Chapter 6

Modern Japan

by Russell

Modern Japan is unique, not only in this age, but in the history of the world.

It combines elements which most Europeans would have supposed totally incompatible, and it has realized an original plan to a degree hardly known in human affairs.

The Japan which now exists is almost exactly that which was intended by the leaders of the Restoration in 1867. Many unforeseen events have happened in the world: American has risen and Russia has fallen, China has become a Republic and the Great War has shattered Europe. But throughout all these changes the leading statesmen of Japan have gone along the road traced out for them at the beginning of the Meiji era, and the nation has followed them with ever-increasing faithfulness. One single purpose has animated leaders and followers alike: the strengthening and extension of the Empire.

To realize this purpose a new kind of policy has been created, combining the sources of strength in modern America with those in Rome at the time of the Punic Wars, uniting the material organization and scientific knowledge of pre-war Germany with the outlook on life of the Hebrews in the Book of Joshua.

The transformation of Japan since 1867 is amazing, and people have been duly amazed by it. But what is still more amazing is that such an immense change in knowledge and in way of life should have brought so little change in religion and ethics, and that such change as it has brought in these matters should have been in a direction opposite to that which would have been naturally expected.

Science is supposed to tend to rationalism; yet the spread of scientific knowledge in Japan has synchronized with a great intensification of Mikado-Worship, the most anachronistic feature in the Japanese civilization. For sociology, for social psychology, and for political theory, Japan is an extraordinarily interesting country. The synthesis of East and West which has been effected is of a most peculiar kind. There is far more of the East than appears on the surface; but there is everything of the West that tends to national efficiency. How far there is a genuine fusion of Eastern and Western elements may be doubted; the nervous excitability of the people suggests something strained and artificial in their way of life, but this may possibly be a merely temporary phenomenon.

Throughout Japanese politics since the Restoration, there are two separate strands, one analogous to that of Western nations, especially pre-war Germany, the other inherited from the feudal age, which is more analogous to the politics of the Scottish Highlands down to 1745. It is no part of my purpose to give a history of modern Japan; I wish only to give an outline of the forces which control events and movements in that country, with such illustrations as are necessary.

There are many good books on Japanese politics; the one that I have found most informative is McLaren’s Political History of Japan during the Meiji Era 1867-1912 (Allen and Unwin, 1916). For a picture of Japan as it appeared in the early years of the Meiji era, Lafcadio Hearn is of course invaluable; his book Japan, An Interpretation shows his dawning realization of the grim sides of the Japanese character, after the cherry-blossom business has lost its novelty. I shall not have much to say about cherry-blossom; it was not flowering when I was in Japan.

Before, 1867, Japan was a feudal federation of clans, in which the Central Government was in the hands of the Shogun, who was the head of his own clan, but had by no means undisputed sway over the more powerful of the other clans. There had been various dynasties of Shoguns at various times, but since the seventeenth century the Shogunate had been in the Tokugawa clan. Throughout the Tokugawa Shogunate, except during its first few years, Japan had been closed to foreign intercourse, except for a strictly limited commerce with the Dutch. The modern era was inaugurated by two changes: first, the compulsory opening of the country to Western trade; secondly, the transference of power from the Tokugawa clan to the clans of Satsuma and Choshu, who have governed Japan ever since. It is impossible to understand Japan or its politics and possibilities without realizing the nature of the governing forces and their roots in the feudal system of the former age. I will therefore first outline these internal movements, before coming to the part which Japan has played in international affairs.

What happened, nominally, in 1867 was that the Mikado was restored to power, after having been completely eclipsed by the Shogun since the end of the twelfth century. During this long period, the Mikado seems to have been regarded by the common people with reverence as a holy personage, but he was allowed no voice in affairs, was treated with contempt by the Shogun, was sometimes deposed if he misbehaved, and was often kept in great poverty.

Of so little importance was the Imperial person in the days of early foreign intercourse that the Jesuits hardly knew of the Emperor’s existence. They seem to have thought of him as a Japanese counterpart of the Pope of Rome, except that he had no aspirations for temporal power. The Dutch writers likewise were in the habit of referring to the Shogun as “His Majesty,” and on their annual pilgrimage from Dashima to Yedo, Kyoto (where the Mikado lived) was the only city which they were permitted to examine freely. The privilege was probably accorded by the Tokugawa to show the foreigners how lightly the Court was regarded. Commodore Perry delivered to the Shogun in Yedo the autograph letter to the Emperor of Japan, from the President of the United States, and none of the Ambassadors of the Western Powers seem to have entertained any suspicion that in dealing with the authorities in Yedo they were not approaching the throne.

