No. 187.
Mr. Bingham to Mr. Fish.

No. 325.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith in duplicate the fourth report of the postmaster-general of Japan for the half fiscal year which ended June 30, 1875.

The report, you will observe, shows that in the postal service for the empire (exclusive of fines and the revenues derived from mail-steamers, &c.) the expenditures for the half fiscal year exceed the revenues but $59,629.03, or 23⅓ per cent.; that the mail routes equal 26,625 English miles, and that the mail-transmissions equal 12,289,878 letters, &c., for the half-year.

I have the honor, &c.,


Fourth report of the postmaster-general of Japan for the half fiscal year ended June 30, 1875

In pursuance of the notification that the general government has changed the fiscal year so as to commence on the 1st of July of one year and end on the 30th of June of the next, and that all the accounts from the 1st of January of the eighth year of Meiji (1875) to the 30th of June of the same year should therefore be closed up at the end of the half year, I have the honor to submit the following report of the transactions of this department for the said half year, designated, as above, the fourth report of the postmaster-general.

The present report cannot be termed an annual report, as those preceding it have been, but in its numerical order is called the fourth, because, though the postal system was introduced in the fourth year of Meiji (1871) by the establishment of a mail-route from Tokio to Osaka, it was not until the following year that mail-routes were partially extended into the country and the affairs of this department became of sufficient importance to require a special report, which was designated the “Report for the fifth year of Meiji,” (1872,) and therefore those for the sixth and seventh years of Meiji (1873 and 1874) and for this half fiscal year are the second, third, and fourth, respectively.

method of comparison.

In order to compare the accounts of this half year with those of the preceding year, double the half year’s accounts are taken as an estimate for the whole year; but as the service is rapidly increasing, the actual accounts of the second half of the eighth year of Meiji (1875) will undoubtedly show a very great increase over the first half, and the comparison will therefore fail to show the actual difference in those accounts.

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revenues and expenditures.

The revenues of this department for the half fiscal year ended June 30 of the eighth year of Meiji, (1875,) including the postages, i. e., the revenues derived from the sale of stamps, stamped envelopes, postal cards, and newspaper-wrappers, box-rents, fees for money-orders, and revenues from all other sources, (except the fines paid to the judicial department for the infringement of postal laws and regulations, the revenues derived from the sale of mail-steamers, and other revenues which, though properly belonging to this department, are not included herein,) are 255,681.04 yen.

The expenditures made directly by this department are 309,321.57 yen, and the expenditures made by other departments for the sole use of this, such as for building and repairing post-offices, and for printing instructions, &c., are 5,988.50 yen, making the total expenditures 315,310.07 yen.

A comparison of the revenues and expenditures, as above given, shows that the latter exceed the former by 59,629.03 yen, or 23.3 per cent. A portion of this excess is due to the fact that the salaries of officers having charge of sea and land transportation are included therein, in order that the accounts of this department may be simplified as much as possible.

The estimated revenues for the eighth year of Meiji (1875) were 548,000 yen, but doubling the actual revenues of this half year gives 511,362.09 yen, or about 36,600 yen less than the estimate. From this falling off in the revenues it might seem as if the affairs of the department were in a less prosperous condition than in the preceding year. This is not, however, the case, as they were never more prosperous than at the present time; and from the constantly increasing demand for new and important mail-routes, which are being opened almost daily, and from the increase of service on routes already established, and especially from the increase of collections and distributions of mails, which are to be made ten times daily in Tokio, and a corresponding number of times in places of less importance after the 1st of July of this year, it is reasonable to suppose that there will be an increase in the revenues of the last half of this year (1875) over those of the first half amounting to much more than the apparent deficit of 36,600 yen.

The expenditures for the eighth year of Meiji, (1875,) estimated by doubling the actual expenditures for the half year, are 630,620.14 yen, while the estimate made last year was about 639,000 yen, showing a very slight difference. However, as the public are becoming daily better informed in regard to the benefits to be derived from the postal system, and as the applications from the different provinces for the establishment of new post-routes and for increase of service are becoming correspondingly more frequent, and in consequence of the increase in free delivery from July 1, the actual expenditures for the whole year (1875) will probably be much greater than the estimate.

A comparison of the revenues of the eighth year of Meiji, (1875,) as estimated by doubling the actual revenues realized up to June 30 with those of the seventh year of Meiji, (1874,) shows an increase of 159,117.19 yen, or 45.2 per cent.; and a comparison with those of the sixth year (1873) shows an increase of 285,616.07 yen, or 126.5 per cent.

