Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby with Annapolis Naval Academy Class of 1881 alumni and wives, 1922.

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Will Be Japan’s Guest at Annapolis Reunion of Class of ’81

“WASHINGTON, May 11 — Secretary Denby of the Navy will sail for Japan on the naval transport Henderson leaving Hampton Roads at noon of May 20, to attend the annual reunion at Tokio on July 4 of the members of the class of 1881 of the United States Naval Academy.

“While Secretary Denby is not a member of that class his sister married Gilbert Wilkes, a member of the class, and the Secretary is going to the reunion by direction of President Harding, who is understood to feel that the occasion will afford an excellent opportunity for increasing the friendly relations between this country and Japan.

“The reunion is being held in Tokyo at the invitation of Admiral Uriu, of the Japanese Navy, who was [also] a member of the 1881 class of Annapolis and who invited the entire class to visit Japan as guests of the Japanese government. The Henderson will take to Japan the members of the class who have accepted Admiral Uriu’s invitation. The Henderson is making a regular trip to the Orient.

“… Twenty-four members of the class of 1881 will sail on the Henderson to attend the reunion.”

The New York Times, May 12, 1922

U.S. Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby, standing at center, surrounded by U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis Class of 1881 alumni and wives, 1922, outside the White House in Washington, D.C. (U.S.) The group had been invited to Japan by Imperial Japanese Navy Admiral (later Baron) Uryū Sotokichiwho, himself an 1881 graduate of Annapolis. The visit occurred at a critical time in Japan-U.S. relations, after the signing of the Washington Naval Agreement in February, 1922, limited the size of Japan’s navy compared to that of either the U.S. or Great Britain navies, engendering strong opposition within Japanese naval circles.

See also:
Japan-US Relations, c. 1908.
Secretary of War Howard Taft & First Daughter Alice Roosevelt in Japan, 1905.
“‘Eight-Eight’ Fleet Program”, Imperial Japanese Navy, c. 1925.

Baron Uryū Sotokichi (1857–1937) was an early admiral of the Imperial Japanese Navy, active in the Russo-Japanese War, most notably at the Battle of Chemulpo Bay and the Battle of Tsushima. His name has sometimes been transliterated as ‘Uriu Sotokichi’, or ‘Uriu Sotokitchi’, a transliteration of older kana spelling. He was a lifelong proponent of better ties with the United States.

“Uryū attended a mission school in Tsukiji, Tokyo and was converted to Protestantism in 1874. He became one of the first cadets of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy but did not graduate; instead, he was then sent to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1875, graduating in 1881.

“During the Russo-Japanese War, he commanded the Second Squadron at the Battle of Chemulpo Bay which resulted in the destruction of the Russian cruiser Varyag and gunboat Korietz. For his war service, he was decorated with the Order of the Rising Sun (1st class) and the Order of the Golden Kite (2nd class) in 1906.

“Appointed commander of the Yokosuka Naval District on 1 December 1909, Uryū was made a full admiral on 16 October 1912. He was the official representative from Japan at the opening ceremonies for the Panama Canal in 1912. From 1922 to 1925, he served on the House of Peers in the Diet of Japan. He entered the reserve list in 1927, and died in 1937.

“His grave is at Aoyama Cemetery in Tokyo.”


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