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Taft Katsura Agreement 1905

Dennett argued that the memorandum boils down to a binding agreement between Japan and the United States, in which Japan would leave the Philippines alone if the United States softened North Korea. Since then, historians have debated this assertion. Some argue that Taft-Katsura was not at all an agreement, much less an agreement with a quid pro quo. In this regard, the memorandum is merely an exchange of views that the two parties previously shared. Others claim that this was a quid-pro-quo agreement, precisely because Taft « expressed the U.S. agreement on Japanese control of Korea in exchange for Japanese respect for the U.S. presence in the Philippines. » Some go even further by arguing that nearly half a century later, the Taft-Katsura Memorandum served as a precedent for the partition of Korea. And these arguments create their own counter-pole, given the isolationist atmosphere of most Americans at the beginning of the 20th century, an American president would have done anything to oppose the colonization of Korea from Japan, beyond abandoning a rigid and ultimately inconsequenty diplomatic note? The Taft-Katsura Agreement (Japanese: 桂協, Hepburn: Katsura-Tafuto Kyétei, also known as the Taft Katsura Memorandum) was a 1905 debate between high-ranking leaders of Japan and the United States on the positions of the two nations in the major affairs of East Asia, including with regard to the status of Korea and the Philippines after Japan`s victory in the Japan War. The memorandum was not classified as a secret, but no scholar noticed it in the archives until 1924.

Faced with the threat, Roosevelt sent his Minister of War, William Howard Taft, to Tokyo. This summer, Taft stumbled to East Asia to guide a congressional delegation on a goodwill tour. (Ironically, the Japanese, who were concerned about their ability to maintain their war against the Russians, had asked Roosevelt to mediate. The parties met in August 1905 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. For his efforts to negotiate the Portsmouth Treaty, Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906.) Taft`s reproach was to draw the attention of the Japanese to their attention in the western Pacific and to do everything he could to prevent them from taking a greedy look at the Philippines. The conversation then moved to conditions in East Asia. Katsura said the only way to maintain peace in the region was to « conclude a good agreement between the three governments of Japan, the United States and Great Britain. » Mr. Taft replied that President Roosevelt could not conclude such an agreement without the agreement of the United States.


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