Treaty of Ganghwa

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  • Date: 1876
  • Other Names: 江華島條約 (Kanfa tou jouyaku, Kouka tou jouyaku; K: Ganghwado Joyak)
  • Japanese: 日朝修好条規 (Nicchou shuukou jouki)

The Treaty of Ganghwa Island, or Japan-Korea Treaty of Amity, was a treaty signed between Meiji Japan and Joseon Dynasty Korea, in 1876. It established formal diplomatic relations between the two countries in the modern/Western mode, opened three Korean ports to Japanese trade (much as other treaties had opened Japanese and Chinese ports to Western trade), and stipulated that Korea was an independent nation.

This was all done without the agreement of Qing Dynasty China, however, which still saw Korea as a tributary state. The Treaty is thus frequently cited as one of a number of events or factors contributing to increasing tensions in the late 19th century between China and Japan over influence in Korea.

The Treaty came as the result of roughly seven years of tension between Japan and Korea, as the Meiji government sought to reestablish relations with Korea after severing the traditional tributary/vassal relationship between the Sô clan of Tsushima han and the Korean Court. The Treaty ended all vestiges of that relationship, firmly establishing government-to-government, or state-to-state, relations, and granted Japan privileges of consular authority in Pusan and two other ports, as well as allowing the Japanese to chart Korean coastal waters. In formally terminating Tsushima's in-between status, the Treaty also implicitly represents, if not stating explicitly, the establishment of national borders between Japan and Korea.[1]

Following on the heels of the Treaty, the establishment of a Japanese legation in Seoul in 1880 marked the final nail in the coffin of Japan-Korea relations within the traditional East Asian world order system, and an important early step in the further establishment of diplomatic relations in the Western/modern mode.[1]


  • Conrad Schirokauer, David Lurie, and Suzanne Gay, A Brief History of Japanese Civilization, Wadsworth Cengage (2013), 193.
  1. 1.0 1.1 Robert Hellyer, Defining Engagement, Harvard University Press (2009), 245.