People Linked to Abe Masahiro


Masahiro encountered some unparalleled difficult situations in Japanese history and cooperated with a large variety of people to overcome them, reaching beyond social status and looking at real ability. He made Tokugawa Nariaki, who was negative about opening Japan up to the outside, his coastal defense advisor. He saw Katsu Kaishu’s true ability despite his being a low-ranking samurai and appointed him to an appropriate post. All in all, he brought a fresh and energetic new style to leadership. This cream of the crop centered around Masahiro led Japan to opening back up to the world and shaped the Japan to follow in the future.

Meanwhile, Perry initially viewed the Japanese as barbaric, but he changed his mind when he saw this intelligent behavior.


A:Hayashi Fukusai Daigaku-no-kami (chief education expert)
He served as head of the Shohei-zaka Gakumonjo Academy, and his intelligence caught the eye of Masahiro. He received a U.S. delegation, and in negotiations with Perry, he served as ambassador plenipotentiary on the orders of Masahiro. Fukusai has the top signature on the Convention of Kanagawa.

B:John Manjiro
(Real name: Nakahama Manjiro) Adrift while fishing, he was rescued by an American whaling ship and returned to Japan. After interrogation, Manjiro barely escaped the death penalty, and Masahiro conscripted him into the shogunate to obtain information on the United States.

C:Takashima Shuhan
Artillerist and Western-style military strategist. He submitted a statement to the shogunate regarding his belief in the necessity of Western-style guns and artillery. Imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, he was pardoned by Masahiro in 1853 and contributed to the modernization of military affairs in Japan.

D:Egawa Hidetatsu
In 1841, he learned Western gunnery methods from Takashima Shuhan. He also built the Nirayama Reverberatory Furnaces for cannon production, and in 1853, he became responsible for construction of the Shinagawa Battery upon the arrival of Commodore Perry.

E:Katsu Kaishu
Although he was born in the house of a low-ranking shogunate retainer, he was promoted by Masahiro after submitting a “Statement on Coastal Defense” to the shogunate. He attended the Nagasaki Naval Training Center and crossed the Pacific Ocean in the Japanese warship Kanrin Maru, laying the foundation for the establishment of the navy.

F:Yoshida Shoin
In 1854, he requested and tried to maneuver his way on board a Western ship, but he was refused and arrested for the crime of unauthorized travel. He was sentenced to death, but Masahiro saved his life by insisting that talented people should be protected. He later opened the Shokasonjuku Academy.

G:Tokugawa Nariaki
He was the 9th daimyo of the Mito Domain. He joined the shogunate in a coastal defense role at the request of Masahiro. He often exchanged opinions with Masahiro on national defense and defense of the coast, including Edo Bay.

H:Matudaira Shungaku
He was the 16th Daimyo of Fukui Domain. He often exchanges opinions with Masahiro and Tokugawa Nariaki on opening Japan to the world and national defense, engaging in deep conversations. Alarmed by the moves of the Western great powers, he established the Institute of Foreign Study, reformed the military organization, and took other steps to reform domain administration.

I:Shimazu Nariakira
He became lord of the Satsuma Domain due to the intervention of Masahiro in the succession struggle following the previous lord. He was also very well-informed about affairs overseas. In addition to trying his hand at cotton-spinning and steam engine development, he also appointed Saigo Takamori and others to appropriately important posts.


J:Nicholas I of Russia sent Putyatin to Japan as part of Russia’s strategy of southern expansion

K:Putyatin (Russia)
He arrived in Nagasaki in July 1853 as an ambassador plenipotentiary. On December 21, 1855, the Treaty of Shimoda was signed and Sakhalin was decided to be shared by both Japan and Russia. When his flagship Diana sank, Japanese shipbuilders built the Heda as a replacement and Putyatin safely headed home.

L:Queen Victoria of the British Empire demands the opening of Japanese ports to check Russia

M:James Stirling (Britain)
British Admiral Britain was at war with Russia (the Crimean War), so Stirling sought to open up the port at Hakodate in order to make it a frontline base of operations against Russia. On August 23, 1854, the Anglo-Japanese Friendship Treaty was signed and the ports of Nagasaki and Hakodate were opened up.

N:James Biddle
Commodore in the U.S. Navy In 1846, entered Japan at Uraga seeking trade with Japan, but Japan refused and told him they would not trade with anyone but the Dutch. After a thorough investigation of this failed attempt, Perry came to Japan.

O:President Fillmore
puts pressure on Japan to benefit American economic interests

P:Matthew C. Perry (USA)
Became Commodore of the East India Squadron in 1852. On June 3, 1853, he arrived at Uraga to negotiate with Japan and hand over an official diplomatic message from President Millard Fillmore. He returned to Japan in February 1854, and on March 3, the Convention of Kanagawa was signed, Japan’s first formal foreign treaty with the United States of America.