Western Merchants and the Meiji Transition: John Henry Duus at Treaty Port Hakodate (Part Two 1868-89)


  • Steven Ivings Kyoto University




Meiji Japan, treaty ports, Hokkaido, Denmark, western merchants


In the second of this two-part article I examine the business activities of John Henry Duus in the years after the Meiji Restoration. Duus was already an experienced treaty port trader by the Meiji Restoration of 1868 and from his base in Hakodate, where he also served as Danish consul, he played a role in facilitating trade between Hakodate and Chinese treaty ports. Duus’ career in Japan spanned almost three decades including the transition from Tokugawa (Edo) to Meiji—Duus died in 1889, the year the Meiji constitution was promulgated. An examination of his activities utilizing fragments of his correspondence shows the opportunities and difficulties that Western merchants had to overcome as they sought to prosper in a turbulent era. Duus should have been well-placed to take advantage of the new opportunities that Meiji modernization presented, however, as this paper shows, Meiji reform efforts often disrupted Western commercial interests.

Author Biography

Steven Ivings, Kyoto University

Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University, Associate Professor