50th Anniversary of Japan’s entry into the Universal Postal Union commemorative postcard, 1927.

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“Japan joined the Universal Postal Union (UPU) in 1877, both to force Britain, the United States and France to close their [independently-operated] post offices in Japan and to participate in the novel form of internationalism developed in the 19th century by international administrative unions such as the UPU.

“… [T]he administrative internationalism of the UPU appealed to Japan because the union’s members were equal and all bound identically to the union treaty and its international administrative law.

“This internationalism was a welcome alternative to the internationalism of the treaty regime, whose great powers and forms of domination had forced Japan into the international arena.”

Japan and the Universal Postal Union: An Alternative Internationalism in the 19th Century (Abstract), by Douglas Howland, Social Science Japan Journal, Volume 17, Issue 1, Winter 2014

50th Anniversary (1927) postcard commemorating Japan’s entry on 1 June 1877 into the Universal Postal Union. Japan’s membership in the UPU in 1877 was one of its first successes the newly-reopened country had in repealing the numerous “unequal treaties” it had been compelled to sign with Western powers in the 1850s when forced from centuries of self-imposed isolation. In the postcard image, a biplane transporting air mail is caught in the spotlight shining atop the Osaka Central Post Office (with Osaka Castle seen at lower-left), representative of the technological advancements prophesied by Viscount Yoshikawa (see below) during 25th anniversary celebrations in 1902.

See also:
Japan Postal Service 50th Anniversary commemorative postcard, 1921.
2nd Air Mail Flying Contest, Osaka-Kurume, 1920.
Central Post Office, Tokyo, c. 1935.

Partial text of speech given by Viscount Yoshikawa, Minister of Communications, in celebration of the 25th anniversary (1902) of Japan’s entry into the Universal Postal Union:

“In the old times, there existed no uniformity in the postal systems of the various countries, each of which had its own special regulations; with the result that the postal relations between them was very complicated.

“[At a Congress convened in Berne, Switzerland, in 1874,] a treaty was concluded which superseded the different agreements then in force between the different countries and resulted in the formation of a angle postal territory within which a uniform rate of postage was adopted; and each country of the Union protected the liberty granted to the others to transmit mails by its sea or land services, so that the full benefits of the international exchange of mails might thereby be reaped. In this wise, the Universal Postal Union came into existence.

Commemorative stamp on the postcard’s reverse. “En Commemoration du 50th Anniverairede l’Entree du Japon dans l’Union Postale Universelle.”

“Our Empire entered into the Union just three years after its formation, the first of all the countries of the Orient to do so.

“… Since the Restoration everything has advanced by leaps and bounds but it must be admitted that few other things have made such a remarkable progress as the means of Communication.

“When we call to mind the state of the postal service twenty-five years ago, we may well be astonished at the change that has taken place … I feel sure that when we come to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary [in 1927] of our entry into the Postal Union, we shall, on looking back to the state of our country at the present day, be still more astonished at the almost incredible changes that will have been made during the intervening twenty-five years.”

Japan Weekly Mail, June 28, 1902

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  1. Pingback: “Communications Day” commemorative postcards, 1937. | Old Tokyo

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