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KANAGAWA, November 19, 1877. (Received January 10, 1878.) A report upon the trade and commerce of Japan for the year ending June
30, 1877 . The reports herewith transmitted are all for the year ending June 30, 1877, and cover the entire foreign trade and commerce of the empire for that period. Japan having adopted the same fiscal year as the United States, and as the inspector-general of customs now issues monthly, semiannual, and annual returns, the labor of preparing consular reports is somewhat lessened, while greater accuracy is assured.
IMPORTS AND EXPORTS. Tables Nos. 1 and 2 show the value of the imports and exports into and from the open ports and to and from various foreign countries. These tables disclose the fact that the value of imports has fallen below that of the previous year by $264,000, while the value of exports has exceeded that of 1875–76 by $9,420,000. This remarkable increase in the value of the exports has had the effect of turning, I think for the first time, the balance of trade in favor of Japan. This balance amounts to over $2,000,000; whereas in the year previous it was $7,665,000 against Japan, a difference between the two years of over $9,000,000. This state of affairs is, unfortunately for Japan, exceptional, and will not probably occur again for some time. It may be traced directly to the extraordinary exportation of unmanufactured silk during the year and the exorbitant prices realized therefor by the native dealers. For the year 1875–76 there was exported from Japan of this staple 2,286,937 pounds; value, $5,388,983; and for 1876–77, 4,024,675 pounds; value, $15,425,001, or $10,000,000 more than the year previous. The failure of the silk crops of France and Italy last year, and the panic that followed in the leading silk markets of Europe, were the causes of the excessive exportation.
TREASURE. The change of the balance of trade in favor of Japan has had the effect, as shown in tables Nos. 3 and 4, of securing to her an excess of treasure imported over that exported in the sum of $582,000, against an excess of exports over imports in the previous year of $10,889,000. So far as the United States are concerned, table No. 4 is in pleasing contrast with similar reports of previous years, showing, as it does, that we are now paying for our purchases from Japan through our own banks, instead, as before, settling for them by London exchange. Treasure imported from the United States last year amounted to $3,082,953, against $35,862 for the previous year, and the exports amounted respectively to $32,514 and $31,476.
PER CENTAGE OF TRADE. England ranks first, with 48 per cent. of the imports, and with HongKong and Singapore 59 per cent. Of the exports, England took 28 per cent. last year, and with Hong-Kong and Singapore 34 per cent. This large percentage is, however, exceptional, and is due to the excessive exportation of silk. The figures for 1875–76 stand 14 per cent. to England, and England and Hong-Kong and Singapore 22 per cent. of the exports and 48 per cent. of imports, and with Hong-Kong and Singapore 58 per cent.
In 1875–76, 7 per cent. of the imports came from the United States and 38 per cent. of the exports were sent thither, and in 1876–77 the United States sent 5 per cent. of the imports and purchased 20 per cent. of the exports.
England usually alone controls about 31 per cent. of the entire foreign trade, and with Hong-Kong and Singapore about 40 per cent. Besides, large quantities of English cotton goods are imported from China, they having been originally exported from Great Britain for the Chinese market.
The United States usually have about 23 per cent. of the entire foreign trade.
THE TEA TRADE. The chief article of export from Japan to the United States is tea. The exports during the year 1875–76 amounted to 26,174,948 pounds; value, $6,598,016. Of this, it is estimated the United States took about 90 per cent., or 23,557,453 pounds; value, $5,938,214, exclusive of charges, commissions, freight, &c. Estimating these at 40 per cent. on the value, and we have the sum of $8,313,500 as the actual amount paid in the United States for Japan teas during the year aforesaid. During the year 1876–77 the exports were 23,965,953 pounds; value, $4,931,396, without charges, &c.; these added,' the value' stands $6,903,974, of which the United States took about 21,569,358 pounds; value, $6,213,577, as follows: From Yokohama...
$4,408,999 From Osaca and Hiogo
1,717,083 From Nagasaki (estimated)..
6, 213, 577 It will be observed that the price of tea, including charges, &c., in 1875–76, was about 35 cents per pound, and that in 1876–777 it was 29 cents per pound. The decline in prices and the dullness of the home market had the effect of reducing the quantity of tea exported.
The quotations of teas during the past year at home have been below the costs laid down, and hence, and from information received, I believe it is customary to quote the same teas in New York at least one grade higher than here; as, for instance, "medium" in Japan is called "good medium" in New York.
COTTON TRADE. During the past year, there has been imported into Japan $5,519,000 worth of cotton manufactures ; $664,000 worth of raw cotton, and $4,155,000 worth of cotton yarn, making a total of $10,339,000.' The year previous the figures were: Cotton manufactures, $4,342,000; raw cotton, $109,000; cotton yarn, $3,345,000; total, $7,797,000. Of these importations the United States at present have no share, and from all I can learn I think that, directly and indirectly, at least 85 per cent. comes from Great Britain.
The cotton crop of Japan is very inconsiderable, and is not, as the consul for Osaca and Hiogo says in his report, "of superior grade." It is of very short fiber, and is hardly equal to the Indian cotton.
Table No.5 shows the total amount of revenue realized by the gov. ernment during the year 1876–77 from duties on imports and exports, tonnage-dues, &c. This report calls for no remark, excepting that the government collected less than 4 per cent. as duties upon the entire value of imports and exports.
