No. 293.
Mr. Hubbard to Mr. Bayard.

No. 149.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith two copies of the “Annual Return of the Foreign Trade of the Empire of Japan, published by the Bureau of Customs, for 1885,” in accordance with the request of his excellency the minister for foreign affairs, for the information of the honorable the Secretary of State and the honorable the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States.

In transmitting this interesting paper, showing the trade relations of this Empire with all nations, I respectfully invite your attention and that of the Government at Washington to the status of the trade, especially between Japan and the United States, for the year 1885.

From this voluminous report of 298 pages I have endeavored to economize the time of your Department, as well as to lessen the burden of ascertaining the subjoined results, involving a careful and patient investigation, by anticipating such labor in performing it myself.

From the wilderness of facts and figures contained in this annual return I have the honor to submit a compilation not found in said report in the form herewith presented. The individual statistics are the same, and have only been presented in a different combination to illustrate certain phases of the trade relations of Japan with the principal European nations, and particularly with our own country, which are not presented so prominently in this official paper of the Japanese Government.

[Page 562]

I submit the following synopsis of Japan’s export and import trade with the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and France for the year 1885:

United States. Great Britain. Germany. France.
Yen. Yen. Yen. Yen.
Exported to 15,613,868 87 2,411,978 61 463,933 35 6,735,911 88
Imported from 2,726,184 68 12,415,421 53 1,665,652 72 1,329,866 27
Total. 18,340,053 55 14,827,400 14 2,129,586 07 8,065,778 15
Excess of exports 12,887,684 19 5,406,045 61
Excess of imports 10,003,442 92 1,201,719 37

The following tables show value of commodities imported into Japan free, also under specific duty and ad valorem duty:

united states.

Japan admitted free 180,006 24
Japan, admitted under specific duty 246,033 45
Japan, admitted under ad valorem, 5 per cent 2,264,219 67
Japan, admitted under other duties not stated 35,925 32
Total imports 2,726,184 68
Exported from Japan to the United States: Yen.
United States, admitted free 14,848,013 66
United States, imported ad valorem 502,074 16
United States, imported, duty not stated 263,780 88
Total export to United States 15,613,868 70

great britain.

Japan, imported under specific duty 9,161,615 53
Japan, imported free of duty 178,228 00
Japan, imported ad valorem, 5 per cent 3,075,578 00
Total imports 12,415,421 53


Japan, imported under specific duty 952,881 00
Japan, imported under ad valorem, 5 per cent 693,529 72
Japan, admitted free 19,242 00
Total 1,665,652 72


Japan, imported under specific duty 884,760 00
Japan, admitted free 4,065 00
Japan, admitted ad valorem, 5 per cent 441,041 27
Japan, total imports 1,329,866 27

From the foregoing tables, as well as from the annual report of 1884, it will be observed:

That the total exports and imports in value between Japan and the United States for 1885 exhibits the remarkable increase over 1884 of 4,527,039 yen.
Exhibits an increase of imports to the United States from Japan, in 1885 over 1884, in value of 4,339,383 yen.
Also shows an increase of exports from United States to Japan, in 1885 over 1884, of 197,657 yen.
The foregoing statement, while exhibiting a gratifying and healthful condition of our trade relations, also discloses the fact, not so healthful or gratifying, that the balance of trade is against the United States to the amount of 12,887,684 yen.
The balance of trade against the United States for 1885, in excess of 1884, is 4,142,629 yen. It will be observed, therefore, that the United States, as attested by these official figures, is the most valuable customer which Japan has among all the treaty powers, buying and consuming of Japanese products nearly one-half in value of all her exports to foreign nations and that the total trade value of the imports and exports of the two nations equals about one fourth of Japan’s commerce with all the other nations of the earth combined. The desire to lessen this balance of trade does not involve the necessity of diminishing American imports from Japan, but it does involve the very natural wish and expectation that the imports of Japan from the United States should correspondingly increase with the value of our imports from Japan.

