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JAPAN'S STATUS AMONG THE NATIONS.
grants have been treated in foreign What is Japan's status in the comity lands. of the enlightened nations of the However, when we come to dissect world? Have her victories on the bat- these answers, what do we find? Most tlefield and sea, coupled with her of the books on Japan that are availpeaceful progress, secured for her able are trashy, unreliable, and not position of honor among the great worthy of the slightest notice. The Powers and entitled her citizens to few volumes that merit recognition treatment equal to that accorded to do, indeed, give us much valuable innatives of the various Occidental coun- formation regarding the march of the tries? Or is she still an inferior race, Oriental nation on the
path of somewhat superior to the other progress: but some err by lauding the Asiatic peoples to be sure, but never- accomplishments of the Japanese to theless occupying a rank below that the skies, and others by disparaging of the members of the Western their modernization as a mere surface Concert?
veneer; on the one hand depicting the These questions have been inces- Nipponese as being equal in every santly asked by both Orientals and way to the most enlightened of peoOccidentals ever since the days when ples, and on the other describing them the soldiers and sailors of Japan as semi-barbarians. The number of grappled with Russia's land and sea works which are really discriminating forces. They have elicited much dis- is extremely limited. Therefore going cussion, and have been answered by through the conclusions arrived at a host of writers, white and yellow, either in the spirit of idolatry or of who have published numerous mono racial prejudice leaves one bewildered graphs relating to
transition in a jungle of words. through which the Island Empire has Similarly, the indirect reply, when been passing. An indirect reply has analyzed, gives us but a confused nobeen vouchsafed by the treaties which tion of the existing state of affairs. So Japan has been able to secure from far as the Japanese treaties with the the Powers, and the manner in which Powers go, the old, humiliating conthe Nipponese diplomats, financiers, ditions requiring that Japan should commercialists, students, and immi- not levy more than a small impost
*"Japan: an Attempt at Interpreta- (five per cent ad valorem) upon imtion." By Lafcadio Hearn. (Macmillan & Co., 1904.)
ports from Europe and America, and "Japan by the Japanese." Edited by
that she should exempt aliens living Alfred Stead. (Heinemann, 1904.)
“Great Japan.” By Alfred Stead. within her borders from the operations (Heinemann, 1905.) “Things Japanese." By Basil Hall
of her criminal laws, allowing them to Chamberlain. (John Murray, 1905.) be tried entirely by their own CON
"Japanese Education." By Baron Kikuchi. (Murray, 1909.)
sular courts; which deprived her of "Fifty Years of New Japan (Raikoku Gojunen Shi).” Compiled by
the power of fiscal autonomy, subCount Shigenobu Okuma. English jected her to the interference of version, edited by Marcus B. Huish. 2 vols. (Smith, Elder & Co., second Western diplomats who, by nature of edition, 1910.) "The Full Recognition of Japan."
their office, had to be the henchmen By Robert P. Porter. (Oxford Univer- of the commercialists of their own nasity Press, 1911.)
"Empires of the Far East." By tions, and who, in some instances, Lancelot Lawton. 2 vols. (Grant Richards, 1912.)
were traders themselves, and laid her
open to the anomaly of harboring for- a blaze. But the position of Nipponese eigners within her gates who were al immigrants in those portions of the together out from under her jurisdic- world generally considered by the tion,-have been obliterated, once for white inan to be his own preserves all. Indeed, the agreements that has, to say the least, remained anomJapan has recently been able to make alous. The recent action taken by the with the Western nations enable her State Legislature of California, U. S. citizens and traders to enjoy rights A., in passing an Act which is princiand privileges similar to those which pally aimed at keeping the Japanese she has conceded to the subjects of from acquiring land within its juristhose countries within her territories. diction, carried the discrimination These treaties, when examined in the against the Mikado's subjects to a light of the treatment accorded by the point which it never before has civilized world to Nippon's diplomatic reached in America. As conse agents and commercialists, distinctly quence, meetings have been held in signify that the Daybreak Empire is Japan to protest against the stigma of not a pariah amongst the Powers. inferiority being cast upon the Nip
But the minute we begin to investi- ponese by the action of California, gate the attitude of the British Col- and there has even been talk of setonies and the United States of Amer- tling accounts with those who have ica towards the Japanese immigrants, offered affront by this measure. Just this assurance disappears almost what action the United States Federal the vanishing point. The Nipponese authorities propose to take in the matare deemed undesirable in Australia, ter, or what they will be able to do to in British Columbia, and throughout assuage the hurt Nipponese feelings, the Western portion of the United is not yet known, and is relatively imStates, where the authorities, overtly material to our immediate purpose. or covertly, actively or passively, are The way matters stand at present, the resisting their entry and seeking to Japanese—despite legal fictions and prevent them from acquiring property despite the fact that they do not pay rights. Until quite lately the states- a head-tax, as the Chinese do when manship shown so conspicuously by they enter British Columbia, for inSir Wilfrid Laurier and Colonel Theo- stance do not enjoy an immigration dore Roosevelt during their incum- status equal to the lowest and least. bency of the Premiership of Canada civilized of Europeans. and the Presidency of the United These considerations leave the issue States of America in restraining the as to Japan's position in the comity of provincial and State authorities under nations in a confused state, warranttheir respective control from taking ing one in asserting that the world any action which would sting the na- has so far utterly failed to return an tional susceptibilities of Japan to the authoritative reply as to just where point of inciting her to engage in an the Japanese stand in the scale of avenging war, and the disposition to nations, in the absence of which we pour oil on the troubled waters dis- have only the claims of the Japanese played by Dai Nippon, which led her and pro-Japanese, and the attacks to make somewhat compromising "ar- and calumnies of Japan's detractors, rangements" with the immigration to furnish a vague, contradictory, and authorities of the Western coast of unreliable standard wherewith to North America, have prevented the gauge the status of present-day Japanese grievances from flaming into Nippon. However, since the action of
