Mr. Bingham to Mr. Evarts.
Tokei, Japan , July 16, 1879. (Received August 11.)
Sir: On the 4th instant I received from his excellency Mr. Terashima, minister for foreign affairs, a communication, dated the 3d instant, to the [Page 648] effect that owing to the prevalence of cholera in the districts of Kobe and Osaka provisional regulations had been established (a copy of which was inclosed), by which all vessels coming hither from either of said districts should be detained in quarantine at Nagawia for ten days, and adding that “said regulations will be carried out as soon as all necessary arrangements shall have been completed.”
On the 5th instant I addressed a note to the foreign minister in reply, acquainting him of my desire to be informed when the regulations would be carried out, to the end that I might instruct our consuls in Japan, and cause due notification to be made thereof. I have the honor to inclose herewith copies of this correspondence, together with a copy of Mr. Terashima’s letter of the 3d instant.
On the 9th instant Mr. Terashima replied to my note as follows: “The quarantine regulations will be in force until further ordered by my (his) government. I (he) trust that you (I) were good enough to notify the contents of my (his) note of the 3d instant to the consuls of your (my) country; if, however, you have not done so, I (he) respectfully request that your excellency (I) will kindly notify the contents of this communication in addition to those of mine of the 3d instant,” a copy of which communication is herewith, together with a copy of my dispatch to the consul-general of date the 10th instant, directing him to make public the quarantine regulations, to the end that the same might be observed by all American vessels, with the qualification set forth by the minister in his dispatch of the 9th, “that vessels ascertained upon examination by the quarantine commission to have had no case of cholera on board during their voyage will be allowed to enter the harbor (of Yokohama), after they have passed seven days from the day on which they left a port where cholera or any other infectious disease prevails.”
I also inclose a copy of the consul-generals notification, as published in the Japan Herald, of date the 11th instant. Not antil after the publication of this notice upon my order, did any foreign representative accredited to this court make publication of any notice of the quarantine regulations. His excellency the British minister did, on the 14th instant, make publication that it should be lawful for Her Britannic Majesty’s consul at Kanagawa, so long as the ports of Hiogo and Osaka, or either of them, shall be declared by the Imperial Japanese Government to be infested with cholera, or other infectious disease highly dangerous to health, to detain by his warrant any British vessel entering the Bay of Yedo from the ports of Hiogo or Osaka, for a period not exceeding seven days, unless upon further order of the British consul. A copy of the order of the British minister, as published in the Japan Herald of the 15th instant, is herewith.
It is to be observed of this order that the British minister limits the action of the British consul to such British vessels as may come from the ports of Hiogo or Osaka, and also gives him full liberty at his discretion to permit all such vessels to come into the port of Kanagawa.
Thus it is seen that the British minister ignores altogether the provisions of the quarantine regulations of this government that infected vessels from either of said ports shall be detained ten days, and substantially, and by necessary implication, declares the right of Great Britain at the election of its consul, in defiance of the law of this empire, to import cholera or other infectious disease dangerous to human life into the port of Kanagawa.
It is with deep regret that I also note the fact, as published in yesterday’s Japan Herald, that a German merchant-vessel, the Hesperia, was [Page 649] taken out of quarantine by the German consul, who was attended by a German man-of-war, and brought into the port of Kanagawa.
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The position assumed by the British minister, and, as I understand, by the German minister also, is that no quarantine is to be enforced save by their direction, and that any quarantine regulations made by this government shall be entirely disregarded by their respective consuls.
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No such instructions, it gives me pleasure to say, have at any time been given to me. In my opinion, our own people residing in Japan have the right, under all existing treaties, to the protection of this government against the importation of pestilence into their habitations by the vessels of any foreign power whatever, and it is also my opinion that the denial by Great Britain of the power of this government in the premises, is the denial of a power the assertion of which by the Japanese Government our government may, with great propriety, insist upon in the interest and for the protection of the lives of our own citizens.
As you were pleased to approve my action in the matter of quarantine last year, as communicated in my No. 885, I trust that my action under like circumstances now, as herein communicated, may also meet your approval.
I beg leave to say that General Stahel, who was rightfully detained in quarantine for a few days, was permitted by the government to return to his post, and that the circumstances attending his detention and release will be made the subject of another dispatch at a future day. In my opinion there was nothing in the action of this government in the matter of General Stahel’s detention of which he or our government can justly complain.
I have, &c.,