|The Empire of the East
by H. B. Montgomery
Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Sam W. and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
THE EMPIRE OF THE EAST
H. B. MONTGOMERY
"THIS NATION IS THE DELIGHT OF MY SOUL" ST. FRANCIS XAVIER
WITH NINETEEN ILLUSTRATIONS
METHUEN & CO. 36 ESSEX STREET W.C. LONDON
First Published in 1908.
[Illustration: A STAR OF THE EAST FROM A PRINT BY TOSHIKATA]
On my return from another visit to Japan a few months ago I found those persons in this country with whom I was brought into close association extremely curious and strangely ignorant regarding that ancient Empire. Despite the multitude of books which have of late years been published about Japan and things Japanese a correct knowledge of the country and the people is, so far as I can judge, altogether lacking in England. Indeed the multiplicity of books may have something to do with that fact, as many of them have been written by persons whose knowledge, acquired in the course of a flying visit, was, to say the least, perfunctory, and who had no opportunities for viewing the life of the people from within and forming a sound judgment on many matters upon which the writers have dogmatically pronounced. I, accordingly, came to the conclusion not only that there was room for one more book on Japan, but that another book was greatly needed--a book not technical, historical, abstruse or recondite, but a book describing in simple language Japan as it was, is, and will be. This is the task I set before myself when I commenced to write this volume, and the reader must be the judge to what extent I have been successful in the accomplishment thereof. I have touched but lightly on the material development of the country of recent years. I know from experience that though statistics are the fad of a few they are caviare to the great mass of the public. Nor have I dealt at all with politics or political parties in new Japan. It is, I think, unfortunate that the Japanese people, in adopting or adapting English institutions, should have introduced the political party system so much in evidence in Great Britain and other European countries. Whether that system works well in the West, where it has been in existence for centuries and is not always taken over-seriously by party politicians themselves, is a question upon which I shall express no opinion. But I think it is problematical whether such a system is well adapted for an Oriental people, possessed of and permeated by an ancient civilisation--a people whose feelings, sentiments, modes of thought, prejudices and passions are so essentially different from those of Western nations. Be that as it may, Japanese politics find no place in this work.
The morality or otherwise of the Japanese is a matter which has been much discussed and written about. The views of speakers and writers in regard thereto, so far as I have been able to ascertain them, have been largely affected by their prejudices or the particular standpoint from which they have regarded the matter. The result, in my opinion, has been that an entirely erroneous conception of the whole subject of Japanese morality has not only been formed but has been set forth in speech or writing, and a grave injustice has been done to the Japanese in this matter, to say nothing of the entirely false view of the whole question which has been promulgated. In this book I have endeavoured to deal with this thorny subject, so far as it can be dealt with in a book, free from prejudice or preconceived ideas of any kind. I have simply confined myself to facts, and have endeavoured to represent the whole matter as it appears to the Japanese and to morality according to the Japanese standard.
I have deemed it necessary to deal at some length with the various phases of Japanese art, which it is no exaggeration to say has permeated the whole nation so that the Japanese may truthfully be termed the most artistic people in the world. Of course it is impossible to deal exhaustively in a work of this kind with Japanese art. I have, however, endeavoured to describe the principal art industries of the country and to set forth what I may term the catholicity of art in Japan. I have also dealt with the question how far art has been affected by the Europeanising of the nation which has taken place of recent years, and the effect thereof.
The religion of the Japanese, the Constitution, the home life of the people, the Army and Navy, the financial position of the country are all subjects treated as fully as possible, inasmuch as they are matters essential to be understood in order to realise the Japan of to-day. The Japan of the future I have attempted to forecast in two final chapters.
But the Japan of to-day and the Japan of the future can neither be understood nor realised unless the reader have in his mind some idea as to the Japan of the past--not the barbaric or uncivilised Japan brought into contact with civilisation and suddenly discarding its barbarism, which is, I fear, the conception many persons still have, but, as I have sought to show, a highly civilised country holding itself aloof from European influences and excluding, so long as possible, the European invasion of its shores just because it had convinced itself by painful experience that European ideas and manners and methods were undesirable and unsuitable for a great island nation which possessed and cherished a civilisation of its own, had high artistic ideas and ideals, had its own code of morals, its own conception of chivalry, and was, on the whole, undoubtedly happy, contented, and prosperous. I trust the chapter I have written on this subject will tend to dispel many erroneous ideas.
