Memorandum by Mr. William T. Turner of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs of a Conversation With the Third Secretary of the Japanese Embassy (Kawahara)

Mr. Kawahara called to discuss the proposed consular convention with Japan. He stated that the Embassy had received instructions from the Foreign Office to the following effect:

The Japanese Government does not wish to have included in the proposed consular convention the provision (See Article XXVI of the Convention with Poland) providing for the inspection by consular officers of private vessels destined for ports of the appointing country in connection with the issuance of bills of health, for the following reasons: [Page 1062]
Japanese Consular Officers do not inspect foreign vessels clearing for Japan nor do they issue bills of health, therefore, this provision is unilateral in its character.
Articles 49 and 57 of the International Sanitary Convention of 1908 [1903]42 recommends the gradual abolition of bills of health. The inclusion of this provision in the consular convention seems, therefore, to be contrary to the spirit of that Convention.
Since there are no laws in Japan prohibiting consular officers from issuing bills of health, American Consular Officers may exercise their functions with respect to bills of health without specific authority under the general provisions of the suggested addition to the proposed convention with Japan which reacts: “The provisions of this treaty shall not preclude the exercise by a consular officer of any function conferred upon him by the sending state and not forbidden by the law or practice of the receiving state”.
Mr. Kawahara stated that on the occasion of his previous call he had informed Mr. Turner that the Japanese Government would accept the inclusion of a provision to permit consular officers to take the voluntary depositions or testimony of the nationals of any country for use in legal proceedings in the territory of the sending state. He stated that he had now received information from his Government that it would prefer that the words “of the nationals of any country” be changed to “of their own nationals.” Mr. Turner asked whether the Japanese Government would consent to the inclusion of a clause permitting testimony to be taken from the nationals of any country in case application therefore should be made to the Attorney General or Minister of Justice. Mr. Kawahara stated that he would make further inquiries and reply at a later time.
Mr. Kawahara stated that with regard to the suggested provision to the effect that “consular officers shall have the right to communicate with and to advise nationals of the sending state within their consular district; to visit such nationals, especially when they are imprisoned or detained by officers of the receiving state”, the Japanese Government finds it absolutely necessary to insert a modifying clause such as “in accordance with the provisions of the law of the receiving state”. Mr. Turner stated that due to the frequent misunderstandings which have arisen from the detention incommunicado in Japan of American citizens—misunderstandings which often could have been avoided by a simple explanation by consular officers—we were particularly desirous of providing that consular officers should be free to visit their nationals at any time. He pointed out that Japanese Consular Officers in this country are, under American laws, free to communicate with their nationals at all times and that, therefore, the application of a clause of this kind would in effect [Page 1063] be unilateral. He requested that this matter be given further consideration by the Japanese authorities.

Mr. Kawahara stated that he would report the views which Mr. Turner had expressed to his Government and would make a reply as soon as possible.

  1. Signed at Paris, December 3, 1903, Foreign Relations, 1907, pt. i, pp. 434, 447, 451.