April 16, 2010 First Japanese Diplomatic Mission to U.S. Is Subject of May 24 Lecture

Event Marks 150th Anniversary of 1860 “Samurai Mission”

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022
Public Contact: Mari Nakahara (202) 707-2990

In 1860 the Japanese government sent its first diplomatic mission to the United States. Its official mission was to ratify the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation, which was signed several years earlier. The agreement opened the ports of Edo and four other Japanese cities to American trade, among other stipulations. In the years before the Civil War, the Japanese visitors captivated the American people and the press.

The 150th anniversary of this historic visit will be marked by a program titled “Samurai 150! The First Japanese Diplomatic Mission to the U.S. in 1860,” to be held at the Library of Congress from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, May 24, in the Mumford Room, located on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.

The program will begin at 4:30 p.m. with a display of items from the first Japanese diplomatic mission drawn from Library’s collections. Moderated by Michael Auslin, director of Japan Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, the formal program, which begins at 5:30 p.m., will feature Akira Iriye, Charles Warren Professor of American History at Harvard University, and Ronald P. Toby, professor of East Asian languages and culture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They will be introduced by Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Ichiro Fujisaki.

The event, which is sponsored jointly by the Library’s Asian Division, the Japan Commerce Association of Washington and the Embassy of Japan, is free and open to the public. Reservations are required by May 14. Contact Maryssa Miller, Embassy of Japan, mmiller@embjapan.org, (202) 238-6766. A reception will be held outside the Mumford Room following the lecture.

Born in Tokyo, Iriye received a B.A. degree from Haverford College and a Ph.D. in U.S. and East Asian History from Harvard University in 1961. He began his career as a history instructor at Harvard University. He then taught at the University of California at Santa Cruz, the University of Rochester and the University of Chicago before returning to Harvard in 1989. Professor Iriye has written widely on American diplomatic history and Japanese-American relations. Among his works are “Pacific Estrangement: Japanese and American Expansion, 1897-1911; “Power and Culture: The Japanese-American War, 1941-1945;” “Fifty Years of Japanese-American Relations;” “China and Japan in the Global Setting;” “The Globalizing of America” and “Cultural Internationalism and World Order.”

Toby received a doctorate in Japanese history from Columbia University. He has taught at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Keio and the University of Tokyo. With a specialization in pre- and early-modern Japan, he is the author of numerous journal articles and several books, including “State and Diplomacy in Early-Modern Japan: Asia in the Development of the Tokugawa Bakufu;” and “Gyoretsu to Misemono (Parades and Entertainments).” He serves on the editorial boards of several scholarly journals and has served as guest curator of several art exhibitions featuring Japanese prints. His forthcoming book, “Engaging the Other: ‘Japan’ and Its Alter-Egos, 1550-1850,” will be published by University of California Press.

Auslin graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has been named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, an Asia 21 Fellow by the Asia Society and a Fulbright and Japan Foundation Scholar. Prior to his position at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, he was a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo and associate professor of history at Yale University. Auslin’s books include “Negotiating with Imperialism: The Unequal Treaties and the culture of Japanese Diplomacy” and “Celebrating a Century: Japan Society, 1907-2007.” His latest work on the history of U.S.-Japan cultural relations will be published by Harvard University Press in 2011.

The Library of Congress is the central repository for all types of Asian publications that are not broadly available at other locations in the United States. Initiated in 1869 with a gift of 10 works in 934 volumes offered to the United States by the Emperor of China, the Library’s Asian collection of more than 2 million items is the largest and most comprehensive outside of Asia.


PR 10-075
ISSN 0731-3527