Ewing Letter

J. H. Ewing,
c/o Dodwell & Co. Ltd.,
P.O. Box 297 Central, Tokyo.

11th November 1956

Mr. Tamotsu Murayama
c/o The Japan Times,

Dear Sir:

I read with interest your article in today's Japan Times on the subject of Count Tadasu Hayashi as a Mason.

At the risk of the telling you what already know, or of adding to the "wild guesses" to which you refer I venture to tell you my own understanding of the history of this matter. I should explain that I was very active in British Masonry in Japan from 1922 until 1939 so know a little of the subject.

Masonry was set up among the foreigners in the treaty ports soon after the reopening of Japan to foreigners in the 19th century. However, on the cessation of extraterritorality at the end of the century the foreign Masonic institutions naturally came under Japanese law. The Japanese authorities were naturally suspicious of these "secret societies." The Masons protested that they were nonpolitical but the Japanese Government was skeptical. Accordingly Count Hayashi was instructed by the Japanese Government to become a Mason in London and to report to them as to the nature of the Masonic organization. He duly became a Mason and confirmed that the organization was non-political and therefore harmless. A gentlemen's agreement was then arrived at whereby Masons were permitted to practice their mysteries in Japan on two conditions:

(1) No advertising.

(2) No Japanese to be admitted.

This agreement, as far as I know, was faithfully observed by both sides. Later on some officials, who did not know the history, started at times to investigate and restrict foreign Masonic activities in Japan, but, when informed of the aforesaid agreement, refrained. Also from time to time inquisitive news reporters tried to gain entrance to our meetings and when prevented wrote articles suggesting that we were Communist cells controlled from Moscow. But the authorities, knowing the facts, paid no attention.

Count Hayashi was always regarded by us as the only Japanese Mason. There may have been Japanese who became Masons when abroad but none of them, I believe, ever attempted to attend our meetings in Japan. Had they done so we should have been compelled to refuse owing to the agreement.

Yours faithfully,

J. H. Ewing