The Iwakura Mission to America and Europe
A New Assessment
By Ian Nish
Routledge – 2008 – 224 pages
Driven by the need to identify, classify and assess western technology and culture together with a desire to advance a dialogue for reviewing the so-called 'unequal treaties' - the new Meiji government of 1868 despatched a top-level ministerial team to the west which, in 1872, arrived in the United States. In all, they spent 205 days in America, 122 days in Britain and two months in France, as well as visiting other countries including Belgium, Germany, Russia, Sweden and Italy.
Drawing on the papers given at the triennial conference of the European Association of Japanese Studies, held in Budapest in August 1997 (the year also marking the 125th anniversary of Iwakura's arrival), this volume presents a valuable new overview of the mission as a whole, with the significance and impact of the visit to each country being separately assessed. A supplement to the book looks at several 'post-Iwakura' topics, including a review of the mission's chief chronicler, Kume Kunitake.
'A valuable contribution to the history of Japan's foreign relations in the 19th century. This book should be read by anyone interested in modern Japan and its history.' - Hugh Cortazzi, Asian Affairs