- 鳴門教育大学研究紀要 鳴門教育大学 編 (ISSN:18807194)
- vol.27, pp.232-245, 2012
Thomas Blake Glover (1838-1911)is a Scottish trader who came to Japan at the end of the Edo period. He established Glover & Co. in Nagasaki and traded arms and ships with anti-Tokugawa clans, mainly with the Satsuma clan. He is often regarded as a supporter of the anti-Tokugawa samurai and as a contributor to the Meiji Restoration. Indeed, though Glover in later years contributed to the modernization of Japan in more peaceful ways, introducing shipbuilding docks, coal mining, railways, a mint, a brewery, and so on, the most prominent career in his life is that of "a merchant of death" in the very last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate. This essay examines the significance of his role at the end of the Edo period from the perspective of British diplomatic policy towards Japan in the 1860s and its rivalry with France. Throughout the 19th century, Great Britain had been the biggest empire among the great world powers. However, when Tokugawa Japan was forced to open the country to the world, neither Britain nor other western great powers had the intention to colonize Japan. They had learned that to plant colonies and to maintain them cost too much, and they also had spent much money on the Crimean War and other wars by the 1850s. What they wanted instead was the profit from free trade with Japan. Britain's diplomatic policy in particular was shifting to what is called "small Britain policy" during 1860s-70s, which promoted not colonization but free trade. After the 1880s, Britain and France resumed expansion of their colonies, mainly on the African continent. Therefore, Japan was lucky enough to escape the destiny of being colonized in spite of the disturbance of domestic politics, because the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate in the 1860s were the very time of slackened foreign pressures. After Japanese ports were officially opened in 1859, Britain and other great powers' diplomacy with Japan was strongly united with their trade policy towards Japan, and the rivalry between Britain and France inevitably developed gradually. As trade policy can determine diplomatic policy, Britain and France began to take different attitudes towards the Tokugawa Shogunate in order to secure their own profit from commerce. France continuously supported Tokugawa because Japanese official trade with foreign countries was under the control of the Shogunate at that time, and France wanted to promote trade through strong ties with the Shogunate. On the other hand, Britain gradually distanced themselves from the Tokugawa Shogunate and showed understanding towards anti-Tokugawa clans, because Britain, as a promoter of free trade, found that those anti-Tokugawa clans also wanted free trade with foreign countries. Thomas Blake Glover, then an ambitious Scottish trader representing the British Empire, was the very man who did his illegal business with those anti-Tokugawa clans outside of Shogunate-control. Glover was such a wellknown and influential trader among anti-Tokugawa samurai that his significance was recognized by British Consul to Japan. Glover even arranged for Harry Parkes, the British Consul to Japan, to visit Satsuma, and this turned out to be a turning point for Parkes's policy. As a result, British diplomatic and trade policy with Japan won over that of France, and after the Meiji restoration, the modernization of Japan was carried out under the strong influence of Britain rather than France.