the California Legislature and similar ponese to climb over the barrier recent events have opened up the have anything to do with the for questions involved American- eigners was severely punished. The Japanese relations, and the economic United States of America, anxious to and racial problems bound up with the establish friendly intercourse with the einigration of Asiatics to America, natives of the land of the Rising Sun, and, indeed, to all parts of the world sent Commodore Perry in charge of appropriated by the Caucasians, two frigates, the Susquehanna and the attempt may be made, in the light of Mississippi, and two sloops, the Sarawhat is known, to determine Japan's toga and the Plymouth—which at that status in the comity of nations.
time appeared to be a formidable fleet The best way to proceed with the to the secluded Japanese. The Ameriinquiry is first briefly to recall the
Commissioner knew that Dai circumstances which led Nippon to Nippon did not permit alien ships give up her centuries-old policy of (even including vessels carrying amholding herself aloof from the rest bassadors) to enter its waters at any of the world, and to trace how, by other port than Nagasaki, but he stepping out of her seclusion, she was boldly sailed into Uraga, then an outled to bring her institutions up to the port to the Bay of Yedo (Tokyo)-on level of those of Western nations; which was situated the capital of the then to outline just what she has actu- Shogun, in whose line for about 260 ally achieved in the way of modern- years had reposed the dictatorship of izing herself; and finally to determine the country, the Emperor having been just how her present-day civilization a mere puppet in the usurper's hands compares with that of the Western -arriving on July 8, 1853. Perry peoples, and judge if it qualifies her determined upon this move because he to be received into the circle of wished to show the Nipponese that he lightened countries.
was in no mood to pocket the insults
which had been meted out to the meek, II.
money-grubbing Dutch and Chinese. In the middle of the nineteenth cen- He was asked by the Shogunate autury Japan led an isolated life, with a thorities to repair to Nagasaki, but he subtle but impenetrable wall erected refused point-blank to do so, and took around her sea-girt kingdom. This the occasion to inform them of his barrier had only one opening, the port mission and urge upon them the adof Nagasaki. No foreigners were al- visability of meeting his demands. lowed to enter except a few Dutch Uncommonly sagacious as he was, the and Chinese, who traded there under Special Commissioner not only knew strict official supervision bought at how to be firm in extorting respect for the expense of some bribery and much himself, but also when and where to humiliation. Though some slight at yield, and could do so gracefully. tempt was made by a few naturally Therefore, in view of the conditions progressive Japanese to learn from that he found confronting him, he the Dutch something of the world be- deemed it advisable not to press for yond the sea that surrounded Japan an immediate response to his overon all sides, yet, on the whole, the tures, but decided to leave the disreactionary elements were much too patch which he had brought from strong to permit the dissemination of Washington, and depart, promising to such knowledge amongst the Islanders. call for his reply later. Perry's arThe least endeavor made by the Nip- rival was taken to forebode ill for the
Sunrise Empire, and was made a sig- Emperor Komei, like his immediate nal for the usurper to send for the predecessors, had been brought up and feudal barons and urge them to pre- had lived at Kyoto, his dynastic capipare for war. These preparations con- tal, entirely screened from any influ. tinued during the time the American ences which might have enlightened was stationed at Uraga, and were not him regarding the changes that were relaxed after he sailed away. But going on at the time in the land, and though the Japanese strove hard to in the great wide world outside Japan, render their defences impregnable, and around him were gathered equally when the Commodore returned after a conservative courtiers, many of whom short time for his reply the Shogunate nursed hereditary enmity towards the divined the futility of offering resist- Shogun. Naturally enough, therefore, ance, and after some parleying signed the appeal to the Mikado resulted in a treaty at Kanagawa on March 31, an adverse decision, which placed the 1854, in which Japan promised to ac- "power behind the throne" in a comcord kind treatment to shipwrecked promising situation and ruined his sailors; to permit foreign vessels to prestige in the eyes of those over obtain stores and provisions within whom he exercised authority and of their territories; and to allow Ameri- the foreigners with whom he had can ships to anchor in the ports of negotiated as the Ruler of the country. Shimoda (100 miles south of the pres- The fiasco resulted in untold complient capital), and Hakodaté (in the cations. Some outrages were perpenorthern province of Hokkaido), noth- trated against the pro-foreigner Jap ing being said about Japan according anese and a few aliens, the latter leadtrade or diplomatic privileges to ing to the bombardment of KaogAmerica, an omission which again oshima by the British squadron in showed the shrewdness of Perry. The 1863, and of Shimonoséki by the comcommercial treaty came later, in
bined fieets of England, France, 1858.
