Mr. Gresham to Mr. Bayard.

Sir: In a recent conversation with the Japanese minister I brought to his attention the regulations recommended by the Paris Tribunal of Arbitration, and inquired whether his Government was willing to take advantage of the opportunity afforded it to give its adhesion to them.

The minister said that Japan, having extensive coasts and islands facing the sealing areas, had an interest in the preservation of seal life, and that his Government would gladly come to an understanding with the United States, Great Britain, and Russia for protecting the seal in the Pacific Ocean north of the thirty-fifth degree of north latitude, between California and Japan.

Mr. Tateno expressed the opinion that his Government could not fairly be expected to give its adhesion to the regulations recommended by the arbitrators, and thus prohibit Japanese subjects from taking seal during the months of May, June, and July of each year “in the part of the Pacific Ocean, inclusive of the Bering Sea, which is situated to the north of the thirty-fifth degree of north latitude and eastward of the one hundred and eightieth degree of longitude from Greenwich, till it strikes the water boundary described in article 1 of the treaty of 1867 between the United States and Russia, and following that line up to Bering Straits,” while citizens of the United States and subjects of Great Britain, as well as subjects of all the other powers, are permitted to engage in pelagic sealing between these protected waters and Japan.

A glance at any map on an enlarged scale will enable you to more fully understand the minister’s position. He expects shortly to receive precise instructions on this point, looking to an international agreement [Page 122] between the four powers for the preservation, for their common benefit, of fur seals between the two continents and north of the thirty-fifth degree of north latitude.

At the conclusion of an interview with the, British ambassador on another subject, I informed him what the Japanese minister had said when asked if his Government would give its adhesion to the regulations recommended by the Tribunal of Arbitration. Sir Julian said he recognized the force of the Japanese position, and that the situation seemed to suggest the propriety of such a treaty between the four powers.

In view of the geographical position of Japan, and her interests in the fur-sealing industry, it is not surprising that that Government should assume this position. If the four chiefly interested powers should come to an understanding of the nature indicated, other commercial nations for obvious reasons would likely respect it.1

I send you for your information copy of a letter addressed to me, under date of October 10, 1893, by Mr. J. Stanley Brown, on the subject of fur sealing and the regulations recommended by the tribunal for the protection of the seal herd. Should you desire the presence of experts to aid you in your negotiations they will be sent to London.

I am, etc.,

W. Q. Gresham.
  1. Senate Ex. Doc. No. 67, Fifty-third Congress, third session, page 32.