It is not my purpose in this connection to discuss why this trade has not been more evenly balanced heretofore, or how that result might be attained hereafter, as it could be beyond any doubt. The fault is not with our Government, whose liberal policy has been, and is now, to admit duty free through our custom-houses over fourteen millions of the fifteen millions of imports to the United States from Japan. It is not chargeable to the want of good neighborhood and the most cordial relations between our respective peoples. It cannot be chargeable to the Government of Japan, certainly in any invidious desire to court the favors of European powers for political reasons, by encouraging a larger import trade from some other nations than from the United States, which is notably the fact as to England and relatively as to Germany and France. It is not with the Government that we find fault; rather is it not attributable to the supineness of our American merchants and manufacturers both of cotton and woolen and iron and steel, and to the sad decadence, of the American merchant marine, once the pride of the Republic, which leaves the ocean highways of commerce to the ships ok other nations to bear American products to the world’s markets? I am informed by American merchants and manufacturers, especially of iron and steel, locomotives, all railroad fixtures, stationary engines, and even iron rails, &c., that these goods can be delivered today in China and Japan as cheap, and they declare cheaper, than the same class of goods can be delivered by British or German or any European manufacturers. The best evidence of the good faith of the ability of our countrymen to do so is the fact that they are here now, by their agents, to offer to this Government, as they have done (who controls the railways and telegraphs and all transportation systems), to enter into fair and open competitive bidding for such Government contracts. This is, at last, a movement in the right direction, and it will test certainly these propositions, first, whether American manufacturers can succeed by such fair competition in Japan, and, second, whether the Government, in vindication of an impartial justice, will encourage a larger import trade by Japan from the United States on condition of the offer of as good or better bargains as are offered by other peoples who sell largely to but buy lightly and warily from Japan. The trade of Japan and England is a subject of interest to all Americans especially. It will be observed, as I once before in forwarding a series [Page 564] of these monthly trade returns had the honor to indicate, that both the exports and imports of Great Britain and Japan have largely decreased in recent years. Nevertheless, while the total exports and imports of 1885 amount to only 14,827,400 yen, the balance of trade is held with iron hand by England against Japan, by an excess of her imports over exports from Japan of 10,003,442 yen. The United States buys from Japan annually over fifteen millions, while England buys only a little over two millions, it will be noted with surprise, too, that while Great Britain boasts of being the birthplace of “free trade” as recognized by political economists, it is a fact that the United States admits free of all duties more Japanese exports through her ports than the entire sum total of both the exports and imports of Japan and England. France occupies a similar relation to the trade of Japan to that of our country. The balance of trade is against France by 5,406,045 yen; while Germany, though, compared with the United States and Great Britain and France, holding a small and comparatively insignificant portion of the trade of Japan, still maintains an excess of her imports to Japan over Japan’s exports to Germany of 1,201,71.9 yen. She buys of Japan 463,933 yen, but sells to that country 1,665,652 yen. Notwithstanding all this stern “logic of facts and figures,” our American products of the field and loom, of our iron, and cotton, and woolen mills, &c., outside of petroleum, oils (which could not be had anywhere else on earth heretofore), has seen the gold and silver of Japan going to England and Germany principally for a market, and the patronage incident to great public works of internal improvements, committed mostly to European manufacturers, iron men, and engineers! As before intimated, I will be permitted to say that the cause of all this want of reciprocity of trade has been found at the doors of our own people, who have never, until recently, scarcely made an endeavor to create an export trade to the East, and especially to Japan. By such means as need not be told to the intelligent and enterprising merchants and manufacturers of the United States, such larger export trade can be attained.

The statistics I have the honor to forward to your Department constitute a fruitful theme for speculation and useful discussion.

In the light of present developments, and counting largely on the traditional pluck and energy of the American character as well as for its courage and far-seeing sagacity when once aroused to action, I venture to predict a yet more healthful growth of the already valuable trade between Japan and the United States.

I have, &c.,