Mr. Pruyn to Mr. Seward

No. 7.]

Sir: Under the provisions of the various treaties with Japan, citizens and subjects of the several powers have been assigned land, subject to an annual rent payable to the government, without the payment of any sum by way of [Page 235] purchase money. When land was of merely a nominal value, this was productive of no mischief, hut this settlement has increased with such rapidity, and the improvements are now of so substantial a character, as to have caused a great rise in property. The poorest lots in the settlement have been sold at from $4,000 to $5,000 each, and lots in more favorable situations have increased more than tenfold in value since I have been in Japan, so that the present annual rental may be regarded as fully equal to the price asked for lots on my arrival. It is obvious that a strong temptation is thus offered to adventurers in China and elsewhere to come to Japan, demand a lot, realize a handsome profit, and then leave the country for new-comers to repeat the operation. Another difficulty has arisen from claims being preferred that an assignment of lands should be made to the powers with whom treaties have more recently been made for their subjects, in the same proportion as already granted to those first on the ground.

My colleagues and myself have desired to remedy as far as, possible those evils and to guard against speculation in lands (as heretofore) to be acquired from the government. With that view we have entered into an agreement, of which I enclose (No. 1) a copy, to which we have asked the assent of the government, and which they have promised to give as soon as they shall hear from the governors of the other ports. We also succeeded in making an agreement with the Japanese government, of which I send copy, No. 2, for the enlargement and improvement of this settlement and for the sale of the leases of the land to be assigned to foreigners at public auction at a minimum price to be fixed by the consuls, which I need not describe in detail, as it will sufficiently explain itself. Our object in providing for public rides, &c, was to encourage excursions in directions and to an extent where foreigners would not be exposed to collisions with Japanese, but would have exercise and pleasant rides on safer and better roads. I also enclose (No. 3) approval of agreement.

The block of land set apart for the consulate forms parts of the site where Commodore Perry’s treaty was concluded.

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


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

No. 1.

Memorandum in reference to future allotments of land at the open ports.

It being desirable in the common interest to agree and determine upon some plan for the appropriation of all such land as may be required to enlarge the limits of existing foreign settlement at Yokohama, as also at the other open ports, in such manner as shall be equitable and fair to all, without favor or distinction to nationalities, and in order to put such plan in a clear and practical shape, the following bases have been accepted and approved by the

1. All land hereafter to be acquired by the filling up of the swamp at Yokohama, or recovered from the sea at Nagasaki and Hakodadi, to be allotted by the consuls in concert, and in such portions as the requirements of trade may, from time to time, suggest, at an upset price, to be regulated by the market value of land—this price to be set upon each lot by the said consuls, in common accord. If they do not agree, then the upset price to be determined by the vote of the majority.

2. These lots to be first offered to all those subjects of treaty powers who shall be, at the time, unprovided, and who, for legitimate purposes of trade and not for traffic in land, or as mere investments, shall have registered their names at their respective consulates, and each lot to be assigned in the order of date of registry, irrespective of nationality.

3. Any of these lots, if not accepted at the sale fixed, to be then put up to auction, with [Page 236] a public notice of at least fifteen days, and particulars as to situation, dimensions, and upset price. If this price should not be offered, the lots to be withdrawn from the sale and reserved for subsequent sale or appropriation.

4. The title-deeds to be issued on the requisition of the consuls of treaty powers, by the governor of the port, and countersigned by the consul of the nation to which the lease-holder belongs.

5. The proceeds of any such sales shall constitute a municipal fund, under such conditions as the consuls may conjointly agree upon.

These rules to apply to any new extension of land that may be obtained in any other direction, except that, when the Japanese government will not be indemnified for the expense of improvements by rent on land before valueless, one half the proceeds derived from the sale thereof shall be paid to said government, and the remaining half retained for said municipal fund, and when the Japanese shall be dispossessed of any land, a reasonable compensation will be paid to cover the expense of the removal of their buildings to some other locality; and no allotment of land to any foreigner for private use or advantage shall be required or sanctioned by the consuls, and a communication to be made to the Gorogio to this effect.

For public purposes the undersigned have already in their memorandum of the 22d of July, 1864, formally disclaimed and renounced any title to exclusive advantage whatever in respect to concessions of land or territory, either in the open ports or elsewhere in Japan, as whatever is granted to one may, with equal right and justice, be claimed by all in virtue of the most favored nation clause in all existing treaties. It is to be hoped that the Tycoon’s government, fully advised of this, will, in their own interest, avoid making exceptional grants of land to any one nation, minister or consul, or other authority, or without reference to the rest, and to the equal rights of all.