The book is the result of my own investigations, and the opinions expressed therein are entirely my own. I have, however, read nearly every work on Japan that has appeared in recent years, and when the views put forward in any of these have not coincided with my own I have endeavoured, by impartial investigation and inquiry, to arrive at a correct conclusion in the matter. No doubt some of my views and opinions will be questioned and criticised, but I claim to have written this book with a mind free from prejudices of any kind. I have sought to depict Japan as it really is, not the Japan seen through glasses of various colours, of which, I think, the public has had enough.
H. B. M.
PAGE PREFACE v
A GLIMPSE AT THE PAST 1
II. THE COUNTRY: ITS PHYSICAL FEATURES--PRODUCTS--FAUNA--FLORA, ETC. 17
III. THE JAPANESE RACE AND ITS LANGUAGE 29
IV. THE RELIGIONS OF JAPAN, THEIR INFLUENCES AND EFFECTS 39
V. THE CONSTITUTION--THE CROWN AND THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT 49
VI. THE PEOPLE, THEIR LIFE AND HABITS 63
VII. TRADE, COMMERCE, AND INDUSTRIES 80
VIII. JAPAN'S FINANCIAL BURDENS AND RESOURCES 90
IX. EDUCATION 102
X. THE JAPANESE ARMY AND NAVY 117
XI. JAPANESE ART--INTRODUCTORY--LACQUER AND PORCELAIN 131
XII. JAPANESE ART--SCULPTURE--METAL WORK--PAINTING 149
XIII. JAPANESE ARCHITECTURE 167
XIV. POSTAL AND OTHER MEANS OF COMMUNICATION 176
XV. LAW AND ORDER 185
XVI. LITERATURE AND THE DRAMA 193
XVII. NEWSPAPERS IN JAPAN 202
XVIII. JAPANESE MORALITY 211
XIX. JAPAN AND CHINA 221
XX. EUROPEANS IN JAPAN 231
XXI. A VISIT TO SOME BUDDHIST TEMPLES 244
XXII. THE AINOS 250
XXIII. JAPAN AS IT IS TO-DAY 258
XXIV. THE FUTURE OF JAPAN--PHYSICAL--MORAL--MENTAL 276
XXV. THE FUTURE OF JAPAN--NATIONAL--POLITICAL--ITS INFLUENCE ON THE WORLD 288
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
A STAR OF THE EAST Frontispiece From a Print by Toshikata
FACING PAGE THE SWEET SCENT OF THE CHERRY BLOSSOM 30 From a Print by Hiroshige
A CHERRY BLOSSOM PARTY 48 From a Print by Hiroshige
STREET SCENE ON NEW YEAR'S DAY 72 From a Print by Hiroshige
RICE PLANTING, PROVINCE OF HOKI 89 From a Print by Hiroshige
AMATEUR CONCHOLOGISTS 110 From a Print by Hiroshige
VIEW OF FUSI-YAMA FROM A TEA HOUSE 138 From a Print by Hiroshige
KUTANI EARTHENWARE, DECORATED WITH POLYCHROME } ENAMELS. EARLY EIGHTEENTH CENTURY } 146 } INCENSE-BURNER, AWATA FAYENCE. EIGHTEENTH CENTURY } From "The Arts of Japan," by Edward Dillon
BRONZE INCENSE-BURNER AND SMALL FLOWER-VASE. EIGHTEENTH CENTURY 154 From "The Arts of Japan," by Edward Dillon
KAKEMONO ON PAPER. ATTRIBUTED TO MATAHEI } } KAKEMONO ON PAPER. ATTRIBUTED TO SHIMMAN, UKIYO } 160 SCHOOL. EIGHTEENTH CENTURY } From "The Arts of Japan," by Edward Dillon
TEA HOUSE, NEAR TOKIO 170 From a Print by Hiroshige
ÆRIAL TRANSPORT: BASKET SLUNG ON ROPES, PROVINCE OF HIDA 182 From a Print by Hiroshige
A LABOUR OF LOVE 198 From a Print by Toshikata
THE ETERNAL FEMININE 218 From a Print by Toshikata
A MINISTERING ANGEL 242 From a Print by Toshikata
FIREWORKS IN TOKIO (SUMMER) 264 From a Print by Hiroshige
A SIGN OF THE TIMES 278
THE EMPIRE OF THE EAST
A GLIMPSE AT THE PAST
I have seen it stated in a popular handbook that Japan possesses a written history extending over two thousand five hundred years, while its sovereigns have formed an unbroken dynasty since 660 B.C., but that the "authentic history begins about 400 A.D." "Authentic history" is, I consider, not a very apt phrase in this connection. Most Japanese history is legendary, and authenticity in history, Japanese or European, even much later than 400 A.D., is hopeless to look for. I have no intention of leading my readers into, as I should find a difficulty in extricating them from, the mazes of Japanese history at any date. I simply propose to give them a glimpse of Japan as it has appeared to Europeans since it was first "discovered" by three storm-tossed Portuguese sailors about the year 1542. I say "discovered" with full knowledge of the fact that Marco Paolo, as early as 1275, dictated to a friend when imprisoned at Genoa that stirring narrative, "Maravigliose Cose," which, by the way, was not printed for nearly two centuries later. That narrative was read by and, it is stated, so fired the imagination of Christopher Columbus as to lead him to set out on that voyage of exploration which ended in the discovery of America. Marco Paolo's narrative must, however, be received with caution. I regard it as largely legendary. He never himself visited Japan, and his glowing description of the "Isles washed by stormy seas and abounding in gold and pearls" was founded on what he had been told by the Chinese he had met during his Eastern travels.
