Mr. Pruyn to Mr.
Legation of the United States in
January 21, 1865.
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
Hon. William H. Seward,
Secretary of State.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
SIBATA HINGA NO KAMI,
SIRAISI SIMOSA NO KAMI.
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
The 23d day of the 11th month of the 1st year of Gengi (21st
With respect and
MIDLUNO IDLUMI NO KAMI.
ABE BUNGO NO KAMI.
SUNO INABA NO KAMI.
His Excellency Robert H. Pruyn,
Minister Resident of the United States of
America, &c., &c.