Chargé Wilson to the Secretary of State.

No. 340.]

Sir: I have the honor to report herein the situation in regard to American property left at Port Arthur and Dalny at the beginning of the war.

Ever since the fall of Port Arthur this legation has been in correspondence with Americans seeking information as to their properties abandoned there and at Dalny at the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese war.

The legation has brought each case to the attention of the Japanese foreign office, transmitting at the same time lists of the properties of the claimants and all obtainable data. As a result, the war department has caused the military authorities at those towns to make investigations, and their report on each case has later been transmitted to us. Owing to the confusion said to have existed at Port Arthur and Dalny and to this cumbrous method of attempting to locate the properties the military reports have necessarily failed to throw any sufficient light upon most of these cases.

The legation has therefore frequently urged upon the Japanese Government the necessity of providing means for more direct and [Page 1075] effective investigation. It was suggested that representatives or a representative of the American claimants should be permitted to go to Port Arthur to investigate in cooperation with some Japanese official authorized for the purpose. But this the authorities have steadily declined to do on the grounds of military reasons, while reiterating their promise of the fullest protection to all private property found at Port Arthur and Dalny at the time of the Japanese occupation.

It would seem that there can be no cogent reasons why, at this late date, the authorities should still decline to allow the interested parties to go and investigate their affairs on the spot. In the hope of obtaining permission to do so for the Americans affected, I had yesterday a long interview with Lieutenant-General Ishimoto, vice-minister for war, who has this subject in hand, and strongly represented the matter to him. In reply he said they were engaged in making the regulations and arrangements necessary to the investigations, and begged that we wait a little longer. Finally he agreed to expedite the matter as much as possible, and, when asked how much longer he thought the delay would be, gave me to understand that the interested parties might go to Port Arthur and Dalny in a fortnight.

The Americans concerned whose statements this legation has handed to the foreign office are: The American Trading Company; Clarkson & Co., of Vladivostok, Port Arthur, Dalny, Harbin, Shanghai, etc.; M. S. Friede & Co., of Shanghai and New York; W. Toritch; Henry Marco; the Boston Steamship Company (in re cargo of Pleiades landed at Port Arthur); Beatrice Bavanda; H. B. Campbell; Alberta Black; the American depositors in the Port Arthur branch of the Russo-Chinese Bank.

Not without reason those interested are becoming impatient at being still refused permission for the direct investigation of their affairs. The president of the American Trading Company called here a few days ago to renew the request that his agent be allowed to proceed to Port Arthur, and similar requests reach the legation from Shanghai, where most of the interested parties are represented.

As a result of my interview at the war department, I have to-day informed the American Trading Company and telegraphically requested our consul-general at Shanghai to inform the interested Americans there that I expect to secure within a fortnight permission for them to visit Port Arthur and Dalny to investigate their properties abandoned there.

I have, etc.,

Huntington Wilson.