No. 363.
Mr. Bingham to Mr. Fish.

No. 132.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith, for your information, a copy of a notification by the Japanese government to Chinese subjects resident in Japan (inclosure 1) informing them that in the event of [Page 769] war between Japan and China they shall not be harmed by this government unless they engage in trade contraband of war, act as spies, or do other injury to this country. I have also the honor to inclose a copy of another notification (inclosure 2) which has reference to the Japanese expedition to Formosa, the occurrences there between the Japanese forces, and the efforts at negotiation by the ministers sent to China by Japan, &c. It is to be observed in this last notification that while it is said that the Emperor desires a peaceful result by negotiation, it is clearly stated therein that preparations are being made for war in the event of a failure to settle the difficulties by negotiation. A notice appearing in the papers that Mr. Wasson, the American citizen mentioned in my dispatches of April last, was recently in Nagasaki, awaiting orders to report to General Saigo, the Japanese commander in Formosa, I took occasion to request the minister for foreign affairs, by a dispatch of date the 1st instant, (inclosure 3,) to notify Mr. Wasson of the fact hitherto communicated to you, that he (Wasson) was detached from that service and should not proceed to Formosa. I have the honor to further inform you that in the latter part of September I received from Mr. Seward, at Shanghai, a dispatch of date the 1st ultimo, inclosing a note identically agreed upon by the foreign consuls at Shanghai for the protection of foreign commerce, &c., in the event of hostilities between Japan and China, (inclosures 4 and 5.) To this communication I replied in a letter (inclosure 6) dated the 2oth ultimo. 1 respectfully submit the same for your consideration, hoping that my action may meet your approval, and especially desiring your instructions in the matter. I have this evening received a communication from the minister for foreign affairs asking me what Chinese, if any, are in the service of this legation, and requesting me to notify him in future if any Chinese shall be employed at the legation or discharged therefrom. To this I have replied that there are no Chinese in the employ of the legation at present, and that should any be employed therein or discharged therefrom in the future I shall inform him.

I am, &c.,

[Inclosure 1 in No. 132.—Translation.]

Notification to Chinese subjects.

[From the Japan Weekly Mail, October 3, 1874.]

Chinese subjects.—The wicked inhabitants of Formosa have, in former years, murdered and plundered several tens of our Japanese subjects. Steps have, therefore, been taken to punish these offenses, and to protect our subjects from injury in the future. To this the Chinese government have objected, and our government has therefore dispatched officials to discuss this matter, but no conclusion has yet been arrived at. We hear that you, the Chinese subjects, resident in this country, are unnecessarily apprehensive lest it should be impossible to preserve peace between the two countries, and that, if war broke out, your persons would be imprisoned, and your property plundered and confiscated, and we are informed that you torment yourselves with all kinds of anxieties. If this is truly the case, your condition is a very pitiable one. But even if war should unavoidably break out, in what are you, the Chinese subjects, resident here, to blame? Except in the case of persons guilty of contraband trading, spying, or doing injury to this country connected with the war, the government of great Japan will neither imprison or plunder you. Take careful note of this, obey the instructions of this government, pursue your occupations in peace, and do not allow yourselves to be carried away by excitement.

Daijo Daijin. [Prime Minister.]
[Page 770]
[Inclosure 2 in No. 132.—Translation.]

Notification of No. 127 as to Formosa.

To the In, Sho, Shi, Fu, and Ken:

An expedition against the barbarous part of Formosa was announced in notification No. 65 of May last, and on the 22d of that month the commander-in-chief, Saijo Yorimichi, arrived there. The troops had arrived some days previously. They entered the territory of the savages, and were exploring its lands and waters when they were suddenly fired upon by them. Our troops then, attacked them, and put them to rout. Eighteen heads of villages gave in their submission, one after another, and almost the whole savage territory was reduced to peace. We were thereafter engaged in preparing preventive measures for the future, when the Chinese government persistently objected. Yanagiwara Sakimitsu, our envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to that country, was therefore instructed to discuss the matter with the Chinese government, and numerous written communications and conferences were held. The further special step was then taken of dispatching to China Okubo Toschimichi as high commissioner plenipotentiary. It is, of course, the aim of His Majesty that these negotiations shall result in a peaceful settlement and’ in the preservation of amicable relations, but preparations are at the same time being made to meet any emergency in case circumstances leave us no other alternative than to do so.

His Majesty will give you his further commands with reference to the result of the negotiations to be conducted henceforward by our high commissioner to China.

Daijo Daijin.

[Inclosure 3 in No. 132.]

Mr. Bingham to Mr. Terashima.

No. 87.]

Your Excellency: I called at your office yesterday for the purpose of acquainting you with the fact that Mr. Wasson, a citizen of the United States, hitherto referred to by your excellency in your No. 26 of date the 22d April last addressed to me, and who, as your excellency then informed me, had, by the action of your excellency’s government upon my request, been detached from service under the Japanese government in the Formosan expedition, is reported in the Japan Gazette of the 29th ultimo to be “in Nagasaki awaiting instructions to resume his position on General Saijo’s staff,” and “will probably sail for Formosa in a few days.”

