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Komura Jutaro

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The signing of the Treaty of Portsmouth, as depicted in a wall mural at the American Museum of Natural History. Komura is depicted on the far right.

Komura Jutarô was a Meiji government official and diplomat, known for his opposition to emigration.

Trained at Harvard University, Komura served as a diplomatic official in Washington DC in the 1880s, during a period of very early tensions between the US and Japan over the issue of Japanese immigration, amidst the US' Chinese Exclusion Act. Komura expressed the opinion at that time that since the vast majority of Japanese immigrants to the United States were of the lowest socio-economic classes, including chiefly farmers and laborers, they contributed quite negatively to American perceptions of, and attitudes towards, Japanese.

He later served in Beijing, and came to the opinion that Qing Dynasty China was severely weak, and fallen into decline.

Komura was appointed Foreign Minister in 1901, under Prime Minister Katsura Tarô, and played a prominent role in the negotiations at Portsmouth which ended the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. Returning to Japan, he was placed in charge of negotiations surrounding the transfer of Russian rights in Manchuria to Japan; during this time he expressed a strong feeling that Manchuria had to be kept out of the hands of other foreign access or control. In a speech as Foreign Minister in 1909, he continued to see immigration as chiefly a source of diplomatic problems, and assured his Japanese colleagues, and the Japanese public, that anti-Japanese attitudes and problems were limited to California, and that Japanese ambassadors were in direct contact with the US government, able to handle serious political matters, separate from whatever was going on in California. He further spoke out against immigration as it would scatter the Japanese people, who were needed within Japan to constitute the strength of the nation. Immigration within an empire, e.g. to Manchuria or Korea, would not to his mind result in the same kind of scattering or dilution of national strength.

References

  • Marius Jansen, "Japanese Imperialism: Late Meiji Perspectives," in Mark Peattie (ed.), The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1895-1945, Princeton University Press (1984), 69.
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