The results of the war between Russia and Japan seem to have caused a large number of persons to work themselves into a state of incipient panic regarding what has been graphically, if not quite correctly, termed "the yellow peril." Japan, a nation of some 47,000,000 people, had thrown down the gauntlet and totally defeated, both by land and sea, one of the great military Powers of the world. Japan had done all this as a result of some quarter of a century spent in modelling and training her Army and Navy on European lines, and adopting European arms of destruction. Of course, so argued the panic-mongers, China must be impressed by such an object-lesson--China, which has for so many years past been, and is still being, squeezed by the European Powers. The result of Japan's triumph would inevitably be, so we were asked to believe, that China would invite the former to organise the Chinese Army and Navy on Japanese lines. As the outcome thereof, a nation, not of forty, but of four hundred millions, would be trained to arms, and, if the Chinese raw material proved as good as the Japanese, a nation so powerful, if it proceeded West on conquest bent, would carry everything before it, and, unlike the last Eastern invaders of Europe, the Turks, would be unlikely to be stopped on its onward course at Vienna. The German Emperor was amongst those who have voiced the cry of "the yellow peril." He does not, however, appear to have cast himself for the part of John Sobieski, with Berlin instead of Vienna as the decisive battle-ground. The persons who have so argued and have attempted to raise this silly cry of "the yellow peril," with a view of alarming Europe were, I think, merely the victims of an exuberant imagination. Their facts have no existence save in the realms of fancy, and as they reasoned from faulty premises on imperfect or erroneous information, their conclusions were, as might have been expected, not only inaccurate, but absurdly ludicrous. There is no "yellow peril," no prospect whatever of it, either present or remote.
The attitude of China, that vast though heterogeneous nation, is, since the close of the Russo-Japanese War, I admit, one of the most intense interest. Some persons may consider that in a book about Japan any other than a passing reference to China is out of place, and that, moreover, for me to deal with the attitude of China is to wander into political regions--a peripatetic proceeding I deprecated in the Preface. I am of opinion, however, that it is impossible to thoroughly understand Japan and to appreciate the attitude of that country to the Western Powers without some remarks respecting the present and prospective relations of China and Japan. I also think that some consideration of this bogey of "the yellow peril" is not only out of place but indispensable in order to form a correct idea of the precise effect of recent events in the Far East and the possible outcome of them.
To any person who has closely studied Far Eastern problems the attitude of China since the close of the war between Japan and Russia is in no way surprising; the forces that have long been steadily at work in that ancient Empire are now only attaining any degree of development. There is nothing, in my opinion, in the history of the world more dramatic than the way in which China has waited. That country is now, I believe, about to show that the waiting policy has been a sound one, and I am confident it will eventually prove triumphant. In 1900 I expressed in print the opinion that not a single acre of Japanese soil would ever be permitted to be annexed by a foreign country; I spoke of the policy of China for the Chinese, and remarked that that principle and policy had been repeated throughout the length and breadth of that vast Empire, and had been absorbed, as it were, into the very marrow of its people. It is in many respects interesting and curious, indeed almost comical, the manner in which that lesson has been driven home upon the Chinese. Russia has always been to them a powerful, persistent, and aggressive neighbour, a more formidable aggressor, indeed, because perhaps nearer, than any of the other Powers of Europe, whom I am sorry to say China has always looked upon very much as the substantial householder regards the burglar. Now that Japan has tried conclusions with Russia and has soundly thrashed the latter, great, slumbering China, proud, conservative, but supremely conscious of its latent resources, has been waking up. The Chinese, as a matter of fact, have very little veneration, respect, or esteem, for their Japanese neighbours. The former plume themselves on being the aristocrats of the East, and they reason, with some show of plausibility, that if the upstart Japanese have been able to so thoroughly rout the Russian forces the potential possibilities of China on the warpath are enormous. Every thoughtful student of the East has looked forward to what I may term the Japanisation of China as one of the inevitable results of the recent conflict in the Far East. To a certain extent the Japanisation of China has commenced, but at the same time one cannot be oblivious of the fact that the Chinese, with their traditions and sense of self-importance, have not the slightest intention of slavishly following in the lead of those islanders whom they have always contemned, but mean to strike out a line for themselves. If what we believe to be civilisation is to be developed in China, it will be developed by the Chinese themselves. If they are going to possess railways, telegraphs, telephones, and all the machinery of that material advancement which we call progress, and sometimes civilisation, the Chinese themselves will be the importers and adapters and, in due course, the manufacturers thereof.
