File No. 7423/16–20.

Chargé Dodge to the Secretary of State.

No. 406.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt on the 5th instant of your telegraphic instruction and to confirm my telegrams in reply of the 7th instant and the 10th instant.b

According to your instructions I have the honor to inclose to you herewith two copies of the imperial ordinance No. 352 of 1899, as well as of the home office notification No. 42, which contains the details relating to the application of the ordinance. The text of this ordinance and of the home office notification also accompanied Mr. Wright’s dispatch No. 295 of June 12 last.

Supplementing my dispatch No. 383 of the 21st ultimo upon this subject, the following are the facts which I have been able to ascertain regarding the employment of Chinese coolies in Japan:

In the southern island of Kyushu Chinese coolies were employed by the contractor building the so-called “Hisatsu “Railway from Kagoshima to Yatsushiro. About 30 were imported toward the end of last June, and toward the middle of August about 130 more were imported, all into Kagoshima prefecture. A few days after this latter batch arrived about 100 coolies were landed in the adjoining Kumamoto prefecture, when the contractor was immediately informed that as no permission for them had been requested, they must leave. The home office is said to have become aware for the first time about this date of the employment of the Chinese coolies in Kagoshima prefecture and made inquiries of the local governor, who is said never to have issued any permission for them under the ordinance. The [Page 767] reason for this omission has not been explained except for the statement that it had not been asked for. The contractor, however, was then immediately ordered to dismiss the coolies, and they have now been reshipped to China.

Only at one other place has the importation of Chinese coolies been attempted, and that was at Kobe, where another contractor brought a batch of some 50 coolies about the 1st instant for the purpose of employing them in railway construction in Nagano prefecture, northwest of Tokyo. These men were at first refused a landing on the ground that their filthy condition involved danger to the local population. Finally they were allowed to land, but I am advised by our consul at Kobe that he has been informed by the Chinese consulate at that place that when the contractor applied for the requisite permission for them he was told by the prefectural authorities that permission must be obtained from Nagano prefecture. He was, however, advised at the same time not to seek this permission, but to return the coolies to China, because it was thought that trouble might arise with the Japanese laborers on the railway. This advice was taken, and the contractor reshipped the coolies to China, the matter having cost him about 2,000 yen ($1,000).

It is noteworthy that most of the coolies imported came from Dalny and left there with the knowledge and permission of the authorities, and that the wages which it was agreed to pay them were very much lower than those paid to Japanese laborers.

In the course of a general conversation, I lately mentioned this matter to Viscount Hayashi, minister for foreign affairs, who replied in substance that the matter was of no interest; the coolies had been returned simply because permission had not been requested for them as required by the ordinance of 1899. Personally, he did not consider this ordinance of any utility, and he thought it would be abrogated soon. It had been made for the purpose of controlling the immigration of laborers of countries which did not possess freedom of residence in Japan by treaty. It did not apply to American laborers, since the United States possessed freedom of residence in Japan by treaty.

It will be observed that the two cases in which Chinese coolies were expelled from Kyushu are said to have been decided upon a technicality of the ordinance, namely, because permission had not been requested from the authorities before the coolies arrived. In the Kobe case also permission was, strictly speaking, not refused. The admission has therefore been avoided that the coolies were expelled because they were not considered desirable. Had the authorities not desired to be rid of these Chinese it is probable that some way would have been found for complying with the ordinance short of expelling them.

This matter has been the subject of many telegrams in the press, but of little editorial comment. Such comment as has appeared, however, has been from the side of financial interests and is rather favorable to importation in limited numbers. The Osaka Mainichi (article inclosed summarized in Japan Times of 1st instant) sees some advantage in the importation of Chinese coolies, but considers that their number must be limited. The ordinance, however, does not prohibit their importation as this article states. The Nippon (article [Page 768] annexed summarized by Japan Times) does not think that the importation of coolies will affect injuriously Japanese laborers owing to the great increase in the demand for labor caused by growing industrial activity, but insists on the strictest control being exercised over the immoral and insanitary propensities of the Chinese coolies. The Osaka Asahi of the 2d instant (translation annexed) has a well-considered article in which it states that in principle anything cheap and efficient is a boon to the general public, but that the influx of coolies must be carefully watched, or else it will prove a great blow to the Japanese laborers.

I have, etc.,

H. Percival Dodge.

File No. 7423/16–20.

[Inclosure 1.]

Law concerning mixed residence.

We, by the advice of our privy council, hereby give our sanction to matters relating to the residence and occupation, etc., of foreigners who either by virtue of treaty or of custom have no freedom of residence, and order the same to be promulgated.

[Imperial seal and sign manual.]

July 27, 1899.

Marquis Yamagata Aritimo, Minister President.

Marquis Saigo Yorimichi, Minister for Home Affairs.

Vicount Aoki Shuzo, Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Kiyoura Keigo, Minister for Justice.

Imperial ordinance No. 352.

Article I. Foreigners, even those who either by virtue of treaty or of custom have not freedom of residence, may hereafter reside, remove, carry on trade, and do other acts outside the former settlements and mixed residential districts. Provided that in the case of laborers they can not reside or carry on their business outside the former settlements or mixed residential districts unless under the special permission of the administrative authorities.

The classes of such laborers (referred to in the preceding paragraph) and details for the operation of this ordinance shall be determined by the minister for home affairs.

Art. II. Persons infringing the proviso of clause 1 of the foregoing article shall be sentenced to a fine not exceeding 100 yen.

supplementary rules.

Art. III. This law shall be put into operation on and after August 4, 1899.

Art. IV. Imperial ordinance No. 137a of August 4, 1894, shall be rescinded after the date on which this law comes into force.

Home office notification No. 42.

Details relating to the operation of imperial ordinance No. 352, 1899, concerning the residence and occupation of foreigners who have no freedom of residence either by virtue of treaty or customs are decided as follows:

Marquis Saigo Yorimichi, minister for home affairs.

  • Article I. The administrative authorities mentioned in Article I of imperial ordinance No. 352, 1899, shall be the head of such prefecture and of Hokaido.
  • Art. II. The laborers mentioned in Article I of the same law shall be men engaged in labor in agricultural, fishing, mining, civil engineering, architectural, manufacturing, transporting, carting, stevedoring, and other miscellaneous work. Provided that this rule is not applicable to those who are employed in household services, such as cooking and waiting.
  • Art. III. Permission given to laborers (to reside in the interior) may be canceled by a local governor when he deems it necessary to do so for the public welfare.
  1. Not printed.
  2. Refers to conditions upon which Chinese subjects might remain in Japan during Japan-China war.