• Kyodo

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A group in Hakodate, Hokkaido, plans to build a monument to Commodore Matthew C. Perry, the U.S. naval officer whose “Black Ships” forced Japan to open up to the world in the mid-19th century, group officials said recently.

A statue of Commodore Matthew C. Perry in Newport, R.I.

The group began planning a monument in December in response to local complaints that there is no monument to Perry, who contributed enormously to the development of the port city, they said.

The group plans to place a bust of Perry near Hakodate port in commemoration of his two-week visit to the city in May 1854 prior to the opening of the port as a supply station, they said. In the same year, Perry also opened up Shimoda port in what is now Shizuoka Prefecture as part of the U.S.-Japan treaty.

Perry’s fleet came to Japan in 1853, to Uraga, in present Kanagawa Prefecture, to open diplomatic and commercial relations between the United States and Japan.

The bust, modeled on a bronze piece located in his home state of Rhode Island, will be about 3 meters tall and 2 meters wide, the group said, adding that the location has been decided and 8 million yen earmarked for the work.

The bust should be finished by next May 17, the date Perry visited the port nearly 150 years ago, the group said.

The group will invite officials from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo to conduct the unveiling ceremony, they said.

Kiyoo Kato, leader of the group, said a festival to commemorate the visit of Perry’s fleet is held every year in Shimoda, and he hopes to raise similar interest in Hakodate with the monument.

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