How did Japanese leaders make the transition from discussing concepts such as law and sovereignty to actualizing the sovereign state of Japan? This project examines the Japanese state in the context of the spread of international law in the nineteenth century and the international conditions that fostered the growth of treaty making and national will in East Asia. Rather than reinterpret Japanese diplomacy or the jurisprudence of international law, this historical analysis of sovereignty seeks to explain processes internal to the Japanese adoption of international law as Japan joined the international system–from the encounter with an idea to its working out in practice. I emphasize the constructive nature of international law upon processes internal to the Japanese state–as it simultaneously interpreted legal information arriving from abroad and began to refashion itself as a sovereign agent in the very terms of the new understanding.
Douglas Howland is the David D. Buck Professor of Chinese History at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee. Courses taught include Chinese and Japanese history, historiography, westernization in East Asia, and international processes in globalization. He is the author, most recently, of Personal Liberty and Public Good: The Introduction of John Stuart Mill to Japan and China (2005), and co-editor, with Luise White, of The State of Sovereignty: Territories, Laws, Populations (2009).