In the light of these facts, some other explanation of the relations between the Shogunate and the Imperial Court must be sought than that which depends upon the claim now made by Japanese historians of the official type, that the throne, throughout this whole period, was divinely preserved by the Heavenly Gods.[46]

What happened, in outline, seems to have been a combination of very different forces. There were antiquarians who observed that the Mikado had had real power in the tenth century, and who wished to revert to the ancient customs. There were patriots who were annoyed with the Shogun for yielding to the pressure of the white men and concluding commercial treaties with them. And there were the western clans, which had never willingly submitted to the authority of the Shogun. To quote McLaren once more (p. 33):—

The movement to restore the Emperor was coupled with a form of Chauvinism or intense nationalism which may be summed up in the expression “Exalt the Emperor! Away with the barbarians!” (Kinno! Joi!) From this it would appear that the Dutch scholars’ work in enlightening the nation upon the subject of foreign scientific attainments was anathema, but a conclusion of that kind must not be hastily arrived at. The cry, “Away with the barbarians!” was directed against Perry and the envoys of other foreign Powers, but there was nothing in that slogan which indicates a general unwillingness to emulate the foreigners’ achievements in armaments or military tactics. In fact, for a number of years previous to 1853, Satsuma and Choshu and other western clans had been very busily engaged in manufacturing guns and practising gunnery: to that extent, at any rate, the discoveries of the students of European sciences had been deliberately used by those men who were to be foremost in the Restoration.

This passage gives the key to the spirit which has animated modern Japan down to the present day.

The Restoration was, to a greater extent than is usually realized in the West, a conservative and even reactionary movement. Professor Murdoch, in his authoritative History of Japan,[47] says:—

In the interpretation of this sudden and startling development most European writers and critics show themselves seriously at fault. Even some of the more intelligent among them find the solution of this portentous enigma in the very superficial and facile formula of “imitation.” But the Japanese still retain their own unit of social organization, which is not the individual, as with us, but the family. Furthermore, the resemblance of the Japanese administrative system, both central and local, to certain European systems is not the result of imitation, or borrowing, or adaptation. Such resemblance is merely an odd and fortuitous resemblance. When the statesmen who overthrew the Tokugawa régime in 1868, and abolished the feudal system in 1871, were called upon to provide the nation with a new equipment of administrative machinery, they did not go to Europe for their models. They simply harked back for some eleven or twelve centuries in their own history and resuscitated the administrative machinery that had first been installed in Japan by the genius of Fujiwara Kamatari and his coadjutors in 645 A.D., and more fully supplemented and organized in the succeeding fifty or sixty years. The present Imperial Cabinet of ten Ministers, with their departments and departmental staff of officials, is a modified revival of the Eight Boards adapted from China and established in the seventh century…. The present administrative system is indeed of alien provenance; but it was neither borrowed nor adapted a generation ago, nor borrowed nor adapted from Europe. It was really a system of hoary antiquity that was revived to cope with pressing modern exigencies.

The outcome was that the clans of Satsuma and Choshu acquired control of the Mikado, made his exaltation the symbol of resistance to the foreigner (with whom the Shogun had concluded unpopular treaties), and secured the support of the country by being the champions of nationalism. Under extraordinarily able leaders, a policy was adopted which has been pursued consistently ever since, and has raised Japan from being the helpless victim of Western greed to being one of the greatest Powers in the world. Feudalisim was abolished, the Central Government was made omnipotent, a powerful army and navy were created, China and Russia were successively defeated, Korea was annexed and a protectorate established over Manchuria and Inner Mongolia, industry and commerce were developed, universal compulsory education instituted; and worship of the Mikado firmly established by teaching in the schools and by professorial patronage of historical myths. The artificial creation of Mikado-worship is one of the most interesting features of modern Japan, and a model to all other States as regards the method of preventing the growth of rationalism. There is a very instructive little pamphlet by Professor B.H. Chamberlain, who was Professor of Japanese and philosophy at Tokyo, and had a knowledge of Japanese which few Europeans had equalled. His pamphlet is called The Invention of a New Religion, and is published by the Rationalist Press Association. He points out that, until recent times, the religion of Japan was Buddhism, to the practical exclusion of every other. There had been, in very ancient times, a native religion called Shinto, and it had lingered on obscurely. But it is only during the last forty years or so that Shinto has been erected into a State religion, and has been reconstructed so as to suit modern requirements.[48] It is, of course, preferable to Buddhism because it is native and national; it is a tribal religion, not one which aims at appealing to all mankind. Its whole purpose, as it has been developed by modern statesmen, is to glorify Japan and the Mikado.

