Chargé Wilson to the Secretary of State.

No. 372.]

Sir: When I had the honor to report to you on November 22 the results of this legation’s efforts to gain permission for Americans to investigate their properties temporarily abandoned at Port Arthur and Dalny at the outbreak of the war, there was ample ground for the expectation that the interested parties would be allowed to visit those places early in December.

[Page 1076]

At an interview which I had at that time with the vice-minister for war, he implied that an occasional traveler might be permitted to visit Port Arthur, but that the confusion there was still too great to admit of the coming of business men to look after their affairs. General Ishimoto finally gave permission, under date of November 25, for Mr. Dunn, the agent of the American Trading Company, to visit Port Arthur from December 1, but only in the quality of an ordinary traveler. In granting this permit the war office stipulated that no others of the sort would be allowed. Mr. Dunn’s name was selected by me for the reason that his company’s application was the one filed earliest at the legation. While the permit did not carry with it facilities for investigation, yet the opportunity for their agent at least to look over the ground was much valued by the American Trading Company.

Since the beginning of December the legation has frequently inquired as to when the Americans interested might proceed to Port Arthur, but on each occasion the date has been postponed, and the need of time for making regulations and arrangements has been put forward. On the 21st ultimo I represented the whole matter to Count Katsura, premier and acting minister for foreign affairs, with similar results. The same day I received an informal letter from the ministry of war asking for still more time, and wherein it was stated that a committee to take charge of the abandoned properties was about to be formed under the commanding general of the occupied districts, and that the owners of property would be allowed to go to Port Arthur before long.

No change having taken place in the situation, I verbally brought the matter to the attention of Mr. Kato on the 11th instant, and on the 13th instant addressed to his excellency a note on the subject, wherein the desired permits were specifically requested for Messrs. Nielson (representing Clarkson & Co.), Friede, and Toritch. I have the honor to inclose a copy of the above-mentioned note. Accompanying it will be found an informal memorandum of the communications on the question under discussion which passed between the legation and different officials of the Japanese Government during the past half year.

On the 17th instant I received an informal note from the minister for foreign affairs, a copy of which is herewith, whereby I was informed that it had been decided to give permission to visit Port Arthur and Dalny and that the restrictions would shortly be removed. The following morning I called at the foreign office and obtained these particulars: The military commander of the Kwantung would issue the new regulations in a day or two; he would then telegraph the war department, who would thereupon be ready to grant the long-sought permits, upon application made through the foreign office. The official whom I saw was of opinion that the permits would now be available within four days, and I am happy to be able to report that I am quite confident that the Americans interested may go to Port Arthur and Dalny next week.

I have, etc.,

Huntington Wilson.
[Page 1077]
[Inclosure No. 1.]

Chargé Wilson to the Minister for Foreign Affairs .

No. 204.]

Monsieur le Ministre: I have the honor to request that at the earliest possible convenience of the Imperial Japanese Government permission may be granted Mr. C. Nielson, representing the American firm of Clarkson & Co., Mr. M. S. Friede, and Mr. W. Toritch, American merchants, to visit Port Arthur and Dalny for the purpose of personally examining their properties left at those places at the outbreak of the war.

As I had the honor to point out to your excellency day before yesterday, there is great danger that by every day’s postponement of such permission these gentlemen will be placed in a less favorable position for the ultimate recovery of their property or its value. Moreover, it is evident that they are suffering injury by being deprived during so long a time of the use of their property and by the tying up of their affairs in an indeterminate state which they are prevented from investigating. It will thus be seen that very considerable damage is being done American merchants.

It is beyond doubt that at the present extremely late date no plea of military necessity would be seriously advanced as a reason for further withholding the permission sought, and I most respectfully express to your excellency my disappointment that consideration for the American property rights involved should seem to weigh so lightly in the scale against what can now, so far as I know, be no more than the bare convenience of routine arrangements by the military authorities—arrangements for the completion of which many months have already been available.

So long ago as November 21, General Ishimoto, vice-minister for war, answered my inquiries by asking that we wait a little longer—about two weeks longer he thought. Naturally, much importance was attached by this legation to an estimate emanating from such a quarter, and my Government, as well as the interested parties, was accordingly given to understand that permission to visit Port Arthur might be expected early in the month of December. Inevitably, the long additional delay has caused surprise and disappointment.

I am informed that the continued delay is due to a change in the arrangements decided upon by the ministry of war. It is difficult, however, for a civilian to understand what embarrassment could result if a few men, whose material interests are at stake, were allowed to go into Port Arthur before the perfection of the last details of such arrangements.

In order that your excellency may see how continuously and since how many months this legation has been seeking the permission in question, and how much patience has been necessary on the part of those interested, I beg leave to hand you herewith an informal memorandum summarizing the communications between officials of your excellency’s Government and this legation during the past half year. The earlier correspondence in regard to American property at Port Arthur was recapitulated in the legation’s memorandum dated July 15.