The commencement of European intercourse with Japan may, as I have said, be taken to be 1542, when three Portuguese adventurers in a Chinese junk were driven by stress of weather on a part of the Japanese coast under the authority of the Prince of Bungo. The Portuguese were kindly received by the natives, and a treaty or arrangement seems to have been entered into whereby a Portuguese vessel was to be annually despatched to Japan laden with "woollen cloths, furs, silks, taffetas," and other articles. Some years later a Japanese noble, Hansiro by name, murdered another Japanese and fled the country. He found his way to Goa, where he came under the influence of some Portuguese priests, and was eventually converted to Christianity and baptized. He was, if the records of his career are correct, desirous to bring to his fellow-countrymen not only the knowledge of the Christian religion but many articles of European commerce. The great Apostle of the East and disciple of Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, had then recently arrived in Goa, where he appears to have taken up with ardour the project of converting Japan. Both enterprises, the material and the spiritual, seem to have been organised about the same time. A ship was loaded with articles likely to be in demand in Japan, and Francis Xavier embarked in another vessel, with the Japanese refugee and a number of Jesuit priests as missionaries.
The vessels in due course arrived at Bungo, and both priests and traders were cordially, not to say enthusiastically, received. Foreigners were evidently not then excluded from Japan, and no objection whatever was made to the Christian propaganda in any part of the country. The efforts of the Jesuit missionaries were crowned with remarkable success. All ranks and classes, from priest to peasant, embraced the Catholic faith. Churches, schools, convents, and monasteries sprang up all over the country. The only opposition came from the Bonzes, or native priests, who felt their influence and power declining. They appealed to the Emperor to banish the Roman Catholic priests, but the imperial edict simply was, "Leave the strangers in peace." For forty years or thereabouts Catholicism not only flourished but was triumphant. Indeed, a Japanese mission of three princes was despatched to Pope Gregory XIII. laden with valuable presents. The arrival of this mission was acclaimed as a veritable triumph throughout Catholic Europe. By a stroke of irony its advent there was almost contemporaneous with not only the overthrow but the almost total extinction of Christianity in Japan. The edict for the banishment of the missionaries was published in 1587. It was followed by persecutions, martyrdoms, and the rasing of all the Christian churches and buildings--the destruction, in a word, of Christianity in Japan. This was in due course followed by not only the expulsion of all foreigners from the country--with the exception of the Dutch, who were allowed to have a factory at Nagasaki--but the enactment of a law, rigidly observed for two and a half centuries, that no Japanese should leave his country on any pretence whatever, and no foreigner be permitted to land therein. Prior to this edict the Japanese had been enterprising sailors and had extended their voyages to many distant lands. What, it might be asked, was the reason of or occasion for this violent change in the attitude of the Japanese to Christianity and the presence of Europeans in their midst? It is impossible, at this length of time, to arrive at a correct answer to this question, largely mixed up as it has been with the odium theologicum. We have been told that the result was greatly or altogether due to the pride, arrogance, and avarice of the Roman Catholic priests; to the pretensions of the Pope, which came to be regarded with suspicion by the feudatory princes of Japan, as also to the cupidity and cunning of the traders. How far any or all of these alleged causes were responsible for the change in Japanese opinion I shall not venture to pronounce. Suffice it to remark that, whatever the cause, there must have been some powerful, impelling influence at work to induce the nation not only to cast out the stranger within its gates, but to exclude him for two and a half centuries, and veto any inhabitant of Japan leaving its shores and thus being brought into contact with, and stand the chance of being contaminated by, the foreigner. We may regret the destruction of Christianity in Japan, but at the same time we may, I think, accept the fact that the uprising of Japan against the foreigner at the close of the sixteenth century was simply the result of the gorge which had arisen in the nation against the foreigner's manners, methods, and morals, his trampling underfoot of national prejudices and ideas, his cupidity, his avarice, his cruelty, his attempt to impose on Japanese civilisation a veneer which it did not desire and deemed it was much better without. It must be remembered that the missionaries and the traders had a common nationality, and that the Japan of the sixteenth century did not find it possible to differentiate between them.
