Mr. Dun to Mr. Gresham.
Tokyo, Japan , December 1, 1893 .
Sir: On the 24th ultimo, the day following the receipt of your telegraphic instruction dated November 22, 1893, I sought an interview with Mr. Mutsu, His Imperial Japanese Majesty’s minister for foreign affairs.
Owing to the illness of Mr. Mutsu, I was received by Mr. Tadasu Hayashi, vice-minister of foreign affairs, to whom I communicated the reading of your telegram and expressed the hope that Japan, in the spirit of friendship that has always governed the relations between the two countries, would meet the wishes of my Government in respect of requiring the observance by vessels flying the Japanese flag of the regulations proposed by the Paris Tribunal.
I said to Mr. Hayashi that this action on the part of Japan would not in my opinion, weaken her claim for protection for her own seal fisheries; that the regulations of the Paris Tribunal could not be extended to the waters near the Japanese islands except by special arrangements between Japan and foreign powers; that, although I was not authorized to say what position my Government would take in the premises I felt confident that the United States was favorably disposed to meet Japan’s wishes in regard to reasonable proposals for the protection of her seal fisheries; but that however well disposed the other great powers might be toward Japan’s proposals for the extension of the principle of protection to her seal fisheries, it would necessarily take time to complete the negotiations and determine upon a reasonable zone within which that principle should apply; that in the meantime the regulations of the Paris Tribunal of Arbitration had been announced to the world and it was the intention of the United States and Great Britain to put them into operation next season; that Japan was invited, as a matter of comity and good neighborhood, to adhere to those regulations in order that her flag might not be used to evade them.
I also pointed out to Mr. Hayashi that Japan had not yet submitted to the United States and Great Britain definite proposals for the protection of her seal fisheries; that no zone had been defined within which the taking of seal should be prohibited; that the Paris Tribunal having completed its labors, any arrangement that might hereafter be made for the protection of Japan’s seal fisheries must be separate and distinct from the finding of that body; and that such being the case, it appeared to me to be hardly in accord with Japan’s well-deserved [Page 136] reputation for fairness that she should make her adhesion to the regulations formulated by an international tribunal of arbitration, for the protection of an American interest, conditional upon the favorable reception by several foreign powers of her proposals not yet sufficiently matured to admit of definite consideration.
At the close of our first interview, Mr. Hayashi said he could not say what action his Government would take in the matter until he had consulted with Mr. Mutsu.
On the 26th ultimo Mr. Hayashi called at this legation and informed me that he was authorized by the minister for foreign affairs to say that the Japanese Government would do everything in its power to prevent the use of the Japanese flag by foreign sailing vessels to evade the regulations of the Paris Tribunal, but that it could not, pending present negotiations, issue an ordinance requiring bona fide Japanese vessels to observe them unless the proposals submitted to the United States and Great Britain for the protection of Japanese interests in the same direction were favorably entertained.
On the 27th ultimo I had the honor to convey to you the substance of this response from the Japanese Government in a telegram.
As a matter of fact, bona fide Japanese vessels have not heretofore been engaged in hunting fur seal beyond the immediate waters of the northern islands of Japan, and the fear of disastrous consequences will, doubtless, prevent this class of vessels extending their operations hereafter to waters where the regulations of the Paris Tribunal apply.
I have, etc.,