No. 67.
Mr. Bayard to Mr. Hubbard.

No. 210.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 452 of March 20, 1888, touching the subject of tonnage or other equivalent charges leviable on merchant, vessels plying between Japan and the United States, and to inclose, for your information, a copy of a letter from the Secretary of the Treasury of the 27th ultimo relative thereto. Mr. Fairchild’s letter covers a report to him upon the subject by the Commissioner of Navigation, who reviews the statements of the Japanese Government, and concludes that the fees levied by that Government on vessels of the United States “should be considered as equivalent to the tonnage tax levied in this country. The tax in Japan may therefore be considered as offsetting that in the United States, and no action should be taken to reduce the existing tax on vessels from Japan unless the Government of that country shall modify its laws favorably to American vessels.”

It will be further observed that the Secretary of the Treasury is “not at present aware of any good reason for dissenting from the opinions he (the Commissioner of Navigation) expresses in regard to the matter.”

I am, etc.,

T. F. Bayard.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 210.]

Mr. Fairchild to Mr. Bayard.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated the 25th instant, transmitting a copy of a dispatch from the United States minister at Tokio (No. 452), relative to an inquiry by the Japanese Government as to the status of Japanese vessels in the United States, and substantially suggesting a reduction of the tax in the United States on vessels from Japan.

A copy of a report upon the subject from the Commissioner of Navigation is inclosed herewith for your information. I am not at present aware of any good reason for dissenting from the opinions he expresses in regard to the matter.

Respectfully yours,

C. S. Fairchild.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 210.]

Mr. Morton to Mr. Fairchild.

Sir: I have the honor to report that this office has taken measures to ascertain the charges on American vessels in the ports of Japan equivalent to tonnage or lighthouse dues.

It is found that the sum of $15 is collected upon the entry of such vessels in those ports, and the sum of $7 upon clearance. While admitting that these charges are [Page 1943]imposed on all vessels, the Japanese Government proposes that action be taken by this Government, under section 11 of the act of June 19, 1884, to relieve vessels arriving in the United States from Japan, of tonnage dues.

In the letter from the Japanese minister for foreign affairs, which accompanied the communication of the Secretary of State, dated January 24, 1888, it was suggested that the charges in Japan were less than the dues ordinarily imposed in the United States, and the minister inquired what the future status of Japanese and other vessels proceeding to the United States would be, in respect to navigation charges. The matter was further referred to in the letter of the Japanese minister for foreign affairs accompanying the communication from the Secretary of State, dated the 25th instant, it being therein stated that no higher fees or dues, of any kind or nature, are imposed on vessels of the United States than are imposed on Japanese vessels, and that no higher import or export duties are levied on the cargoes of vessels of the United States than are levied on the cargoes of Japanese vessels.

Under the existing regulations, Japanese vessels are admitted into the ports of the United States on the same terms as the vessels of the United States, and no discrimination is made against any vessels by reason of their arrival in the United States from Japan. All such vessels, however, must enter in the United States subject to the maximum tax imposed by the section of law above cited, there being no proclamation of the President authorizing their admission at a less rate. In the opinion of this office, such a proclamation, under the existing circumstances, would be inadmissible, for the reason that the fees levied by the Japanese Government as aforesaid on vessels of the United States should be considered as equivalent to the tonnage tax levied in this country.

It is true, as mentioned by the Japanese minister, that the amount collected on any particular entry may be somewhat less than that imposed on the entry of a vessel of similar size in the United States. But while the tax is levied in this country not to exceed five times in any one year, this office has no information that the corresponding tax in Japan may not be levied an indefinite number of times within a year, that is to say, on each entry and clearance of any vessel, however often such entry and clearance may occur. The tax in Japan may therefore be considered as offsetting that in the United States, and no action should be taken to reduce the existing tax on vessels from Japan, unless the Government of that country shall modify its laws favorably to American vessels.

Respectfully, yours,

C. B. Morton,
Commissioner.