No. 732.
Mr. Hubbard to Mr. Bayard.

No. 409.]

Sir: I have the honor and sincere gratification to invite the attention of the Department of State to the inclosed editorial of the leading and most influential native daily journal in Japan, the Jiji Shimpo, upon the present relations of American and Japanese trade.

I have had occasion heretofore to forward to your Department the able and friendly exhortations of this influential editor and statesman to his countrymen and Government to encourage, more than is now or has been done, the imports from the United States to Japan.

For two years past the columns of this widely-circulated journal have been largely devoted to giving, from official statistics, the status of the Japanese-American trade, and the business reasons, based on immemorial rules of international exchange of products in commerce, why the balance of trade should not remain, as now, against the United States.

That these discussions by such a man, who enjoys rightfully the confidence and the great respect of his Government, have awakened the Japanese, especially the Japanese mercantile and commercial public, to an earnest consideration of his views, is admitted on all sides, and by no one more cheerfully than the United States diplomatic representative at this court.

Inquiries made at this legation by private native capitalists of Japan, proposing to engage in building railways under Government charters, or merchants engaged in the silk or tea trade and who fear that unless a more friendly return for our nineteen millions of imports which are purchased in Japan is inaugurated that the lex talionis might be invoked and silk and tea be made to pay duty (as they do not now) to American customs—these inquiries, I repeat, often referring to the Jiji Shimpo, and seeking my own views as to their truth in this connection, have convinced me that largely to this native journal we owe the recent increase of exports from the United States to Japan of over $500,000 in 1886 over what it was in 1885, and the aggregate increase of both our exports and imports to twenty-three millions, being three millions more than Great Britain’s exports and imports (from and to Japan) including all her colonies. In my intercourse with this remarkably able and progressive man (Mr. Fukusana), whose biography may be found in “Lanham’s Leading Men of Japan,” I am gratified to recognize a bold and intelligent ally, who, with open hand and earnest integrity and for no mere favoritism of the courtier, but from convictions of justice to Japan [Page 1062] and fair dealing with the United States, has serious sued and still pursues the course indicated by the able leader from his pen, to which I have pleasure in inviting the attention of yourself and of our countrymen through the State Department.

I have, etc.,

Richard B. Hubbard.
[Inclosure in No. 409—Translation.]

imports from the united states should be encouraged.

[From the Jiji Shimpo.]

The public as a rule generally speak of Western nations as a whole, but if considered from their relations with the East, there must be different degrees in their grade. Germany and France, for instance, are strong continental powers of Europe, but their strength is only limited to Europe and their influence in the affairs of the Orient is not predominant. In the case of England, however, it is entirely different; she is the most influential power in the East with regard to commercial and military affairs. The circumstances being thus, we most strongly dissent from any action which may in any way wound the susceptibilities of that power. Therefore Japan should be careful not to injure the commercial interests of England, but, on the contrary, do all in her power to gain her good-will in diplomatic and other relations so far as is consistent with national honor. The above view is not only held by ourselves but also by those who have the welfare of the country at heart. Although we do not mean by the above that our commercial and other relations with foreign powers should be unheeded, yet we are of opinion that England should be placed in the foremost position in diplomacy as well as commerce in the affairs of Oriental nations.

Without any reference to political relations, there is one other country which is in no way inferior to England from a commercial point of view, the United States of America. The present foreign trade of Japan is 80,000,000 yen, of which 48,000,000 yen consists of exports. Out of this amount 19,000,000 yen are exported to the United States. Though a portion should be deducted from this amount which is forwarded for sale and consumption in Canada, yet the United States must be considered as the foremost of our customers. The commercial relations existing between England and Japan are only due to the large amount of imports from that country. The demand for yarns and shirtings is very great, and these, taken in connection with other manufactures, make the total value of imports from England 12,000,000 yen. She is the largest importer to Japan, but as a customer she is far inferior to the United States and even China and France. If a comparison be made between England and the United States on the basis of which country benefits Japan the more, we think we must decide in favor of the United States. Leaving the question of importance aside, what is most strikingly observable by the Japanese is, that the United States is a new country where everything is also new. It is not only observable in the increase of population and advancement of commerce, but also in the less cut and dried working way of things, through which Japan may be enabled to make substantial profits. In England and other European countries it is different, everything being carried on under a regular system, and although the commerce of those countries is prosperous, there is not much opening for Japanese enterprise. In the United States, however, Japanese may freely enter into commerce with a fair prospect of success, as will be seen on reference to the success of some of our most enterprising merchants. Japan is at present very busy in studying which of her productions will be the most suitable for export and also of most benefit to the country. Our most suitable exports seem to have been those accepted by the United States, and we would do well to stimulate as much as possible our present commerce with her in tea and silk. On careful examination it will be seen that the United States will in the future become the chief consumer of the productions of Japan. No one can deny the fact that it would be better for us to seek trade in the United States than to seek it in Europe. If the country is to be benefited in the future, the United States must in no wise be slighted.

One question—and that an important one—is the inequality of the balance of trade between the two countries. Our exports to the United States last year were 19,000,000 yen, while the imports from that country amounted to only 3,400,000 yen, which is only one-sixth of the export. This inequality was not noticed only last year, but it has been so for some years past, owing to the large increase in the export of raw silk. Unless some means are discovered to encourage imports from the United [Page 1063] States, the difference will become still greater year by year, as there is a prospect of our exports to that country being increased in the future, but it is also clear that this disproportioned state of trade is not causing loss to the United States. For instance, the import of raw silk from Japan is necessary to repel the import of European s.lks, which are high in price, owing to little competition, and as for tea and other articles which we forward, they stand outside the sphere of American productions. As they do not injure or interfere with American interests, it will be thought that it is best to leave it to take its own course, but in the trade of the civilized world it is incumbent that all the means in a nation’s power should be brought to bear on trade for mutual benefit. It follows, therefore, that it is a moral obligation on the part of commercial men to order goods from their customers rather than from others if there is no difference in the price. The United States is just such a customer, so Japan must do her very utmost to oblige her and gain her esteem; therefore it is necessary that Japan should, in view of the moral obligation above mentioned, purchase from the United States instead of Europe. In addition to this there are many articles manufactured in the United States which are far superior to those of other countries, both in quality and cheapness. We will now mention a case in point. The entire capital to be invested in the railway industry is estimated at 50,000,000 yen; of this amount 25,000,000 yen will be paid for the importation of rails, locomotives, etc., from abroad. Although we consider that England stands foremost in the manufacture of rails, it is beyond all question that in the manufacture of locomotives and passenger cars none can equal the United States, and it would be well for us to purchase from her if only or the purpose of balancing trade. Other articles, if there is no perceptible difference in the price, should also be purchased from the United States. This is important, as it will be the means of greatly increasing the exports of Japan in the future.