Now that the great fight in the Far East is over, it certainly looks as if the Chinese at last realised the fact that development is an inevitable necessity. The master-spirits in the country have assuredly come to the conclusion, possibly with regret, that China can no longer remain in that delightful state of isolation which permitted every man in the Empire to spend the arc of his life, from his cradle to his grave, in a state of restful security. China is, in spite of herself, and certainly against the inclinations of the mass of the populace, being swept into the maelstrom of struggle now that the people, or rather their leaders, realise the position. Their attitude seems to me to be magnificent. If railways have to be made they will be made by the Chinese; the concessions already granted must--this is the universal feeling--be bought back, even at a profit, from those who have acquired them, by the Chinese themselves. Not one new concession must, on any pretence whatever, ever again be granted to a foreigner. And if this Western civilisation is to be forced upon the Chinese, they intend to take it with all its attendant precautions. They are naturally a peaceful and unaggressive people, but they have grasped the fact that, as a strong man armed is in the best position to safeguard his house, however peaceful his individual proclivities may be, so too, if a nation is to defend its territory and its territorial wealth against spoliation, it must be armed for that purpose.
For many years past Great Britain and France and other countries have been sending missionaries to China to expound to the Chinese people those sublime doctrines enunciated in the Sermon on the Mount. The Chinese have diagnosed, from the acts of the European Powers generally as well as from the actions of individual Europeans resident in China, the precise value to be attached to Christianity. For purely defensive purposes China will have almost immediately an Army which has been effectively described by the Times correspondent as being able to relieve the European Powers of any anxiety respecting the integrity of the Chinese Empire. People who have not visited the Far East, and who entirely derive their opinions and information in regard thereto from the newspapers, cannot possibly realise what effect the policy of the European Powers has had upon nations like China and Japan. A professedly Christian country like Great Britain going to war to force the sale of opium on a people who did not want to be debauched; a power like Germany annexing Kiaochao as a golgotha for two murdered priests--proceedings such as these, and there have been many such during the last forty or fifty years, have been taken seriously to heart by the Far Eastern races, whether in China or Japan. All the time the Occidental Powers, with a total lack of any sense of humour, have persisted in sending missionaries to these people to inculcate doctrines which are the very antitheses of the practices of European nations to these people whom it is sought to convert. It would be, in my opinion, nothing more than the outcome of eternal justice if this great big, old, sleepy China, which has been for so many years pricked and prodded and despoiled, were at length to take up arms for a great revenge. But China, if my prevision be correct, is going to do nothing of the kind. What she does mean to do is simply to keep China for the Chinese. She is not, as so many persons imagined and still imagine would be the case, going to be led as a powerful ox with a Japanese driver. Chinese students are in hundreds in Japan, learning from that country all that the Japanese have acquired from Europe. Young, alert, capable men I found them without exception, sucking the brains of all that is best in Japan precisely as the Japanese have sucked the brains of all that is best in Europe for their own objects and to their own advantage. The immediate danger in China seems, so far as I can judge, to be that the anti-foreign feeling, which is undoubtedly intense especially in the south of the Empire, may come to a head any day and prematurely explode. The nincompoops and quidnuncs and newspaper men ravenous for copy who prate about a "yellow peril" may, in this latter fact, find some slight excuse for their blatant lucubrations. There is no real "yellow peril." Poor old China, which has been so long slumbering, is just rousing herself and making arrangements for defence against the "white peril," materialistic civilisation, and misrepresented Christianity.
