Memorandum by the Consul General at Tokyo (Garrels)45
At the time of previous conversations, Mr. Matsudaira requested advice upon American consular practice and law which might elucidate certain provisions of the Polish-American Consular Treaty. Among such points were:
“Article VI. Consular officers, including employees in a consulate, nationals of the state by which they are appointed other than those engaged in private occupations for gain within the state where they exercise their functions, shall be exempted from all taxes.”
The point here raised was that the Japanese Ministry of Finance was prepared under existing law to grant exemption from taxation to American consular officers equivalent to the grade of Japanese consular officer[s] and chancellors, but not to other employees. It appears that in every Japanese consulate the Japanese employees are of three classes, officers, chancellors, and ordinary employees. That chancellors, while not able to receive promotion into the officer grades are, nevertheless, in a career service and must pass examinations. He requested information upon what would be a similar grade in our service. I replied that we did not have an exactly similar grade, but that our clerks could be considered as approaching this class, that not all of them had passed examination, but that the majority had and that they were in a classified career service with definite rankings, et cetera. He had been informed on this point and said that the Foreign Office would be pleased to interpret the grade of Senior Clerk as being equivalent to Chancellors, but not the junior grade. I replied that the difference between Junior and Senior grade was one of seniority and promotion and that the Junior grade could be considered as much of a career service as would the senior grade.
Mr. Matsudaira replied that the Foreign Office had no objection to the treaty provision as quoted, but that the Ministry of Finance was objecting to the inclusion of all employees, American citizens. It was pointed out by me that clerks in consulates were not now taxed [Page 1066] in Japan, but he replied that before this was done as a courtesy and not as a treaty right—that the Finance Ministry was afraid to grant rights which might be taken advantage of by messengers, janitors, et cetera.
It was my impression that if the proposed draft contains the reading as given in the Polish Treaty objections will be brought up, but that if the exemption were limited to clerks, chancellors and officers, these terms being defined by an exchange of notes, no objection would be raised by either the Foreign Office or the Ministry of Finance.
Another point raised, although it did not appear to be considered of serious import, was that covered by Article XX of the Polish American Treaty providing for the right to inspect vessels about to depart for the ports of the other contracting power for sanitary purposes to enable the consular officer to execute bills of health, et cetera. It was stated that Japan had recently become a party to an international convention under which bills of health issued by consular officers were no longer required, those issued by the Master of the Port being considered sufficient. Consequently, it was believed difficult to compel masters of vessels to allow consular officers to inspect their vessels so as to issue consular bills of health, when the Japanese Government itself no longer required such documents. It was pointed out that as long as American law required consular bills of health it is to the advantage of the Ship’s Master to allow his vessel to be inspected upon request in order to alleviate trouble upon arrival at a United States port. Mr. Matsudaira did not press the point and did not seem to consider that the question was important.
During our several conversations I asked Mr. Matsudaira about several other points covered in the Polish Treaty and which according to our proposed draft (not exhibited to the Foreign Office) would be covered in the new treaty. He seemed to believe that there would be no difficulty about amending the regulations of the Tobacco Monopoly to permit consular officers to import tobacco free of duty. Likewise, he informed me that the Foreign Office in its proposed draft intended to provide for the right of taking testimony provided that the deponents appear voluntarily.
- Unsigned copy transmitted to the Department without covering despatch; time of receipt not indicated.↩