Finally, all past experience in China and Japan having shown that any appropriation of land or concessions to distinct nationalities is a fertile source of trouble and a grave disadvantage in the end to all, raising questions of diverse jurisdiction for municipal purposes, distinct bodies of police, and tending to produce conflicts of jurisdiction, increased expense, and imperfect results in order and security, besides perpetuating a mischievous error, that the interests of different nations in Japan are distinct and may be promoted at each others expense, whereas in truth they are identical, and are best promoted by union and common action, the undersigned have determined to make an official representation by a note identique to the government of the Tycoon, suggesting that upon no other bases should land be allocated for the occupation of foreigners at any open port in Japan, and pledging themselves to uphold this arrangement as the only one consistent with equity and the best interests of all the treaty powers without distinction.

Yokohama, December 3, 1864.

ROBERT H. PRUYN, Minister Resident of the United States in Japan.

RUTHERFORD ALCOCK, H. B. M.’s Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in Japan.

LEON ROCHES, Minister Plenipotentiary to his Majesty the Emperor of France in Japan.

D. DE GRAEFF VAN POLSBROEK, H. N. M.’s Consul General and Political Agent in Japan.
No. 2.


Certain proposals for the enlargement of the settlement at Yokohama, and other public objects connected therewith, having been discussed and generally agreed upon by the under-signed foreign representatives on the one part,, and Shibata Hiung No Kami and Shirashi Bhimosa No Kami on the other, on the 8th of September, 24th of October, and 8th of the present month, as recorded in minutes of each, signed by the aforesaid representatives, it has now been resolved to put on record, in a clear and practical shape, the bases and conditions of such improvements, extension, and public works, as now finally agreed upon, to which the signatures of the said foreign representatives and Japanese commissioners shall be appended for the ratification of the government of the Tycoon, at Yedo, within five days from the date of these presents. .

It has accordingly been agreed and resolved as follows:

1. An allotment of ground, already marked out on the other side of the canal, giving a circuit of one English mile (eighteen Japanese chô) to be made and designed in perpetuity for a parade and exercise ground for all nations; also, for a race-course for the foreign community. The ground being now a marsh, to be filled up by the Japanese government at their own expense, and as it is for common occupation both by Japanese and foreigners as a place [Page 237] of exercise, no rental to be claimed for the same, with exception of the ontside circle destined for a race-course, for which rent shall be paid at a rate hereafter to be fixed.

2. A site and temporary huts having been provided for naval, military, and civil smallpox patients of all nations, it is understood that an addition of either one or two huts being essential to complete the accommodation, these shall be put up by the Japanese government in the first instance, at the requisition of the foreign consuls to avoid delay, on the latter undertaking to repay the cost of erection.

3. A further extension within the limits already defined, of the ground for a cemetery for all nations, to be granted contiguous with that already so appropriated on the joint application of the consul.

4. A site having been allotted by the sea-shore for the building of abattoirs, &c., necessary to relieve the settlement of a great nuisance, unsightly alike to Japanese and foreigners, and prejudicial to health, it has now been agreed that the necessary buildings, according to plans already furnished, shall be erected without delay by the Japanese government, to be let under the control of the foreign consuls only to such butchers as they shall duly license; the said butchers to rent the premises when completed, paying a yearly rental of ten per cent, upon the cost of erection. But it is distinctly understood that the total cost shall not exceed about $10,000, a little more or less, the exact amount to be settled with the consuls.

5. The whole of the swamp on this side of the canal to be filled up by the Japanese government, and at their expense. When this is effected the Kosakimachi, now situated in the midst, to be removed to the end furthest from the foreign settlement. In the event of fire and the burning down of this establishment before the completion of this work, it is agreed that it shall not be built on the present site. Of this swamp ground, when filled up, the Japanese government shall reserve for foreign occupation, to be actually allotted to them from time to time, in such portions as may be required on the joint requisition of the consuls, the space lying between the Otamachi and the canal called Okagawa, on a line with the street between the custom-house and the consular lot, as marked in red in the plan annexed, No. 1; the proceeds arising from such disposal to be added to a municipal fund, which shall be employed for the making a drainage of roads, &c., and keeping them in a state of repair. It is understood that rents shall be paid as for all other allotments within the foreign settlement.