Down to the nineteenth century we have to rely for our knowledge of Japan and the Japanese on the narratives of the few travellers who managed to visit that country more or less by stealth, or from the information derived from Europeans serving in the Dutch factory at Nagasaki. Every Englishman has heard of Will Adams and his Japanese wife, but though his career was romantic and interesting it has added but little to our knowledge of Japan at the time of his visit thereto. In 1727 Dr. Kaemfer's work on Japan was published. Kaemfer had been physician to the Dutch factory at Nagasaki, and, accordingly, had some opportunities of studying Japanese life and character. His book in the original form is rare, but I am glad to say that a cheap edition, a reprint of the English edition produced by the Royal Society in 1727, has recently been published in this country. Kaemfer's work is spoiled and its utility or reliability largely impaired by the fanciful theories put forward by the author respecting the origin of the Japanese. Much of his information is, of course, mere hearsay, and a great deal of it, by the light of what we now know, is not only misleading but nonsensical. A considerable amount of space is devoted by Kaemfer to chimerical animals, and he dilates upon the awful sanctity that surrounds the person of the Emperor. "There is," he remarks, "such a Holiness ascribed to all the parts of his Body that he dares not cut off neither his hair, nor his beard, nor his nails. However, lest he should grow too dirty, they may clean him in the night when he is asleep; because they say that what is taken from his Body at that time had been stolen from him, and that such a theft does not prejudice his Holiness or Dignity." In a notice of this new edition of Kaemfer's work I have seen it asserted that the book is the foundation of nearly all that was known or written of Japan till the last twenty-five years. How such a statement as this came to be published I quite fail to comprehend. There was plenty of literature in reference to Japan far more reliable than Kaemfer's whimsical "yarns" at a much earlier period than twenty-five years back. Sir Rutherford Alcock's "The Capital of the Tycoon" was, I think, published in 1863. Sir Rutherford was the first resident British Minister in Japan, and his book remains a stirring and, making allowance for the author's prejudices on various matters, on the whole a vivid picture of Japan as it was in the early sixties. Alcock's book was followed by many others, and twenty-five years ago the world was so far from being dependent on Kaemfer for its knowledge of Japan that, as I have said, it had even then quite a library of recent and reliable books in regard to that country.
Following Kaemfer, a little later in the eighteenth century, a Swedish physician, Thunberg by name, who also had been attached to the Dutch factory at Nagasaki, wrote a book undoubtedly interesting and of great value. That country, he remarks, is "in many respects a singular country, and with regard to customs and institutions totally different from Europe, or, I had almost said, from any other part of the world. Of all the nations that inhabit the three largest parts of the globe, the Japanese deserve to rank the first, and to be compared with the Europeans; and although in many points they must yield the palm to the latter, yet in various other respects they may with great justice be preferred to them. Here, indeed, as well as in other countries, are found both useful and pernicious establishments, both rational and absurd institutions; yet still we must admire the steadiness which constitutes the national character, the immutability which reigns in the administration of their laws and in the exercise of their public functions, the unwearied assiduity of this nation to do and to promote what is useful, and a hundred other things of a similar nature. That so numerous a people as this should love so ardently and so universally (without even a single exception to the contrary) their native country, their Government, and each other--that the whole country should be, as it were, enclosed, so that no native can get out, nor foreigner enter in, without permission--that their laws should have remained unaltered for several thousand years--and that justice should be administered without partiality or respect of persons--that the Governments can neither become despotic nor evade the laws in order to grant pardons or do other acts of mercy--that the monarch and all his subjects should be clad alike in a particular national dress--that no fashions should be adopted from abroad, nor new ones invented at home--that no foreign war should have been waged for centuries past--that a great variety of religious sects should live in peace and harmony together--that hunger and want should be almost unknown, or at least known but seldom,--all this must appear improbable, and to many as impossible as it is strictly true, and deserving of the utmost attention." He goes on to say, "If the laws in this country are rigid, the police are equally vigilant, while discipline and good order are scrupulously observed. The happy consequences of this are extremely visible and important, for hardly any country exhibits fewer instances of vice. And as no respect whatever is paid to persons, and at the same time the laws preserve their pristine and original purity, without any alterations, explanations, and misconstructions, the subjects not only imbibe, as they grow up, an infallible knowledge of what ought or ought not to be done, but are likewise enlightened by the example and irreproachable conduct of their superiors in age.
