The Imperial Japanese Mission to the United States, 1917



Tribute to the American Who Opened Japan Sixty-four Years Ago

The object of the journey to Newport was the placing of a memorial wreath on the grave of Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry, who, with an American :fleet, opened Japan to the world in 1853. The name of Perry is indeed something to conjure with in the Far East. Notice of the pious wish on the part of Viscount Ishii wakened the liveliest pleasure among the Newport villa colony. Accordingly, when the special train conveying the Imperial Mission party reached Newport on Sunday morning, the 16th, several hundred persons, including a .highly representative committee, were on hand to welcome them. Of the committee were J. Henry Reuter, executive secretary to Governor R. Livingston Beeckman, on behalf of the state of Rhode Island; Mayor Clark Burdick, on behalf of the city of Newport; the commandant of the Second Naval District, Captain Henry F. Bryan, U. S. N.; Pay Director Livingston Hunt, U. S. N.; Colonel Joseph H. Willard, U. S. A.; Commander Rufus Z. Johnston, U. S. N.; Lieutenant Commander Herbert E. Kays, U. S. N.; Colonel Frank P. King, and Mr. Henry Clews.

After witnessing the bathing at Bailey's Reach the members of the Mission went to the Rocks, where they were guests for luncheon of Mr. and Mrs. Clews.

The ceremony at Commodore Perry's grave was set for the afternoon. Thousands flocked to the cemetery in anticipation. The Mission, headed by Viscount Ishii, entered the cemetery through a lane of apprentice seamen and a battalion of Naval Reserves standing at "present arms." The gathering place was in Perry Circle, where the Commodore lies entombed. In addition to the committee were Mrs. Perry Belmont, Bishop James Henry Darlington, of Harrisburg, Pa., Miss Perry, of Bristol, R. I., Mr. August Belmont. Mr. August Belmont, Jr., Captain Alexander Perry, U. S. A., and members of the Board of Aldermen. All present uncovered while the band from the training station played "Kimigayo," and the "Star Spangled Banner." When the band ceased and all were in place, Bishop James De Wolf Perry, of the diocese of Rhode Island, turning to Viscount Ishii and his party, said:

We have cherished, among other things, the close ties that have held us. together, bonds of friendship that have often been put to the test, but which are stronger now because they have been put to the test. You have confirmed in the hearts of every true American the belief that the principles which you and America hold in common will result in an alliance that will last for years, to come. In the alliance against the common foe there will be a stronger bond, and it gives promise of a lasting and glorious peace.

The Bishop closed with a tribute to the Japanese Emperor and to the traditional hospitality and courtesy of the Japanese nation. As he finished, Viscount Ishii stepped forward and shook his hand warmly, with a few words of appreciation.

The ceremony of salutation was impressive. Every head was bare and bowed as Viscount Ishii stepped forward and placed on the tomb of the Commodore a large wreath in the Japanese colors, white lilies and red gladioli. Retiring backward a few paces the Viscount halted, paused, made a profound obeisance to the kami of the departed Commodore, and returned to his place. One by one each member of the Mission stepped forward silently and made obeisance before the grave. As the last one paid his tribute, Bishop Perry offered a brief prayer. Then the entire assembly stood at attention, while the band. once more played the Japanese national anthem and "The Star Spangled banner."

The Mission and friends were now driven around Newport, visiting the Historical Society's rooms, where they were shown Commodore Perry's sword. A tea and reception at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Alexander Hamilton Rice, where a large company had assembled, was the next feature of the day. A dinner for some fifty persons was given in the evening in honor of the Mission by Mr. and Mrs. Perry Belmont at Belcourt, where the Mission lodged for the night.

At a quarter past ten on Monday morning the Mission and escorts left Belcourt with Mayor Clark Burdick and a party of prominent citizens, and proceeded to Fort Adams, where the officers received them most cordially. They were given a glimpse of one of the heavy batteries at Fort Adams in mimic action, saw every stage in the construction of the torpedoes at the torpedo station, and were tendered a drill and review by the brigade of apprentice seamen at the training station.

