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must have national patriotism. Clan jealousies
and enmities must be subordinated to national
defence against the invader. It was seen that
to keep out the European was impossible, and
those in power persuaded their countrymen that
it was better to learn of the foreigner than to fight
him. By 1871 the clans and the feudal lords had
given up their rights and privileges. Europeans
were invited to Japan to teach, and the Japanese
were studying European methods in England, in
America, in Germany, and in France. Many of
these Japanese, including the greatest among
them, the late Prince Ito, were poor and with-



414 THE WEST IN THE EAST

out friends, and earned their living, while they
studied and investigated, among strangers. The
story of these patriotic Japanese, who emigrated
voluntarily to hardship and unfriendliness for
their country's sake, is one that any country
might be proud to tell.

What the Japanese have built, upon the foun-
dations so patiently and painfully laid by these
men, is reckoned the outstanding and pre-emi-
nent national accomplishment of the last fifty
years. Nobody can deprive them of their com-
mercial, political and military successes, and so
far as I know% nobody wishes to do so. If Japan
has suffered at the hands of the Europeans, she
has suffered from eulogy rather than from de-
traction. Unstinted and uncritical praise has
been her portion. She has been the young heir
just come of age among the nations. We have
all gone to the coming-of-age festivities, with
best wishes and friendly words, ready to see only
good in the youngster who has just come into his
own, and with the liveliest and sincerest charity
for youth, and the natural shortcomings of its
exuberance and lack of experience. But the
vagaries, impetuosities, and Inconsequences of
youth receive a different greeting, and other
names and epithets, when they are continued on
into early manhood. We rejoice at the baby's



JAPAN 415

first word, his first tooth, his first step; we won-
der at the amazing amount of knowledge and
experience he acquires in his first five years. If
he could continue at that rate through life, he
would easily out-Solomon Solomon in wisdom.
We soon discover that the rate of progress di-
minishes as the years increase, and we cease to
find his acquisition of knowledge and experi-
ence unusual.

Who does not know men whose youth had its
frailties, its oddities, its selfish inconsequences,
which then were only gay and graceful; but in
maturity, the frailties have fixed themselves in
a rosy formlessness of nose ; the oddities of man-
ner have become unpleasant eccentricities; the
inconsequence has become untrustworthiness.
The very qualities that were not unpleasing in
the youth, have become contemptible in the
man. Youth has, and ought to have in the
bank of all our hearts, a balance of a thousand
pardons to draw upon; but of maturity we de-
mand that the credit balance shall be the results
of saving and economy and accomplishment.

Japan has had her first tooth, and taken her
first step, amid the wondering admiration of
other peoples. She has built ships, organized
commerce, founded a government, fought out a
war. She is no longer an infant nor a callow



416 THE WEST IN TIIE EAST

youth. New standards of judgment are being
used in the measuring of her political, commer-
cial, ethical and social stature; and both Japan
and her later critics are frankly disappointed.

The days for the Sir Edwin Arnold and Laf-
cadio Hearn literary petting and dandling of the
baby Japan have gone by. It was all mawkish
enough at any time, and did Japan harm that
lasts to this day; and my Japanese friends would,
I am sure, consider it a grotesque study in insult
were I to write to them, or about them, in the
cooing and soft-syllabled noises of a nurse dan-
dling a baby. I have no intention of doing so.
I am merely an advanced picket for my country-
men, returning to describe what I saw, and mak-
ing no claim to infallibility or to a cut-and-dried
solution of the problems awaiting us in the East.
I bring merely maps, sketches, descriptions,
opinions, surmises, and all without malice or
prejudice, except that I am an American, and if
that be treason, I must submit to punishment
from those I describe, in good part.

For nearly a score of years I have been a
visitor, from time to time, to a town in New Eng-
land which is more closely linked to the history of
Japan than any other town in the world. Why
the Japanese Government has not put up a tab-
let or a monument in the town of Fairhaven,



JAPAN 417

Massachusetts, I do not understand. It must
be due to Ignorance of the short story I am about
to tell.

