Japan opens to Russian trade earlier?

I was reading The Japanese Discovery of Europe, 1720-1830 by Donald Keene and was especially fascinated by Japan-Russia contacts which happened before the Meiji Restoration. One thing which especially interested me was Adam Laxman's expedition to Ezo in 1792. While Laxman was spending his time in Ezo, the Japanese government was trying frantically to decide what to do. They had three different options:

1. To tell Russians leave at once.

2. To let them trade in Ezo.

3. Ask them to negotiate in Nagasaki.

Option 3 actually was the one chosen and Keene thinks that there was a real possibility that Russians would have got trade rights if they have gone to Nagasaki immediately. Unfortunately Laxman didn't want to go beyond the limits of his authorisation and went back to Russia while the Japanese were waiting him in Nagasaki and wondering why the journey from Ezo to Nagasaki takes so long. Russians came back in 1804 led by Captain Krusenstern but more conservative forces had more power in the government now and Russians were sent away.

So, WI thing have gone differently? There are actually three PODs here. 1. Laxman sails to Nagasaki, and Russians get trade rights in 1792. 2. Ezo is opened to Russian trade. 3. The Japanese are more open towards Krusenstern and give Russians trade rights in 1804.

1. and 3. would make Russia the fourth nation with a permit to enter Nagasaki which would be a rather important step. (In addition to China and the Netherlands also Cambodia had been awarded that right in 1727 but their efforts in trade there have been an utter failure.) I would assume that other powers, especially the UK, would have more interest in Japan if Russians are already trading there. Japanese scholars would also get possibly more European literature and the Japanese would have somewhat better understanding of Russia. It's not surprising that especially Rangaku ("Dutch/Western learning") scholars supported trade rights for Russians.

2. could be the worst one for the Japanese in a long term if/when Russia starts to move its focus towards Asia.
 
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That's interesting. I did not know that about the Laxmann expedition.
There was traveling another rather interesting person with him too, Daikokuya Kōdayū. The Japanese actually thought that Russians were very kind when they returned castaways back home and this was one of the reason why they were relatively friendly towards them during this trip.
 
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It could result in a longer lasting Shogunate as Japan won't be forced open, so possibly no Boshin war. Japan gaining colonies would seem unlikely at that time, especially in the America's.
 
There was traveling another rather interesting person with him too, Daikokuya Kōdayū. The Japanese actually thought that Russians were very kind when they returned castaways back home and this was one of the reason why they were relatively friendly towards them during this trip.
Yeah, relations were relatively neutral until the hardliners got the upper hand in the Shogunate and they captured Golovin, after which it was kinda rocky.
 
It could result in a longer lasting Shogunate as Japan won't be forced open, so possibly no Boshin war. Japan gaining colonies would seem unlikely at that time, especially in the America's.
Yeah, we are talking 1792 here. Pretty much everything is already claimed by someone.
 
I can imagine Japan becoming a de facto Russian protectorate, but at least the Russians could be in position to replace the Dutch as the special nation that uses Nagasaki as the only "open" port to trade with the Shogunate.
 
I can imagine Japan becoming a de facto Russian protectorate, but at least the Russians could be in position to replace the Dutch as the special nation that uses Nagasaki as the only "open" port to trade with the Shogunate.
Only if they have Petropavlovsk developed seriously, earlier. Which they might if there is Japanese trade.

Otherwise they'd have to sail around the world pretty much every time.
 
I can imagine Japan becoming a de facto Russian protectorate, but at least the Russians could be in position to replace the Dutch as the special nation that uses Nagasaki as the only "open" port to trade with the Shogunate.
Russian presence in Nagasaki will be at least initially much more limited compared to the Dutch. The Japanese were already very much aware already during the 18th century that Russia might become a threat to them in future so the they will be very careful when dealing with them.
 
If the Russians are able to start trading with Japan in 1804, assuming this has just negligible effects on European political and military events during the next decade or so, I find it interesting to note that a major part of Russian-flagged sailing ships visiting Japan would during the next decades actually be Finnish-owned, Finnish-crewed vessels readily available to the Russian government. Heavier Russian presence in the Far East and the Pacific would likely mean more orders for Finnish shipbuilders (for bigger and more seaworthy ships) and possibly new and bigger Russian-Finnish settlements on both sides of the Bering Strait. That would also probably make the first circumnavigation by a Finnish ship earlier (OTL 1844-47), up to by two or three decades.

