Mr. Pruyn to Mr. Seward

No. 10.]

Sir: I regret to have to inform you that the Japanese government has declined to pay the indemnities I have been instructed to demand. I enclose, No. 1, a copy of translation of the letter of the minister, which, you see, does not attempt to deny or even explain the facts set forth in my letter, which, I think, fully establish the liability of the Japanese government.

The chief object in the proposed transfer of the negotiations to Washington is probably to gain time, as the embassy is first to visit all the treaty powers in Europe. It may be hoped, likewise, that if it finally yields to these claims, the Japanese government may secure the coveted closing of this port.

I enclose, No. 2, a copy of my reply. I do not yet despair of an amicable [Page 476] and satisfactory settlement, though I am without a national vessel, and nothing has been accomplished here as yet by any nation in the absence of force, or the prospect of its immediate presence.

Additional proof of this will soon be given. Baron de Rehfus has been here since the month of September, vainly urging the exchange of ratifications of the Prussian treaty. He has now gone to Yedo, and has landed a large guard of marines and sailors from the corvette Gazelle, and announced his determination to remain in that city till the exchange of ratifications shall have been effected, and I have no doubt he will now succeed.

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

ROBERT H. PRUYN, Minister Resident in Japan.

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, &c., &c., &c.


The Gorogio to Mr. Pruyn

We received your letter No. 136, dated the 21st December, and understood all that you stated therein. In the first place, in regard to what has been said about the fire at Dzenfkujee, it has been not only stated to your excellency on that occasion in writing, but the circumstances have also been fully and clearly explained by governors for foreign affairs, under our instructions; hence, you must have understood them well; we therefore thought that you would clearly explain this to your government, and would have received instructions accordingly. Your communication surprised us greatly.

The treaty of peace and amity having been concluded, good faith must be mutually shown as a matter of course; but your suspicion that the fire was caused by secret instigation of criminals would be an extraordinary indignity for our government. If our government, because the public feeling in our country is mostly unsettled, desired, in the conciliation of that public feeling, to put an end to the intercourse with foreign powers, there would be a different action; if such were the case, the engagement entered into of peace and amity would go for naught, and all the care we have hitherto taken would have been in vain; wherefore, we are in great anxiety. That, without taking this into consideration, you should have made us the said communication, is very disagreeable to us.

If now we were to give the money for indemnity, according to your demand, it would then be taken for granted that your suspicion was correct and founded on reality. There could be no greater disgrace for our government than to do this; it is, therefore, absolutely impossible to comply with your demand, however much you might, urge us. If, however, owing to the strict orders which you received from your government, you should not be able to settle this on your own responsibility, we will then, through our embassy about to be sent to your country, fully confer with your government on the subject. As regards the temple as the temporary residence of the minister at Yedo, we have already given orders to the proper persons, wherefore the building of it will be proceeded with.

And as regards the Yokohama matter, we instructed the governor of Kanagawa to investigate the real circumstances thereof, wherefore we will shortly give your excellency a definite answer when it is entirely arranged; but on the occasion of the excitement among the residents of Yokohama last summer, many mistakes among them, originating in trifling causes, occurred, and unlawful acts were probably not committed by the Japanese only, and the [Page 477] forcible urging, by Japanese, of their claim on your countryman, must have been caused by his improper refusal of the same. In regard to the matter, however, we shall, after full examination, address ourselves, in further reply, to your excellency.

In conclusion, upon the matter of the resident of the Ogasawara Sima, (Bonin islands,) we already had a correspondence, but the real circumstances of the case have not yet become perfectly evident; we propose, therefore, through the proper person, fully to confer with your excellency on that subject.

We regret that we cannot comply with your demand as stated in the said letter; but as we find ourselves compelled, for the reason already given, to state the foregoing to your excellency, it is desirable that you will not take it in evil part.

As your letter on the occasion of the destruction, by fire of the castle was destroyed, and there have been many things to attend to, we fear that the expiration of the time proposed has been caused thereby, which we have to state, in preliminary reply, to your letter.

With respect and esteem.





His Excellency Robert H. Pruyn, Minister Resident of the United States of America, &c., &c., &c.