Mr. Bingham to Mr. Evarts.
Tokei, Japan, May 16, 1878. (Received June 13.)
Sir: It is with sorrow that I have to report that on Tuesday, the 14th instant, his excellency Okubo Toshimichi, His Imperial Japanese Majesty’s minister of the interior and councilor of state, was assassinated on a public street of this capital by six men armed with swords. The minister was, at the time, in his carriage, on his way to the imperial palace. One of the horses to the carriage was first killed and the other wounded by the assassins, and the coachman, having fallen from the carriage, was then also killed, when, falling upon the doomed minister, who was unarmed, each of the assassins inflicted wounds until the minister was dead. The six criminals then surrendered themselves to the imperial guard.
Having been told of this great public calamity a few hours after its occurrence, I immediately addressed a note on the subject to the foreign office, expressing the hope that the minister had survived the assault; and on being notified by the foreign office of his death, I called with the secretary of this legation at the house of Mr. Okubo, and expressed in person my sympathy for his family in their bereavement, and also addressed a note to his excellency the minister of foreign affairs.
I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy of Mr. Terashima’s note to me and of my reply thereto.
For your information I also inclose four articles in relation to the assassination, published in and translated from the Hochi Shimbun, the [Page 492] Nichi-Nichi Shimbun, the Choya Shimbun, and the Akebono Shimbun, each having been issued on the 15th instant.
His excellency Mr. Okubo was one of the foremost of the Emperor’s counselors and officials and in the prime of life; his place cannot be readily filled. Having a personal acquaintance with Mr. Okubo, I greatly esteemed him. He was manifestly sacrificed by some of the aiders and abettors of the late rebellion, of which I had occasion to say heretofore in my dispatches that it was a rebellion “which should not have begun” and which was “without justification or excuse.” Its suppression was a patriotic duty, and his excellency Mr. Okubo having done his duty in that behalf is now on that account murdered.
I have, &c.,