The only "yellow peril" that I have been able to diagnose is the peril to the trade of Europe and the United States of America with China--a peril that appears to me to be imminent. That Japan intends to capture a large, indeed the largest, proportion of that trade I am firmly convinced. That she will succeed in effecting her object I have not the slightest doubt. At the present moment only about 5 per cent. of the imports into China are from Japan, the remainder being either from India, Europe, or America. Situated in close contiguity to China, having assimilated everything of importance not only in regard to the employment but the manufacture of machinery from Europe and the United States, possessing an industrious and intelligent population, Japan is quite obviously in a magnificent position to supply China, and supply her on much better terms, with the greater number of those commodities which China now has to import either from Europe or America. Japan, as I have said, intends to lay herself out to capture the major portion of this trade; she is quite justified in doing so, and there is every reason to suppose that she will attain her object.
That the Chinese students who have come to Japan and are flocking there month by month in increasing numbers, with a thirst for knowledge and a desire to assimilate all those Western influences and ideas and aids that have placed Japan in her present prominent position among the nations, when they, in due course, return to their own country, will of a certainty exercise a considerable influence therein, there can be no doubt. I also feel sure that Japan will render considerable assistance to China in regard to the remodelling and reorganisation of the Chinese Army and Navy. It is as certain as anything in this uncertain world that before very many years have elapsed the naval and military forces of China will undergo as great a transformation as those of Japan have undergone. I believe, and I may say that this belief is shared by a number of naval and military men who have had practical opportunities for forming an opinion in the matter, that the raw material existing in China for the making of an effective and efficient Army and Navy is as good as that in Japan. We know that the late General Gordon, who had excellent opportunities for arriving at a sound conclusion in the matter, expressed himself in glowing terms in regard to the capabilities of the Chinaman as a soldier were he properly trained, organised, and officered. But that China, any more than Japan, entertains ambitious military projects I utterly disbelieve. The only aspiration of China as regards Europe is--to be let alone. She fears, as she has every reason to fear, European aggression. She has had ample experience in the past that the flimsiest pretexts have been utilised for the purpose of filching her territory and exacting from her pecuniary fines under the name of indemnities. We know by a recent incident that the indemnity exacted from China by this country in respect of the Boxer rebellion was not really required for the ostensible purposes for which it was imposed. A large proportion of it lay at the Bank of England unappropriated, and eventually was attached by a rapacious Chancellor of the Exchequer for the purpose of alleviating the burdens of the British taxpayer. China is determined to have no more incidents such as this in the future, and the Russo-Japanese War has given her occasion for serious thought in the matter as well as pointed an obvious moral. As a result of her cogitations, she has concluded that the most effective means she can take in the direction of preserving the inviolability of her territory and preventing the exaction of periodical monetary tributes on the part of foreign Powers, is to establish a strong and efficient Army and Navy. As a matter of fact, I consider that in so determining China is acting not only in her own interests, but in the interests of the Great Powers of Europe.
Not very many years ago that excellent sailor, Lord Charles Beresford, wrote a book entitled, somewhat too previously, "The Break-up of China." In selecting a title for his work Lord Charles without doubt voiced the opinion prevalent, not only in this country but in Europe, at the time he wrote it. The statesmen of nearly all the foreign Powers then seemed to have arrived at the conclusion that the scramble for China was imminent and, utilising their experience from what took place when the scramble for Africa was effected twenty years ago, they began apportioning in advance the territory that ought to fall to their lot. In this matter, however, they were wofully mistaken; the diplomatic physicians of the world may have diagnosed the symptoms quite accurately, but the patient surprised them all in regard to the course of the disease and her recuperative powers. There will be no "break-up" of China, and consequently we are not likely to witness any scramble for China. There has undoubtedly been an awakening of China, an awakening to her danger, to a sense of the extent to which her interests were imperilled. She wants, as I have said, to be severely left alone, and she is determined as far as possible to effect that consummation. The men of light and leading in China know perfectly well that they cannot now, even if they would, shut their country against European trade, European residents, European visitors. They are prepared to accept all these, but they will not have European interference. China is determined to work out her own destiny or salvation, call it which you will, and Japan is both willing and anxious to give her all possible assistance in that direction. The "yellow peril" bogey is, in my opinion, the silliest and most absurd cry that has ever been put forward by responsible persons.