"Most crimes are punished with death--a sentence which is inflicted with less regard to the magnitude of the crime than to the audacity of the attempt to transgress the hallowed laws of the empire, and to violate justice, which together with religion they consider as the most sacred things in the whole land. Fines and pecuniary mulcts they regard as equally repugnant to justice and reason, as the rich are thereby freed from all punishment--a procedure which to them appears the height of absurdity.
"In the towns it often happens that the inhabitants of a whole street are made to suffer for the malpractice of a single individual, the master of a house for the faults of his domestics, and parents for those of their children, in proportion to the share they may have had in the transaction. In Europe, which boasts a purer religion and a more enlightened philosophy, we very rarely see those punished who have debauched and seduced others, never see parents and relatives made to suffer for neglecting the education of their children and kindred, at the same time that these heathens see the justice and propriety of such punishment." Dealing with agriculture, the Swedish physician remarked: "Agriculture is in the highest esteem with the Japanese, insomuch that (the most barren and untractable mountains excepted) one sees here the surface of the earth cultivated all over the country, and most of the mountains and hills up to their very tops. Neither rewards nor encouragements are necessary in a country where the tillers of the ground are considered as the most useful class of citizens and where they do not groan under various oppressions, which in other countries have hindered, and ever must hinder, the progress of agriculture. The duties paid by the farmer of his corn in kind are indeed very heavy, but in other respects he cultivates his land with greater freedom than the lord of a manor in Sweden. He is not hindered two days together at a time, in consequence of furnishing relays of horses, by which he perhaps earns a groat and often returns with the loss of his horses; he is not dragged from his field and plough to transport a prisoner or a deserter to the next castle; nor are his time and property wasted in making roads, building bridges, almshouses, parsonage-houses, and magazines. He knows nothing of the impediments and inconveniences which attend the maintenance and equipments of horses and foot soldiers. And what contributes still more to his happiness, and leaves sufficient scope for his industry in cultivating his land is this--that he has only one master, viz., his feudal lord, without being under the commands of a host of masters, as with us. No parcelling out of the land forbids him to improve to the least advantage the portion he possesses, and no right of commonage, belonging to many, prevents each from deriving profit from his share. All are bound to cultivate their land, and if a husbandman cannot annually cultivate a certain portion of his fields he forfeits them, and another who can is at liberty to cultivate them. Meadows are not to be met with in the whole country; on the contrary, every spot of ground is made use of either for corn-fields or else for plantations of esculent-rooted vegetables: so that the land is neither wasted upon extensive meadows for the support of cattle and saddle-horses, nor upon large and unprofitable plantations of tobacco; nor is it sown with seed for any other still less necessary purpose; which is the reason that the whole country is very thickly inhabited and populous, and can without difficulty give maintenance to all its innumerable inhabitants."
Let us now take a step, a long step, forward in time from the Swedish physician relating his impressions in the seventeenth century, to an American in the eighteenth century delivering his opinions on Japan and the Japanese as viewed from the American standpoint at that period. "The sitter is the same, and, what is more, he sits on his heels to-day just as his grandfather did to Thunberg, yet it is hard to see any points of resemblance--a lesson to all theologians and politicians who still indulge the dreams that uniformity of opinion on the plainest matters of fact and observation can ever be attained among men, however honest and conscientious they may be in their efforts after unity. The Chinese proverb with more wisdom declares, 'Truth is one, but opinions are many.'
