Mr. Pruyn to Mr. Seward

No. 19.]

Sir: I have the honor to enclose No. 1, a copy of the agreement for the extension of the time of opening the new ports and cities to trade and residence, which is of the same duration as that granted by the other treaty powers.

On my arrival in Japan no action had been taken by the treaty powers in reference to the application of the Japanese government for such extension. Mr. Harris was unable to act when first authorized, because some of his colleagues, in concert with whom he was empowered to grant such extension, had recommended their respective governments to refuse their assent. In the month of February, 1862, Sir Rutherford Alcock addressed a letter to Mr. Harris, informing him that he was ready to confer with him on the subject, but Mr. Harris replied that he was in daily expectation of my arrival, and he wished to leave me to act free from any embarrassment which might arise from his discussion of the subject. Shortly after the Japanese left for Europe, and the subject was again referred back to the home government by the ministers of the several European powers.

On the occasion of my first interview with the Gorogio, the subject was introduced, and Mr. Harris informed the ministers he had given me his views, and the government would find me very friendly, and disposed to do all that was proper.

From that time till December no application for such consent was made by the Japanese government, nor was the subject referred to, though meanwhile I had been empowered to act independently of my colleagues.

[Page 483]

Early in December I addressed a letter to the ministers, in which I proposed certain modifications of the treaty, reducing duties and establishing bonded warehouses. I also informed the ministers I had received a letter from American merchants residing in Yokohama, asking what arrangements had been made for the accommodation of foreigners at Hiogo and Osacca, when those cities should be opened the ensuing month. No reply was given or notice taken of either of those letters.

A few days before the 1st of January, 1863, I had an interview with Sinano-no-kami, governor of foreign affairs, in which, after expressing a wish that all unfinished business should be disposed of before New Year’s day, I referred, among other subjects unacted on, to these letters, and expressed my surprise that they had received no notice. He at once replied: We do not intend to open the port of Hioga and city of Osacca. I thanked him for the information, but said I was under the impression that I had something to say on that subject. He said no, Mr. Harris has given the consent of the United States.

I then said the Japanese government certainly labored under a mistake; that Mr. Harris had informed me he had not given such consent, nor could he have done so, as he was only authorized to act in conjunction with his colleagues; that they had no such authority till February, 1862, and when they were prepared to act Mr. Harris had declined a conference, as he was daily expecting my arrival. The governor replied that Mr. Harris had certainly given such assent, and that the government had his letter to that effect.

I then produced the letter of the Japanese government asking Mr. Harris to reduce to writing what he had said on the subject of an official interview, and his indorsement that no answer was necessary. I also produced the letter of the President and of the department in answer to the letter of the Tycoon and the ministers, and read Mr. Harris’s letter to Sir Rutherford Alcock, and I expressed my surprise that, while an embassy had been despatched to Europe to ask for such extension, the only minister in Yedo had never been addressed on so important a subject.

The governor hastily left the legation, and returning the next day, said the government had been laboring under a great mistake; that it had no such letter as had been supposed; that it had been grossly negligent, and must throw itself on my indulgence, and now ask me to give such consent on behalf of the United States.

I replied I had not overlooked the subject nor underrated its importance, and had supposed the Japanese government knew its own business best, and when ready would propose such modification of the treaty. It had now done so, and I was prepared to act, but I thought it could scarcely be expected, that the United States would consent to a modification of the treaty proposed that day, when not even the receipt of my letters proposing other modifications had been acknowledged. This led to the appointment of commissioners, the negotiations of which you have been advised, and the framing a treaty for the reduction of duties, the establishment of bonded warehouses, &c. As originally agreed on, the postponement of the opening of Hioga, Osacca, &c., formed one of the articles; but on my suggestion, as the reduction of duty was to be permanent, and such postponement to be made only for five years, and as the Japanese government might wish to publish the one and not the others, such postponement was omitted from the treaty and embraced in a distinct article.

When the convention was finally signed, I executed the agreement of which I now enclose a copy, and the ministers for foreign affairs have promised to appoint commissioners to visit me in June to agree on the bonded warehouse system. I enclose, No. 2, translation of that letter.

The above is a brief history of so much of the negotiations as has not already been communicated; and will explain the delay in giving the consent of the [Page 484] United States to the postponement asked for by the Japanese government, and which I see by your letter to Mr. Pike, our minister at the Hague, you supposed had been given.

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, &c., &c., &c.

No. 1.

By virtue of the power vested in me by the President of the United States of America, I, Robert H. Pruyn, minister resident of the United States in Japan, do hereby consent that the time for the opening of the cities and ports of Yedo, Osacca, Hioga, and Néeé Gata shall be, and is hereby, extended for the period of five years, dating from the 1st January, 1863.

ROBERT H. PRUYN, Minister Resident of the United States in Japan.
No. 2.

The Gorogio to Mr. Pruyn

In regard to the establishment of bonded warehouses at each of the opened ports, we fully understood, as stated in our reply recently sent to your letter.

And before the 28th day of the 5th month of our next year (July 1, 1864) we shall appoint commissioners to negotiate and determine about the regulations, and also to confer about the time when they shall go into operation.

With respect and esteem.




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