EUROPEANS IN JAPAN
Like everything else in Japan, the status and position of the foreigner have been materially changed, in fact revolutionised, of recent years. When the country was, in the first instance, opened after its long period of isolation from the rest of the world, treaties were signed with Great Britain, the United States, France, and nearly all the other European Powers, whereby Japan agreed to open seven ports, subsequently known as "treaty ports," to foreign trade in which ports foreigners were to be permitted to reside and to carry on their business. Foreigners were at the same time--not by the wish of the Japanese Government, but as the outcome of the pressure put upon Japan by the various Powers--granted extra-territorial rights, that is to say they were exempt from the jurisdiction of the Japanese courts of law. This being the case foreign courts were constituted in Japan with jurisdiction over the subjects of the nation which set up the court. In these courts foreigners sued and were sued, and crimes committed by and against foreigners were tried. As regards Great Britain a Supreme Court for China and Japan was constituted whose headquarters were at Shanghai. There were Consular Courts and a very involved kind of legal procedure generally established, mostly by Order in Council, which I need not consider in detail as it is now effete. There was, moreover, as regards Great Britain at any rate, a Bar practising in these courts, one member of which, Mr. F. V. Dickins, is justly remembered not for his forensic but for his literary efforts in the direction of depicting the inner life of the Japanese people. Into these foreign courts all the jargon, the quips and quibbles of English law were imported. These courts were, not unnaturally, an eyesore to the Japanese people. I may observe in passing that these extra-territorial courts still exist in China, and though the Supreme Court of China and Japan has been shorn of that part of its title which refers to Japan it remains, and is likely for some time longer to remain, the supreme legal tribunal of the English residents in the Chinese Empire. But besides extra-territorial courts there were extra-territorial post-offices. The English, the American, and, I think, the French Governments had post-offices in Japan which transacted postal duties of all kinds just as if they had been in London, New York, and Paris instead of in a foreign country. There may have been some excuse for this in the early days; but these foreign post-offices remained until quite recently, depriving Japan of a portion of her revenue at a time when she had developed a magnificent postal service of her own. Over and above foreign courts and post-offices there were actually foreign municipal bodies. A certain amount of ground at the treaty ports was constituted a foreign settlement wherein the foreigners resided. Within these settlements a municipal council was formed, which regulated everything therein. In these settlements the Japanese Government had no more power or authority than they had in Battersea. These settlements were in effect foreign territory on the Japanese soil, to use what seems to be a paradox.
In exchange for the privilege of extra-territoriality granted to foreign residents in Japan, they were placed under restrictions. These included not being able to travel in the country outside a radius of 25 miles from the treaty ports unless provided with passports, which, I may remark, there was never any difficulty in obtaining, and not being permitted to live beyond the same radius. Foreigners engaged in trade in Japan had a great advantage in regard to a very low scale of customs duties, not more than 5 per cent. ad valorem, but they were strictly prohibited from owning land. This system of extra-territoriality was extremely unpopular with the whole of the Japanese people, and a constant movement was in force in the country for the abrogation of what the Japanese considered an invidious distinction and in the direction of making every person who voluntarily took up residence in Japan answerable to the law of the land and under the jurisdiction of the Japanese courts. The revenue of the country was also, of course, injuriously effected by the post-office privileges already referred to as well as by the differential treatment of foreigners in regard to import duties. As was to be expected, any proposal for the abolition of extra-territorial rights and the revision of the regulations in regard to import duties met with a strenuous opposition from the foreign residents in Japan. On the other hand, it must be confessed that the Japanese people opposed any compromise in the direction of granting foreigners facilities in return for the privileges that were asked to be waived. The proposal to allow foreigners to own land was vigorously inveighed against. So was a suggestion to establish mixed courts--the kind of compromise, by the way, which would probably have equally irritated foreigners and natives. It is, I think, satisfactory to be able to relate that in the end and after many years of agitation it was the British Government which took the initiative in the matter, and some ten or twelve years ago concluded a treaty with Japan wherein the privileges of English courts, European municipalities, and differential import duties were abandoned, while in return proprietary rights, except in regard to land, were granted to foreigners.