"All officials serve in pairs, as spies upon each other, and this pervades the entire polity of Japan. It is a government of espionage. Everybody is watched. No man knows who are the secret spies around him, even though he may be and is acquainted with those that are official. The emperors themselves are not exempt; governors, grand councillors, vassal princes, all are under the eye of an everlasting unknown police. This wretched system is even extended to the humblest of the citizens. Every town is divided into collections of five families, and every member of such a division is personally responsible for the conduct of the others; everything which occurs, therefore, out of the ordinary course in any one of these is instantly reported by the other four to save themselves from censure. The Ziogoon (Tycoon) has his minions about the Mikado and the Grand Council have theirs about the Ziogoon. And the cowardice engendered by such ceaseless distrust necessarily leads to cruelty in penalties. When an official has offended, or even when in his department there has been any violation of law, although beyond his power of prevention, so sure is he of the punishment of death, that he anticipates it by ripping up his own body rather than be delivered over to the executioner and entailing disgrace and ruin on all his family. There cannot under such a system be anything like judicious legislation founded on enquiry and adapted to the ever-varying circumstances of life. As Government functionaries they lie and practise artifice to save themselves from condemnation by the higher powers: it is their vocation. As private gentlemen they are frank, truthful, and hospitable."
Taking a further step and coming down to the year 1877, I have before me, as I write, the private letter of a naval officer of an impressionable age visiting Japan for the first time and giving his opinions thereof, at a period when Japan was just beginning to feel really at work the distinct influences of Western civilisation--the beginning, in fact, of the extraordinary metamorphosis which has been witnessed of recent years. He remarks: "Probably to the traveller seeking the marvellous and desiring the beautiful, there is no more interesting country to pay a visit to than Japan. In something under a decade that country astonished, and, at first, rather amused the civilised world by emerging from the acme of barbarism to the extremes of civilisation. It was but a very few years ago that a foreigner could not land in the country unless accompanied by a Government escort. But now that is all changed. The foreigner is welcomed, his habits and religion are not alone tolerated but respected; his dress is copied to an extreme that indeed proves imitation to be the sincerest flattery, and but for the olive complexion, flat nose and dark hair, a Japanese gentleman of the period is very little different from his English contemporary. There is a tendency I find among a good many persons, whose ideas on the subject of race and geography are slightly mixed, to confound the Japanese with the Chinese, and to imagine that the two names indicate no greater difference than at present exist between an Englishman and an Irishman. The fact, however, is that a greater difference exists among these two nationalities than can be either imagined or described, and, considering their contiguity, it is indeed surprising that they have scarcely a habit or a pursuit in common. The mind of the modern Japanese is progressive and acquisitive. The mind of the Chinaman of the nineteenth century, as far as he allows it to be seen, is as torpid and retrogressive as his ancestors of the Confucian period.
"Up to the year 1868 Japan was governed jointly by a Tycoon and a Mikado together with a council of the Daimios, or great feudal princes, in whose hands all real power rested. The spiritual sovereign was the Mikado, nominally the chief ruler, the Tycoon being considered his first subject. All enactments required his sanction. The office of the Tycoon was hereditary and he gradually absorbed all the powers of the State. In 1868 a revolution occurred which culminated in the overthrow of the spiritual head and the seating of the Tycoon on the throne as an hereditary prince with the title of Mikado. There is now no such person as a Tycoon in Japan. The insurrection of 1868 also saw the downfall of the Daimios or feudal princes of Japan. These princes had each standing armies of their own, and administered justice in their own territories. Their retainers were the famous two-sworded men so long a terror to Europeans, and who strongly objected to any intercourse with foreigners, probably foreseeing its inevitable result. In 1868 the whole of these ferocious men were disarmed, and a standing army modelled on the French fashion established for the defence of the Empire. The Japanese Navy was organised about the same time by an English officer, and at first consisted of a few obsolete American and English men-of-war. That, however, is now a thing of the past, the Japanese Government having during the past few years spent many millions in purchasing modern ironclads and other vessels of the most approved type, and the Japanese Navy bids fair before long to become a power in the Far East.
"Concerning the oft-debated question of Japanese morality I can say little. Their ideas on the subject are, to put it mildly, somewhat lax, and would no doubt shock any one strongly imbued with morality as it is in vogue (theoretically) in European countries. That there is not that privacy between the sexes which prevails in other countries may be indicated by the fact that men and women make their ablutions together in the public wash-houses. Nevertheless the Japanese have a code of morality peculiar to themselves, and any infidelity on the part of a woman to her husband is punished with severity.
