Mr. Buck to Mr. Hay.

No. 532.]

Sir: Referring to my dispatch No. 526, of date the 14th ultimo, concerning the registration of immovables of United States citizens on property held under leases in perpetuity in the former foreign settlements in Japan for protection against third parties, especially the limitation in time for the registration of such immovables under ordinance No. 458, I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy of a note to the Japanese minister for foreign affairs upon that subject.

The note was written to remind the minister of our interviews in which I had expressed doubt whether, if a case in point should be brought before the courts, they would sustain in their rulings the construction put upon the clause apparently limiting the time to the 31st of December last, as given in his note to the British minister, and to put on record a reservation in my acceptance of the construction he had given the ordinance.

While I do not anticipate any case to arise in which, in consequence of fraud, a claim to any building will be set up by a third party, yet possibly one might arise, bringing in question whether owners of buildings not registered before January 1 of this year might not have lost priority of title against some claimant holding a subsequent title through fraud of the original owner.

I have, etc.,

A. E. Buck.

Mr. Buck to Mr. Kato.

Sir: Referring to my previous conversations with yourself and my correspondence with your excellency’s predecessor on the subject of the property rights held by citizens of the United States in the former foreign settlements under titles of perpetual lease, as guaranteed by treaty, and particularly in respect to the provisions of that clause of Article I of imperial ordinance No. 458, of December 28, 1899, which stated, “If a right in an immovable other than that mentioned under paragraph 1, which might be set up against third persons, has been duly acquired by an alien or a foreign juridical person before the time fixed in imperial ordinance No. 251, of the thirty-second year of Meiji, but has not been registered before that time, it can not be set up against third persons unless it is registered before the 31st of December, 1900,” I have the honor to state that, by courtesy of my colleague, the minister of Great Britain, I am informed that by a note of your excellency to him—as I have before been informed by your excellency personally—the interpretation put by the Imperial Government upon the paragraph of the ordinance above cited is to [Page 345]the effect that the limit of time for the registration of the rights in question is not thereby absolutely determined by the first day of this year, but that the said rights may be registered” at any time, the only question involved being simply that if they are registered on or after January 1 of this year the order of preferential rights in respect thereto will follow the order of registration and not the order of their establishment; and that such being the construction put upon the ordinance by the Imperial Government they have unavoidably been compelled to come to the conclusion that there is no reason for extending the limit of time fixed by the above ordinance for the registration of such rights, and that they are therefore unable to consider the question of such extension.

While accepting provisionally the construction put upon the ordinance in question, I nevertheless deem it proper to make reservation in behalf of citizens of the United States respecting the rights involved, should, perchance, at any time a different construction be put upon the said ordinance by a Japanese court of law.

I avail, etc.,

A. E. Buck.