The Oregon-Japan Relationship, & 2020 Annual Report

by Lynn Moyers on March 25, 2021

Most of us are familiar with the basics of “The Black Ships”, when Commodore Perry was sent to Japan in an attempt, which proved successful, to “open up” trade with America.

The actual events of course, are much more nuanced and interesting. Every aspect of the plan – such as Perry not being President Fillmore’s first choice for the mission, or the pressure being put on Japan from both Russia and the British Empire at the same time – are important pieces of the overall picture.

One other little-known item. In President Fillmore’s letter to Emperor Komei, one favorable element cited as a strong reason to start the relationship was the proximity of the Oregon Territory (this was pre-statehood, remember) to Japan. And two of the exact specified purposes? – to create commerce and friendship.

Today, almost 170 years on, it’s amazing to reflect that JASO’s mission: to support business and develop community, continues to reflect those original pillars exactly.

With our thanks to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library General Collection at Yale University, and assistance of Board Member Masami Nishishiba, we have been able to create this collage using a scan of the actual translated document of Fillmore’s original letter, and highlight the references to both the Oregon Territory and the purposes of commerce and friendship.

Here’s a link to our 2020 Annual Report, a synopsis of our work through the year despite Covid. Thank you to everyone who gave their time and/or money to make 2020 happen. We hope you stayed safe. We managed to, and we’re looking forward to a brighter 2021 for all.

Access the 2020 Annual Report Here

To all our current members – THANK YOU!
To all our potential members – why not join today? – help us do more. Join now HERE.

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