America, and Holland, a year later. America's success in opening up re- Finally the last Shogun, Tokugawa lations with the Japanese in the face Yoshinobu, desiring to settle the whole of European failures proved the open- controversy and get rid of the coming wedge which, in a few years, was plexities that were harassing him and destined to shatter the conservatism causing a constant uproar in the land, which held Nippon aloof from the listened to the counsel of some of his world. Shortly after the signing of sagacious advisers and issued a procthe Convention at Kanagawa, the lamation. This was remarkable beShogun entered into similar agree- cause it showed that there existed at ments with Great Britain and other that time men who realized that dual European Powers. The grant of con- authority was weakening the country cessions to foreigners, as was to be and preparing the way for the swalexpected, threw the nation, hermit as lowing up of the Empire by the landit had heretofore been, into an anti- hungry foreigners. But unfortunately alien fever which kept increasing day for Japan, some of the followers of by day, causing much concern to the the usurper were not so willing as Shogunate. This prompted the usurper were those who counselled Yoshinobu then in power to endeavor to have his to end the existing state of affairs. decision ratified by the Court, and They protested against his surrender, thereby strengthen his position. But and persuaded him to join with them. he had counted without his host. The This action provoked their feudal
enemies to open fight, which resulted enlightened nations to gain knowlin the definite defeat of the Shogun. edge. When it is borne in mind that This civil war came to an end in about until five years previously the Nipa year, and as a result of it, the dual ponese had refused to have anything régime was gone, once for all, and the whatsoever to do with foreigners, the Emperor's rights were restored to him. revolutionary change of attitude im
The Mikado, his Imperial Majesty plied by this declaration of principles the late Mutsuhito (a compound word is better grasped, and makes one marmeaning affectionate and humane) vel at the wonderful adjustability diswhom the turn of the wheel of Fate played by the Mikado (and of his thus made supreme, had been born a councillors) while their neighbors on year prior to the date when Com- the mainland of Asia were calling the modore Perry landed at Yedo, and aliens "devils" and "barbarians,” and was therefore, at this time, about six- disdaining their civilization-someteen years old. He had succeeded to thing which many of them continue to the throne on the death of his father, do in this, the second decade of the the Einperor Komei, on February 13, twentieth century. 1867. He was again crowned on Oc- In November, 1868, the birthday of tober 13, 1868, to mark the change the Mikado was celebrated with much signified by the submergence of the éclat throughout Japan, and on that usurper, on which occasion he took a
day commenced the Meiji (literally solemn oath in which he promised “Restoration”) era, which, as its name that
signifies, meant the period in which, 1. Public councils shall be
on the break-down of the Shogunate, ganized, and all governmental affairs the power of the Emperor had been shall be decided by general discussion. restored to him. 2. All classes, both rulers and ruled,
III. shall with one heart devote themselves to the advancement of the national in- When this change occurred, the orterests.
ganization of the Japanese govern3. All the civil and military officials
ment and society was extremely inand all the common people shall be
efficient. The land was split up into allowed to realize their own aspira
some 270 petty baronies. Each lord tions, and to evince their active characteristics.
(daimyo) was semi-independent. He 4. All base customs of former times assessed and collected taxes and paid shall be abolished, and justice and
the stipends of his retainers equity as they are universally recog. (samurai), out of them. These folnized shall be followed.
lowers bore two swords on their per5. Knowledge shall be sought for
sons, acquired little else than “ornathroughout the world, and thus the
mental” culture, disdained all producfoundations of the Empire shall be established."
tive work, considered themselves far
superior to the farmers and artisans, This is considered to be the Magna
who were not allowed to bear arms, Charta of Japan, and well it may be
and formed themselves into a rigid so regarded, for in addition to laying
caste. down an embryonic constitution for
Just prior to the fall of the
Shogun some effort had been made to the country, it boldly admitted the
organize them into corps drilled and necessity of wiping out evil institutions and sitting at the feet of the
equipped in the Occidental style, and
even to build battleships plied by 1 "Fifty Years of New Japan," vol. 1, p. 141.
steam; but not much progress had