6. The location and site now being cleared and actually assigned for consular residences and offices, marked No. 2 in the annexed plan, the same to be cleared completely of all buildings or tenements, and delivered over to the consuls for appropriation to such uses and divided as heretofore agreed upon by the consuls among themselves, without further intervention of the Japanese authorities, rental being paid by the respective tenants as in the other portions of the foreign settlement.

7. The whole of the ground extending from the custom-house hatoba along the sea-front to the lot recently assigned to the French, at Bentong, and backward to the main street, (section No. 3 in the plan annexed,) to be held available for foreign occupation and appropriated at public sale, open to competition for foreigners and Japanese, in such proportions or quantity as, from time to time, may be found expedient.

The Japanese government undertakes, when these appropriations are in progress, to extend the present bounds of the foreign settlement from the custom-house hatoba to the French lot of Bentong. Toward the expense of this work, already agreed upon in former conferences of the 8th September and 24th October, and recorded in the memoranda before mentioned, of one-half the proceeds of sales or prices paid for right of location in this new extension of settlement along the sea-side, (after paying expenses and indemnities for loss or removal of the Japanese tenants,) to be paid to the governor of Kanagawa so long as the whole expense shall not have been reimbursed according to verified estimates and contracts for the work done. It is understood that the rent shall be paid the same as for all other allotments.

8. As the ministers of the treaty powers are not at present enabled to resume their residence at Yedo, it may be necessary to make provision for the temporary location of one or more at Yokohama. With this object in view, the French and Dutch representatives having already locations assigned at Bentong, (as also the Prussian consul,) it is expressly agreed and provided that the remaining portion of the sea-front of Bentong, extending from the Prussian lot to the western corner and marked No. 4 in the plan annexed, shall be reserved for the ministers of the diplomatic representatives of Great Britain and the United States, and if not immediately required shall not be otherwise appropriated for any use except as at present occupied without reference to them, and their consent obtained, the size of this location to be settled afterwards between the Japanese government and the representatives of the above named two nations.

9. An adequate site for a club-house for the united services of all nations having been promised, either on the site of the buildings now occupied by the British commissariat, marked No. 5 in the plan annexed, or in its close vicinity, it is agreed that quick possession shall be secured, and the trustees of the club shall pay the estimated Value of any buildings thereon or pay all the expenses of their removal by the owners, and be subject to rental in like manner as all other foreigners holding land.

10. A conveniently situated market being a great desideratum for Japanese for the sale of provisions, it is agreed that the open space now in use for that purpose, and marked No. 6 in [Page 238] the annexed plan, shall be further enlarged and levelled, and at one extremity a series of stalls erected under a piazza or covered-way for the sale of provisions.

11. As under the present state of affairs the Japanese government desire foreigners to ride on the Tokaido as little as possible, they undertake to make a good riding road for the exercise of foreigners four or five miles in extent, winding round and through the Mississippi valley, not less than twenty feet wide, to be made and kept in good order by the Japanese government in accordance with the plans agreed upon and already being put in execution under the direction and superintendence of Major Wray, a chief engineer officer.

12. Finally, in order to avoid all further discussion about the keeping of roads, drainage, cleaning of streets, and other municipal objects for which hitherto the Japanese local authorities have been held responsible in view of the high rental paid by all foreign leaseholders, it has been agreed that these objects shall henceforth be secured by the foreign land renters themselves, and towards the expenses that must be incurred annually there shall be a deduction of 20 per cent, from the yearly rent paid by all lands leased to foreigners, to be paid in a municipal fund.

In witness whereof we, the undersigned foreign representatives and Japanese commissioners duly empowered to that effect, hereto set our hands and seals this 19th day of December, 1864.

Done in quintuplicate.

ROBERT H. PRUYN, Minister Resident of the United States in Japan,

RUTHERFORD ALCOCK, H. B. M.’s Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in Japan.

LEON ROCHES, Minister Plenipotentiary of H. M. the Emperor of France in Japan.

D. DE GRAEFF VAN POLSBEOEK, H. N. M.’s Consul General and Political Agent in Japan.



We have to state that Sibata Hinga No Kami and Siraisi Simosa No Kami having under our instructions agreed with you about land for foreign settlement, we approve the same an4 will exchange ratifications accordingly.

With respect and esteem,



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