Cultural Russian invasion (1/2)Edo period, Russian attack on Sakhalin and Etorofu

cultural invasion

cultural invasion

Article category
case file
Incident name
Cultural Russian Invasion (1806-1807)
Related castles
Matsumae Castle

Matsumae Castle

In the late Edo period, a diplomatic mission from Russia visited Japan, which was isolated from the rest of the world. The purpose was to negotiate trade between Japan and Russia, but the Edo Shogunate refused. Angered by the Shogunate's stubborn and disrespectful attitude, Nikolai Rezanov, a diplomatic envoy, ordered his subordinates Khvostov and others to attack Etorofu, Sakhalin, which was Japan's northern base. This was the Bunkarokou, also known as the Khvostov Incident, which occurred from 1806 to the following year. In the wake of the Cultural Russian Invasion, the shogunate began efforts to strengthen its coastal defenses. This time, I will explain in an easy-to-understand way what such a cultural invasion is.

Movements in Russia during the period of national isolation

Before we get into the story of cultural invasions, let's take a look at the relationship between Japan and Russia during the period of national isolation. In 1539, during the era of Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third shogun of the Edo shogunate, ``national isolation'' was completed. However, although the country was closed off, it did not completely stop exchange and trade with foreign countries. During the Edo period, there were four exits, Nagasaki exit, Tsushima exit, Satsuma exit, and Matsumae exit (Ezo exit), which were used to communicate with foreign countries.

At the Nagasaki Exit, trade with China and the Netherlands continued under the Nagasaki Magistrate, which was under the direct control of the Shogunate. In addition, at the Tsushima exit, diplomacy and trade with Korea was established under the Tsushima domain (present-day Tsushima City, Nagasaki prefecture and part of Saga prefecture), and at the Satsuma exit, under the Satsuma domain (Kagoshima prefecture and southwestern part of Miyazaki prefecture), Ryukyu was established. Diplomacy and trade with the kingdom continues. Matsumaeguchi was established under the Matsumae clan (originally in southern Hokkaido, and later expanded), and the Ainu of Ezo (the entire island of Hokkaido, Sakhalin Island, the Kuril Islands, etc.), and by extension the residents of the lower reaches of Russia's Heilong River (Amur River) via the Ainu. Trade continued.

From the latter half of the 18th century, ships from Russia, France, America, Britain, and other countries visited Japan and began trade negotiations. Regarding Russia, historical records indicate that in 1778, Ochiereden, a merchant based on Urup Island in the Kuril Islands, who was engaged in a sea otter trapping business, landed at Notsuka Map in Nemuro City with three ships. It is said to be the first contact between They came to seek trade with Japan due to food shortages, but the Matsumae clan refused on the grounds that they were isolated from the country.

Laxman visits Nemuro with Kodayu Daikokuya and others

In 1792, 14 years after Otiereden, Adam Laxman, a military man, was the first Japanese envoy to visit Japan as an envoy of Catherine II of the Russian Empire. Laxman delivered Kodayu Daikokuya, a boatman from Ise Province (Mie Prefecture), to Japan, and landed in Nemuro with a letter requesting trade.

In December 1783, Daikokuya Kodayu's ship was lost off the coast of Enshunada. After drifting for about seven months, they arrived at Amchitka Island in the Aleutian Islands, where they remained for several years. He then crossed the Sea of Okhotsk and moved to Irkutsk in February 1789. Here, Kodayu meets Kirill Laxman, Adam Laxman's father, and heads to Petersburg, the capital of the Russian Empire, to return to Japan. Although he remained in the capital for a while, he returned to Japan with Adam Laxman in the 4th year of Kansei.

The Edo shogunate's response to the report from the Matsumae clan, which served as the point of contact with Laxman, was, ``We appreciate the repatriation of the castaways, but trade is not allowed under national law.'' As Laxman, he wanted to visit Edo and conduct trade negotiations, but Sadanobu Matsudaira, an elder statesman at the time, told him, ``If you want to negotiate trade, you should go to Nagasaki.''

However, since he was responsible for transporting the castaways, he instructed the Matsumae clan to treat them politely and without disrespect. After spending about eight months in Nemuro, Laxman negotiated with Shogunate officials in Matsumae. In the end, trade negotiations broke down, but the shogunate granted Laxman a certificate (permit to enter Nagasaki) titled ``A sign for the arrival of the first national ship to Nagasaki.'' By the way, the shogunate seemed to think that if Laxman visited Nagasaki, they would have no choice but to start trade. However, after setting sail from Hakodate, Laxman returned to Okhotsk instead of going to Nagasaki.

