Lawrence John Lumley Dundas Zetland.

An Eastern miscellany online

. (page 19 of 24)
Online LibraryLawrence John Lumley Dundas ZetlandAn Eastern miscellany → online text (page 19 of 24)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


parading before the popular gaze gory represen-
tations of the detruncated head of the President
of the United States, as the promoter of the
conference which had been the means of dis-
appointing them of their hopes. Misled by the
tone of the native Press, which had foreshadowed
a large indemnity, public feeling for a time ran
high, until with the publication of the terms of
the newly contracted alliance with Great Britain,
soberer counsels prevailed, and the nation re-
sumed once more its appointed path of progress.
There is much that is of supreme interest and
importance to Englishmen to be found in Japan
at the present day. Not the Japan of fancy
depicted in a voluminous literature as a land
of temples and tea - houses, a sort of quaint
earthly paradise existing solely for the benefit
of the flotsam and jetsam of the restless West,
where the twang of the samisen fills the air,
and the alluring charms of the laughter -loving,
almond - eyed geisha reign supreme, and where
the cares and responsibilities and conventions
of the prosy West may for a space be con-
veniently laid aside ; but the Japan which has
of recent years excited the attention of more
sober pens, the Japan whose pulse beats
quickest in the busy thoroughfares of industrial
centres and amid the bustling activity of great
naval and military stations. The temples of
Nikko and the tea-houses of Kyoto, the lovely


scenery of Chuzenji or MIyajima, still draw and
fascinate a vast annual concourse of the pleasure-
seekers of Europe and America ; but in the
factories of Tokyo and Osaka, in the dockyards
of Nagasaki, Kure, and Yokosuka, amid the
furnaces and steel - works of Wakamatsu and
the coal-pits of Kyushu, may best be seen and
appreciated the real spirit of modern Japan.
These things find no place in the recognised
programme of tourist travels, which accounts
for the existence of an unfortunate scepticism
as to the industrial and commercial potenti-
alities of Japan.

Yet history can show no parallel to the
achievements of her people in this direction
in recent years. It is no small thing that in
a decade and a half she should have built up
a foreign trade from a modest total of less
than £14,000,000 in 1890 to £82,000,000 in
1905 — a total, that is to say, for her population
of 48,000,000 equal to the foreign trade of
China with a population at least eight times
as great. ^ In a space of thirty-five years she
has constructed 5000 miles of railway, exclusive
of her undertakings in this direction in Man-
churia and Korea ; and in face of the op-
position of a vast existing competition she has
created a mercantile marine of upwards of

1 Japan's foreign trade reached the figure of £94,600,000 in 1907,
but had fallen again in 1909 to £82,400,000.


6000 steam and sailing vessels with a displace-
ment exceeding a million and a quarter tons.
Not only has she succeeded in many lines in
supplanting in her own dominions the products
of Western factories with the products of her
Qwn — a development about to be further facili-
tated by a recent revision of her tariff law —
but her manufacturers are daring to compete
— and compete successfully — with the manu-
facturers of Europe in the adjacent markets of
China and Korea. At Kure and Yokosuka
battleships of 19,000 tons and a speed of 19
knots, equalled only in all probability by ships
of the British Dreadnought type, are at the
present moment in course of construction, while
private dockyards are finding a new source of
profit in the supply of torpedo - boats for an
embryo navy for Peking.

An atmosphere of feverish activity pervades the
mills of Tokyo and Nagoya, Hiogo, Yokkaichi, and
Osaka, where day and night alike may be heard
the ceaseless roar and hum of wheels gyrating
noisily in perpetual motion. The half- million
spindles which ten years ago were described as
" challenging the command of the Far Eastern
market" are represented to-day by treble that
number with a capital of close upon £4,000,000,
and a half-yearly output of 184 J million pounds
of yarn.^ There is in Osaka a cotton-spinning

