No. 361.
Mr. Bingham to Mr Fish.

No. 125.]

Sir: I have the honor to communicate herewith a notification by proclamation, issued on the 25th ultimo by order of this government, abolishing examination by torture of witnesses and of persons accused of crimes. I regret to say that, (“for a short period” to come,) in certain cases where difficulty occurs in the examination, torture may be employed, subject, however, to the restriction that the reasons for the employment thereof shall be reported monthly by the tribunal resorting thereto to the department of justice. Some time since, my attention being called to this inhuman practice in judicial administration in this empire, while I did not feel at liberty to officially intervene in the matter, as the usage was limited exclusively to Japanese subjects, I nevertheless deemed it my duty, unofficially, to bring the matter to the attention of Japanese officials, and to suggest to them in respectful terms, as I did, that the practice was violative, alike of natural justice and of the enlightened judgment of civilized nations. It is a matter of congratulation that the first step has been taken toward the abolition of this inhuman and unjust rule of administration.

I am, &c.,

[Page 767]
[Inclosure in No. 125.—Translation.]

notification forbidding torture.

To the several courts and kens of the Empire of Japan:

This proclamation is made:

We have had a usage from former times of examination by torture. It would be a great wrong if under this usage innocent persons suffer; therefore this practice shall no longer be exercised However, for still a short period, in cases where any difficulty occurs in the examination without the exercise of torture, there is no objection to use it; but a monthly report of all such cases shall be made to this department, which shall state the reason why torture is applied.

oki takatoo,
Minister Judicial Department.