(General Tirpitz, do you have an Ostrobothnian sea captain or two among your ancestors - I do. I think that ITTL our closest genetic counterparts today might well boast being related to the first Finns in Japan, circa 1810 or so... After Laxman, of course.)

The economic and cultural butterflies from this for Japan, Russia - and the Finnish Grand Duchy as a part of the latter - could be quite interesting and unpredictable ITTL.
 
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If the Russians are able to start trading with Japan in 1804, assuming this has just negligible effects on European political and military events during the next decade or so, I find it interesting to note that a major part of Russian-flagged sailing ships visiting Japan would during the next decades actually be Finnish-owned, Finnish-crewed vessels readily available to the Russian government. Heavier Russian presence in the Far East and the Pacific would likely mean more orders for Finnish shipbuilders (for bigger and more seaworthy ships) and possibly new and bigger Russian-Finnish settlements on both sides of the Bering Strait. That would also probably make the first circumnavigation by a Finnish ship earlier (OTL 1844-47), up to by two or three decades.
This is quite interesting. There was some immigration to Alaska from Finland during the first half of the 19th century, maybe the movement would be somewhat more significant ITTL. It would be a rather interesting idea if there were Finnish villages on the Russian pacific coast and Finnish populated islands in Alaska. :D

(General Tirpitz, do you have an Ostrobothnian sea captain or two among your ancestors - I do. I think that ITTL our closest genetic counterparts today might well boast being related to the first Finns in Japan, circa 1810 or so... After Laxman, of course.)
I can't say for sure but one branch of my great-grandparents has been living in Oulu for quite long time so it's very possible (or even likely) that there are few seamen there. :D

The economic and cultural butterflies from this for Japan, Russia - and the Finnish Grand Duchy as a part of the latter - could be quite interesting and unpredictable ITTL.
That's a good point. I think Russians would be much more interested in learning about Japanese culture and history than the Dutch who didn't really care anything but business.
 
This is quite interesting. There was some immigration to Alaska from Finland during the first half of the 19th century, maybe the movement would be somewhat more significant ITTL. It would be a rather interesting idea if there were Finnish villages on the Russian pacific coast and Finnish populated islands in Alaska. :D
Yes, Finns were widely employed by the Russian American Company and several of its ships were built in Finland and crewed by Finns IOTL. And the company had two chief managers (governors) of Finnish origin, Arvid Adolf Etholen and Johan Hampus Furuhjelm.

In addition to Finnish immigration to Alaska, in fact there even was at least one Finnish village in the Russian Far East in our history, in the 1860s and 70s, a short-lived utopian community lead by the unlikely-named Captain Fridolf Höök.:)

So with this OTL base, there is IMO definitely room for expansion in the North Pacific area for Finnish immigrants and persons of nautical persuasion ITTL.
 
In addition to Finnish immigration to Alaska, in fact there even was at least one Finnish village in the Russian Far East in our history, in the 1860s and 70s, a short-lived utopian community lead by the unlikely-named Captain Fridolf Höök.:)
Ah, I have heard of it. There was actually "The History of Utopias" course in uni last fall where they did also talk about Höök but I didn't have time to attend it unfortunately. :(
 
Yeah, relations were relatively neutral until the hardliners got the upper hand in the Shogunate and they captured Golovin, after which it was kinda rocky.
Relations had actually started to get worse slightly earlier when Khostov and Davydov had attacked Japanese settlements in the Kuriles and Sakhalin in 1806 and 1808 as a revenge for 1804. These actions weren't sanctioned by the Russian government (or so I have understood) but made the Japanese much more suspicious towards their intentions.

Japanese attitudes towards Russia were quite mixed in this period, there were those who thought the country will be a direct threat to Japan and then there were those who saw Russia as some sort of model and a country which Japan should become friends with. I would assume that this sort of ambivalence in relations would continue even if there are more contacts with Russia.
 
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I've been thinking how this would affect Japanese policies towards their northern regions. I think it's safe to assume that Ezo would be a much more developed place ITTL. IOTL it wasn't until 1869 that the government seriously started to develop the island even thought there had been some plans earlier. There was a period between 1799–1821 when Ezo was directly governed by the government instead of the Matsumae clan but eventually conservatives in the government lost interest in the region and the Matsumae regained their power. If Russians are more active in the region and Japan somewhat more open, there would be also much more interest in developing Ezo and other islands in the area. This could cause problems with Russians later on though.
 
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