I have the honor to further inform your excellency that I communicated to my Government copies of my communications heretofore made to your excellency in which I protested against the employment of United States citizens and vessels in the Japanese expedition against Formosa, and a copy of your excellency’s dispatch of the 22d of April, setting forth the action of your excellency’s government as above stated, to which my Government has replied that the proceedings taken by me to detach the citizens of the United States and the steamer New York are approved. Not doubting that the instructions heretofore issued, as stated by your excellency, for the detachment of Mr. Wasson and the other citizens of the United States named in your excellency’s dispatch of 22d of April were in accordance with the treaty obligations subsisting between the United States and Japan, and feeling quite assured that it has been and is the purpose of your excellency’s government to carry the same out in good faith, I beg leave to respectfully request that your excellency will notify Mr. Wasson of the instructions issued by your government detaching him from service in the Japanese expedition against Formosa, to the end that he may not proceed to Formosa, in violation alike of the instructions of your excellency’s government and of the laws of his country.

I have the honor to be your excellency’s obedient servant,


His Excellency Terashima Munenori,
&c., &c., &c.

[Page 771]
[Inclosure 4 in No. 132.]

Mr. Seward to Mr. Bingham.

No. 24.]

Sir: I have the honor to hand yon herewith a draught of a dispatch which has been addressed by the several consuls at this port to their several ministers at Peking, looking to the need of action to secure the safety of our commerce and of our settlements in the event of war between China and Japan.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Hon. John A. Bingham,
United States Minister to Japan, Yeddo.

[Inclosure 5 in No. 132.]

Draught of an identical note to be sent by each consul to his ministerial representative at Peking.

Sir: The probability of a war between China and Japan having of late attracted much attention, and the possibility of such a contingency not by any means having passed over, it has occurred to myself and some of my colleagues to consider what would be the position of the foreign settlements of Shanghai in such an unfortunate event, and how far it would be expedient to adopt such precautions as may render that position a comparatively safe one. It does not need any extraordinary foresight to predict that Shanghai, from its importance as a commercial center, and from its proximity to one of the few arsenals which China possesses, will become a focus of attack in case of hostilities being declared, and in that event the foreign settlements will be at once exposed to extreme danger, inasmuch as they stand (that portion called British more especially) exactly in a quarter where any outworks necessary to cover the city from hostile approach by the river must be constructed.

No move has been as yet made by the Chinese toward the utilization of this strategical position, but they may at any moment see fit to occupy it, and should they do so, and hostilities supervene, the consequences to neutral life and property may be very serious. The conclusion appears to myself and colleagues obvious, that, if such a sacrifice can be in any way averted, no effort ought to be left untried to avert it; and the alternative we would venture to propose is that advantage should be taken of the presence in Peking of a Japanese minister plenipotentiary, to negotiate for the neutralization of the ground covered by the foreign settlements, and a stipulation that nothing shall be done on either side to endanger the safety of the residents therein or of the property in their keeping. The Tautai of this place, it is believed, will be quite willing to give his consent to this proposition, and I beg to submit it to your excellency, in conjunction with such of my colleagues as are more directly interested, and each of whom has addressed an identical note to his minister, in the hope that the scheme may meet with your favorable consideration. I may refer here to the 26th article of the United States treaty with China, which provides for the immunity of American commerce in case of war, and to suggest that such further negotiation may be undertaken with the Japanese as will render this provision operative as far as they are concerned; and, in this connection, it may be mentioned that the Chinese are likely to obstruct the Woosung Bar in case of war, unless some means are adopted to prevent them taking this course. Various and serious questions, it must be confessed, will be involved in the adoption of the proposed measure; but as these must of necessity occur to your mind, and their discussion scarcely comes within my province, I prefer to submit the simple proposition, free of all observation or remark.

My colleagues agree with me that it is also beyond our province to propose that any arrangements arrived at shall embrace all the foreign settlements in China and Japan, but it may not be amiss to point out how obviously desirable such an extension would be.

[Inclosure 6 in No. 132.]

Mr. Bingham to Mr. Seward.

No. 102.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatches 23 and 24, dated the 7th August and the 1st September, respectively, and tender you my thanks for the same. [Page 772] The regulations of the consular courts in China, inclosed with your No. 23, upon such examination as I have been able to give them, seem to me satisfactory and worthy of consideration here. The note identical, inclosed in your No. 24, I consider to be called for in the present exigency, and should war be declared between Japan and China, the adoption of the same should be insisted on by the foreign representatives accredited to both nations. I have this to suggest: that the foreign settlements, or places exclusively occupied by foreigners, in each empire, should be declared by the sovereign authority of each inviolate in the event of war, and should be respected alike by the forces of Japan and China. What is said in the note identical touching the 26th article of the United States treaty with China is a matter of the first importance to the people of the United States, and it shall be my pleasure, as it is my duty, to co-operate with you and with all the representatives of our common country in securing to our people the full benefit of that article, if, unhappily, a public, solemn war shall obtain between Japan and China.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Geo. F. Seward, Esq., &c.,