Page images

In the note of the chargé d'affaires the same arguments are used in defense of the action of the Japanese Government as are found in Viscount Aoki's note to you of the 17th of January last; but it is observed that in the note of the chargé d'affaires it is said that while the Imperial Government entertains the views before stated and feels confident that the Government of the United States may accept them, the Imperial authorities would not have it understood that they would inflexibly adhere to their opinion or hesitate to abolish the internal taxes upon the imported article if it could be conclusively shown that they are not altogether correct in their position; and in this relation they ask an expression of the views of the United States upon the subject.

In reaching a conclusion in regard to the admissibility of the taxes in question it is thought to be necessary to refer only to two provisions in the treaty between the United States and Japan of 1858, to which you have already called attention. By the third article of that treaty it is provided that

Americans may freely buy from Japanese and sell to them any articles that either may have for sale, without the intervention of any Japanese officers in such purchase or sale, or in making or receiving payment for the same.

And that

All classes of Japanese may purchase, sell, keep, or use any article sold to them by the Americans.

The obvious purpose of these two provisions was to do away_completely with the restrictions which had previously existed in Japan against the sale of articles of merchandise by Americans to the Jap. anese and the free disposition by the latter of the articles so sold.

By the seventh article of the treaty of 1854 (the first treaty between the United States and Japan) it was agreed that ships of the United States resorting to the ports open to them should be permitted to exchange gold and silver coin and articles of goods for other articles of goods, under such regulations as should be temporarily established by the Japanese Government for that purpose. This stipulation secured no general right of commerce and was found to be of little practical value. The treaty of 1858 announced and secured a complete reversal of the previous policy of the Japanese Government. Absolute liberty of trade having been established by article 3 of the treaty, the conditions under which trade should in the future be carried on were defined in the next succeeding article.

Duties [so reads article 4 of the treaty] shall be paid to the Government of Japan on all goods landed in the country, and on all articles of Japanese production that are exported as cargo, according to the tariff hereunto appended.

Provision is then made for the valuation of goods, for the exemption from duty of supplies for the United States Government, and the importation of opium is prohibited. Then follows this stipulation:

All goods imported into Japan and which have paid the duty fixed by this treaty may be transported by the Japanese into any part of the Empire without the payment of any tax, excise, or transit duty whatever.

Viscount Aoki contends that under this stipulation the Japanese Government has the right to impose such internal taxes as it may deem proper upon foreign goods imported into the Empire and found in Japanese hands, provided no duty is levied upon their transportation, thus laying special and exclusive stress upon the words " may be transported." These words he considers as defining and limiting the scope of the whole stipulation. After careful reflection, I find myself wholly unable to concur in Viscount Aoki's interpretation. I am forced to the

conclusion that it is excluded, not only by the general purpose, but also by the express terms of the treaty. It may be true, as has been suggested, that the American negotiator of the treaty of 1858 had in mind in his negotiations with the Japanese Government the "likin" tax, or transit duty, imposed on foreign goods in the Chinese Empire. But, admitting this to be the case, the language of the treaty renders it clear that it was intended, while doing away with the transit duty, to prevent the imposition of equally onerous and distinctive taxes in other forms.

The objection to the "likin" tax was and is that it practically annuls the benefits intended to be secured to foreign nations by the establishment of a definite schedule of tariff duties. The objection to it rests, not upon the ground that it is a duty upon transportation, but upon the fact that it in reality increases to the extent of the tax imposed the amount of duties required to be paid upon foreign importations.

The words "may be transported" were employed merely for the purpose of preventing a differential treatment of the imported goods based upon a change of the place in which they might be found or of the hands into which they might come. In itself the matter of transportation amounted to little and was a mere incident. If the goods were to be transported, it was for some purpose, viz, one of those mentioned in article 3 of the treaty, to "purchase, sell, keep, or use." It would have availed nothing to exempt the transit from duty if, the moment it was completed, the goods became liable to further taxes at the will of the Japanese Government. Hence it was provided that they might be transported without the payment of "any tax, excise, or transit duty whatever." The argument of Viscount Aoki eliminates from this provision the words "taxes and excise," and leaves only the words "transit duty," or at most makes the former words merely synonymous with the term "transit duty." I am unable to perceive any rule of interpretation by which such a construction can be admitted. The words "tax and excise" must be held to have been used advisedly and for some purpose. In the opinion of the Department the language of the whole stipulation shows that it was the clear intention of the contracting parties to preclude the assessment of duties, in addition to those provided in the treaty, by reason of the passage of the goods from American into Japanese hands.

