The present memorandum is in continuation of that policy, in view of the
approaching operations of the Tycoon at the head of his army for the
suppression of the rebellion of the Prince of Choshu, and with the
object of securing the observance of strict neutrality.
I trust you will be pleased to approve of my action.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient
Hon. William H. Seward,
Secretary of State, Washington.
Choshu, Prince of Nagato, being in a state of overt insurrection
against the Tycoon, and his Majesty the Tycoon having resolved to
march himself at the head of an army, intended to reduce his
contumacious vassal to obedience, civil war is imminent, and from
the situation of its theatre may, to a certain extent, compromise
the interests of the treaty powers by impeding the free navigation
of their vessels through the straits of Simonoseki.
In presence of this state of things, the representatives of the four
powers subscribing the convention of the 2’2d October, 1864, have
met for the purpose of consulting as to the measures it may be
convenient to adopt for protecting the interests of their
countrymen, and securing the results contemplated by the expedition
successfully directed by their respective naval forces against the
batteries of Simonoseki in September, 1864.
This meeting took place on the 21st June, 1865, and the following is
the result of the joint deliberations of the undersigned:
Considering that the batteries erected by the Prince of Nagato, in
the straits of Simonoseki, were employed to prohibit the free
navigation of the inland sea to foreigners, and were disarmed by the
commanders of the allied forces, who imposed upon the prince the
formal obligation not to re-arm them:
Considering that the allied forces have not renounced the obligation
of a military position in the straits, save on a formal obligation
accepted by the government of the Tycoon, to guarantee the free
navigation of the straits to foreign vessels:
Considering, moreover, that while the rules of a wise policy require
of the powers signing the convention to avoid every act of
intervention in the conflict which has just commenced between the
Tycoon and the Prince of Nagato, their treaty relations of
friendship and commerce which exist only with the Tycoon require
from them the moral support and facilities necessary to the exercise
of the rights acknowledged by such treaties to belong to the
For these reasons the undersigned have adopted with one accord the
following articles, and are agreed that a copy of this memorandum
shall be addressed to the commanders of the naval forces of their
respective nations now present or hereafter to arrive in Japan:
In the interval which will elapse before the land and sea forces of
the Tycoon shall present themselves in the straits of Simonoseki,
the naval commanders of the powers, parties to the convention of the
22d October, ought, in virtue of that convention, to oppose the
re-armament of the batteries of the Prince of Nagato in the said
strait, or even to proceed to their disarmament if the Daimio should
have re-armed them; but as the carrying these measures into effect
might bring about conflicts and complications, which the undersigned
wish absolutely to avoid, the commanders of the naval forces are
requested, in this latter case, to make to the Prince of Nagato, or
his representative, such remonstrances as they may deem appropriate,
and in any event to ascertain the state of things, and to furnish
the undersigned with an immediate report, in order that they may
communicate with the government of the Tycoon thereon, and to place
their respective governments in a position to give their
Apart from the object of the preceding article, it is desirable that
the commanders of the naval forces should be able to assure the free
passage of the straits to foreign ships using it in regular trade
with Japan, and to lend the aid required by treaty for repressing on
the part of the merchant ships belonging to their respective flags
in any part of the territories of Nagato, contiguous to the straits,
trading operations, which, in terms of the treaties, are only
authorized in the ports actually opened to foreigners.
It is equally important to prevent the ships of the Tycoon, charged
with the prevention of unlawful commercial operations with the
insurgent prince, from going in such cases beyond the limits of
right and humanity.
When hostilities shall commence in the straits between the Tycoon and
Choshu, the commanders will warn foreign ships of the necessity of
passing beyond the lines of fire, and should even require them to
abstain from entering the straits if the passage at the time should
bring them into actual danger.
It is well understood that all the measures indicated by the
undersigned shall be carried out in the manner which the naval
commanders shall consider most fitting, and in any case that their
desire is that the strictest neutrality should be observed in all
that concerns the military operations between the Tycoon and the
Prince of Nagato.
A. L. C. PORTMAN, Chargé d’Affaires ad
interim of the United States in Japan.
LEON ROCHES, Minister Plenipotentiary of
France in Japan.
CHARLES A. WINCHESTER, H. B. M’s. Chargé
d’ Affaires in Japan.
D. DE GRAEFF VAN POLSBROEK. H. N. M’s
Political Agent and Consul General in