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Photograph of Donker Curtius by A.J. and A.F. Bauduin, taken in 1862.

Janus Henricus Donker Curtius (21 April 1813, Arnhem - 27 November 1879, Arnhem [1]) was the last Dutch commissioner for the island of Dejima in Japan. He studied law at Leiden University.

He arrived in Dejima in 1852, and was contemporary with the forcible opening of Japan by Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853. He was able to assist others, including Westernern diplomats, in the process of adjusting and working through unfamiliar Japanese customs and practices.[1]

Dejima Opperhoofd Curtius handled the 1855 delivery of the Kankō Maru (観光丸), Japan's first modern steam warship -- a gift from the Dutch King Willem III to the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Donker Curtius arranged the 1855 delivery to Japan her its first steam warship, the Dutch Soembing, renamed Kankō Maru, which became the nation's first step in establishing a modern navy.

He established a format treaty between the Netherlands and Japan in 1856, and, in 1858 was the last Dutch chief ("opperhoofd") to make the ceremonial visit to Edo to pay tribute to the Shogun. During that last trip, he acquired a collection of 111 books on Rangaku, which are today preserved at Leiden University Library.


  1. ^ Alcock, Rutherford. (1863). The Capital of Tycoon, p. 109.


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