Press/Journalists

Press Release
December 22, 2003


National Archives to Display First Treaty Between U.S. and Japan

Washington, D.C. . .To mark the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Kanagawa on March 31, the first treaty between any Western nation and Japan, the National Archives will launch a small exhibition in its Special Exhibition Gallery from March 27, 2004 through September 6, 2004. The exhibition is free and open to the public. The National Archives is located on Constitution Avenue, between 7th and 9th Streets, NW. The exhibition is open daily, from 10 AM to 5:30 PM through March 31; 10 AM to 7 PM April 1 through the Friday before Memorial Day: 10 AM to 9 PM Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

For the first time, all four original language versions of the Treaty (English, Japanese, Dutch and Chinese) will be on display, as well as handwritten journals and notes of Commodore Matthew Perry, the naval commander who led the mission to Japan.

The Treaty of Kanagawa, signed on March 31, 1854, signaled the end of Japan's more than 200 year-old policy of seclusion. While the Treaty did not immediately establish commerce, it did open Japanese coaling ports to the United States, and it provided safety for American shipwrecked whalers and the establishment of a permanent American consul.

The National Archives will also host a small traveling exhibition, entitled "Black Ships and Samurai" in the Special Exhibition Gallery from March 31 through April 27. The panel exhibit juxtaposes Japanese and American images of Commodore Perry, his ships, and the people that Perry encountered to illuminate cross-cultural perspectives on Perry's mission and his encounters with Japan. The exhibit, based on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) OpenCourseWare unit developed by Professors John W. Dower and Shigeru Miyagawa, is presented by MIT in partnership with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the U.S. Consulate System.

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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 301-837-1700.

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