The Consul at Taihoku (Ketcham) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 27.]
Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s instruction of November 18, 1932, file no. 894A.628/2, regarding Taiwan Government General Order no. 33 of July 2, 1932. I was instructed informally and discreetly to bring to the attention of the Government General of Taiwan the facts as to the actual northern boundary of the Philippine Islands, namely 21° 25′ North Latitude, and to request that General Order no. 33, July 2, 1932, be corrected so as to be applicable to waters south of 21° 25′ North Latitude.
Since the submission of despatch no. 46 of January 4, 1933,58 I have had several interviews with the Chief of the Bureau of Productive Industries, and officials of the Fisheries Division, which is a unit in this Bureau, and which exercises jurisdiction over fishing affairs.
While the Taiwan Government General officials were considerate, they were loathe to admit that the question of the Philippine boundary entered in any way into the original promulgation of General Order no. 33. It was stoutly maintained by them that the purpose of the Order was to prevent shipwrecks and international disputes.
It was pointed out by me that in defining 21° Latitude North as the limit south of which fishing vessels were required to take out licenses, a point very close to the actual Philippine boundary, the Order was apt to be understood as permitting indiscriminate fishing north of that latitude and, in fact, was interpreted by the Governor General of the Philippine Islands as referring to the northern limits of the Philippine Islands.
The Chief of the Bureau of Productive Industries, after considering the matter for several days, informed me that the Taiwan Government General declined to attempt to define the boundary of a foreign power, on the ground that they were lacking in authority, and the amendment of General Order no. 33 could not be considered, as no question of boundary was in mind when the Order was drafted.
I then proposed that fishermen be notified that the islands of Yami and North Island, both belonging to the Philippine group, lie north of 21° north latitude, and the Government General agreed to this proposition.
I quote in translation from a copy of a letter sent out to all Provincial Governors of Taiwan by the Acting Director General of Administration: “… However, as a result of the fact that 21 degrees Latitude North is defined as the limit requiring or not requiring licenses, [Page 746] it is considered that it may be misunderstood by some that the latitude given represents the northern boundary of the Philippine Islands. It is to be stated that there are in the north of the said latitude such islands as Yami, North Island, etc. of the Philippine Islands”.
It is realized that the results of the negotiations were not entirely in line with what the Department wished, but it is believed that under the circumstances, this was the most that could be achieved.
A copy in translation of a letter from the Acting Director General of Administration, dated February 18, 1933,59 and a translated copy of the circular notice sent to all provincial Governors of Taiwan under the same date, are enclosed herewith.