Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, With the Annual Message of the President Transmitted to Congress December 6, 1904
Mr. McCormick to Mr. Hay.
St. Petersburg, February 10, 1904.
Sir: I have the honor to transmit to you herewith a translation of a communication published in yesterday’s Official Messenger, relating to the situation in the Far East.
I have, etc.,
a government communication.
During the past year the Tokyo cabinet, under the pretense of establishing equality (equilibrium) and a better order of things on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, applied to the Imperial Government with the proposal of revising the existing treaties upon Korean affairs, to which Russia expressed consent.
With imperial sanction, in view of the establishment at the time of a viceroyalty in the Far East, the formation of a project of a new treaty with Japan was placed under the management of Lieutenant-General Alexieff with the collaboration of the Russian minister in Tokyo, whose duty it was to conduct negotiations with the Japanese Government.
Notwithstanding the fact that in August last friendly views were exchanged on the subject between the two Governments, as is known, Japanese social circles and local, as well as the foreign press of every sort (bcirrecku), tried to arouse warlike feeling among the Japanese and to instill the Government to an armed struggle with Russia.
Under the influence of these circumstances the Tokyo cabinet became more and more exacting in its negotiations, taking at the same time the most extreme measures to prepare the country for war.
Of course these circumstances combined could not disturb the peace of Russia, but obliged her on her part to make corresponding military-naval preparations. Nevertheless, animated with the earnest desire to maintain peace in the Far East as far as her unquestionable rights and interests permitted, Russia with careful consideration accepted the declarations of the Tokyo Government and expressed her readiness to recognize the preponderant commercial-economic situation of Japan on the Korean peninsula, including the resort to armed forces in case of trouble in the country.
At the same time, however, strictly keeping to the basis of her original policy with regard to Korea, namely, Korea’s independence and territorial integrity, which were guaranteed by preceding treaties with Japan, as well as in the treaties with other powers, Russia could but demand—
- The mutual and absolute guaranty of the first-named stipulation;
- The obligation not to make use of any point on Korean territory for strategetical purposes, as any infringement of this clause on the part of any power whatsoever would be contrary to the principal of the independence of Korea, and, finally,
- The maintenance of full freedom to navigate through the Gulf of Korea.
The project elaborated in this sense did not, however, receive the assent of the Japanese Government, which in its last proposals not only declined to accept such conditions, which appeared as a guaranty of the independence of Korea, but at the same time began to demand the inclusion in the said project of questions pertaining to Manchuria.
Such interference on the part of Japan could not, of course, be permitted.
The question of the situation of Russia in Manchuria belongs first of all to China itself, and secondly to all the powers having commercial interests with the Celestial Empire; in consequence of this the Imperial Government most decidedly did not see fit to include in a separate treaty with Japan on Korean affairs any stipulation whatever referring to the districts occupied by Russian forces.
The Imperial Government at the same time does not refuse to recognize, during the time of the military occupation of Manchuria, the Chinese authorities as supreme power in these districts, as well as the privileges which the powers have obtained through treaties concluded by them with China, with regard to which proper declarations were made to the foreign cabinets.
In view of this the Imperial Government, in instructing its representative in Tokyo to transmit its reply to the last Japanese proposal, had a right to expect that the Tokyo cabinet would take into consideration the importance of the above formulated views and would value the desire of Russia to arrive at a peaceful understanding with Japan.
The Japanese Government nevertheless, without waiting for any reply, has decided to break off negotiations and to discontinue diplomatic relations with Russia.[Page 711]
Putting upon Japan all the responsibility for the consequences which may ensue from such a manner of action, the Imperial Government will await the development of events, and upon the first necessity it will take decisive measures for the defense of its rights and interests in the Far East.