Table No. 6 shows the navigation at the various open ports for the year 1876–77, and the percentage of tonnage of the different countries engaged therein for the years 1875–76 and 1876–77. This table discloses a remarkable increase during the past year of the native tonnage. While I think it is true that there has been a great increase in that direction, I am of opinion there has not been that advance the figures would seem to indicate. It is in part caused by the failure of the customs in former years to report in full the native navigation. This table represents but a small fraction of the Japanese navigation. Quite an extensive coasting trade to and from unopen ports, in which foreign vessels are not allowed to compete, is carried on.
A very great decrease in our tonnage is observable, and the increase in the British and French is quite marked. The decrease in our shipping during the past year cannot be ascribed to the transfer of the Yokohama-Shanghai line of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, as all the steamers of that line, with one exception, were transferred in 1874. The Nevada continued to run under the United States flag until the first of this year, so that she only increased the tonnage of 1875–76 by about 13,000 tons more than she did in 1876–77. The decline seems to be general and in all directions. The entrance fee for each foreign vessel is $15 and the clearance fee $7.
Out of the 4,521 vessels entered and cleared at the different open ports during the year 1,081 were foreign. Assuming that the same number cleared as entered, the government realized from them in entrance and clearance fees the sum of $11,891. The whole amount of entrance and clearance fees collected during the year was $20,134, and the 1,081 for: eign ships paying the sum of $11,891, it follows that the 3,440 Japanese vessels were only charged as entrance and clearance fees the sum of $8,243, or at the rate of $4.80 each, instead of $22.
Í mention these facts because the President, by proclamation dated September 4, 1872, abolished the discriminating duties on Japanese vessels and their cargoes entering ports of the United States upon the assurance of the Japanese Government that no other or higher duties were levied in Japan upon vessels of the United States and their cargoes than upou Japanese vessels.
REVENUE AND EXPENDITURE. The actual revenues and expenditures of the Japanese Government are not made public, but estimates thereof are usually given out. None, however, have been issued for the fiscal year 1877–78. Those for 1876–77 are as follows: Revenue...
$62, 995, 640 Expenditure
62,993, 845 Surplus ....
About $47,000,000 of the revenue is derived from the land-tax. This tax was assessed at the rate of 3 per cent. upon the value of all lands taken up or under cultivation. In January of this year it was reduced to 21 per cent., and it is estimated that this reduction will lower the revenue by about $8,000,000. A gradual reduction of this tax is contemplated, until it amounts to only 1 per cent. It is stated, however, that this figure cannot be reached until all the arable land in the empire is taxable.
The heaviest items in the estimates of expenditures are, for allowances and pensions, $17,500,000; redemption of public debt, $5,500,000, and war department, $7,000,000.
The public debtof Japan amounts to $148,924,724, of which $134,769,601 is internal, and $14,155,123 is foreign.
The annual report of the postmaster-general for the year ending June 30, 1877, has not as yet been published, but I am enabled, through the courtesy of the officials of that branch of the service, to give the following statistics :
697, 846 Expenditures..
713, 244 794, 353 Domestic letters.....
.No ... 24, 930, 325 30,715, 171 Domestic papers, &c...
.do.... 5,049, 415
7,372, 5:36 Foreign letters dispatched...
109, 835 141, 218 Foreign papers, &c., dispatched.
93, 046 Foreign letters received..
.do.... 69, 228
69, 951 Foreign papers received...
..do.... 93,423 114,857 Total
30, 325, 265 38,506,779 An increase in 1876–77 over the previous year of 8,181,514 covers, or 27 per cent. There is also an increase over 1874–75 of 56 per cent., and. over 1873–74 of 154 per cent.
There are now 3,744 post-offices in the empire, of which 53 were estab. lished during the past year.
The English and French Governments still continue their postal agencies at the different ports. I have, however, been unable to obtain any information concerning their operations.
The Japanese postal service seems to give general satisfaction. The doubts that were entertained when the United States mails were taken over by the Japanese postal department have vanished, and I think foreigners generally would be well pleased to see Japan assume entire control of her postal affairs.
The general stagnation in trade throughout the world during the past two years bas made itself felt in Japan, although not to the same extent, I apprehend, as in western countries. The totals of imports and exports are not decreasing, and the demand for foreign goods appears to be gradually increasing. The depression seems rather to be in the direction of profits. In former years the profits realized by foreigners were enormous, while to-day they are next to nothing. This change I attribute-1st. To the telegraphic cables, which have within the past few years been laid to Japan, thus bringing her into close connection
with the markets of Europe and America, and thereby breaking down all “corners” and monopolies and creating a lively competition in all branches of trade. 2d. To the direct importation and exportation of goods by native merchants. In 1875–76 such imports amounted in value to $148,350, and in 1876–77 to $390,312, or 11 per cent. of all the imports. Exports by native merchants in 1875–76 amounted to $87,920, and in 1876–77 to $828,057, or 3 per cent. of the entire exports. This direct trade, although comparatively small, has given the native dealers very fair ideas of the value of foreign and domestic goods, and consequently they are not prepared, in all instances, to realize at the prices offered or to pay the prices demanded.
H. W. DENISON.
1.-Statement showing the value of imports and exports, exclusive of treasure, at the various
open ports in Japan during the year ending June 30, 1877.
$20, 149, 338 10 $21, 384, 043'06 $41, 533, 381 16
16, 260 45 429, 911 66 446, 172 11
23, 908 80 25, 378 80
18,077, 838 84 43, 820, 953 01
413, 651 21 22, 438 80
2, 015, 749 00
7,665, 275 33