Gaikoku Bugy%C5%8D
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Gaikoku Bugy%C5%8D

Gaikoku bugy? (?) were the commissioners or "magistrates of foreign affairs" appointed at the end of the Edo era by the Tokugawa shogunate to oversee trade and diplomatic relations with foreign countries. In essence this was the beginning of the creation of a Ministry of Foreign Affairs after Japan's long period of isolationist policy.

Historical background

The Gaikoku bugy? system began just prior to the negotiations which resulted in the Harris Treaty.[1] First appointed in August 1858, the gaikoku-bugy? were shogunate officials who were charged with advising the government on foreign affairs and who were tasked with conducting negotiations with foreign diplomats both in Japan and abroad.[2] This was a high-ranking office, in status roughly equivalent to that of kanj?-bugy?, or expressed differently, the status of this office ranked slightly below that of daimy?. The number of gaikoku bugy? varied, from five in 1858 to a maximum of 13, with wide variations in the numbers of officials who were appointed across the span of years.[3]

The office was often held concurrently with that of kanj?-bugy? or the office was held concurrently by those serving the shogunate as governor of one of the great ports (Nagasaki bugy? or Kanagawa bugy?).[3]

The Gaikoku bugy? system ended in 1869 when the new Meiji government was formed;[2] but some of the foundational work of this period proved useful to the nascent Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Some 70 Gaikoku bugy? commissioners were named during this significant period. Hotta succeeded Abe Masahiro, and in his years at the post had to address the issue of the Harris Treaty of 1858.

The genesis of the gaikoku-bugy? pre-dates the actual creation of the office.


The prefix kaib?-gakari meaning "in charge of maritime defense" was used with the titles of some shogunate officials after 1845. This term was used to designate those who bore a special responsibility for overseeing coastal waters, and by implication, for dealing with matters involving foreigners--for example, kaib?-gakari-?metsuke which later came to be superseded by the term gaikoku-gakari.[4]


R?j? Hotta Masayoshi formed an ad hoc committee of shogunate officials with special knowledge of foreign affairs, and he himself headed this working group. In November 1856, he appointed the members and charged them to come up with recommendations about the terms for opening Japanese ports. The results of their deliberations would become the basis for negotiations which ultimately resulted in the Harris Treaty (the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between Japan and the United States).[3]

List of gaikoku bugy?

The numbers of gaikoku bugy? varied throughout the Edo period:

See also


  1. ^ Cullin, L. M. (2003). A History of Japan, 1582-1941, p. 185.
  2. ^ a b Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Gaikoku bugy?" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 229, p. 229, at Google Books; n.b., Louis-Frédéric is pseudonym of Louis-Frédéric Nussbaum, see Deutsche Nationalbibliothek Authority File.
  3. ^ a b c Beasley, W. G. (1955). Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868, p. 322.
  4. ^ Beasley, p. 323.
  5. ^ a b c Beasley, p. 333.
  6. ^ Beasley, p. 26.
  7. ^ a b Beasley, p. 338.
  8. ^ Beasley, p. 337.
  9. ^ a b Beasley, p. 340.
  10. ^ Beasley, p. 336.
  11. ^ National Diet Library: Okubo Ichio, image
  12. ^ Beasley, p. 331.
  13. ^ a b Beasley, p. 334.
  14. ^ National Diet Library: Kurimoto Joun, image; Beasley, p. 335.
  15. ^ Sawada, Janine Anderson. (2004). Practical Pursuits: Religion, Politics and Personal Cultivation in Nineteenth Century Japan, p. 194.
  16. ^ National Diet Library: Narushima Ryuhoku, image


  • Beasley, W. G. (1955). Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853-1868. London: Oxford University Press; reprinted by RoutledgeCurzon, London, 2001. ISBN 978-0-19-713508-2
  • Cullen, L. M. (2003). A History of Japan, 1582-1941: Internal and External Worlds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-82155-X (cloth) ISBN 0-521-52918-2 (paper)
  • Doi, Ry?z?. (1997). Bakumatsu gonin no gaikoku bugyo: Kaikoku o jitsugensaseta bushi. Tokyo: Chuokoron-shinsha. ISBN 978-4-12-002707-9
  • Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric and Käthe Roth. (2005). Japan encyclopedia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-01753-5; OCLC 58053128
  • Sawada, Janine Anderson. (2004). Practical Pursuits: Religion, Politics and Personal Cultivation in Nineteenth Century Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-2752-6 (cloth)

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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