Mr. Coombs to Mr. Foster.

No. 70.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith final correspondence pertaining to the rescue of the crew of the merchant vessel North American, showing the disposition of the money and the names of those persons ascertained to have been most conspicuous for their services in the rescue.

Considering the wise manner of investing the gift and the friendly motive evidenced by making it an enduring monument to the recognition and appreciation of the people of the United States, I have the honor to suggest that should Congress appropriate a sum to be added to this it would more substantially contribute to the future welfare of these people, as well as to carry out their motives, and more permanently serve as an incentive in the future for the Japanese along the coast, and especially during that part of the season when frequent and violent storms render navigation hazardous, to aid those American seamen who by chance are driven upon these shores.

I have, etc,

Frank L. Coombs.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 70—Translation.]

Mr. Mutsu Munemitsu to Mr. Coombs.

Sir: In my note of November 22 last I had the honor to acquaint your excellency with the action taken, with a view to determine the mode of applying the money granted by the United States Government to the villagers of Shiwaki-ura, Tokushima prefecture in recognition of their services in rescuing the crew of the American [Page 390]vessel North American, which was wrecked in July last, and also to ascertain the names of those villagers most conspicuous for their services on that occasion.

I am now in receipt of a report from the governor of Tokushima Prefecture to the effect that, having held a consultation in accordance with my instructions with the chief of the village and the villagers concerned in the rescue as to the mode of applying the money, they submitted the proposal, as shown in the report, copy of which is inclosed, that the money, instead of being distributed among the villagers concerned, should be preserved and invested as a fund to purchase fishing boats and implements for all the villagers, in order to perpetuate the good will shown by the United States Government, and that the governor approved this proposal and directed the necessary steps to be taken in carrying it out.

The inclosed report also contains the full particulars as to those most conspicuous for the services rendered in connection with the rescue.

In communicating to your excellency the above information I beg to express, on behalf of the Imperial Government and the persons concerned the most sincere thanks for the goodwill manifested by the United States Government, and to request that you will convey to your Government the expression of the thanks.

I avail, etc.,

Mutsu Munemitsu,
Minister for Foreign Affairs.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 70—Translation.]

Report on the mode of applying the money granted for the rescue of the crew of the wrecked American vessel, and a list of the persons most conspicuous for their services on the occasion.

His Excellency Seki Yoshiomi,
Governor of Tokushima Prefecture:

Sir: Having consulted with the chief of the village of Shiwaki-ura, commune of Nikita, in this district, in accordance with your instruction No. 1456, relative to the inquiry into the mode of distributing among the villagers the sum of $350 in United States gold coin, granted through the United States minister in Japan in recognition of their services in rescuing the crew of the North American, an American merchant vessel which drifted to the coast of the said village, we beg to state that in regard to the mode of applying the money it is proposed, as shown in the annexed document, to enter into an agreement making the money a common property of the village of Shiwakiura.

The annexed document also gives information as to the persons most conspicuous for their services.

We are, your most obedient servants,

  • Matsuoka Hitsuju,
    Chief of Unbe District, Tokushima Prefecture.
  • Takata Naoye,
    Police Inspector, Chief of the Unbe Police Station.

Mode of applying the money granted in recognition of services.

While it may appear proper that the money granted by the U. S. Government should be distributed among the persons concerned in the rescue to assist them in the purchase of fishing boats or implements, or other necessary articles for their individual occupations, it would be a matter of regret that in that case the good will of the U. S. Government will be remembered no longer than these implements and articles continue in use, and, therefore, it is desirable that the money, instead of being distributed among the persons concerned should be preserved and invested as a fund for the purchase of fishing boats and implements for the villagers of Shiwaki-ura in general, so as to perpetuate the memory of the good will of the U. S. Government, and that the fund should be under the control of the chief of the village in order to prevent its misapplication.

Persons most conspicuous for their services in the rescue:

Matsuda Masutaro Heimiu, of the village of Shiwakiura, commune of Mikita, Unbe district; Matsuda Kankichi, do.; Hamamoto Kanetaro, do.

When the wrecked vessel in drifting to the coast of Shiwaki-ura could not reach the shore on account of its bottom touching a sunken rock, a plank fastened to a [Page 391]rope was thrown from the vessel in the direction of the shore, hut the violent waves, breaking against the rocks, failed to carry the rope to the shore, and at this juncture the 3 men above named jumped into the sea, at peril of their own lives, and took hold of the rope. This was the first and most effectual action in carrying out the work of rescuing the lives of 22 men.

Taniwaki Isokichi and Oshikami Matsuzo, from the same village as the foregoing.

These men, at the risk of their own lives, rescued a man named Hota Hachiku, who fell into the sea while pulling the rope in landing the crew of the vessel, and was in imminent danger of being drowned, owing to the violence of the waves.

Yoshida Shimajiro and Matsumoto Zenzaburo, from the same village as the foregoing.

These 2 men, who first observed the wreck, reported the fact to an official of the village, and also brought it to the notice of the villagers, and they were the first to appear at the place of the accident, where they spared no effort in rescuing the crew.

Murakami Shimpei, chief of the village of Mikita; Miyawaki Toyotaro, clerk of the village office.

On the receipt of the report above referred to Miyawaki Toyotaro at once conveyed the information to the chief of the village, and then went to the place of the accident, where he exerted himself in directing the action of the men engaged in the rescue of the crew. Murakami Shimpei, on receipt of the clerk’s report, went at once to the place of the accident and took part in the rescue of the crew by directing and supervising the action of the clerk and villagers. He supplied the survivors with clothes and food, and otherwise used every attention, which gave them a great satisfaction.

[Inclosure 3 in No. 70.]

Mr. Coombs to Mr. Mutsu Munemitsu.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your excellency’s note No. 46, of date the 23d instant, transmitting a communication from the governor of Tokushima Prefecture and his report showing the disposition of the gift of the United States to the rescuers of the crew of the merchant vessel North American and containing the names of those persons most conspicuous in the rescue. It affords me much pleasure in noting the manner of the investment of the money given by the United States and of the motive in having it made a perpetuity in order that it shall remain as an evidence of the gratitude of my Government toward those who had been instrumental in saving the lives and protecting the property of American citizens.

The Government of the United States will always feel an interest in seeing this fund devoted to a purpose which will insure the most good to the beneficiaries and the manner of its distribution will, undoubtedly, meet with the appreciation of the people of the United States.

I have the honor to request of your excellency that these expressions of appreciation be conveyed to the governor of Tokushima Prefecture and, through him, to the local authorities and people of Shiwakiura.

I avail, etc.,

Frank L. Coombs.