Thursday, May 9, 2013

Japanese Military Officers at the Jamestown Exposition

Duke Abruzzi with
Vice Admiral Ijuin at
the Jamestown Exposition

Shown here is a postcard from the museum's collection of General Baron Kuroki Tamemoto and others saluting U.S. Marines at the Jamestown Exposition on May 13, 1907.  The Exposition's management designated that date as "Jamestown Day," celebrating the 300th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown.  Management arranged for a massive international military review with dignitaries from around the world to witness.  Among other personalities present were Japan's Vice Admiral Matsuji Ijuin (Japan's leading ordnance expert), Prince Luigi Amedeo, Duke of Abruzzi (renown explorer and mountain climber), Major General Frederick Grant (son of Ulysses S. Grant) and Lieutenant General Arthur MacArthur (father of Douglas).

Though there were other admirals, dukes, and generals from other nations, the Americans gave Kuroki the center stage. A national hero in Japan for his leadership of Japanese ground forces during the Russo-Japanese War, Kuroki was nearing the end of his long service in uniform.  Despite his public status, Kuroki was not a political favorite among his superiors.  They denied him a coveted promotion to field marshal.   This did not, however, stop the management of the Exposition from introducing the general as a field marshal.

Japanese-American relations had been rough in the first years of the 20th century.  Kouroki's visit to the United States was a goodwill tour to follow up on to the "Gentleman's Agreement" of 1907. Travelling from Seattle to Norfolk, reporters frequently asked Kuroki about the relationship between the two rising world powers.  Kouroki did not feel that Japan and the United States were on the brink of war.  Nonetheless, he avoided potential trouble spots such as San Fransisco, the site of frequent Japanese-American discrimination.

Another view of General Kuroki review of U.S. Marines at the Jamestown
Exposition.  Though shown in full military dress, Kuroki frequently wore
Western-stlye business suits and hats during his tour of the United States.

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