There are, mayhap, some persons at the present day who are not aware of the fact that for a good many years after Japan was to a limited extent opened to foreigners several of the Powers retained an armed force in that country for the protection of foreign residents. Great Britain, for instance, had a large number of marines at Yokohama. The presence of these troops was extremely unpalatable to the Japanese authorities, but of course pleasing to the foreign residents, who opposed their withdrawal just as they opposed the abrogation of extra-territoriality. I am afraid the reason for the removal of this armed force as far as Great Britain was concerned was economic rather than founded on any particular principle. Be that as it may, in 1873 Japan was successful in assuring the British Government that she was able and prepared to protect all foreigners residing in the country, and in that year the last foreign soldier was withdrawn from Japanese territory.
Those who remember the agitation--and a very fierce and noisy and provocative agitation it was--in opposition to the revision of Japan's treaties with the foreign Powers with a view of getting rid of extra-territoriality will have a lively recollection of the pessimistic forebodings of the speakers and writers in reference to the future of the foreign community in that country were the exclusive privileges they then enjoyed taken away from them. The gentlemen who uttered these sentiments were no doubt sincerely convinced of their truth, but I am glad to be able to relate that time has shown them to have been false prophets. There may be, and no doubt are, foreigners in Japan who bemoan the good old days, but I am confident that the great mass of the foreign community now recognises the fact that the revision of the treaties and the withdrawal of extra-territorial privileges were inevitable and that no evil results have ensued in consequence. The Japanese courts of law have neither terrorised nor oppressed foreigners. They have, on the contrary, sought to hold the scales of justice evenly, and I believe that these courts now enjoy, as I am sure they deserve, the fullest confidence in their integrity and justice of every foreigner residing in the country.
I have noticed a tendency on the part of writers on Japan to refer to the foreign community in that Empire as if it were a community bound together by some particular principle and working in unison for some definite object. Of course such a view is nonsensical. The foreign community in Japan, in which for the purpose of my remarks I do not include the Chinese, is one composed of a large number of nationalities which have very little in common, and amongst whom a good deal of rivalry prevails. It may have been that when the question of revising the treaties was being keenly agitated, self-interest, or what was deemed to be self-interest, occasioned a sort of fictitious unity among foreigners, but at the present time, so far as my observation has gone, there is very little real unity among the foreigners in Japan. The English, of course, predominate in numbers, and they have also the major portion of the trade in their hands. Whether such a condition of things will much longer obtain is a moot question. I am of opinion, as I have elsewhere indicated, that the trade of Japan will very largely pass into the hands of the Japanese themselves, and that the foreign element in Japan is accordingly not only unlikely to increase in number but is almost certain to diminish.
In the early days when Japan was first opened to the Western world and English traders went there to push their commodities, we heard a good deal about the peculiar ethics of Japanese commercial morality. The European merchant either was, or affected to be, shocked at the loose commercial code of honour of those with whom he was brought into contact in Japan, and he expressed himself accordingly. However much or little ground there may have been for these accusations many years ago I am not in a position to judge. In forming any opinion in this matter, if that opinion is to be correct, it is, I think, essential to remember the conditions of society in Japan when it was first opened to European trade. In old Japan there were four recognised classes of society--the Samurai, the farmers, the artisans, and the merchants. The last two were somewhat looked down upon by the others. It is, accordingly, hardly to be wondered at that the condition of industry and commerce was the least satisfactory feature in the initial stages of national development. Despised alike by the gentry and the peasantry, the traders were in a somewhat sorry plight when Japan was thrown open. The low social status of the trading class in Japan was due to the feudal ideas which prevailed for so many centuries. The people were impressed with the productive power of the soil, and jumped at the conclusion that the merchant class must necessarily be immoral, since it purchased the produce of the soil at a low price and sold it at a profit. Very similar ideas have prevailed in countries other than Japan. It is not so very many years ago that in England a man of good family, much less a member of the aristocracy, going into trade was looked upon with no very favourable eyes. We know that the ideas that not so very many years ago obtained in this country in reference to this matter have entirely altered. Trade is now considered to furnish most excellent scope and opportunities for the energy and capital of all classes of the community. And the same ideas have been working in Japan. The merchant there is no longer a member of a despised class. The scions of the most ancient families in Japan, as in England, have embarked in trade and brought to their business those high ideals which they have derived from their ancestors. The criticisms of commercial morality in Japan which were so prevalent not very many years ago are now entirely obsolete. I fear, however, that the effect of them still to some extent remains, and that there are a large number of people in this country who even now believe that the Japanese, from a commercial point of view, are what is termed "tricky." I hope my remarks on this head may serve to disabuse the minds of some of those persons who still entertain these extremely erroneous ideas.