Captain \\liitfield, of Fairhaven, master of the
ship John Hoivland, sighted, on a bare rock,
in the Sea of Japan, a group of stranded, ship-
wrecked Japanese sailors. This was in the year
1841. He took them off and carried them to his
first port, Honolulu. One of them, a lad of
about fifteen, begged to be taken on with the
ship. By the time the John Howlcmd reached
her home port of Fairhaven, the boy had picked
up some smattering of the English language, and
was liked by the w^hole ship's company. Cap-
tain Whitfield paid for his schooling at a good
private school in the town, and there is still
living there, one at least, of his school-mates,
who has described him to me. The boy's name
was Nakahama Manjiro. At the end of six
years Nakahama was one of the accomplished
scholars in the school, and particularly interested
in mathematics and navigation. Through Cap-
tain Whitfield's good offices, he was enabled to
pick up his former companions at Honolulu, and
to return to Japan, where he arrived about the
year 1849. He had almost forgotten his own
tongue. He and his companions were suspected,
and kept in close confinement, and their story



418 THE WEST IN THE EAST

doubted. As a test of the truth of his tale he
was given the task of translating Bowditch's
"Navigator," the theory of which he had tried
to explain to his countrymen, into Japanese.
This he succeeded in doing after a year or more
of work.

When Commodore Perry received a letter in
English, in reply to his note to the ruler of Japan
in 1853, he little knew that the writer of it had
learned his English in a New England town not
far from the home port of the Commodore himself.
When he had his interview in person, he little
suspected that concealed within hearing was a
Japanese, whose assurances of the good-will and
honorable intentions of the Americans, from a
personal experience of their kindness and hospi-
tality, was to carry greater weight with the rulers
of Japan than the noise and size of his guns.
If any one individual is to be credited with
making the first intercourse between Japan and
America easy and friendly, it is surely Naka-
hama Manjiro, who was educated in Fairhaven,
Massachusetts. He afterward became a per-
sonage in Japan, was ennobled, navigated the
first ship out of sight of land from that country,
was sent by the Mikado to study the conditions
during the war between France and Germany in
1870, paid a short visit to America on his way



JAPAN 419

home, and leaves two sons, one a distinguished
professor, and the other an officer in the Japan-
ese navy.

I believe Japan only needs to be reminded of
this to ask the honor of commemorating in some
suitable and permanent manner the hero of this
story, in the town which gave him a home and
an education.

It is a far cry indeed from the Japan of the first
edition of the "Encyclopaedia Britannica," or the
Japan of 1853, to the Japan from which I have
just returned. It is now a Japan with a popu-
lation estimated at 50,000,000; with compul-
sory education and compulsory military service;
with an army of a peace strength of 250,000, and
able to put and maintain 800,000 in the field;
with 191 war vessels aggregating 493,371 tons,
and an expenditure on the navy during the last
four years placed at $133,807,000; with nearly
5,000 miles of railways and 18,000 miles of tele-
graph lines; with exports to Great Britain of
25,522,000 yen,^ and imports from Great Britain
of 107,796,000 yen; with exports to the United
States of 121,997,000 yen, and imports from the
United States of 77,637,000 yen; and with ex-
ports to and imports from Germany of 7,976,-
000 and 46,179,000 yen respectively. The popu-

^The yen is worth 50 cents in gold.



420 THE WE^T IN THE EAST

lation Is, six-tenths of it, engaged in agriculture,
and one-tenth dependent upon the fisheries, or
35,000,000 thus employed. So mountainous,
barren, and difficult is the land, that even these
people of ant-like industry and economy can
only bring one-sixth of the total area of 147,651
square miles under cultivation, and more than
one-half of this area is given over to the culti-
vation of rice alone. The foreigners in Japan
number 19,094; the Japanese abroad number
195,272, of whom 95,000 are residents of the
United States, or in our colonies.

After a struggle between the clans of the south :
the Satsuma, the Choshin, the Tosa and the
Hizen; and the Tokugawa regime, which had
been in power for two hundred and fifty years be-
fore the coming of Commodore Perry, the clans
and their leaders, w^Ith splendid patriotic magna-
nimity, gave up, ostensibly, not only their pow-
ers but their wealth; but be it understood they
retained and still retain an overwhelming influ-
ence in affairs of state; members of these clans
fill practically all the offices of importance in
the state, the army, and the navy. It is still a
government by an oligarchy, in which nepotism
plays a large part. The Emperor was once more
put in a position of real power, and the House
of Peers and the House of Representatives, con-



JAPAN 421

stituting the Imperial Diet of Japan, created by
the constitution of February, 1889, met for the
first time in November, 1890.