1 The output of yarn in 1908 was 983,000 bales = 393,200,000 lb.


company paying a dividend of forty per cent.
During the past year (1905) the port of Kobe
alone shows an increase in the value of her im-
ports over 1904 amounting to £5,375,000, of
which amount £3,419,000 stand for an increased
importation of raw cotton and machinery. The
large profits, indeed, made by the spinning com-
panies in 1905, owing to the low price of Indian
and American cotton at the beginning of the
year, and to the further fact that they had
previously sold their production as far ahead as
May and June, placed them on a firm footing,
and induced such directors as were able to resist
the grasping demands of avaricious shareholders
for colossal dividends to still further increase
their plant. In many of the large spinning
mills English machinery, bearing dates as recent
as the last three or four years, is to be seen,
and inquiries at various mills elicit the informa-
tion that the spindles of the country are being
increased by many thousands at the present
time.^ With cheap labour, an unrivalled geo-

^ It is estimated that before long there will be in operation in the
country approximately 2,000,000 spindles. That the number of
spindles possessed by a country is not necessarily a safe indication
of the importance of the industry is clearly shown by figures con-
tained in the Report of the International Congress of Cotton Manu-
facturers for 1910, which show that during that year the consump-
tion of raw cotton in Great Britain with 53,397,466 spindles iwas
3,053,545 bales, and in Japan with only 1,948,000 spindles 1,241,000


graphical position, and an abundant water power,
the value of which is being rapidly recognised,
as is proved by the vast schemes for making
use of it which are under consideration at the
present time, the manufactiirers of Japan can
claim solid advantages on their side in the
fierce struggle for supremacy in Far Eastern
markets, and the increased value of the export
of cotton yarn from £2,900,000 in 1904 to
£3,300,000 in 1905, in spite of the drain upon
the resources of the country owing to the pro-
longation of an exhausting war, is merely an
indication of the prospects already within
sight. ^

It is sometimes argued that the impulsiveness
peculiar to the character of the Japanese is
liable, as a result of national elation at success,
to launch them upon undertakings out of all
proportion to their means. It is true that with
the sudden influx of capital at the conclusion of
the Sino-Japan War, companies sprang up like
mushrooms in the night, paid vast dividends
for a brief space, and then collapsed when, in
due course, it was found that the capital had
disappeared ! Demoralisation and loss of confi-
dence inevitably ensued ; but Japan has learned
wisdom since those days : the very fact that no
indemnity is to be paid has had a salutary

1 £3,231,600 in 1909.


effect in checking any tendency towards undue
expansion, and every care is being taken to
prevent any recrudescence of the bubble enter-
prises of eight and ten years ago. The moral
effect of victory, too, has undoubtedly been to
give the people a confidence in themselves and
a consequent stability which they have not
hitherto enjoyed. When a son of the land of
Sinnim casts his bread upon the waters, he does
so with the confident expectation of finding it
before many days, and it was a Chinaman of
inscrutable countenance who bought 25,000
Kanegafuchi cotton shares at 35 at the opening
of Russo-Japanese hostilities, and who smiled
with complacent satisfaction later on when they
mounted steadily to 139 ! A charming villa on
the shores of the Inland Sea offers tanofible
testimony to the perspicacity of Chinese com-
mercial instinct.

In the city of Osaka may be seen a microcosm
of modern industrial life. Ever the pioneer in
industrial enterprise, the city has flourished
amazingly during recent years, and boasts of
a population which, already aggregating upwards
of a million souls, is increasing at the rate of
from seventy to eighty thousand a year. No
longer content to rely upon the adjacent city
of Kobe for a port, her people have already
expended two and a quarter million pounds



upon the construction of a harbour, and are
prepared to spend a similar sum in providing
themselves with a thorough system of electric
trams. Ere long they anticipate sharing in a
colossal scheme for generating a force of 45,000
horse-power with the waters of an upland lake.
The city is credited with over 5000 factories
and workshops responsible for a production ex-
ceeding in value £10,000,000 a-year, and spin-
ning - mills, weaving - establishments, dockyards,
iron - works, sugar - refineries, cement - works,
chemical - works, brush - factories, and match-
factories conspire to array her in the smoke-
begrimed garb of the manufacturing centres of
the West, and to impart to her thoroughfares
an appearance of immense activity.

