No. 192.
Mr. Bingham to Mr. Fish.

No. 351.]

Sir: * * * * * * *

On the 3d instant I addressed to Mr. Terashima, the minister for foreign affairs, a dispatch asking to be informed in regard to the mode of adjusting claims presented against the Japanese government by foreign governments and the citizens or subjects thereof, and also requesting a reply specifically to the several inquiries of the instruction, a copy of which dispatch is herewith. When the reply is received from the foreign office, I shall lose no time in transmitting the same to the Department.

From the information already gained by conversation and official [Page 369] communications with the Department, it is my opinion that all claims against this government are determined by its executive departments upon ex parte evidence, save where a submission is made to arbitration, and that His Majesty, with the advice of his council, (Daijo Kuan,) appropriates from the treasury the money for the payment thereof. So far as I know the mode of procedure as to the claims of foreigners, it is to present the same in writing to the foreign office through the diplomatic representative of the foreign government or foreign citizen or subject in interest. I am of opinion that this government is not liable to be sued in any judicial tribunal of the empire. I am also of opinion that any citizen or subject of a treaty power resident or non-resident in Japan can maintain an action against Japanese subjects in the courts of His Majesty, but that foreigners not citizens or subjects of a treaty power, unless resident here, cannot maintain such action here.

This is all that with my limited information I can at present say upon the subject. I regret that the circular of June 23, 1874, did not reach me sooner.

I have, &c.,


Mr. Bingham to Mr. Terashima.

No 306.]

Sir: For the information of my Government, and in compliance with instructions therefrom, I have the honor to inquire of your excellency whether there is any general and uniform system and mode of procedure for the investigation and determination of claims preferred or held against the government of His Imperial Japanese Majesty by the government of any foreign power or any citizen or subject thereof.

I am instructed to obtain full information on this subject, and to report the same to my Government, and to that end I beg leave to request, at as early a day as may suit your exce lency’s convenience, replies to the following inquiries:

Are claims against your excellency’s government investigated, determined, and, if allowed, their payment directed and provided for by the legislative branch of the government?
If the legislative authority does entertain such claims, what is the mode of procedure, by committee or otherwise, and what means, if any, are provided for procuring evidence on behalf of your excellency’s government?
What provision, if any, is made for the determination of claims by the executive department? What is the mode of procedure in the investigation of claims by or before executive officers, and what means are provided for procuring evidence on behalf of your excellency’s government?
Is there any provision of law allowing a Japanese subject to sue your excellency’s government in the regularly-established courts or in any special tribunal, and does the privilege of maintaining an action against your government (if it exists) extend to aliens?
What is the status of aliens before the regularly-established courts of your excellency’s country? Can they maintain an action in such courts against a Japanese subject, and, if so, does the privilege extend to all aliens, or is it confined to resident aliens only?
If different systems of adjudication exist as regards different classes of claims, what is the system with reference to each class, and what the mode of procedure and the privileges of your excellency’s government in relation to evidence in its behalf and the means of procuring such evidence?
Please add any other information, general or special, of which your excellency may be possessed bearing on the subject.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


His Excellency Terashima Munenori,
His Imperial Japanese Majesty’s Minister for Foreign Affairs.