The expenditures of the year, estimated in like manner, show an increase of 128,429.43 yen, or 25.6 per cent., over those of the seventh year of Meiji, (1874;) and an increase of 397,817.14 yen, or 170.9 per cent., over those of the sixth year (1873.)

The estimated revenues for the fiscal year ending June 30, ninth year of Meiji, (1876,) are 570,000 yen, (although the actual revenues realized will probably be much greater,) which is an increase of more than 58,637 yen, or 11.5 per cent., over those of the eighth year of Meiji, (1875,) as estimated by doubling the actual revenues realized during the half year ended June 30. The estimated expenditures for the same year are 697,000 yen, which is an increase of more than 66,379 yen, or 10.5 per cent., over the expenditures of the eighth year of Meiji, (1875,) estimated in like manner.

A comparison of the estimated revenues and expenditures for the next fiscal year, (ending June 30, ninth of Meiji,) as above given, shows a deficiency of 127,000 yen, or 22.3 per cent. This deficiency, compared with the deficiency of this half year, shows a decrease of 1 per cent., (it is expected that the actual result will show a still greater decrease;) and compared with the deficiency of the seventh year of Meiji, (1874,) it shows a decrease of 20.3 per cent.

Although a comparison with the sixth year of Meiji (1873) does not show so favorable a state of facts, it is to be taken into consideration that at that time the postal system was hardly established, and the mail-routes so few and unimportant as to be a source of but little expense; and therefore this year and the year preceding are not considered a fair object of comparison with the present year, inasmuch as the postal system has now become thoroughly equipped and organized in all its branches.

As the deficiency thus appears to be decreasing, it would seem that in time the revenues would cover the expenditures; but for several reasons, as explained in the last report, such a condition is not likely to be attained for many years.

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number of articles transmitted in the mails.

The aggregate number of letters, newspapers, books, patterns, &c., transmitted in the mails during the half year ended June 30, eighth year of Meiji, (1875,) was 12,289,878, as detailed in the table below. The estimated number for the whole year is therefore (by doubling the actual number transmitted during the half year) 24,579,756. As the mails are rapidly increasing, this estimate will undoubtedly prove to be far below the actual number transmitted. Yet, as above given, it shows an increase of 4,642,333, or 23.3 per cent., over that of the seventh year of Meiji, and of 14,028,854, or 133 per cent., over that of the sixth year. The number of newspapers alone transmitted through the mails during this half year was 1,839,846. The number for the whole year, obtained by doubling this number, shows an increase of 1,050,044, or 39.9 per cent., over that of the seventh year, (1874,) and an increase of 3,165,082, or 615 per cent., over that of the sixth year, (1873.) The actual increase will undoubtedly prove to be much greater than this estimate, for the reasons before given.

Although the number of articles transmitted in the mails is still very small in proportion to the whole population, yet it is very gratifying to perceive this rapid increase, which is the best proof of a corresponding progress in civilization.

Table showing the number of letters, newspapers, books, patterns, &c., transmitted in the mails during the half year ended June 30, eighth year of Meiji:

Letters, ordinary 8,077,333
Letters, registered 165,752
Postal cards 1,849,190
Newspapers 1,839,846
Books, patterns, &c 44,860
Official letters 183,318
Letters containing money 47,480
Dead letters 2,156
Dead letters returned to writers 816
Ordinary letters stolen 283
Ordinary letters lost 11
Money-letters stolen 9
Letters dispatched to foreign countries 44,185
Newspapers, &c., dispatched to foreign countries 34,639
Total 12,289,878


The mail-routes in operation throughout the empire during this half year aggregated 10,650 ri (26,625 English miles) in length. The increase over those in operation in the preceding year was 563 ri, (1,408 miles,) and 5,973 ri, (13,183 miles,) or 98.1 percent., over those of the sixth year of Meiji, (1873.)

total annual transportation.

The total annual transportation for the half year was 2,423,737 ri, (6,059,343 miles,) an increase of 135,530 ri, (338,825 miles) over that of half of the preceding year.

post-offices, etc.

During this half year there have been established 205 post-offices, 86 stamp agencies, and 37 street letter-boxes, and there are, therefore, now in operation 3,449 post-offices, 703 stamp agencies, and 513 street letter-boxes. In addition to these, there have been established in large cities 83 branch post-offices for receiving and transmitting mails to the general offices of the cities where they are located.