What Osaka does to-day a whole posse of
admiring and aspiring followers may be counted
upon to do to-morrow — and surprising results have
accrued. Bristles are imported from China and
Europe, bone from England and Chicago, teak and
ebony from the Dutch East Indies, freight and
import duties are paid, the raw materials made up
into tooth brushes, nail brushes, and hair brushes,
at the rate of many thousands a-day, freight on
the finished article paid back to Europe, and
Messrs Kent undersold in the London market !
Two years ago Japan was a large importer of
refined sugar, to-day she is exporting the com-


modity to China, Korea, and Hong-Kong. The
little town of Moji, itself only fifteen years old,
is exporting 20,000 casks of cement to San
Francisco — a single example of many of Japanese
good arising out of American evil. It having been
observed that the importation of printed calicoes
had reached a value of £2,000,000 a-year, £100,000
is subscribed with a view to establishing- the
industry in Japan. The manufacture of glass,
already exported in small quantities, is about to
be stimulated by the formation of a foreign and
Japanese company with a capital of £150,000.
In the camphor of Formosa is to be found a valu-
able adjunct in the prospective manufacture of
Japanese celluloid, and no little interest is being
evoked by the erection of an Armstrong explosives
factory in Japan. Within a stone's-throw of the
gorgeous temples of Nikko, the prosaic sheds and
chimneys of a flax-spinning mill stand boldly for
New Japan, and when you enter a protest at this
crude invasion of sacred ground, you are met with
a shrug of the shoulders and the incontestable
reply that the fall of water supplies a force of
many hundreds of horse-power, and that whereas
linen was formerly purchased exclusively from
abroad, its manufacture now gives occupation to
many hundreds of people at home.

Should you still be sceptical of the strength and
purpose of the nation's aspirations, all lingering


doubts are dispelled by a glance at the attitude
of paternal interest and solicitude towards com-
mercial development assumed by the powers that
be. Bounties and subsidies are the order of the
day. State funds are allocated for the experi-
mental production of cotton in Korea. " If Korea
can ultimately supply this cotton," recently de-
clared the Minister of Finance, " a very radical
change will be effected in the cotton industry of
Japan." Bounties are granted to shipbuilders
and subsidies to shipping companies, and the
nation's shipping grows apace. Freights on the
railways prove unsatisfactory and lack uniformity,
and rightly or wrongly the Government steps in
and acquires the country's communications for
itself The holders of railway stock may raise
objections and ministers may resign, but the will
of the Government prevails. Where private
enterprise fails the Government itself steps in.
Two and a quarter millions sterling have already
been swallowed up in a heroic endeavour to plant
an exotic industry upon an uncongenial soil, in
pursuance of which an array of coke ovens, blast-
furnaces, and steel plant have been erected at the
national steel -works of Edamitsu, and coal and
iron mines have been acquired. Caustic criticism
as to expenditure leaves the will of the ruling
powers unscathed, and further increases are made.
In conjunction with the Admiralty the capacity


of the coke ovens Is increased from 500 to 1000
tons a-day, and additional blast - furnaces and
Bessemer furnaces are set up. Steel rails, steel
plates, steel girders, steel t3'res, and shells are
being turned out at the present day, and 180,000
tons of steel is the estimated output in another
two years' time.

Coming events cast their shadows before, and
in the new tariff law of March of the present year
(1906) may be found an indication of the probable
fiscal policy of the country at the expiration of the
existinof conventional tariffs in 1911. Reservation
of the home market, and protection and encourage-
ment of home industries, is clearly foreshadowed
— such protection as will enable Japan to stand
independent of the West, and to control the com-
mercial destinies of Asia.

In the foregoing pages some idea has been given
of the present industrial and commercial activity
of Japan, and the possibilities of her future are
incidentally portrayed. If her prospects appear
bright, it must also be observed that the diffi-
culties that lie athwart her path are by no means
insignificant. In natural wealth she cannot com-
pare with a country like our own, and coal, copper
— a valuable asset in view of the world-wide and
increasing demand for electrical appliances — cereals,
timber, marine products, silk, and tea may be said
to comprise the most prominent items among her


Indigenous resources. Iron exists only in mod-
erate quantities, and the export of tea must be
described as a diminishing industry. Of all her
exports, that of silk is by far the greatest, while
that of cotton, as already indicated, shows a
steady increase. It is interesting to observe that
of a total export trade of rather more than
£32,000,000 in 1905, approximately £16,500,000
was represented by the various products of silk
and cotton, while copper, coal, tea, matches,
marine products, porcelain, drugs and chemicals,
mats and matting, straw, braid, tobacco, paper,
and camphor come next in order of value.