Cultural invasion ① Nikolai Rezanov's visit to Japan

With the arrival of Laxman, Russia sent settlers to Urup Island in the Kuril Islands and built a Russian base there. Moreover, in addition to Russian ships, British ships also began to appear in the waters around Hokkaido. Taking this situation seriously, the Edo Shogunate strengthened its coastal defense policy, surveyed Hokkaido, the Kuril Islands, and Sakhalin, and placed them under direct control of the Shogunate.

Meanwhile, in September 1804, Nikolai Rezanov visited Nagasaki as a diplomatic envoy from the Russian Empire. Rezanov brought a personal letter from Alexander I and the tablet of honor obtained by Laxman, visited Edo, presented the personal letter and gift to the general, and asked for trade between Russia and Japan. On the Russian side, there was a plan to follow the example of Laxman and allow trade as a matter of course.

However, more than 10 years have passed since Laxman's visit, and the shogunate is wary of Russia's advance. Sadanobu Matsudaira, who was the negotiating partner at the time, had also fallen from power, and Toshiatsu Doi, the senior councilor who ``resolutely refused trade,'' responded in his place, so Rezanov's demands were never accepted. In addition, Russian documents such as Rezanov's diary contain records that seem to have been a problem due to the fact that he gave the ceremonial tablet to Laxman without the Emperor's permission.

Regarding Toshiatsu Doi, it is written in "Okochi Documents Hayashi Shosai Letters" that he says, ``If he responds violently to Rezanov, Russia will become angry and will never come again.Even if Russia uses force because of this, Japanese samurai will be left behind.'' There is a story that he insisted, ``I will not take that.'' For this reason, even though he was an official envoy with a personal letter from the king, his treatment of Rezanov was worse than that of Laxman.

Rezanov had to wait two months to receive formal permission to land in Nagasaki, and another six months to meet with the Nagasaki magistrate and Shogunate officials. What's more, all requests are rejected, and even the certificates are returned. By the way, the talks were held three times from March 6th to 9th, Bunka 2nd year (1805), and the person in charge of the shogunate side who came from Edo at this time was the metsuke Toyama Kinshiro Kageshin, or ``Toyama Kin-san.'' He was the father of Kinshiro Toyama, also known as Kagemoto.

Rezanov set sail from Nagasaki on March 19, with negotiations still broken down. He returned to Kamchatka, but behind the scenes he ordered his subordinates, including Lieutenant Khvostov and Cadet Davidov, to attack Japanese strongholds in Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. Furthermore, based on his experience in Nagasaki, he told Alexander I that Japan had no choice but to demand the opening of the country by force.

It is said that Rezanov acted like this because he was angry at the way he was treated in Nagasaki, but in the first place, an official diplomat with a personal letter was treated as inferior to a mere messenger without a personal letter. It's now a diplomatic issue. The response of the shogunate at this time was subject to considerable criticism from within the shogunate after the Bunka-Russian invasion.

Cultural invasion ② Rezanov orders Khvostov to attack Sakhalin...?

Nikolai Rezanov wrote to his subordinate Khvostov on August 8, 1806, ``Japan had committed an act of treachery by once agreeing to trade, but then refusing to send an envoy.'' ” and ordered the burning of Japanese ships in Aniva Bay, southern Sakhalin. He ordered that Japanese people who were healthy and suitable for work be taken away, and it seems that he was thinking of using them as a labor force to develop Alaska. Regarding the Japanese, he wrote, ``Wherever you encounter them, burn their ships and cause damage.''

The article on Bunka Rōko continues.

Naoko Kurimoto
Writer(Writer)I am a former travel industry magazine reporter. I have loved history, both Japanese and world history, since I was a child. I usually enjoy visiting temples and shrines, especially shrines, and often do ``pilgrimages to sacred places'' themed around historical figures. My favorite military commander is Ishida Mitsunari, my favorite castle is Kumamoto Castle, and my favorite castle ruins is Hagi Castle. My heart flutters when I see the ruins of battle castles and the stone walls of castle ruins.
Japanese Castle Photo Contest.03