Mr. Griscom to Mr. Hay.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s instructions, No. 37, of February 4, approving my note to the Japanese foreign office, dated December 17, 1903, on the subject of the wreck of the American ship Benjamin Sewall and the killing of several members of her crew by the savages of Botel Tobago.

In the same connection I beg to inclose herewith copy of a note from the minister of foreign affairs of date March 2, informing me in detail of the drastic measures taken to punish the offenders, as a result of his correspondence on the subject with the Formosan government. The minister expresses his extreme regret that the native tribes in question should have behaved so revoltingly and cruelly toward the shipwrecked Americans, and the hope that my Government will be satisfied with what the Japanese authorities have done in the matter.

I have, etc.,

Lloyd C. Griscom.
[Inclosure.]

Baron Komura to Mr. Griscom.

Mr. Minister: In reference to your excellency’s note, dated 17th December last, in which you called the attention of the Imperial Government to the wild actions of the natives of Botel Tobago Island, near Taiwan, toward the shipwrecked persons of the Benjamin Sewall, an American vessel, on October 5 last, when they were cast up on that island, and referring also to my note, under date of December 29, in which I informed you in reply that I have at once referred the matter to the Taiwan government, requesting them to make a full investigation [Page 445]on the subject, while assuring to inform you again immediately on receipt of definite information from the Taiwan government, I have now the honor to inform you of the result, after much correspondence with the said government.

The Taiwan government at length decided to dispatch a large force of police and attack the native islanders. The police started on January 27, at night, under high wind and heavy seas, and on arriving at Botel Tabago Island they divided into three parties for the purpose of assaulting the native tribes called “Iwakinu,” “Iwanumiruku,” and “Iratai.” Early next morning, before dawn, they besieged each tribe and searched for over eight hours and endeavored to find out actual perpetrators, with the result that 10 of the would be guilty ones, including the chiefs and important members of the tribes were captured and 13 houses burned down, swords, spears, and other dangerous weapons being seized.

Most of the islanders, however, on discovering the landing of the police had run away into the neighboring mountains with fright. The police pursued them and tried to capture them, but the efforts were in vain. Subsequently they have stationed eight policemen there for the time being, to keep further vigilance and to subdue other tribes, giving necessary instructions as to what they should do for the purpose. The 10 captives were transported to the Taito government and are kept there in custody.

It is my extreme regret that the native tribes in question should have behaved so revoltingly and so cruelly toward the shipwrecked persons of your country, and I can assure you that the Imperial Government have tried every means in their power to find out the actual perpetrators of such actions. But the islanders, being so obstinate and secretive would never disclose the secret of each other, and all efforts on the part of the authorities to cause them to confess who are actually guilty of such conduct proved fruitless. Under the circumstances the authorities could not do otherwise than to resort to such steps as were just mentioned in way of general punishment, and I believe the islanders will not dare to repeat such barbarity in future. So I sincerely hope that your excellency will be satisfied with what the Imperial Government have done in the matter, though I need hardly say that should the actual malefactors be caught at any future time they will be subjected to proper punishment under provisions of law.

I avail, etc.,

Baron Komura Jutaro.