Desperate War of Japan in the Pacific

Gunboat diplomacy

This page contains Kanji characters.
Japan had traded with Netherlands at Nagasaki in Edo era. Netherlands had hired American ships to commnunicate Java with Nagasaki. New emerging powers were Russia and America.

King in 1837

Whale hunting ships also advanced the Noth Pacific. The fishermen and traders wanted ports to supply fuel or water. Therefore samurai of Uraga and a merchant trader met at Uraga. Did he know that Uraga is a choke point of Edo? The Morrison of US anchored in Uraga on 30 July 1837. The Morrison was the first American ship to try a contact near Edo, though it was not an official ship.[1][2]

Biddle in 1846

US actioned gunboat diplomacy clearly against Japan the first time. Biddle came with 2 USS warships in Uraga on 20 July 1846.[3] The line ship, USS Columbus was escorted by sloop USS Vincennes[4][5]. The armament of USS Columbus were 68 32lb guns and 19 42lb carronades. The sloop had 18 guns. Bakufu (Government) had changed how to handle such a foreign ship. So Government offered some supply, Biddle refused and requested much. The Government gave free and supplied with 5,000 woods, 2,500 eggs, 424 hens, pears, apricots, apples, raddish, eggplants, rice, flour, sugar etc.[6] As for water, either 360kL or 556kL was supplied. Original document writes 2,000 goku. Japanese volume unit, koku (goku) were different from capacity of ship or woods. The Biddle squadron departed on 29 July.

Perry 1853, 1854

Perry came with 4 warships and anchored at Uraga on 8 July 1853[7][8][9][10]. The fleet crossed an official line called shiodome in Japanese to limit to enter Edo Bay easily. 100 US Marines landed on Kurihama of Japan mainland on 14 July[11]. Perry left for Hong Kong on 17 July. USN recognized Ryukyu (Okinawa) and Ogasawara Islands were important for her strategy. He recommend US Congress that Taiwan was not the most superior position to advance China and Japan. Later Nimitz' fleet traced Perry's footprint in the Pacific War. USN bypassed Taiwan! It seems that Japan missed to understand US intention. US succeeded in banning to build forts in Okinawa and Ogasawara in Washington Teaty.

Perry's fleet
USS Powhatan 2,415t
USS Susquehanna 2,450t
USS Mississippi 3,220t
USS Macedonian 1,341t
USS Lexington 691t
USS Saratoga 882t
USS Vandalia 614t
USS Supply 547t
USS Southampton 567t

Perry came again with 9 warships and anchored at Koshiba on 13 February 1854. The total displacement of the fleet was 12,727t. Nihon koku meriken Gasshukoku washin jyouyaku (日本国米利堅合衆国和親条約) was concluded at Yokohama on 31 March. Government tied the same treaty with other 4 powers in 1859[12].

Harris in 1856

Harris, American official came at Shimoda on a USS steam warship on 21 August 1856[13]. I think he was a typical merchant-like American official, when I read a site. He insisted, "US goverment does not admit that Americans will sell drug in Japan." Japan and US agreed supeority of US official in Japan on 17 June 1857. He was pragmatic and realistic. Inoue and Iwase negotiated a commerce treaty with Harris. Harris advised that joint British and French fleet would began a campaign and war against Japan after the war with China and confuse of India on 18 June 1856[14]. Japan and US tied Nichibei Shuko Tsusho Joyaku (Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the United States and Japan) off Koshiba on 29 July 1858. I guess Inoue and Iwase signed on USS Powhatan off Koshiba[15].

French Marines in 1863

Fig.3 France Hill Nowdays
Fig.4 British red coats in Meiji

In the end of Edo era, Bakufu (Government) opened Yokohama Port near Edo (Tokyo) in 1859. Yokohama was the most important port in Japan among allied powers. Local governments (han) of Japan bought 20 thousands rifles in the Boshin War in Yokohama and Nagasaki where Western merchants sold arms, books, drugs and various products freely under the treaties with 5 powers.

300 French troops of Maghreb infantry and Marines arrived in 1863[16][17]. The troops and marines settled at Yokohama. The troops staioned on a hill where we called it the France Hill (Yama) in later[19]. The French military advisory group trained Shogun's western style infantry Densyutai. And a French engineer designed a modern shipyard at Uraga in 1866. But Bakufu lost power in the Boshin War, a few French advisors and the rest of Densyutai fled to Ezo(Hokkaido)[18]. They planned surprisingly capture of imperial warships in Miyako, but failed.

French invasion in 1866 and 1867

France sent the settled troops to Korea in October 1866 and to Vietnam in 1867. 170 of 300 Marines landed Korea on 16 October[20]. France was one of big powers and the other was UK in those days. Meiji government negotiated that allied troops would retreat from the foreign settlement. French Army was strong. A few thousand troops conquered Vietnum[21].

1857 Arrow War
1858 Da Nang campaign by 3,000 troop
1859 Occupied Saigon
1861 Saigon campaign by 3,500 troop
1864 Battles for Shimonoseki
1866 江華島 campaign
1867 Mekong Delta campaign by 2,000 troop
1882 North Vietnum campaign by 1,000 troop
1884 清仏戦争

Both of French and British troops left Yokohama on 2 March 1875. Soon later Japan dispatched her infantry to Korea as France did, and stationed Vietnum just before the Pacific War on 28 July 1941. The station triggered Desperate War of Japan in the Pacific.