Reception and Addresses at the Casino

After the visit to the tort they proceeded to a luncheon at the Clambake Club, given by the Mayor. After luncheon the party left for the public reception at the Newport Casino, which was filled by a large gathering of prominent citizens among whom were Captain. Belmont, Henry Clews, Henry A. C. Taylor and Arthur Curtis James, whose guests the Mission had been during their stay.

At the reception Viscount Ishii said:

Mr. Mayor and gentlemen of Newport: The opportunity you have afforded us thus to visit and to know you will constitute one of the most pleasant memories of our visit to America. Newport is pictured for us as the summer home of all the world of intellect and fashion from two continents. Now we have seen it, we are satisfied that Newport is a summer home, a winter home---the home of American hospitality. But above all else, Newport is stored in the mind of every school child in Japan as the resting place of Commodore Matthew Perry.

Not so long ago but that living men can well remember and tell it to their grandchildren, Japan lived in isolation, well contented. One day there came a knocking at our door, and looking forth, we saw strange sights indeed. Fantastic folk, in awesome ships with grewsome guns, held out the hand of friendship and thus came America and Commodore Perry to our shores.

Reluctantly we let you in, and in time, with more reluctance still, we ventured forth ourselves on voyages of exploration to this land of golden dreams. All this was but sixty years ago. All the world and more particularly America and Japan in these sixty years have seen vast upheavals .and vast changes.

These sixty years just passed, must constitute one full chapter in the history of Japan. During all that time the Pacific Ocean, so illimitable then to us, has been growing more narrow daily. The East and the West which stood aloof without a thing in common except their common humanity, have by that wonderful thread been drawn closer and ever closer together, until today we stand shoulder to shoulder as friends and allies, defying the power or the force of evil to destroy that splendid heritage, which we are agreed to share as common heirs.

It is a far cry from Newport to Tokio, but because of these sixty years of learning we have come to recognize each others' voices. We know the way whichever route we take, and in either home a hearty welcome waits the coming guest.

I am convinced that with, the turning of the page and the opening of this new chapter of International History, and so, through to the end of all time and all chapters, our good understanding will increase. The road between our homes will become more and more the beaten track of neighbors. I am more than ever convinced that we have done with the difficult pages over which we have labored in the night of doubt and that in the full light of honest purpose, with the eyes of faith and trust. we shall both, as nations free, strong and independent, make more frequent pilgrimages to the shrines we love---you to Tokio where we hope to bid you welcome soon, and we to Newport, whose beauty and wealth of hospitality exceeds the most vivid picturings of our imagination.

Mayor Burdick responded to these remarks, and introduced as the next speaker Mr. Henry Clews as one whose name is as well known among the officials and leading citizens of Japan as it is in the financial circles of America. When the applause had subsided, Mr. Clews said in part:

. . . This is certainly an eventful period in history, made so by the representatives of Japan decorating the grave of him who played so large a part in bringing Japan into the group of nations, which she had for reasons of her own so long excluded from her domain. Commodore Perry opened the door which still stands open to friends, and I am glad to say America and Japan are the best of friends. . . .

It is a grand deed that helps to bring a nation out of comparative obscurity into the front rank of nations, and although the Japanese can trace events back thousands of years, I believe that today they realize that the half century that has elapsed since Commodore Perry knocked at their gates has been the most important half century in their history. I have always been deeply interested in Japan, and one of the greatest honors of my life was paid me by the late lamented Prince Ito, who told me on his last visit to New York on his way to London as special ambassador at Queen Victoria's jubilee, that he considered me his "financial teacher," as it was my privilege to be of service to the first financial delegation from Japan to this country forty-six years ago, of which committee Prince Ito was the chairman. I have met since that time almost every diplomat and man of prominence in Japan who has visited our shores, and with every year my esteem and admiration for the Japanese have increased.

Then, turning to the members of the Mission, Mr. Clews addressed them in these words:

Gentlemen of the Commission, as one of a hundred, millions in population in this country, I vote to you the freedom of every city that shall have the good fortune to receive a visit from you.

After the address of Mr. Clews, the Mayor and the Mission stood in front of the stage and the audience filed past and were introduced by name to the members of the Mission. The entertainment closed by a large dinner given in honor of the Mission by His Excellency Governor R. Livingston Beeckman at his residence, and the Mission left for Boston on the 8 o'clock train the following morning.

VII. Honored Guests of Boston

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