This day in history, March 31, 1854, Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry signed the Treaty of Kanagawa, also known as the Convention of Kanagawa, with the Japanese government, opening the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to American trade and establishing a position of an American consul in Japan.
In 1852, Perry was sent with a fleet of warships by President Millard Fillmore to force the opening of Japanese ports to American trade and use gunboat diplomacy if necessary.
On July 8, 1853, Perry sailed into Tokyo Bay with a squadron of four U.S. warships. The Japanese demanded he proceed to Nagasaki, the nation’s designated port for foreign contact. He threatened the Japanese that he would continue onto Edo, now known as Tokyo, and burn it to the ground. The Japanese allowed him to land at Kurihama and deliver his letters from President Fillmore. This marked the first time a Western nation established relations with Japan since the nation declared it would close off relations with foreigners in 1683.
After giving Japan time to consider the establishment of external relations, Perry returned to Tokyo and said he would not leave until a treaty was signed. On March 31, the Treaty of Kanagawa was signed and Japan opened up trade to the United States.