Treaty of Amity (Ryukyu-France)

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  • Date: 1855/10/15 (Nov 24)
  • Japanese: 琉仏修好条約 (Ryuu-futsu shuukou jouyaku)

The Treaty of Amity between the Ryûkyû Kingdom and France, signed on 1855/10/15 (Nov 24 on the Western calendar) by sôrikan Motobu anji Shô Keiho, fuseikan Tanabaru ueekata Ba Ryôsai, and others, and by Admiral Nicolas Francois Guerin, Commander-in-Chief of the French Oriental Naval Force, reaffirmed Ryûkyû's commitment to providing fuel, supplies, repairs, and so forth to French sailors in need, as well as providing for a number of other stipulations, including the establishment of a French consulate in the kingdom, free movement for Frenchmen within the islands, and a most-favored-nation clause, granting to France as well any privileges extended by Ryûkyû to other Western countries.[1] It was the second such Treaty of Amity signed by the kingdom, after the US-Ryûkyû Treaty of Amity signed with Commodore Matthew C. Perry the previous year.

The events leading up to the Treaty began with Admiral Guerin's landing at Naha on 1855/9/27 (Nov 6). Knowing of the Treaty signed with the United States the previous year, Guerin expressed to Shuri authorities his desire for an agreement with France as well. Negotiations took place over the course of eight meetings (on 10/1, 10/3, 10/5, 10/7, 10/8, 10/12, and 10/15). Ryukyuan officials, in accordance with previous precedent, orders from Satsuma han, and their own policy interests, gladly offered to agree to stipulations agreeing to the friendly supplying of French ships, but resisted attempts by the French to add in stipulations for French land ownership in the Ryukyus, fully opened trade, French commercial activity within the kingdom, or the establishment of a French consulate. Further, Ryûkyû stood by its assertions, made consistently in earlier interactions with Western agents, that they were not empowered to make any such diplomatic agreements without first consulting with Beijing. Guerin countered this by saying that they had already agreed to similar stipulations with the United States, and that therefore extending the same arrangements to an agreement with France should not require consultation with China; this, despite the fact that the second set of stipulations (for land ownership, consulate, commercial activities, etc.) was not included in the agreement with the US.

In the end, on 10/15, Guerin ordered his troops to land and surround the negotiation site, forcing the Ryukyuans to agree to sign the treaty.

The Treaty contained many of the same stipulations as the previous year's treaty with the United States, adding also most-favored-nation status, extraterritoriality for Frenchmen in Ryûkyû, and the legalization of lending of land, houses, and ships to Frenchmen. Still, the Ryukyuans were successful in rejecting stipulations for the sale of land or houses to foreigners.[2]


  • Marco Tinello, "The termination of the Ryukyuan embassies to Edo : an investigation of the bakumatsu period through the lens of a tripartite power relationship and its world," PhD thesis, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia (2014), 203-205.
  • Ishin Shiryô Kôyô 維新史料綱要, vol 2 (1937), 125, 133.
  1. Tinello, 209.
  2. Tinello, 219.