Professor Chamberlain points out how little reverence there was for the Mikado until some time after the Restoration:—

The sober fact is that no nation probably has ever treated its sovereigns more cavalierly than the Japanese have done, from the beginning of authentic history down to within the memory of living men. Emperors have been deposed, emperors have been assassinated; for centuries every succession to the throne was the signal for intrigues and sanguinary broils. Emperors have been exiled; some have been murdered in exile…. For long centuries the Government was in the hands of Mayors of the Palace, who substituted one infant sovereign for another, generally forcing each to abdicate as he approached man’s estate. At one period, these Mayors of the Palace left the Descendant of the Sun in such distress that His Imperial Majesty and the Imperial Princes were obliged to gain a livelihood by selling their autographs! Nor did any great party in the State protest against this condition of affairs. Even in the present reign (that of Meiji)—the most glorious in Japanese history—there have been two rebellions, during one of which a rival Emperor was set up in one part of the country, and a Republic proclaimed in another.

This last sentence, though it states sober historical fact, is scarcely credible to those who only know twentieth-century Japan. The spread of superstition has gone pari passu with the spread of education, and a revolt against the Mikado is now unthinkable. Time and again, in the midst of political strife, the Mikado has been induced to intervene, and instantly the hottest combatants have submitted abjectly. Although there is a Diet, the Mikado is an absolute ruler—as absolute as any sovereign ever has been.

The civilization of Japan, before the Restoration, came from China. Religion, art, writing, philosophy and ethics, everything was copied from Chinese models. Japanese history begins in the fifth century A.D., whereas Chinese history goes back to about 2,000 B.C., or at any rate to somewhere in the second millennium B.C. This was galling to Japanese pride, so an early history was invented long ago, like the theory that the Romans were descended from Æneas. To quote Professor Chamberlain again:—

The first glimmer of genuine Japanese history dates from the fifth century after Christ, and even the accounts of what happened in the sixth century must be received with caution. Japanese scholars know this as well as we do; it is one of the certain results of investigation. But the Japanese bureaucracy does not desire to have the light let in on this inconvenient circumstance. While granting a dispensation re the national mythology, properly so called, it exacts belief in every iota of the national historic legends. Woe to the native professor who strays from the path of orthodoxy. His wife and children (and in Japan every man, however young, has a wife and children) will starve. From the late Prince Ito’s grossly misleading Commentary on the Japanese Constitution down to school compendiums, the absurd dates are everywhere insisted upon.

This question of fictitious early history might be considered unimportant, like the fact that, with us, parsons have to pretend to believe the Bible, which some people think innocuous. But it is part of the whole system, which has a political object, to which free thought and free speech are ruthlessly sacrificed. As this same pamphlet says:—

Shinto, a primitive nature cult, which had fallen into discredit, was taken out of its cupboard and dusted. The common people, it is true, continued to place their affections on Buddhism, the popular festivals were Buddhist; Buddhist also the temples where they buried their dead. The governing class determined to change all this. They insisted on the Shinto doctrine that the Mikado descends in direct succession from the native Goddess of the Sun, and that He himself is a living God on earth who justly claims the absolute fealty of his subjects. Such things as laws and constitutions are but free gifts on His part, not in any sense popular rights. Of course, the ministers and officials, high and low, who carry on His government, are to be regarded not as public servants, but rather as executants of supreme—one might say supernatural—authority. Shinto, because connected with the Imperial family, is to be alone honoured.

All this is not mere theorizing; it is the practical basis of Japanese politics. The Mikado, after having been for centuries in the keeping of the Tokugawa Shoguns, was captured by the clans of Satsuma and Choshu, and has been in their keeping ever since. They were represented politically by five men, the Genro or Elder Statesmen, who are sometimes miscalled the Privy Council. Only two still survive. The Genro have no constitutional existence; they are merely the people who have the ear of the Mikado. They can make him say whatever they wish; therefore they are omnipotent. It has happened repeatedly that they have had against them the Diet and the whole force of public opinion; nevertheless they have invariably been able to enforce their will, because they could make the Mikado speak, and no one dare oppose the Mikado. They do not themselves take office; they select the Prime Minister and the Ministers of War and Marine, and allow them to bear the blame if anything goes wrong. The Genro are the real Government of Japan, and will presumably remain so until the Mikado is captured by some other clique.

