Antiqua Print Gallery Treaties of Amity and Commerce
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Treaties of Amity and Commerce

Following the nomination of Townsend Harris as U.S. Consul in 1856 and two years of negotiation, the "Treaty of Amity and Commerce" was signed in 1858 and put into application from mid-1859. In a major diplomatic coup, Harris had abundantly pointed out the aggressive colonialism of France and Great Britain against China in the current Second Opium War (1856–1860), suggesting that these countries would not hesitate to go to war against Japan as well, and that the United States offered a peaceful alternative.

The most important points of the Treaty were:

exchange of diplomatic agents.
Edo, Kobe, Nagasaki, Niigata, and Yokohama’s opening to foreign trade as ports.
ability of United States citizens to live and trade at will in those ports (only opium trade was prohibited).
a system of extraterritoriality that provided for the subjugation of foreign residents to the laws of their own consular courts instead of the Japanese law system.

fixed low import-export duties, subject to international control

ability for Japan to purchase American shipping and weapons (three American steamships were delivered to Japan in 1862).
Japan was also forced to apply any further conditions granted to other foreign nations in the future to the United States, under the "most favoured nation" provision. Soon several foreign nations followed suit and obtained treaties with Japan (the Ansei Five-Power Treaties, with the United States (Harris Treaty) on July 29, 1858, Dutch (Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the Netherlands and Japan) on August 18, Russia (Treaty of Amity and Commerce between Russia and Japan) August 19, UK (Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Amity and Commerce) on August 26, and France (Treaty of Amity and Commerce between France and Japan) on October 9).
Trading houses were quickly set up in the open ports.

(Source Wikipedia)