An undisclosed goal of the 1905 trip was to prepare for the final negotiations of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty that President Theodore Roosevelt would broker in September to end the Russo-Japanese War. In a July 27th discussion, Count Katsura, the Japanese premier and Secretary Taft agreed to an arrangement that would allow the Japanese to dominate Korea in exchange for Japanís promise to stay away from the Philippines.
The S.S. Manchuria docked at Yokohama, Japan, with every building in that city decked out in the Taft party's honor. They were greeted with salvos of ďOhio,Ē the Japanese salutation. Possibly in anticipation of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty, the reception for the Taft party was extraordinary with generous expressions of hospitality including fireworks that lit up the nights and extravagant receptions. The Taft party took a special train to Tokyo where they were met by high officials and Japanese royalty.
After staying overnight at the Shiba Detached Palace, Secretary Taft and his group had lunch with the emperor, who greeted and individually shook each personís hand. The Taft group toured the palace gardens, a place which no Westerners and very few Japanese had ever seen.
The following day the prime minister requested an interview with Taft, and at that famous meeting, the agreements on the continuing American authority in the Philippines in exchange for Japanís suzerainty over Korea were framed.
Following the signing of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty on September 5, 1905, the mood of the Japanese people changed almost overnight. Upon her return from China, Ms. Roosevelt was advised to pretend that she hailed from England to avoid the ire of the populace. The Japanese had sought a large indemnity from Russia; President Roosevelt was blamed for thwarting this. Rioting was quelled only by aggressive military action. Irresponsible journalism and overly zealous politicians had apparently coalesced to ignite the emotions of the public and create unrealistic expectations about the fruits of Japanís victory over Russia.
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