From a patriotic point of view, the Genro have shown very great wisdom in the conduct of affairs. There is reason to think that if Japan were a democracy its policy would be more Chauvinistic than it is. Apologists of Japan, such as Mr. Bland, are in the habit of telling us that there is a Liberal anti-militarist party in Japan, which is soon going to dominate foreign policy. I see no reason to believe this. Undoubtedly there is a strong movement for increasing the power of the Diet and making the Cabinet responsible to it; there is also a feeling that the Ministers of War and Marine ought to be responsible to the Cabinet and the Prime Minister, not only to the Mikado directly.[49] But democracy in Japan does not mean a diminution of Chauvinism in foreign policy. There is a small Socialist party which is genuinely anti-Chauvinist and anti-militarist; this party, probably, will grow as Japanese industrialism grows. But so-called Japanese Liberals are just as Chauvinistic as the Government, and public opinion is more so. Indeed there have been occasions when the Genro, in spite of popular fury, has saved the nation from mistakes which it would certainly have committed if the Government had been democratic. One of the most interesting of these occasions was the conclusion of the Treaty of Portsmouth, after the Sino-Japanese war, which deserves to be told as illustrative of Japanese politics.[50]

In 1905, after the battles of Tsushima and Mukden, it became clear to impartial observers that Russia could accomplish nothing further at sea, and Japan could accomplish nothing further on land. The Russian Government was anxious to continue the war, having gradually accumulated men and stores in Manchuria, and greatly improved the working of the Siberian railway. The Japanese Government, on the contrary, knew that it had already achieved all the success it could hope for, and that it would be extremely difficult to raise the loans required for a prolongation of the war. Under these circumstances, Japan appealed secretly to President Roosevelt requesting his good offices for the restoration of peace. President Roosevelt therefore issued invitations to both belligerents to a peace conference. The Russian Government, faced by a strong peace party and incipient revolution, dared not refuse the invitation, especially in view of the fact that the sympathies of neutrals were on the whole with Japan. Japan, being anxious for peace, led Russia to suppose that Japan’s demands would be so excessive as to alienate the sympathy of the world and afford a complete answer to the peace party in Russia. In particular, the Japanese gave out that they would absolutely insist upon an indemnity. The Government had in fact resolved, from the first, not to insist on an indemnity, but this was known to very few people in Japan, and to no one outside Japan. The Russians, believing that the Japanese would not give way about the indemnity, showed themselves generous as regards all other Japanese demands. To their horror and consternation, when they had already packed up and were just ready to break up the conference, the Japanese announced (as they had from the first intended to do) that they accepted the Russian concessions and would waive the claim to an indemnity. Thus the Russian Government and the Japanese people were alike furious, because they had been tricked—the former in the belief that it could yield everything except the indemnity without bringing peace, the latter in the belief that the Government would never give way about the indemnity. In Russia there was revolution; in Japan there were riots, furious diatribes in the Press, and a change of Government—of the nominal Government, that is to say, for the Genro continued to be the real power throughout. In this case, there is no doubt that the decision of the Genro to make peace was the right one from every point of view; there is also very little doubt that a peace advantageous to Japan could not have been made without trickery.

Foreigners unacquainted with Japan, knowing that there is a Diet in which the Lower House is elected, imagine that Japan is at least as democratic as pre-war Germany. This is a delusion. It is true that Marquis Ito, who framed the Constitution, which was promulgated in 1889, took Germany for his model, as the Japanese have always done in all their Westernizing efforts, except as regards the Navy, in which Great Britain has been copied. But there were many points in which the Japanese Constitution differed from that of the German Empire. To begin with, the Reichstag was elected by manhood suffrage, whereas in Japan there is a property qualification which restricts the franchise to about 25 per cent of the adult males. This, however, is a small matter compared to the fact that the Mikado’s power is far less limited than that of the Kaiser was. It is true that Japan does not differ from pre-war Germany in the fact that Ministers are not responsible to the Diet, but to the Emperor, and are responsible severally, not collectively. The War Minister must be a General, the Minister of Marine must be an Admiral; they take their orders, not from the Prime Minister, but from the military and naval authorities respectively, who, of course, are under the control of the Mikado. But in Germany the Reichstag had the power of the purse, whereas in Japan, if the Diet refuses to pass the Budget, the Budget of the previous year can be applied, and when the Diet is not sitting, laws can be enacted temporarily by Imperial decree—a provision which had no analogue in the German Constitution.