The House of Peers is composed of three
classes: hereditary, comprising the imperial
princes and the higher nobility, sitting in their
own right; nominated, comprising persons
named by the Emperor for services to the state,
and for their learning; elected, including the
majority of the peerage, holding their seats for
seven years, and consisting of a number of vis-
counts and barons elected by their o^m orders,
representatives of the various provinces returned
subject to the approval of the Emperor, and by
small electoral bodies composed of the highest
taxpayers. The House of Peers numbers about
280 members.

The House of Representatives numbers 379,
a fixed number being returned from each elec-
toral district, the proportion being 1 to about
127,000. This lower house sits for four years,
and is bound to meet once every year for at
least three months. These members are re-
turned upon a taxpaying, residential, and age
franchise. The electors must be male Japanese
subjects of not less than full twenty-five years of
age. The members of both the House of Peers
and the House of Representatives receive $1,000



422 THE WEST IN THE EAST

a year, besides travelling expenses. This Im-
perial Diet has control over the finances. Min-
isters, or officials of their departments designated
by these ministers, sit in the chamber, but only
at their own option, to defend their departments
or to answer questions. The Japanese bor-
rowed their military methods from Germany,
and their parliamentary model was evidently
German as well.

On examining the constitution of these two
houses it is seen, even by the reader of so slight
a sketch as this, how preponderating may be the
control of the Emperor. The ministers or cabi-
net are nominated by, and are the servants of,
the Emperor. They are not responsible to the
Diet, and may remain in office as long as the Em-
peror so pleases. The government thus legislates
through two chambers without being responsible
to either. The lower house is almost of neces-
sity an opposition. So it has proved itself.
More than once the government has found itself
balked and brought to a stand-still. Then the
still awesome power of the Emperor is called in.
He sends an imperial message to the recalcitrant
or truculent members that such unseemly par-
liamentary conflicts are "likely to disturb the
spirits of my ancestors," then after a confer-
ence between the government and the opposition.



JAPAN 423

the Budget for the year, let us say, is passed.
But Hamlet cannot forever be appealing to the
ghost. There will come a time when the deep
voice from nowhere will be laughed at and
flouted; and when the mystic power invoked
will be analyzed and found to be, as it is,
vaporous.

There is no state, no official religion. The
lower classes are still devoted to their old shrines,
their old wooden idols, the mandates of their
ignorant Buddhist and Shinto priests ; and they
still contribute, what for a poor people are enor-
mous sums, for the maintenance and building
of shrines and temples.

One of the features of Japanese civilization
to-day is the bands of pilgrims one sees all
over the country, from little family parties to
parties of thousands, on their way to this shrine
or that, or to Fuji, or some other sacred moun-
tain. At some of these places prostitutes are
provided for the pilgrims. This outrages our
sense of decency and appeals to us as coarse and
crude blasphemy; but not one Japanese in a
thousand can even understand such an attitude
of mind or such a phase of morality. With us
this matter of the relation of the sexes is recog-
nized universally not only as immoral but crimi-
nal. It is only fair to the Japanese to explain



424 THE WEST IN THE EAST

that their attitude is so distinctly different from
our own in this matter, that they are no more to
be judged harshly on this subject than are chil-
dren who take candy that does not belong to
them, or who go too near the fire before they
know that fire burns. There is even no word,
in Japanese, for male chastity. Every child of
the present Mikado is the offspring of a concu-
bine. The Empress has borne no children.

The upper and educated classes are sceptical,
or frankly agnostic. At one time the Catholics,
and at another the Unitarians, sincerely believed
that Japan w^as about to become Catholic or
Unitarian. The Japanese are great nibblers
intellectually. Their gentleness of manner, and
apparent receptivity, lead the foreign missionary
to believe that he is making headway ; and like
other men he loses no opportunity to proclaim
his success to his co-religionists at home, only to
find that mere curiosity was at the bottom of
the Japanese reception of him and his message;
and that at the end of a few years the Japanese
are nibbling as politely, and as smilingly as ever,
at some other sectarian cheese. Nor are the
missionaries to blame, for among missionaries it
would be hard to match the honor-roll of names
beginning with Francis Xavier, and coming down
to Verbeck, Brown, Hepburn, and Gale in Korea.