It confirmed and secured the right guarantied by article 3 of the treaty, of the free sale of goods by Americans to Japanese, and of the right of all classes of Japanese to purchase, sell, keep, or use such goods.

If anything were needed to sustain this opinion, ample confirmation of it would be found in the uniform practice of the Japanese Government during the 30 years that have elapsed since the treaty was concluded. Never before, within the knowledge of the Department, has it been claimed by that Government that goods having paid the duties prescribed by the treaty might further be burdened with internal taxes. Such, also, as your dispatch shows, has been the practice of the Japanese Government with respect to goods imported by other foreigners than Americans. Indeed, the efforts that have been put forth through so many years to reach a readjustment of the conventional tariffs have been, so far as Japan is concerned, misdirected and unnecessary if she possesses the power, immediately after goods have passed into Japanese hands, to subject them to such further duties as she may see fit to impose.

This Government is therefore compelled to regard the recent action of the Japanese Government as a clear and substantial violation of the

provisions of the treaty of 1858; and it confidently relies, in its expectation of the reversal of that action, upon the expression found in the note of the Japanese chargé d'affaires of the readiness of the Japanese Government to abolish the taxes in question if shown to be in conflict with the treaties.

Your protest against these new exactions is therefore approved, and you are instructed to communicate the views herein expressed to the Japanese Government by leaving a copy of this communication with the minister for foreign affairs.

I am, etc.,

Mr. Blaine to Mr. Swift.


No. 61.]

Washington, March 20, 1890.

SIR: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 80, of the 3d of January last, in which you ask instructions on the subject of receiving from the Japanese Government medals and other gifts for American citizens, commemorative of events in which they may have been participants, or of services of a humane or other character which they may have rendered.

By section 9, article I, of the Constitution of the United States it is provided that

No person holding any office of profit or trust under them [the United States] shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

This provision applies to the acceptance by officials of the United States of presents, emoluments, offices, or titles for themselves. By section 1751 of the Revised Statutes of the United States it is provided that "no diplomatic or consular officer shall ask or accept,

for himself or any other person, any present, emolument, pecuniary favor, office, or title of any kind," from any foreign government. To the constitutional prohibition against the acceptance by any officer of the United States for himself of a present from a foreign government this statute adds the inhibition that diplomatic and consular officers shall not even receive such a present for anyone else. This provision is absolute, and the words "present, emolument, pecuniary favor, office, or title of any kind" seem to comprehend everything that can be the subject of a gift.

The course generally observed in such matters is for the foreign government to transmit the present (if it be to a person competent to receive it) through its own officials. Where the present is intended for an officer of the United States who is precluded by the Constitution from receiving it, unless authorized by Congress so to do, the course to be followed is prescribed by section 3 of the act of January 31, 1881 (Stats. at Large, vol. 21, p. 604), which provides that—

Any present, decoration, or other thing which shall be conferred or presented by any foreign government to any officer of the United States, civil, naval, or military, shall be tendered through the Department of State, and not to the individual in person; but such present, decoration, or other thing shall not be delivered by the Department of State unless so authorized by act of Congress.

I am, etc.,


No. 63.]

Mr. Blaine to Mr. Swift.

Washington, March 21, 1890.

SIR: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 91 of the 16th ultimo, in which you inclosed a memorandum correcting Viscount Aoki's précis of the interview which you held with him at the imperial foreign office on the 23d of January last, in relation to the excise duties imposed by the Japanese Government on Scott's Emulsion.

In conducting conversations through an interpreter it frequently occurs that expressions are misinterpreted, and in such case each party is entitled to an opportunity to correct any misstatements attributed to him. After considering the respective accounts of yourself and Viscount Aoki of what was said at the interview, the Department is of opinion that the merits of the question at issue are not involved, and it is hoped that your respective explanations will be accepted as mutually satisfactory.

I am, etc.,


No. 111.]

Mr. Swift to Mr. Blaine.

Tokio, April 8, 1890. (Received May 5.)