I do not think that there is a very large amount of social intercourse between the Europeans in Japan and the Japanese themselves. The European in the East, or at any rate the Englishman in the East, so far as I have been able to judge, always appears to me to assume an air--it may be an unconscious air--of superiority to the inhabitants of the country in which he resides. That this is frequently extremely galling to them there can be no question. Any one who has conversed with the intelligent native of India must be aware of that fact. Whether the greatness of the Anglo-Saxon race be in some degree or in a large measure due to the belief that the Anglo-Saxon has in himself is a question I need not consider. But I think there can be no doubt of the fact that this sense of superiority, however much or little justification there may be for it, is a characteristic not likely to be appreciated by foreigners, and especially Orientals, and I think I am justified in remarking that the Japanese do not at all appreciate it.
The European may impress the Oriental in one of several ways; he has for the most part done so by his great military or naval prowess. That is the way in which Great Britain has impressed the natives of India. The English are in that country as a conquering race. They have practically never been defeated, and the respect which they have obtained is the respect that the weak have for the strong. In Japan such a state of things is no longer possible. The results of the Russian War have rendered it impossible for all time. An Oriental nation has met a European Power on the field and on the high seas, and soundly thrashed it. There is, however, another way in which the European might impress the Oriental. The former professes to have a purer religion and a higher code of morals. He has sought to impose his religion upon every race with which he has been brought into contact, and if he has not sought to impose his moral system, he has, at any rate, severely criticised that of the people with whom he has been brought into contact, and compared it with his own to their disadvantage. In Japan, where there is a large foreign community, the thinking, logical Japanese has had abundant opportunities for studying not only the principles of Western religions and Western morality, but also the practice of them by Western residents in his own land.
The result has been to give him much food for reflection. He reads the criticisms of Europe upon the Yoshiwara and the Japanese attitude generally towards prostitution, while he has ample evidence of the fact that many of the patrons of the Yoshiwara are to be found among the European community in Japan. And so of religion. The various Christian denominations of the Western world aspire to convert Japan, and send missionaries there for that purpose. The Japanese gives them a fair field, and he has shown no aversion to investigate their dogmas. At the same time he sees that a large proportion, I might perhaps say the majority, of the European residents in Japan do not trouble to attend the Christian places of worship, while many of them make no disguise of their contempt for Christianity in general and the missionaries in particular. What conclusion, may I ask, can the logical, reasoning Japanese come to in these matters?
There can be no doubt whatever that the foreign residents in Japan have accomplished a great work in regard to the development of the country. The settlements established by them at the various treaty ports and the administration of those settlements as municipalities reflected great credit upon all those concerned, and was a splendid object-lesson for the Japanese people. Great Britain, too, may, I think, be congratulated on the men she has selected to represent her at the Japanese Court. There is no man to whom both Great Britain and Japan are more indebted than the late Sir Harry Parkes. I cannot remember during how many years he was the British Minister at Tokio, but during the whole of his term of office he used his best endeavours in the direction of showing Japan the way she ought to go in the path of progress, and in rendering her all the assistance possible in that direction by procuring for her the very best assistance of every description. I strongly advise every person interested in Japan and its development to peruse the Life of Sir Harry Parkes, by Mr. F. V. Dickins and Mr. Stanley L. Poole. One interesting feature in Sir Harry Parkes's career I may record here, as I have had it on the authority of a gentleman conversant with the facts. Sir Harry was always a persona gratissima with the Japanese Government, and about the year 1877 he and the late Admiral Sir A. P. Ryder, then Commander-in-Chief on the China station, had a conversation respecting, in view of the aggressive policy of Russia in the Far East, obtaining a British coaling station much further north than Hong Kong. Admiral Ryder mentioned as an appropriate place the island of Tsu-shima, so famous in the recent war with Russia. Sir Harry Parkes promised to use his good offices with the Japanese Government to obtain permission to occupy this island with a view of its ultimate cession to Great Britain. The permission was duly obtained, and Admiral Ryder thereupon cabled home to the Admiralty for the necessary permission to take over the island. His request was promptly vetoed, and Great Britain, accordingly, lost for ever the opportunity of obtaining an admirable coaling station and a splendid strategical position in the Far East. It is quite certain that Japan does not now regret the refusal of Great Britain to accept her too generous offer.