When the general post-office was erected at Tokio last year, the room for mailing and distribution was considered unnecessarily large, but it has been found to be, in fact, altogether too small, and a large room is now being prepared for that purpose.

New post-office buildings were completed at Yokohama, Kobe, and Nagasaki on the 1st of January last.

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foreign mails.

In early times no one in this country appears to have thought that the government should furnish a means of postal communication, and therefore there were no such means of communication, except as limited to certain localities and provided by the enterprise of merchants, styled “Hikiakuya.” When, therefore, the empire was opened [Page 360] to foreign intercourse, there were no facilities for the exchange of correspondence, and the English, French, and American governments found it necessary, in the exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction, to establish post-offices at the open ports for the accommodation of their respective citizens. These offices were also called by us “Hikiakuya,” and were regarded in every respect as private mercantile enterprises; and although the postages which were paid to them ought to have been a source of revenue to our government, still at that time we had no proper conception of a postal system, and therefore we regarded it as an ordinary business transaction, not at all understanding that by so doing we were yielding to other governments the privilege of controlling our postal affairs.

postal convention with united states.

However, on the 6th day of August, 1873, through our amicable relations with the United States Government, a postal convention was concluded between that country and Japan. This convention went into effect on the 1st of January of the present year, and the report (which is herewith submitted) of foreign mails exchanged under its provisions is very gratifying, as being the dawn of a new era in the administration of our postal affairs. It is, however, greatly to be regretted that we have not yet full control of all the foreign mails received in and dispatched from this country; but it is to be hoped that the English and French governments will carefully observe the manner in which the provisions of the existing convention are carried out; having done which, I am confident they will desire to conclude similar conventions, and thus relegate to us the privileges hitherto taken and now withheld from us.

It would seem that the treaty powers were favorably disposed to such a measure, for at the celebration of the inauguration of the foreign-mail service all the ministers (except the Spanish minister) were present, and generally congratulated us and expressed a wish for our future success.

In this connection I take pleasure in mentioning the eminent services of Samuel M. Bryan, esq., superintendent of foreign mails, to whose energy and experience the present prosperous condition of this service is due. It is proper also to say that very general satisfaction is expressed, both here and in the United States, in regard to the manner in which the service, generally and in detail, has been conducted.

transportation of mails to the united states.

By the terms of the convention between the United States and Japan the transportation of mails to the United States by the semi-monthly steamships of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company was the subject of no charge against Japan, until the recent abrogation by the United States of the contract with that company for additional mail-service. Since that time the mails have been carried once a month by the subsidized steamers of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company free of any charge against Japan, and mails dispatched upon the extra steamers of that company were paid for at the regular sea-postage rate.

Since the Occidental and Oriental Steamship Company have established their line of steamers we have sent our mails by them, but the conditions for their transportation not having been yet arranged, we are paying them only the ordinary sea-postages.

transportation of mails in the port of yokohama.

For celerity and security in the transportation of mails to and from steamers in the port of Yokohama, a steam-launch is now being constructed, and will be ready for use in July of this year.

transportation of mails by mitsu bishi mail steamship company.

The through mails of the United States to and from Shanghai by the steamers of the Occidental and Oriental Steamship Company are, as a matter of courtesy, transported between Yokohama and Shanghai free of charge by the steamers of the Mitsu Bishi Mail Steamship Company.

The following table is an exhibit of the amount of correspondence exchanged under the postal convention with the United States for the half fiscal year ended June 30 eighth year of Meiji, (1875.)

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Table of the mails received and dispatched by the foreign department of the imperial Japanese post-office for the half fiscal year ended June 30, 1875.