JAPAN 425

It is not only in religious and ethical fields, that
the Japanese wander and browse with no great
seriousness of purpose. It looked at one time
as though the Japanese intended to adopt Euro-
pean costumes, but in 1888 the cry of Japan for
the Japanese was heard, and there was a revo-
lution of feeling, and a general change back to
Japanese dress. Their fads are innumerable.
They have gone in for rabbits, for cock-fighting,
for wrestling, for waltzing, for picnics on a grand
scale, for elaborate funerals, and they discussed
seriously the question as to whether April Fool's
Day should be celebrated, all at different times;
and one after the other these have been neg-
lected and forgotten, and they have discarded
one faith or one fad after another, with the
same nonchalance with which they have changed
back and forth, to and from the European cos-
tume. It must not be deduced from this that
I am criticising the Japanese as an unstable
people of whims and fancies. These excursions,
religious, social and sartorial, may be merely
trial trips in the search for the best. In what I
write, I try to explain to my countrymen; there
is no malicious nor mischievous intention to fo-
ment ill-feeling, nor to excite ridicule; that role
may best be left to those who count a fleeting and
sectional popularity as suflScient payment for the
sale of one's own soul.



426 THE ^VEST IN THE EAST

The one all-pervading influence has ever been,
and is to-day, nor has it lost its hold altogether
even upon the sceptics, ancestor-worship: wor-
ship and service for the ancestors of the family,
of the clan, and of the Emperor. When the
w^oman is married, her name is stricken ojff the
records of her father's family, and added to that
of her husband, and she becomes a worshipper
of his ancestors; the loyalty to clan and to clan
ancestors still persists; and, as I have written,
the loyalty to the Emperor and the imperial an-
cestry is like our patriotism of the best kind,
and keeps all the divergent interests submissive,
and remains still as the last court of appeal.

The regime of the Shoguns, a word equivalent
in meaning to the Roman Imperator, which in-
troduces us to the Japan we know, and which
lasted from 1600 to 1868, meant 270 Daimyos,
with their Samurai or noble vassals, and 1,500,-
000 dependent upon them, and this pinnacle
supported by a base of what were practically
30,000,000 serfs. Even thirty years ago not one
person in ten could afford even rice, but lived on
barley, or barley and a little rice ; now six out of
ten have a square meal of rice every day.

It was this arrangement of society which ex-
plains both the present strength and weakness of
Japan. Not to remember that these people are
only just emerging from feudalism, from clan



JAPAN 427

government, and that the origins of such ethical
systems and sanctions as they have, have their
roots in Confucianism, which is agnostic and
monarchial, and in the subservient loyalty of
man to master, and of the Sir Galahad loyalty as
between brothers in arms, described in their code
of Bushido, is to leave Japan a sealed book.

The fierce patriotism animating those who with
shouts of delight charged again and again over
lines of their own slain against Russian breast-
works ; what does it mean ? The patient, smiling
stoicism ; what does it mean ? The domestic and
moral slavery of the women ; what does it mean ?
The commercial chicanery and unconscious con-
sciencelessness, from the twenty-four members
of the House of Representatives now in prison
in connection with the sugar frauds, and the
First Army Division scandal in regard to tenders
for new depots, down to the three thousand
weights and measures captured by the police of
Tokio, in a simultaneous raid upon the dealers
in rice ; w^hat does it mean ? The self-sacrificing
patriotism, and simple honorable living of Prince
Ito, and other men like him; what does it mean ?
The jump, from knights in chain armor, with
two-handled swords, to the latest fashion in
dreadnoughts, and this in one generation; what
does it mean ? A constitution, an armv, a navv.



428 THE WEST IN THE EAST

a complete school system and miles of progress
along the road of industrial and commercial
competition, the defeat of one great European
power, and an alliance with the greatest power
of all, the British Empire; what does it all mean ?