USN invaded Korea in 1871

USN actioned gun boat diplomacy watching on UK and France carefully. She has been smart and pragmatic. US Marines captured Korean general's flag in 1871, when USN bombarded on a Korean base[23]. A Korean newspaper wrote an opinion why Korea failed that Japan invaded her using gunboats, that is houkan[22]. But the newspaper did not write why Korea was not colonized by other Western powers. France had invaded Korea in 1866. Both powers had been very interested in Chinese wealth, but Korea was too poor to govern at their military cost. Actually Japan invested much for her power, but the return was less than investment. So why did leaders of Japan were interested in colonization of poor Korea? After all, to get military power was easier than to develop a country. As a result of Japanese-Russo War, powers approved of revising unequal treties between Japan.
Fig.1 USN invasion in Korea
Fig.2 Captured Korean flag

Sperry in 1908

The great white fleet showed presence of US sea power toward other sea power nations, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Japan[24][25]. The total displacement of the great white fleet was 224,737t While The total displacement of IJN battleships was 153,423t. IJN had 68 % displacement of USN battleships. Some IJN officers insisted IJN had to have 70 % at leat to fight against USN in Showa era. The fleet visited Yokohama on 18 October 1908, and departed on 25 October 1908. The fleet ran by coal in those day. USN had 8 coal supply ships. USN had to hire 49 ships from UK and Norway etc.

It shows that USN could not strike IJN near Japan across the Pacific Ocean by herself. Japan also had allianced with UK till 1923. USN needed 25 battleships, 128 transports, 248 ferries for coal and 303 other warships to help 39 transports for soldiers against Japan in January 1925[28].

The great white fleet

1st SQ
USS Connecticut, 16,000t
USS Kansas, 16,000t
USS Louisiana, 16,000t
USS Vermont, 16,000t

2nd SQ
USS Georgia, 14,948t
USS New Jersey, 14,948t
USS Virginia, 14,980t
USS Rhode Island, 14,948t

3rd SQ
USS Minnesota, 16,000t
USS Ohio, 12,723t
USS Maine, 12,500t
USS Missouri, 13,500t

4th SQ
USS Alabama, 11,565t
USS Illinois, 11,565t
USS Kentucky, 11,520t
USS Kearsarge, 11,540t

IJN battlships

Mikasa (1900), 15,140t
Fuji (1896), 12,533t
Shikishima (1900), 14,850t
Asahi (1900), 15,200t
Tango (1894), 10,960t
Sagami (1901), 12,674t

Suou (1900), 13,500t
Hizen (1900), 12,700t
Iwami (1902), 13,516t
Katori (1906), 15,950t
Kashima (1906), 16,400t

Twenty-One Demands in 1914

Japan decided to invasion of German territory in China at once, when WWI broke out. Japan declared war on Germany and occupied 青島 in 1914. Japanese newspapers thought that Japan should demand rights to invade China naturally. Government actioned gunboat diplomacy, but failed. Chinese people actioned anti Japanese movement. Japanese and Chinese nationalism collied in China. The collision stopped in 1945 at last.

1914Aug11 Asahi Newspaper suggested to arms in China
1914Aug15 Ultimatum to Germany
1914Aug23 Government declared war on Germany
1914----- Australia occupied German New Guinea
1914Oct-- Japan occupied German Saipan
1914Oct12 Japan occupied German Truk
1914Nov07 Japan occupied German 青島
1914Nov11 Government decided to Twenty-One demands
1914----- Fiction 'The next war' in Japan
1915Jan18 Twenty-One Demands
1915Feb02 Japan and China began talks about Twenty-One demands
1916Mar23 袁世凱 gave up being Emperor
1916Apr23 Asahi Newspaper suggested to arms in China
1915May07 Ultimatum to China
1915May25 Japan and China tied amended Twenty-One demands

While US did military actions as follows

1912 US dispatched Marines to Nicaragua
1914 US dispatched Marines to Mexico and occupied Veracruz
1915 US dispatched Marines to Hiti
1916 US troop stationed Mexico and US Marines was dispatched to Dominica
1917 US declared war on Germany

Both of Japan and US were busy with invasion in 1910s. But China was too big for Japan. They were powers after WWI and recognized the enemy each other across the Pacific. US Immigration Act of 1924 hurt Japanese pride. US did not want that Japan was dominant in China.


  1. Morrison Incident
  2. Charles W. King
  3. Bidoru no raikou
  4. James Biddle(1783-1848)
  5. USS Columbus, 2,480t
  6. USS Vincennes, 700t
  7. Mtthew Calbraith Perry(1794-1858)
  8. Mathew Perry & The Opening of Japan
  9. Black ships & Samurai
  10. Perry no kurofune
  11. Perry ensei
  12. Nichi-bei wasin jyouyaku
  13. 日米修好通商条約締結150年記念式典
  14. Harris no enzetsu
  15. 江戸小柴沖停泊中の米艦上で、日米修好通商条約調印
  16. Maghreb people
  17. 3rd Kaihei-hohei rentai
  18. Naval Battle of Miyako Bay
  19. France yama
  20. French Campaign against Korea, 1866
  21. France no shokuminchi shihai
  22. 高宗 to 明治天皇 no 運命
  23. Goman to muchi ga unda higeki
  24. Great White Fleet
  25. Charles Stillman Sperry(1847-1911)
  26. The Greatest Amount of Tonnage That Ever Followed a Flag
  27. The Great Fleet Tour Around the World
  28. Kaijyou logistics hattatu-si

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