence, the story of Japanese envoys in United Kingdom is one of steady growth from small beginnings at the time of Meiji Restoration, with a brief interlude from1941 to 1952. The most convenient breaks in our story come at 1905 and 1952. In December 1905, The Japanese and British governments agreed to raise the status of their legations to that of embassies and to exchange ambassadors. This was an arrangement which Japan had been seeking for a long time. Since it was adopted in all the major capitals of the world, it represented a major diplomatic triumph  for Japan won by her undoubted economic achievements and her victory in the war against Russia. In April 1952, after an interim regime, the mission was technically reopened when the terms of the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into force and was converted into an embassy with the arrival of the first post-war ambassador. Since then there has grown up a large embassy with a full complement of diplomats, specialist officials drawn from other departments and consular staff.’

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Author: Nish, Ian
Author: Kadota Shōzō

This article traces the establishment of the Japanese embassy in London from 1870 to 1978, including details of some of the pivotal events in the embassy’s history.

Author: Cortazzi, Hugh

Detailing the various Japanese envoys sent to Britain during the ten year period of 1862-72, including the Bakufu mission and several prominent figures.

Author: Cobbing, Andrew

This essay details the diplomatic career of Terashima Munenori (1832-1993) in early Meiji Japan, and his mastery of the diplomatic process as it related to Anglo-Japanese relations.

Author: Hotta-Lister, Ayako

This portrait details the career of Ueno Kagenori (1845-1888) and his role in the early years of Meiji diplomacy, including his appointment as minister at the court of St James's. 

Author: Nish, Ian

This portrait charts the political career of Mori Arinori (1847-1889), a Meiji statesman whose time in Britain played a significant role in his move from liberalism to conservatism.

Author: Nish, Ian

This article profiles the little-known figure of Kawase Masataka (1840-1919) who, aside from being known as the longest-serving envoy to Britain, remains a shadowy figure to many historians of the nineteenth century. 

Author: Nish, Ian

Though Aoki Shūzō (1844-1914) was in many ways a Germanophile, there is a strong current running through his diplomatic career of concern with Britain, particularly with regard to the 'unequal' treaties.

Author: Nish, Ian

Katō Takaaki (1860-1926) spent a quarter of his career overseas and was foreign minister four times, combining diplomatic service with high office in Tokyo. Since his only overseas postings were in Britian he occupies a special place in Anglo-Japanese relations.

Author: Nish, Ian

Profiling the involvement of Hayashi Tadasu (1850-1913) in his political appointments from secretary to the Iwakura Mission to promotion to the London legation. This article also details Hayashi's scholarly achievements as a writer and translator. 

Author: Hotta-Lister, Ayako

Ayako Hotta- Lister's Interlude on life in the London legation including the social events and activities that many Japanese diplomats enjoyed.

Author: Nish, Ian

This portrait considers the diplomatic career of Komura Jūtarō (1855-1911) as foreign minister and later ambassador to Britain.

Author: Nish, Ian

Inouye Katsunosuke (1861-1929) was responsible for steering Anglo-Japanese relations during the First World War, a very difficult period in world history. This essay details how he coped in a way which attracted great respect. 

Author: Nish, Ian

Chinda Sutemi ( 1857-1929) presided over a period in postwar Anglo-Japanese relations where he was responsible for diplomacy at what would later come to be understood as critical junctures in the build up to the Second World War. This essay charts his career through the London Embassy, at the Paris Peace Conference and up to Japan's exit from the League of Nations.

Author: Gotō-Shibata, Harumi

This portrait provides an account and assessment of Hayashi Gonsuke (1860-1939) as Japanese Ambassador to Britain, and his efforts to keep relations between the two nations as amicable as possible.

Author: Kuramatsu Tadashi

This essay recounts how Matsui Keishirō (1868-1946) was involved at numerous important turning points in the history of Japanese external relations as both Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, one of the chief delegates at the Paris Peace Conference, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Ambassador to Britain.

Author: Nish, Ian

Matsudaira Tsuneo (1877-1949) was the longest serving ambassador to the Court of St James, and brought continuity to Anglo-Japanese relations at a time of political instability in Japan.

Author: Nish, Ian

This portrait details the two years Yoshida Shigeru (1878-1967) and Mme Yoshida spent at the London embassy from 1936-38 - a troubling period for both of them as they did what they could to stabilise Anglo-Japanese relations.

Author: Best, Antony

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Author: Yoshida Yuki

In this interlude extracts from Mme Yoshida Yuki's memoir, Whispering Leaves in Grosvenor Square, are presented as snapshots of life in the London Embassy. 

Author: Ishizaka Ayako

This interlude is a reflection by Ishizaka Ayako on her childhood as the daughter of Shū Tomii, a Japanese diplomat, and their time in Britain.

Author: Kuniyoshi Tomoki

This article considers Asakai Koichiro's (1906-1995) career as a high-ranking envoy. Including his involvement in setting up the first diplomatic mission and re-establishing Anglo-Japanese relations after the Asia-Pacific war. 

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This article considers the career of Matsumoto Shunichi (1897-1988) in his appointment as the first post-war ambassador to a Britain that was still somewhat hostile towards their former enemy country. 

Author: Nish, Ian

Nishi Haruhiko (1893-1985) came to office at a difficult time in Anglo-Japanese relations. This profile details his time as ambassador during the post-war years. 

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This article details Ohno Katsumi's (1905-2006) diplomatic accomplishments including the signing of the Anglo-Japanese Commerce, Establishment and Navigation treaty in 1962.