to Mr. Bingham.
Washington, February 27, 1874.
Sir: I have read your Nos. 45 and 46, concerning the permission to foreigners to trade and travel in the interior of Japan, with interest and general, approval.
It is our desire to see Japan reach a point where the administration of justice could be safely confided to its authorities by foreigners. But we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that that point has not yet been attained; and we cannot safely yet surrender any of the rights of extraterritoriality which we possess.
As to the extension of the right to travel and trade and sojourn in the interior, we do not desire to ask any exceptional privileges for the citizens of the United States. We should be quite content to accept such an extension, coupled, as to the country outside the present limits, with the ordinary subjection to taxation when domiciled, and to the obligation to observe municipal laws which obtain among Christian nations, with this exception, that the foreigners so sojourning or domiciled should be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of their respective consuls in all [Page 671] civil and criminal matters; a jurisdiction which we might be prepared to surrender if the courts of Japan hereafter$ in the judgment of the President, should be so organized and conducted as to afford as full and complete remedies and protection as the consular courts now do. We would not think it wise to make the privilege above referred to obtainable by the payment of money, or to have it confer upon the foreigner domiciled in Japan any special exemptions from local taxation. On the contrary, it would be desirable to have a foreigner so domiciled bear the same relations toward the government of the country that he would bear toward the government of a Christian country, except his right or amenability to trial in consular courts.
Your general views on the subject commend themselves to the Department, and make it unnecessary to give detailed instructions. Should any definite proposition be made, time will doubtless be afforded you for a reference to your government.
I am, &c.,