Mr. Pruyn to Mr. Seward

No. 41.]

Sir: Referring to your despatch No. 18, in reference to the postponement of the exercise of the right of American citizens to reside in Yedo, and of the opening of the harbors of Nee-e-Gata and Miogo, and the city of Osacca, I find that discretionary power is given to the American minister to “act in concert with the ministers of the other powers in such manner as shall be most advisable for the welfare of both countries.”

Since that time an embassy has left this country for Europe, and the subject in question is not to be disposed of by the ministers of Great Britain and France in Japan, but directly by their governments.

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I have learned from the minister of France that he has been advised that his government is indisposed to grant such extension unless concessions are made, which the ambassadors were not authorized to grant.

Lieutenant Colonel Neale, her Britannic Majesty’s chargé d’affaires, has written me a letter giving information:

“The mail of the 10th of June brought me instructions to communicate to the Japanese ministers the decision which the British government had come to in conference with the envoys respecting the ports and cities which were to have been opened by treaty.” The decision is to the effect that the British government consent to defer the opening of these ports for five years, dating from January 1, 1863, the conditions being that the Japanese government will scrupulously carry into effect all the other stipulations of the treaty. The envoys wished to discuss with Lord Russell some minor matters, as “the currency question; the burial of the dead in other places than at the open ports; the visits of men of-war at the ports; the examination of Japanese servants in foreign employ by the town authorities, &c., &c; all of which they were told should be discussed here on the spot by her Majesty’s representatives, and the decisions referred home.”

I have endeavored to procure the opinion of the American merchants as to the propriety of this postponement, and to form my own conclusions from other information, and my own observation.

I feel confident it would be unwise to accept of the opening of Yedo, even if offered. The merchants do not desire it. It would increase their expenses, and add nothing to their business. Establishments would necessarily be sustained here and at Yokohama, and no additional business done, while seamen could not visit this city without danger of collision with some of its population.

There is a lingering wish for the opening of Osacca, even in the minds of those who doubt its being advantageous. The most wealthy merchants reside there, and it would be important to transact business with them directly, instead of with irresponsible agents at Yokohama. Yet, after all, the business of Japan must have a gradual development, and its volume could not now be much increased. A large business would be done there, but it would in a great measure be at the expense of the business of the other ports, and for a while heavy loss would accrue by the depreciation of property at those ports.

If it shall be found that Great Britain and France have consented to such postponement, it appears to me no course is left but to unite in such assent. But I shall strive to procure from the government the grant of a bonded warehouse system, and to open the island of Tsusima, for reasons which I will give in another despatch.

Should you desire to send me other or further instructions, I beg to suggest that they may reach me in sufficient time if sent by telegraph to San Francisco, and thence by vessel direct, or via Shanghai.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

ROBERT H. PRUYN, Minister Resident in Japan.

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington.