No. 442.
Mr. Fish to Mr. Bingham.

No. 65.]

Sir: From time to time, for some months past, inquiry has been made of this Department by the representatives of several European powers at this capita], as to the policy of this Government in Japan, and especially as to its attitude toward other “treaty powers,” with regard to the government of Japan.

Similar inquiry has been addressed to some of the representatives of the United States in Europe, all tending to show that a feeling of uneasiness and uncertainty on this question exists among those powers, and especially in Russia, England, and Germany. * * * * *

In reply to the inquiries made of me by the representatives of other powers, I have stated the policy of this Government to be such as was set forth in the instruction to you (No. 35) under date of 20th April last; and that in matters of common interest it was the desire and the intention of this Government that its representative in Japan should, in all cases when in his judgment the interest of this Government lay in the same direction as that of the other treaty powers, act in concert with the representatives of these powers. It is possible that these inquiries may have been prompted by reports from Japan to the several European powers of occurrences prior to the reception by you of that instruction.

Quite recently the British chargé d’affaires left with me a copy of the correspondence of Sir Harry Parkes with the minister of foreign affairs, in relation to the arrest of the servant of one of the secretaries of the British legation, and asked whether you had communicated the occurrence to the Department, and remarked that the absence of your name from the joint note signed by all the other representatives had been a source of regret.

* * * * * * *

I was able only to say that I presumed your dispatches on the subject were on the way, and had probably been detained.

I have read Sir Harry Parkes’s dispatch and the papers accompanying it, and am not inclined to take exception to the absence of your name from the joint note, if it was withheld on the ground that you were not prepared to unite in so advanced an assertion of immunity from local jurisdiction as was contended for in behalf of a Japanese subject, the servant of a translating secretary, residing separate from the minister [Page 698] and remote from his residence, and at a place with respect to which the Japanese government had expressly informed the secretary that the rights of a legation do not exist, and for a crime committed before that servant had entered the service of the secretary. I observe that Sir Harry Parkes states that the decision of the foreign representatives was reached at a meeting at which all of them were present, “with the exception of the United States minister.”

It is by no means improbable that your views on the question would have differed from those of the other representatives, and might have modified in some degree what appears to be the extreme position to which the doctrine of immunity seems to have been carried in this correspondence.

On the general question of united action by the foreign representatives in Japan, in matters of common interest to the foreign powers, the views of the President were communicated to you in my No. 35, under date of the 20th April last, and it is not supposed that you have deviated from the instruction then given.

In the present condition of the country, and in view of the evident restlessness of Japan under the doctrine of extraterritoriality applied to her, and of her apparent desire to separate the foreign powers from each other, possibly in view of the revision of the treaties, it is not deemed wise at present to depart from a policy which has thus far, in the main, proved serviceable.

The President therefore relies upon your prudent efficiency to carry out the policy which has been indicated to you, and winch has been announced to other powers as that which is to govern our intercourse with Japan, unless in cases where you may see the interests of this Government to be so clearly in a different direction that you may feel it your duty to withhold concert of action until you shall have had opportunity to lay the case before your Government.

It is deemed especially important that, in all cases of ill treatment of foreigners, or of any restriction, or limitation, or denial of the rights guaranteed to them by treaty, or of any infringement of treaty rights, whether personal or of property, the united influence of the foreign representatives in Japan should assert the inviolability of the treaties, and the full protection of all citizens or subjects of the treaty powers.

I am, &c.,