The Secretary of State to the Japanese Ambassador ( Saito )
The Secretary of State presents his compliments to His Excellency the Japanese Ambassador and has the honor to refer to the Japanese Embassy’s note No. 93 of April 24, 1937,39 in which permission is [Page 738] requested for the Hakuho Maru to visit Chichagof Harbor on Attu Island, Constantine Harbor on Amchitka Island, and Kazan Bay on Atka Island, “for the purpose of making an investigation of the courses taken by the seals migrating back from the Asiatic lands”. The Ambassador expresses the hope that favorable consideration will be given to this matter in view of the fact that both Japan and the United States are parties to the so-called Fur Seals Convention of 1911, which, he states, necessitates the Japanese Government making the investigation mentioned above.
In the absence of special circumstances, this Government would be reluctant to set aside the general practice of withholding permission for foreign public vessels to enter harbors of the United States not listed as ports of entry in the Department’s circular note of October 2, 1936.42 At the same time, as stated in the Department’s note of May 11, 1937, it has been the practice of the American Government to construe liberally the provisions of the Fur Seals Treaty of 1911 in order to manifest its desire to cooperate with the other signatory powers in the carrying out of the purposes of that Treaty. Accordingly, this Government has welcomed visits by the proper authorities of those powers to those territories and waters of the United States which are frequented or visited by fur seals, and has endeavored to accord all available facilities to those authorities in their study of the fur seals.
However, this Government has no information on record to indicate that fur seals of the Pribilof Islands may be found in the vicinity of any of the harbors mentioned in the note of the Japanese Ambassador. Moreover, there is no evidence that any of those harbors are ever visited by seals migrating to or from the Komandorski Islands, or to and from Robben Island or any other Asiatic island. In view of these facts, this Government finds it difficult to construe the proposed visit by the Hakuho Maru to Chichagof Harbor, Constantine Harbor and Nazan Bay as falling within the purview of the abovementioned Treaty, and is therefore constrained to withhold the permission requested. Nevertheless, should further investigation by the authorities of this Government yield evidence that the places above mentioned are in fact frequented or visited by fur seals, the Department will not fail to acquaint the Governments of the parties to the Fur Seals Treaty thereof and will be prepared, in conformity to its desire to cooperate with the other powers to the end of preserving and protecting the fur seals, to give further consideration to requests of the Japanese Government for visits by its appropriate public vessels to the places in question.