"The great drawback to the prosperity of Japan is a matter that prevails in some more ancient civilised lands, viz., an enormous issue of paper-money. Young Japan, finding it easy to print notes to pay its obligations, printed them to the extent of twenty millions sterling in all sizes from 5 cents to 100 dollars. The consequence is that this paper-money has depreciated in value to the extent of 15 per cent. The Government, however, have seen their mistake, and are gradually calling it in, and have established a very fine mint with a gold and silver coinage. Insurrections have also been a drag on Japan in its progress. The Prince of Satsuma, one of the most powerful of the ancient Daimios, has never acknowledged the present system of government and has periodically rebelled against it. This year a serious rebellion broke out at Kagoshima, and was not quelled without great loss of life and a heavy expenditure. His followers behaved with great fanaticism, many of them loading themselves with gunpowder rushing into the midst of the enemy and setting fire to the powder, killing themselves by so doing, but also, to the admiration of their less ardent comrades, killing numbers of the enemy.
"Against no ancient custom has the Japanese Government more set its face than tattooing. Any persons in Japan now either allowing themselves to be tattooed or performing the operation on any one else are liable to imprisonment. Blacking the teeth, a custom prevalent among the women on being married, is rapidly dying out, being discouraged by the authorities."
The glimpses of Japan shown us by Thunberg and the American I have quoted prove clearly enough, even were it not amplified by a host of other testimony I have not space to refer to, that the Japan of the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and early part of the nineteenth centuries was a highly civilised country in which law and order reigned supreme, where respect for authority was marked, the standard of comfort, if not high, was at any rate sufficient, the domestic relations and family life were almost ideal, clean living was the custom, crime was at a minimum, education was universal, amusements were plentiful, the artistic feeling and instincts were not the cult of a class but were shared by the common people. This was the nation, self-contained and self-satisfied, that some persons, like the young naval officer from whom I have quoted, gravely affirm to have been steeped in barbarism until it came under Western influences and went in for frock-coats and silk hats for the men, Paris costumes for the women, and an Army and Navy on European lines. If these be the factors which constitute civilisation I admit that Japan has only recently been civilised. Being of opinion, however, that civilisation does not consist in costumery, but is a refining and educating influence, I prefer to regard Japan as a country of more ancient civilisation than Great Britain, which has of recent years determined to tack on to that civilisation some Western manners and customs and facilities. Many of Japan's greatest thinkers, a few Western philosophers who can look beyond a costume, the telegraph or the telephone, are strongly of opinion that in the process of modern development Japan has not improved either morally or materially, and that, regarded through the dry light of philosophy, her pretensions to be considered a highly civilised nation were greater half a century back than they are at the present moment. Upon that matter my readers must form their own opinion. It is a question, the answer to which largely depends upon the point of view from which it is regarded and the factors taken into or left out of account.
In the first year of the Meiji (1868) the Emperor, in an edict, laid down clearly and concisely the lines on which he and his advisers had determined that Japan should for the future be governed. "The old uncivilised way shall be replaced by the eternal principles of the universe." "The best knowledge shall be sought throughout the world so as to promote the imperial welfare." "The eternal principles of the universe" is a resonant phrase needing interpretation. The rulers of Japan to-day, if they were interrogated on the subject, would probably reply that the record of Japan for over thirty-eight years past is the practical interpretation of the Emperor's cryptic utterance. Be that as it may, the ink was hardly dry on the Imperial edict before Japan laid herself out with earnestness, not to say enthusiasm, to carry into effect the principles enunciated in the edict. The whole country was quickly in a positive ferment of energy. The brightest intellects among its youth were despatched to foreign lands to acquire knowledge and wisdom to be applied at home in due course, education was taken in hand, so also was the reorganisation of the Army and Navy, and railways, telegraphs, and various other accessories of European civilisation were introduced into the country. Japan, in a word, became quickly transformed and, being unable any longer to keep the foreigner out, she determined to utilise him and in the future fight him, should fighting be necessary, with his own weapons, intellectual rather than material, but not omitting the material. Thirty-eight years and more have elapsed since the issue of the Imperial edict referred to, and this book is designed to show what results have flowed therefrom, along what lines the development of Japan has proceeded, and what are the position and prospects of that country to-day.