The price of victory, too, has been by no means
light, and as a result of the war she is saddled
with a considerable foreign debt. Japanese
financiers, brought up in an atmosphere of desper-
ate financial expedients, have secured consent to
a heroic scheme of amortisation, on account of
which £11,000,000 is to be allocated annually for
the next thirty years to the service of the debt —
an amount equal to the sum-total of her national
revenue of ten years ago. With no indemnity to
swell the contents of the national purse, as was
the case after the Sino-Japan war, the anxiety of
the Government to foster trade, and above all to
build up and increase the exports of the country,
is sufiiciently intelligible, quite apart from avowed
ambitions in the direction of national commercial


aggrandisement, and in part explains the pro-
digious interference on their part in the interests
of national industrial competition, as contrasted
with a conspicuous absence of official interest in
the regulation of the internal industrial economy
of the country. Cheap labour, declare the manu-
facturers, is essential to successful competition
with foreign industry, and the manufacturers have
their way. Despite the fact that with the in-
creased cost of living, in recent years wages have
risen by from 50 to 100 per cent, fivepence or six-
pence for a day of twelve hours may be said to be
a fair wage for women in the spinning-mills, while
many may be seen working considerably longer for
appreciably less. Yet with all their cheap labour
it may be questioned whether the action of the
manufacturers is not destined to rebound upon their
own heads. The highly coloured pictures of the
delights of city life, painted by the procurers of
labour for the consumption of the country hodge,
fade sadly under the grim reality of extended
hours and diminished pay, and are apt to excite
doubts in the minds of the country folk as to the
joys and advantages of factory life. Moreover,
long hours are inimical to real efficiency, and the
general severity of existing conditions can hardly
be conducive to the future welfare of the race.
Not least among the cares of the employer, too, as
a result of all lack of reasonable legislation, must


be reckoned the hopeless levity with which the
Japanese workman regards — or disregards — the
obligations of contract, a state of things pro-
ductive of an irritating uncertainty as to supply.
Nevertheless, despite all such considerations, he
prefers to accept labour on its present terms
rather than, by drawing the attention of legis-
lators to its delinquencies, to risk exciting an
inconvenient labour emancipation propaganda, and
bringing about the re-enactment upon the Jap-
anese stage of the all too familiar scenes culled
from the socialistic repertoire of the West. For
the attitude of cold indifference, if not of open
hostility, towards socialistic agitation of recent
years, for the promulgation of drastic police reg-
ulations for the preservation of peace and order
in 1900, and for the forceful suppression by the
authorities of certain social democratic associa-
tions, the newly arisen aristocracy of wealth no
doubt breathed a devout prayer of thanks.

If one hesitates to accept in its entirety the
bitter assertion of an ardent lover of old Japan,
that " there have been brought into existence —
with no legislation to restrain inhumanity — all
the horrors of factory life at its worst," ^ one is
at least forced to admit that, judged by European
standards, there is much that may well call for
redress. When one sees women undergoing the

^ Lafcadio Hearne — 'Japan: an Interpretation.'


physical strain of a fourteen hours' day at the
hand-loom at a fraction of a penny an hour,
when one unexpectedly encounters coal-begrimed
and scantily clad female figures emerging from
the coal-pit's mouth, and when one observes
children of ten and twelve toiling through the
long weary day for a pittance of twopence, one
cannot but suppose that sooner or later the ques-
tion of the rights and the position of labour will
call for solution. Some day the cry of the chil-
dren will be raised.^

" * For oh,' say the children, ' we are weary,

And we cannot run or leap,
If we cared for any meadows it were merely

To drop down in them and sleep.
For all day we drag our burden tiring

Through the coal-dark underground,
Or all day we drive the wheels of iron

In the factories round and round.' " -

But for the present the workers lack organisa-
tion and a programme, and the industrial machine
grinds relentlessly on in the fierce struggle for
advantage in the commercial race, and the women
and the children toil patiently by day and by
night for the industrial and commercial advance-
ment of Japan.

