No. 64.
Mr. Hubbard to Mr. Bayard.

No. 417.]

Sir: Respectfully referring to my dispatch No. 383, in which I had the honor to inclose a copy of a note from the Japanese minister for foreign affairs in reply to my note to him transmitting a copy of your circular instruction of July 9, and accompanying inclosures, with an invitation to His Imperial Japanese Majesty’s Government to enter into an arrangement with the United States Government for a mutual abolition or reduction of tonnage dues, etc., on vessels plying between the ports of our respective countries, I now have the honor to submit to the Department of State a copy of a note just received from Count Ito on the same subject.

[Page 1939]

The accompanying note is in reply to a communication from me in which I inclosed a copy of your instruction No. 164, expressing regret at the action of the Japanese Government in declining to enter into said arrangement or convention as desired by the United States Government. The reply of Count Ito explains itself, and I only have the honor to respectfully invite your attention to his communication and especially to the closing paragraph of his note.

I have merely acknowledged the receipt of this reply, informing the Japanese Government that I would refer the same and the accompanying inquiry to my Government for its early consideration. I have also assured the minister for foreign affairs that a response thereto would be made, and might be anticipated, in accordance with that spirit of justice and good neighborhood which has always been manifested by our laws as well as by our treaties with all friendly powers.

I have, etc.,

Richard B. Hubbard.
[Inclosure in No. 417–Translation.]

Count Ito to Mr. Hubbard.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency’s note elated the 9th instant, transmitting a copy of a communication from the honorable the Secretary of State, in which he expresses regret at the nonacceptance by His Imperial Japanese Majesty’s Governmentof the invitation of the United States to enter into a convention for the abolition of tonnage or other equivalent charges on merchant vessels plying between Japan and the United States.

The nature of Mr. Bayard’s reply leads me to believe that he has slightly misapprehended the exact meaning of my former note on this subject.

You will recollect that Mr. Bayard, in his instruction of the 9th July last, a copy of which you forwarded to Count Inouye, intimated that the shipping acts under which his invitation was extended were sufficiently comprehensive to cover either a reduction or a complete abolition of tonnage and equivalent charges, and in the same connection ho added, “It is open to any foreign country in all or any of whose ports a less charge is made than that now imposed in the ports of the United States to obtain forthwith a reduction in the United States on vessels from such port or ports to an equality with that levied in the port or ports designated.”

In replying to the invitation of the Government of the United States, I pointed out the reasons which prevented His Imperial Japanese Majesty’s Government from entering into an arrangement having for its object the complete extinction of all customs charges in respect of merchant shipping. In order, however, that vessels proceeding from Japan to the United States might, to a limited extent at least, take advantage of the acts in question, I took occasion to assure you that no tonnage dues were levied in the ports of Japan on vessels of the United States, and that such vessels were, in the matter of fees, placed upon a national as well as the most favored nation footing.

The exemption of vessels of the United States from tonnage dues is already a matter of conventional understanding between our respective Governments, as will be seen by reference to article 6 of the trade regulations attached to the treaty of 1858. It was consequently more particularly in the direction of equivalent or other shipping charges that His Imperial Japanese Majesty’s Government were unable to accept the proposal of the United States.

Having in view the fact, however, that those charges are considerably less than the tonnage dues ordinarily imposed in the United States, I beg to inquire what the future status of Japanese and other vessels proceeding thither will be in respect of navigation charges.

I avail, etc.,

Count Hirobumi Ito.