HC Deb 07 April 1864 vol 174 cc620-1

rose to call attention to a recent statement in The Times, to the effect that the 2nd Battalion of the 20th Regiment on its arrival at Calcutta had immediately been transferred to other transports and been despatched to Japan. It would be said that the object of this transfer of troops to Japan—of the probable financial consequences of which he warned the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the strongest manner—was to insist upon the fulfilment of guarantees which the Japanese Government had given us by treaty. To that he replied that we had no treaty with the Emperor of Japan. We had, indeed, a treaty with one of the Princes of the empire, who was called by us the Tycoon of Yeddo, though, in fact, there was no such person known to the Japanese as the Tycoon. The name originated in this way. When the American Commodore Perry went to Japan he had with him a Cantonese interpreter, who, not knowing how to describe the Prince of Yeddo, called him Tycoon, which, in the Cantonese dialect, meant Great Prince. His proper title was Ziogoon, or Siogoun, meaning Generalissimo. A gentleman who seemed to possess good sources of information, in writing to the editor of the Japan Herald, expressed it to be his opinion that the Tycoon's Government was the cause of the serious difficulties with which we had to contend in that quarter, adding that the result of the relations which had been established with Japan was, that in the first instance two Russians were killed in the streets; then the British diplomatic residence was attacked, and Mr. Oliphant dangerously wounded; that event was followed by the attack on a party, one of whom, Mr. Richardson, was killed while riding on the high road; and lately a French officer was attacked while taking a ride, and different chiefs have fired upon foreign vessels from their forts; in short, the principle was maintained that it was a good thing to kill foreigners. Now that it appeared was particularly the feeling in the immediate vicinity of Yokohama, whither we were sending a regiment of Europeans. And what, he would ask, were our prospects for the future when we got our regiment there? Why, in all probability, that some fine morning some of the officers would go out on a shooting excursion, that they would be seized; would endeavour to defend themselves, like Mr. Moss; that a struggle would ensue; that they would be maltreated, put into a Black Hole, and ultimately, perhaps, be surrendered to our Consuls. With a regiment at hand we should not submit to what we might deem an outrage, and should take the law into our own hands. We should in short be likely to get into a contest with all the Princes of the empire in succession, all of whom were opposed to us, and thus we should have in Japan a renewal of our China policy, which, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had informed the House, had cost us seven millions sterling and an enormous sacrifice of human life. That, he contended, was a prospect which was not likely to lead to a diminution of our expenditure, while another element of discord and consequent loss was to be found in the probability that attempts would be made to smuggle opium into the country; that it would be seized, and then we should feel ourselves called upon to demand redress. Was it consistent with our professions of humanity to seek to hold our ground in Japan by means of force, against a people who were inimical to us? Under all the circumstances of the case, he hoped the House would look upon the question in a cautious and earnest spirit, so that we might be saved from falling into the same groove as in China. He would beg, in conclusion, to ask the Under Secretary of State for War, Whether he has made any provision in the Estimates for the charge of the 2nd Battalion 20th Regiment, transferred in December from the Indian Establishment for service in China or Japan, and whether other regiments are under orders for service in China or Japan?