In the post helium enterprise of Japan there

1 According to official returns for 1905, there are at the present
time 43,678 children under the age of fourteen employed in the
factories of Japan.

■^ E. B. Browning.


is much that is deserving of the careful and
thoughtful consideration of Englishmen. The
fortunes of Great Britain in Asia are inextricably
interwoven with those of Japan. With the
alliance have been created ties capable of proving
of no small benefit to both contracting parties, and
no cloud need arise to mar the good understanding
between the two countries, provided that an absurd
sentiment is not allowed to assign to Japan attri-
butes which she does not possess. The doubtless
well-intentioned though mistaken attempt on the
part of certain writers to apotheosise an essentially
human people can be productive solely of disap-
pointment and harm. The unreasoning panegyrics
of hysterical enthusiasts at home are calculated
to evoke jeremiads on the part of those whose lot
it is to submit Far Eastern developments to the
cold test of unimpassioned criticism and practical
experience. It is well not to lose sight of the
fact that in the adjacent continent of China lies
the obvious and legitimate stage for Japanese
commercial expansion. Any one who is foolish
enough to imagine that she spent millions of money
and thousands of lives in Manchuria, that she
staked, in fact, her very existence upon the fall
of the dice of war for the sole benefit of others
who were unwilling to put up the stakes, is likely
to meet with a rude disenchantment. Such
altruism may be preached, but is certainly not


practised by humanity as at present constituted ;
and while Japan will doubtless act up to the letter
of her declarations with regard to a policy of a
fair field for all, and will open the door into
Manchuria so far as one man is in a position to
open the door of another man's house, a microscopic
examination of her procedure will not improbably
reveal much that can scarcely be accounted in
strict accordance with the true spirit of a policy
of equal opportunity for all. It would be strange,
indeed, were she to seek no recompense for her
vast sacrifices in the late war, and it is absurd
to suppose that she will not — so far as she is
permitted to do so — take every advantage of her
position to forward the interests of her own people
in Manchuria. Should a reaction of public opinion
in England set in to the detriment of the good
relations between the two peoples, when it is
realised that the supposed god is after all com-
posed very largely of human clay, the enthusiasts
will have no one but themselves to thank for the
plain result of their own unreasoning and extrava-
gant praise.^

A sober consideration of the situation with
which the statesmen of Japan have to deal, of

^ The reaction here anticipated did unquestionably set in : nor
is enthusiasm in the public mind likely to be revived by the new
Japanese tariff or the annexation of Korea, however well justified
she may be in her action in either case.


the not unnatural expectations of her people in
return for immense sacrifices undergone, of the
inevitable attitude of the military party at the
unexpectedly successful outcome of a tremendous
war, should suffice to make it clear that there are
no small obstacles in the way of immediately
applying in its widest sense the policy of the open
door. Japan has need of the friendship and co-
operation of England, and a clearty defined public
opinion in Great Britain, sympathetic and generous
towards her ally, as far as generosity is compatible
with the maintenance of the legitimate interests
of her own nationals in Far Eastern waters, will
strengthen the hands of the far-seeing states-
men who have thrown the whole weight of their
influence into the balance in favour of equal treat-
ment for all, and will do more than whole reams
of diplomatic correspondence to bring about a
liberal and satisfactory settlement of such ques-
tions as are still outstanding in the troubled arena
of the Farthest East.




The dream of Hideyoshi has come true : Korea
is an appanage of Japan. To any one who has
set foot on Korean soil, or to any one who has
followed, even vaguely and from afar, the suc-
cessive scenes in the Korean comedy of the
immediate past, the fact admits of no dispute ;
and the Korean Emperor, despite profuse pro-
testations of admiration and affection for the
Japanese Kesident-General, is perhaps the only
living soul upon whose mind the obvious has as
yet failed to dawn. Hidden away in a small
room at the back of the least attractive of all
the palaces of Soul, his Majesty still revolves
impossible plans in his uneasy mind for the

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 21 22 23 24

Online LibraryLawrence John Lumley Dundas ZetlandAn Eastern miscellany → online text (page 19 of 24)