SIR: I have the honor to apprise you of the fact that I have been absent from Tokio for a period of 6 days, beginning with the 30th ultimo and ending the 4th instant. This time was occupied in going to, coming from, and, whilst there, witnessing a series of military and naval maneuvers and exercises of His Imperial Japanese Majesty's land and sea forces, ending with a grand review of troops, covering 4 days of operations within the above period, carried on at and in the immediate vicinity of a large city called Nagoya, on the eastern coast of Japan, and about 235 miles in a southerly direction from the capital. The members of the diplomatic corps were invited by direction of the Emperor, and, with two or three exceptions, all attended. The invitations, however, so far as the diplomatic body was concerned, were limited to chiefs of missions, except in case of legations having military attachés, when such attachés were also invited. The utmost pains were taken by the officers of His Imperial Japanese Majesty's household department to make our visit enjoyable. Every possible provision was made for our comfort, and the officers having the matter in charge, as well, in fact, as all with whom we were brought in contact, from the Emperor down, were courteous and polite to a degree difficult to describe, but most delightful to enjoy. A large and commodious Japanese inn was fitted up in European style for our accommodation, with the electric light especially introduced for the occasion. Here an excellent table was served, and every day from 20 to 40 people, including 3 imperial princes, the entire cabinet, the generals of the army, and the foreign ministers present, sat down and diued together.

The fact that this is the first time, at least in Japan, that the diplo. matic body has been invited to witness these maneuvers and displays of force renders it not improbable that the Government are of the opinion that the army and navy have now reached a point of completeness in numbers, equipment, and discipline that they can with


benefit to the prestige of the country exhibit them to the powers and boldly challenge criticism. Not having myself any military knowledge beyond that obtained by having to some extent traveled in Europe with more or less opportunity to witness parades and reviews of troops, but, except during the Franco-Prussian war, chiefly in time of peace, my opinions of what I saw can be of little or no technical value. But it scarcely requires professional skill to discover that Japan has made very considerable progress in creating both an army and navy modeled upon European systems of construction and discipline, and the recent maneuvers about Nagoya were well calculated to show to the best advantage the progress that has actually been made. The entire affair was laid out so that the operations should be conducted as in a genuine state of war, the general outlines of which alone were prearranged. The scheme of maneuvers and sham battles assumed that an alliance against Japan had been formed between two foreign powers for the conquest of the country; that these allied forces with a powerful fleet of war ships dominated the sea, under the protection of which fleet an army of invasion had been disembarked on the eastern coast off Nagoya; that other hostile vessels of war menaced all the prominent cities of the Empire from Hakodate, on the north, to Nagasaki, on the south; that for defense the Japanese army had completed its mobilization in its various garrisons, while the navy was concentrated in certain protected harbors, and the merchant marine, under the protection of such harbor defenses, were securely anchored in the same ports. The defenses of these ports were assumed to be completely organized. The invading army, so said the scheme of operations, had obtained possession of the railroads south of Nagoya on the Osaka side, while the army of defense held those leading from Tokio south, and from thence approached to repel the invaders.

The 31st of March was taken up with a naval sham battle, which I did not have the opportunity to witness. But I am able to inform you that the fleet of defense contained no less than six powerful iron or steel men-of-war, built and armed in Europe upon the best modern plans, with a number of torpedo boats; while that of attack had nine cruisers or gunboats of similar class and quality, among which I noticed the Naniwa, after the model and lines of which the U. S. cruiser Charleston, recently constructed at San Francisco, is, I believe, copied. The fleet of attack was accompanied by three transports.

The sham fight and other maneuvers at sea which took place on Monday, according to information I received from Captain Ingalls, a British naval officer of high standing who was present and saw them, were highly creditable to both ships and crews and showed that, at least so far as operating the ships and guns was concerned, the Japanese have but little, if anything, to learn from western nations.

The land operations were carried on between two opposing armies embracing on the actual field of battle in the aggregate about 28,000 troops of various arms of the service, including artillery, cavalry, and infantry. The opposing forces moved forward over the country as in actual war, the fight commencing whenever contact was felt at any point. I need hardly call attention to the fact that more troops were actually engaged in these maneuvers than are now contained in the entire United States Army. As for the make-up and equipment, personal bearing, appearance, and movement of the rank and file of the Japanese army at Nagoya, I will only say that, to the best of my judg ment, all were in the highest degree complete, effective, and soldierly, according to the best European standards. Though at present I

« PreviousContinue »