Mr. Harris to Secretary of State.
Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith a letter from his Majesty the Tycoon to the President of the United States, and a letter from the ministers for foreign affairs addressed to you. I have enclosed English translations with the foregoing.
These letters express the desire of this government that the opening of the cities of Yedo and Osacca, and the harbors of Hiogo and Neegata, should be postponed, for reasons that are set forth in the letter of the ministers for foreign affairs.
In my despatch No. 26, dated August 1, 1860, I expressed my opinion that it would be judicious to postpone the period fixed by the treaty for the opening of the city of Yedo, and not having found any reason to alter my views since writing that despatch, I respectfully request you to reperuse the same.
I have never been able to visit Osacca, and am therefore unable to say what may be the actual state of feeling in reference to the permanent residence of foreigners in that city; but I am aware that it is in the district called Tien, or Heavenly, by the Japanese, from the fact of its being the residence of the Mikado, or spiritual ruler of Japan, and it may well be that the residence of foreigners in that district would be regarded with dislike by a portion of the Japanese people. Hiogo is simply the seaport of Osacca, and its opening naturally depends on that of the city, and Neegata is a minor consideration.
The present action of this government would seem to be a retrograde movement, [Page 795] but this opinion will be somewhat modified when the present and the past are compared.
Since July, 1859, the prices of all articles of export from this country have risen from 100 to 300 per cent. A change so great and so sudden could not fail to press heavily on all official persons of fixed and limited incomes, and it is from this class that the loudest complaints are heard; and these complaints will continue while they are in a transition state towards a higher rate of salary.
The Dimios receive a large portion of their revenues in kind, and as they dispose of all their surplus, they find their incomes greatly increased. The effect of this is clearly shown by the fact that when I first came to Yedo, in November, 1857, only thirteen of the Dimios out of some three hundred were in favor of opening the country, while at the present time about one-half of them are in favor of the new order of things.
I would respectfully suggest that discretionary power should be given to the diplomatic agent of the United States in this country to act in concert with his colleagues in such manner as he may deem most advisable for the interests of both countries.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
Hon. Secretary of State, Washington.