Mr. D. W.
Stevens to Mr. Evarts.
Tokei, Japan, November 23, 1878. (Received Dec. 19, 1878.)
Sir: On the 20th instant the Japanese iron-clad, Hi Yei Kwan, left the port of Yokahama, having on board Mr. Hanabusa, one of the principal secretaries of the foreign office and chargé d’affaires to Corea. The destination of the Hi Yei Kwan is the port of Fusan, in Corea, and it is said that Mr. Hanabusa’s mission is to demand an explanation of the recent action of the Corean authorities with reference to the trade of that country with Japan.
Fusan is the place designated by the treaty between Japan and Corea as one of the open ports. A number of Japanese merchants have taken up their residence there, and a trade, small at first but steadily growing, has, through their medium, been carried on between the two countries. The exports consist principally of seaweed, ginseng, ox hides, and bones, while the imports are mainly of cotton goods and a few cheap articles of foreign merchandise.
The Corean Government has lately, in open violation of treaty stipulations, imposed a duty of 20 per cent, upon both imports and exports. This duty amounts virtually to a prohibition of trade. Continued, as it has been, notwithstanding the protest of the Japanese authorities and merchants, it displays a desire to end intercourse which the Coreans have never pretended to conceal was distasteful to them. The Japanese Government, on the other hand, deeply resents this obstructive policy, and is apparently determined to insist upon its treaty rights, even at the cost of war. It is reported, and generally believed, that Mr. Hanabusa was the bearer of an ultimatum, the rejection of which, it is understood, he is instructed to say will lead to hostilities on the part of Japan.
In pleasing contrast with the short-sighted policy of the Corean Government, as above noted, is the humane disposition shown by some of their nationalty toward the crew of the Barbara Taylor, a British merchant vessel recently wrecked at the island of Quelpart on the coast of Corea. The Coreans have not hitherto had an enviable reputation for their treatment of those who have been unfortunate enough to be shipwrecked upon their coast. But in the case of the Barbara Taylor they acted in a most friendly manner, saving the crew, salving the cargo, providing transportation for both to Nagasaki, and, finally, refusing to accept any compensation for their kind conduct.
I have, &c.,