Europeans have been in Japan, and very much in evidence, during the past half-century or so, but I do not think that the residents in the country have exercised much influence upon Japan. During that period there have been enormous changes; the whole life of the nation has, in fact, been revolutionised. But these changes have not been wrought, or indeed greatly affected, by the European residents in the country. The changes have emanated from Europe and America--not that portion of Europe and America which went to Japan for its own objects. I make, of course, a particular exception in regard to those naval and military and scientific men to whose exertions Japan owes so much of her advancement. But I do say of the ordinary trader or merchant that he has come to Japan, and left it without producing much effect, if any, on the development of the nation, or leaving behind him any influences of a useful nature.
The European in Japan necessarily suggests some allusion to that large and annually increasing number of persons who visit the country. Their residence in Japan is usually of very limited duration, but, however short it may be, it is apparently quite long enough to enable them to form pronounced views upon many and varied matters connected with the country and the people. I have no hesitation in asserting that the erroneous opinions so prevalent in Europe in regard to Japan and the Japanese people are largely the outcome of the far too numerous books that have been written and published in reference to that country of recent years. "Ten Days in Japan" may be an alluring title for a book of travel, but quite evidently ten days are not sufficient to form an opinion and promulgate it upon every phase of Japanese life, nor for the solution of many vexed problems. And yet, so far as my perusal of these books has gone, the shorter the period a man or woman has spent in Japan the more pronounced his or her views in regard to the country. The matter is hardly worth referring to were it not that these opinions, hastily arrived at and apparently as hurriedly rushed into print, have been accepted by some people as incontrovertible facts. Another class of work that I think a reader should be warned against is the book of the man who has lived in Japan for a time and seen life only from a certain standpoint. The book of a bishop or a missionary may be and often is of undoubted value in reference to his work and matters connected with his work, but when the writer gets outside this particular province and deals with subjects his knowledge of which must be at the best second-hand he is almost certain to perpetrate some flagrant mistakes, and occasionally indite the most egregious nonsense. I shall not particularly apply these remarks, but I think it necessary to utter this word of warning as the literary effusions of some very estimable men and women in regard to Japan have given occasion for many false misconceptions being entertained in regard to that country.
[Illustration: A MINISTERING ANGEL FROM A PRINT BY TOSHIKATA]
The cry of "Japan for the Japanese" has undoubtedly been heard in that land, and during the agitation over the revision of the treaties the foreign community appeared to be under the impression that the policy emphasised in that cry was the one which Japan desired to attain. For myself I do not believe it. I am positive that Japan to-day has no desire to exclude foreigners, or to revert into her old position of isolation. I believe, on the contrary, that she desires to welcome foreigners and to give them every facility within proper limits for pursuing their enterprises. At the same time she has no desire for the foreign adventurer, prospector, or embryo company promoter. She does not wish, in fact, that Japan shall be exploited either in respect of minerals or any other purpose with the object of directly or indirectly pouring wealth into London or any other city. The enterprising gentlemen from England and other countries who have sought to obtain concessions of various kinds in Japan have failed in their object. Their efforts would probably only have brought discredit on the country, and could hardly by any possibility have aided in its material advancement. There is only one word of advice that I should feel inclined to proffer the European in Japan, and that is to refrain less from exercising his caustic wit at the expense of the Japanese people. A nation which has passed through such drastic changes as have characterised Japan in the last two or three decades can no doubt furnish abundant opportunities for the jibes of the flippant, and the humour of those who consider they are endowed with a pretty wit. But the exercise of sardonic humour and an excessive sarcasm tends to promote ill-feeling and serves no useful purpose. The right spirit, in my opinion, for any man to regard Japan is as a nation struggling to obtain and assimilate all that is best in the world and aspiring to be in fact an eclectic power. It can at least be said of Japan that it is the only nation in the world's history which has entertained such aspirations and has sought to give effect to them.