No. of articles. No. of single rates. Weight in grams. No. of registers. Postages canceled.
mails dispatched.
Letters dispatched to the United States 14,423 23,808 275,729 150 $3,742 36
Papers, &c., dispatched to the United States 13,003 17,880 780,640 474 64
Letters dispatched beyond but via the United States 16,549 27,954 328,965 205 6,479 26
Papers, &c., dispatched beyond but via the United States 15,787 18,190 916,590 755 33
Letters dispatched to Shanghai 13,213 22,762 260,020 105 1,407 60
Papers, &c., dispatched to Shanghai 5,849 7,308 362,463 171 46
Domestic letters dispatched 33,166 61,847 366,534 137 1,279 13
Domestic papers, &c., dispatched 13,720 18,678 879,825 195 31
Total 125,710 198,427 4,170,766 597 14,503 09
mails received.
Letters received from the United States 12,062 20,516 248,462 67 3,077 40
Papers, &c., received from the United States 32,605 43,757 2,644,190 875 14
Letters received from beyond but via the United States 655 935 9,869 12 205 56
Papers, &c., received from beyond but via the United States
Letters received from Shanghai 13,395 22,076 254,016 29 1,324 56
Papers, &c, received from Shanghai 13,230 15,025 805,694 302 00
Domestic letters received 32,287 60,920 361,597 137 1,260 23
Domestic papers, &c., received 12,918 17,652 819,555 184 65
Total 117,152 180,881 5,143,383 1 245 7,229 54

postal money-order system.

The postal money-order system was established on the 2d of January of the eighth year of Meiji, (1875.) During that month the number of money orders issued was only 4,120, amounting to 72,243.10 yen. During the month of March 6,384 orders were issued amounting to 111,913.69 yen, and the number of orders issued in June was 8,393, amounting to 147,056.43 yen, thus showing an increase in the number issued in the latter month over those issued in January of 103.6 per cent.

The total number of orders issued during the half year was 39,398, amounting to 690,617.48 yen. The total number of money orders paid was 37,768, amounting in value to 671,624.98 yen, and 1,630 orders, amounting to 18,992.50 yen, have not been presented for payment. The fees from money orders were 3,722.59 yen.

The money-order funds were 181,700 yen, including private funds voluntarily advanced by postmasters by special arrangement. The number of money-order post-offices was 114, including the general post-office. This small number of money-order offices is quite insufficient to supply the growing requirements of the country, and it is very desirable that they should be greatly increased. To do this, however, great difficulties must be overcome, of which the most serious is the difficulty of transporting currency over routes where wheeled vehicles cannot be employed. Another difficulty is that the accounts are kept in foreign style, and the officers must necessarily first be instructed in foreign book-keeping. Therefore new money-order offices can only be established as the capital increases and as the officers become sufficiently trained to properly take charge of them.

Table showing the money-order transactions for the half fiscal year ended June 30, 1875.

Capital government funds 161,500 00
private funds 20,200 00
Total 181,700 00
Number of orders issued, 39,398, amounting to 690,617 48
Number of orders paid, 37,768, amounting to 671,624 98
Excess of orders issued, 1,630, amounting to 18,992 50
Fees received on the above orders 3,722 49
Average fee for each order 09
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post-office savings-banks.

During this half fiscal year post-office savings-banks have been established, as an experiment, in Tokio and Yokohama, in which cities there are now 19 offices where savings can be deposited. Many applications have been made from different provinces for the establishment of these banks, but as it is but a few years since the postal system was introduced, and as there are but few persons who are thoroughly conversant with postal matters, it is feared, if they are now charged with another duty, much confusion may arise and mistakes may be made. Great care must therefore be exercised in their extension, which will be very gradual.

The amount deposited in these banks, up to the 30th of June, was 6,108.82 yen; the certificates issued were 4,478, and the number of depositors was 917. The amount withdrawn was 1,221.57 yen, in 770 certificates, and the number of persons who withdrew their deposits was 135. Thus the amount now remaining on deposit is 4,887.24 yen, in 3,708 certificates, and the number of depositors is 782. With such a large population, and so many of the poor working-class as there are in Tokio, for whose benefit the system is particularly intended, the amount on deposit seems wonderfully small. This is owing to the fact that the public are not acquainted with the benefits to be derived from the system, and from the too prevalent habit of regarding economy and frugality with contempt. Moreover, the rates of interest now prevailing in this country are high, and therefore many complain of the rate allowed by the savings-banks, and do not appear to take into consideration the importance of the perfect security afforded to the accumulation of small savings. Even the editors of newspapers, who are in the habit of discussing problems of civilization and political economy as applicable to our present condition, do not properly consider these things, but oppose the savings-banks on account of the rate of interest. One of the most important steps toward the amelioration of the condition of the people, and toward developing the resources of the country, is to instill into the minds of the people habits of frugality and economy; and every effort should be put forth to build up the savings-bank system, the only one which offers an incentive to economy by enabling them to place small sums at interest with perfect security; and I trust that in time the purpose of the department in this respect will be attained, and the success of the system be secured.

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