Ambassador Wright to the Secretary of State.

No. 48.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith inclosed two newspaper clippings in duplicate, taken from the Japan Times of August 8 and 14, in relation to the issuance for M. Plangon of an exequatur as Russian consul-general at Seoul.

The conflict between the Russian and Japanese Governments in regard to the form of M. Plancon’s commission and the source of issuance of the exequatur has been settled by Russia’s yielding to Japan’s demand for the suppression in the one of the name of the Emperor of Korea, and that the request for the other be made to the Japanese Government.

I have, etc.,

Luke E. Wright.
[Page 1045]

[Inclosure 1.]

satisfactory solution.

We reported some time ago that M. Plangon, the new Russian consul-general at Seoul, in proceeding to his post, had decided to yield to the Japanese proposal that, in view of the transfer of the control of the Korean diplomatic and consular affairs to the hands of our authorities, he should go to Seoul with the sanction of the Tokyo Government to exercise his duties in Korea. It was then yet alleged, however, that despite the Russian acknowledgment of our position in Korea as above, there still existed some point of disagreement between the Government in Tokyo and that in St. Petersburg with regard to the question relating to the credentials with which M. Plangon was going to Seoul. Russia insisted on her peculiar way of addressing the credentials given her consular agent to the sovereign of the state to which the agent was appointed, quite contrary to the general rules prevailing among the powers in this connection. Thus, inasmuch as the credentials carried by M. Plangon were addressed to the Korean Emperor, who had intrusted to the hands of the Imperial Government the entire control of the diplomatic and consular affairs in the peninsula, our authorities were unable to give M. Plangon sanction to exercise his new duties there. Now, it is stated that the Russian Government has signified its consent to change the form of the credentials, in accordance with the ordinary usage and satisfactory to our Government. No doubt that this change of attitude on the part of the St. Petersburg authorities was due to the efforts of M. Iswdlsky, the new Russian foreign minister. In view of the satisfactory turn of the affair, and in consideration of the fact that the Russian Government willingly recognized the position of Mr. Motono as our minister in St. Petersburg prior to his presentation of his credentials, the Imperial Government is said to have given M. Plangon sanction to stay at Seoul as Russian consul-general, notwithstanding his inability as yet to present his credentials in the new form. This satisfactory solution of the much-talked-of question is a welcome sign for the promotion of the friendly relations between the two countries.

[Inclosure 2.]

statement by the residency-general.

In connection with the Plangon affair, the amicable settlement of which was reported by us some days ago, the residency-general in Korea issued, on the 9th instant, a statement reviewing the affair substantially as follows:

The Japanese Government, in consideration of the fact that, by virtue of the Japan-Korea agreement of November, last year, it has been intrusted with the control of the diplomatic and consular affairs in Korea, believes that there is no room for doubt that the foreign consuls in Korea should present their credentials to the Japanese Government and receive from it sanction to exercise their duties, in accordance with the ordinary rules of international law Yet Russia had a different view, and negotiations between the two countries ensued, in Tokyo between Viscount Hayashi, our minister of foreign affairs, and M. Bakhmetieff, Russian minister, and in St. Petersburg between Count Lamsdorff, the Russian foreign minister, afterwards succeeded by M. Iswolsky, and Mr. Motono, our minister to Russia, with regard to the questions relating to the right of giving sanction to foreign consuls and the form of credentials carried by them. After repeated interviews and exchanges of official communications, the Russian Government finally acknowledged Japan’s right of controlling diplomatic and consular affairs in Korea, and consented to our proposal that the Russian consul in Korea should obtain from the Japanese Government sanction to exercise his functions. Thus the affair was brought to an amicable settlement. But M. Plangon was unable to present at once to our Government his new credentials, owing to their nonarrival as yet, and the Imperial Government, in compliance with the request of the Russian Government, consented to grant M. Plangon a provisional sanction pending the [Page 1046] arrival of the formal credentials in the new form. Thereupon M. Plangon, taking steamer from Kobe, came to Seoul. The granting of the provisional sanction is a matter of courtesy on the part of the Japanese Government, and it goes without saying that it can be revoked at any time. The new credentials of M. Plangon will, it is expected, arrive within four weeks.

It may be added that the right of the Japanese Government to give sanction to foreign consuls in Korea is fully recognized by the powers. The British and Chinese consuls in Seoul have also received the sanction from our Government.