The gains are so gigantic, the changes have
been so swift, the child has become so surrepti-
tiously a strong man, that enthusiasts shout: a
miracle! Poets praise without stint and with
facts wreathed in the flowers of rhetoric; and
travellers interpret the bows and smiles of shop-
keepers and Geisha girls into a national certifi-
cate for courtesy; and readers in foreign lands
either shiver in fear of the "Japanese Peril," or
are hypnotized into believing that here at last
is the new heaven and the new earth of the Book
of Revelations. A world-wide false impression of
Japan has been given by the eclogues of Euro-
pean visitors, whose opinions would be more
valuable had they seen less of her women and
known more of her men. Cant is not peculiar
to the Puritan; the Cavaliers, the literary Cav-
aliers, have a cant of their own.

However easily satisfied the rest of the world
may be, wuth fantastic and superficial explana-
tions and descriptions of the origins, and the
present status, and the probable results of this
Japanese civilization, we Americans are vitally



JAPAN 429

concerned to know as much as we can of nothing
but the truth, ^^llat has most impressed the
world is the suddenly developed military prowess
of the Japanese. The victory over the Chinese
is a negligible laurel. The Chinese are a people
who have idealized for centuries the student and
the merchant, and despised the warrior. Chi-
nese of seventy are still proud to be going up
for examinations that for fifty years they have
failed to pass. Even an unsuccessful student is
of more importance than a successful soldier.
This situation is only now beginning to change
slowly.

The victory over the Russians was an incon-
clusive victory. Nearly 900,000 Russians were
securely intrenched, and more were coming into
northern Manchuria, when peace terms were
concluded at Portsmouth. Between March 31,
1904, and March 31, 1907, the national debt of
Japan increased from $280,000,000 to the enor-
mous amount of $1,135,000,000; and Russia
declined even to negotiate unless any con-
sideration of an indemnity was waived; and
Russia paid nothing, ceded no territory of her
own, what she relinquished belonged to China,
and lost nothing but prestige, for which she
seemed to care nothing. This war cost the
Japanese $1,000,000,000; 85,000 killed, and



430 THE ^^^EST IN THE EAST

over 600,000 casualitles. A drawn battle with
the Japanese did not seem to Russia then, and
from w^hat one hears in Russia to-day, does not
seem to them now, as a matter of much conse-
quence. Had it not been for the condition of
her domestic poHtical affairs, she would not have
consented even to appear at Portsmouth, for she
knew, as the chancellories of all Europe knew,
that Japan was at her last gasp financially.

The alliance with Great Britain may have
been a good stroke of diplomacy for Great
Britain at the time; but it was a short-sighted
policy, and the British are by no means so in
love with the alliance now, as then, when they
considered it a supreme blow at any Russian
threatening of their frontiers in India. And it
is well known now that a Japanese alliance was
hawked about the continent before it was ac-
cepted by Great Britain.

It is easy to see that the organization of an
army, that military prowess, are the line of least
resistance for a people w^ith the past history of
the Japanese. It was comparatively easy to
convert the fighting feudalism of earlier days
into the terms of a modern navy and army.
What Wellington said of the playing-fields of the
great English public-schools, and the result at
Waterloo, may be said as justifiably of Bushido,



JAPAN 431

and the battle of the Yalu River. I have no
wish to detract from the merit of Japanese mili-
tary success, I merely call attention to the fact
that it has its roots, and well-defined ones, in the
past, and is not a military Cinderella, as the
fairy-story writers on modern Japan would lead
one to believe. Everybody agrees to praise the
obedience, the discipline and the courage of the
Japanese soldier.

But now comes the difficult task, and along
the lines of the hardest resistance, which is to
convert this clan system, which despised com-
merce and industry, which taught its youth that
*' trade is the only game where the winner Is
disgraced," into commercial and industrial effi-
ciency. Just as everybody agrees to praise the
Japanese as a soldier, so everybody agrees to
question the honesty of the Japanese as a trader.
My own reception in Japan, the constant hos-
pitality shown me there, the intelligent and cour-
teous gentlemen who helped me and entertained
me there, make it hard to understand the causes
of the bitter hostility to the Japanese, not on our
Western coast only, but all through the East, in
which I had been travelling for many months.

It is only when you leave the high official, the
kindly and considerate host, the travelled and
cosmopolitan Japanese, and hear tales of the



432 THE WEST IN THE EAST

Japanese as they are; see them as they are, at
the temples or in the public gardens; in the
crowded narrow streets of Kioto, for example;
at the railway stations ; in the railway carriages,



Online LibraryPrice CollierThe West in the East from an American point of view → online text (page 23 of 29)