If your excellency will permit me to repeat what I had the honor to say to you on the 11th instant, let me once more earnestly request that your excellency spare no effort to have the desired permits for the above-mentioned gentlemen to visit Port Arthur and Dalny issued with the least possible delay.

I embrace this opportunity to renew to your excellency, etc.

Huntington Wilson.

memorandum in relation to the property of certain american citizens at port arthur.

August 3, 1905.—Mr. Griscom called upon Mr. Chinda and handed him a memorandum summarizing the correspondence between this legation and the minister for foreign affairs in relation to the protection of the property of American citizens at Port Arthur and their desire to visit the city to look into the condition of their affairs. Mr. Chinda promised that he would take up the question with the military authorities.

[Page 1078]

October 5, 1905.—Mr. Griscom asked Mr. Chinda if it were then permissible for Americans owning property at Port Arthur to go there. Mr. Chinda said the military authorities still objected, and suggested that the question be deferred until after the ratification of the treaty of peace, when he would take it up with the military authorities.

October 24, 1905.—Mr. Griscom spoke again on the subject to Mr. Chinda, who replied that the foreign office could see no objection to the merchant’s entering Port Arthur, but that the military authorities still refused permission. He added that the matter would be brought up again to see if the military authorities could not be induced to change their views.

November 1, 1905.—Mr. Griscom again asked permission for Americans owning property at Port Arthur to go there to investigate. Mr. Chinda said that the military authorities still objected. Mr. Griscom said that he could see no possible ground for objection in time of peace. Mr. Griscom mentioned that there was a great deal of property at stake and hoped that permission would be granted at the earliest possible moment. Mr. Chinda promised to take the matter up with the military authorities and let Mr. Griscom know the result.

November 3, 1905.—General Ishimoto and General Murata intimated to Mr. Wilson that permission might be given to American travelers to visit Dalny and Port Arthur.

November 21, 1905.—Mr. Wiison called upon General Ishimoto and reminded him of the above matter, asking that permission be given the three or four Americans chiefly interested to investigate the condition of their properties. General Ishimoto said that travelers for curiosity’s sake would be permitted to go, but begged Mr. Wilson to wait a little longer as to the merchants, saying, in effect, that the military authorities were preparing regulations, etc., and that after “two weeks or so” matters would be in such condition as to permit the entry of merchants. Mr. Wilson suggested that the merchants might be permitted to go there at once as tourists in order to be on the ground at the moment of the removal of restrictions, since the two weeks to elapse before their removal would be consumed in transmitting the news of such permission to the merchants and their transit to Port Arthur.

November 24, 1905.—Mr. Laughlin called on Major Yoshida in regard to the desire of certain American travelers to visit Port Arthur and Dalny and reminded him of General Ishimoto’s intimation to Mr. Wilson that arrangements for unrestricted travel would be completed in about two weeks from November 21. Major Yoshida said that the permission requested November 21 for Mr. W. E. Dunn to visit Port Arthur and Dalny would be granted and that “in a very short time” travel would be generally unrestricted.

November 25, 1905.—Mr. Wilson spoke to Mr. Ishii and Mr. Matsui at the foreign office on this question, telling them of General Ishimoto’s assurance that American business men having property at Port Arthur or Dalny would be able to visit those places in about two weeks from November 21. Mr. Matsui said he had been present at the recent meeting of war office general staff and Port Arthur officers, when it had been agreed upon that foreign merchants were to be allowed to enter those ports. It remained for the completed arrangements to be approved, but it was implied that the delay would not be long.

December 11, 1905.—Mr. Wilson saw Mr. Chinda, who promised to give directions for a communication on the subject to the war office.

December 14, 1905.—Mr. Wilson saw Mr. Matsui, who promised that the war office should be again urged on the subject.

December 19, 1905.—Mr. Wilson saw Major Yoshida at the war office. He promised to communicate his remarks to General Terauchi and General Ishimoto, who were absent, and to let him know the results.

December 21, 1905.—Mr. Wilson had an interview with Count Katsura, who promised to speak about the matter to General Terauchi and have Mr. Chinda give an answer.

December 21, 1905.—Major Yoshida replied in writing to Mr. Wilson’s representations made on December 19, to the effect that the towners of property at Port Arthur would be allowed to go there before long.

January 11, 1906.—Mr. Wilson requested his excellency Mr. Kato kindly to bring this subject again to the attention of the military authorities.

[Page 1079]
[Inclosure No. 2.—Translation.]

The Minister for Foreign Affairs to Chargé Wilson .

Sir: Referring to the applications for the permission to visit Port Arthur, Dalny, etc., by the foreigners who left their private properties in those places, or by their representatives, for the purpose of settling or carrying them away, we have hitherto not granted any application for military and other reasons. The restriction is, however, shortly to be removed, and it has been unofficially decided to give permission to visit those places. I write in haste this note to your excellency, as I am informed by the authorities concerned that the department of war is soon to give notice to that effect.

I have, etc.,

Minister for Foreign Affairs.