The Constitution having been granted by the Emperor of his free grace, it is considered impious to criticize it or to suggest any change in it, since this would imply that His Majesty’s work was not wholly perfect. To understand the Constitution, it is necessary to read it in conjunction with the authoritative commentary of Marquis Ito, which was issued at the same time. Mr. Coleman very correctly summarizes the Constitution as follows[51]:—

Article I of the Japanese Constitution provides that “The Empire of Japan shall be reigned over and governed by a line of Emperors unbroken for ages eternal.”

“By reigned over and governed,” wrote Marquis Ito in his Commentaries on the Constitution of Japan, “it is meant that the Emperor on His Throne combines in Himself the Sovereignty of the State and the Government of the country and of His subjects.”

Article 3 of the Constitution states that “the Emperor is sacred and inviolate.” Marquis Ito’s comment in explanation of this is peculiarly Japanese. He says, “The Sacred Throne was established at the time when the heavens and earth became separated. The Empire is Heaven-descended, divine and sacred; He is pre-eminent above all His subjects. He must be reverenced and is inviolable. He has, indeed, to pay due respect to the law, but the law has no power to hold Him accountable to it. Not only shall there be no irreverence for the Emperor’s person, but also shall He neither be made a topic of derogatory comment nor one of discussion.”

Through the Constitution of Japan the Japanese Emperor exercises the legislative power, the executive power, and the judiciary power. The Emperor convokes the Imperial Diet, opens, closes, prorogues, and dissolves it. When the Imperial Diet is not sitting, Imperial ordinances may be issued in place of laws. The Emperor has supreme control of the Army and Navy, declares war, makes peace, and concludes treaties; orders amnesty, pardon and commutation of punishments.

As to the Ministers of State, the Constitution of Japan, Article 55, says: “The respective Ministers of State shall give their advice to the Emperor and be responsible for it.”

Ito’s commentary on this article indicates his intention in framing it. “When a Minister of State errs in the discharge of his functions, the power of deciding upon his responsibilities belongs to the Sovereign of the State: he alone can dismiss a Minister who has appointed him. Who then is it, except the Sovereign, that can appoint, dismiss, and punish a Minister of State? The appointment and dismissal of them having been included by the Constitution in the sovereign power of the Emperor, it is only a legitimate consequence that the power of deciding as to the responsibility of Ministers is withheld from the Diet. But the Diet may put questions to the Ministers and demand open answers from them before the public, and it may also present addresses to the Sovereign setting forth its opinions.

“The Minister President of State is to make representations to the Emperor on matters of State, and to indicate, according to His pleasure, the general course of the policy of the State, every branch of the administration being under control of the said Minister. The compass of his duties is large, and his responsibilities cannot but be proportionately great. As to the other Ministers of State, they are severally held responsible for the matters within their respective competency; there is no joint responsibility among them in regard to such matters. For, the Minister President and the other Ministers of State, being alike personally appointed by the Emperor, the proceedings of each one of them are, in every respect, controlled by the will of the Emperor, and the Minister President himself has no power of control over the posts occupied by other Ministers, while the latter ought not to be dependent upon the former. In some countries, the Cabinet is regarded as constituting a corporate body, and the Ministers are not held to take part in the conduct of the Government each one in an individual capacity, but joint responsibility is the rule. The evil of such a system is that the power of party combination will ultimately overrule the supreme power of the Sovereign. Such a state of things can never be approved of according to our Constitution.”

In spite of the small powers of the Diet, it succeeded, in the first four years of its existence (1890-94), in causing some annoyance to the Government. Until 1894, the policy of Japan was largely controlled by Marquis Ito, who was opposed to militarism and Chauvinism. The statesmen of the first half of the Meiji era were concerned mainly with introducing modern education and modern social organization; they wished to preserve Japanese independence vis-à-vis the Western Powers, but did not aim, for the time being, at imperialist expansion on their own account. Ito represented this older school of Restoration statesmen. Their ideas of statecraft were in the main derived from the Germany of the ’eighties, which was kept by Bismarck from undue adventurousness. But when the Diet proved difficult to manage, they reverted to an earlier phase of Bismarck’s career for an example to imitate. The Prussian Landtag (incredible as it may seem) was vigorously obstreperous at the time when Bismarck first rose to power, but he tamed it by glutting the nation with military glory in the wars against Austria and France. Similarly, in 1894, the Japanese Government embarked on war against China, and instantly secured the enthusiastic support of the hitherto rebellious Diet. From that day to this, the Japanese Government has never been vigorously opposed except for its good deeds (such as the Treaty of Portsmouth); and it has atoned for these by abundant international crimes, which the nation has always applauded to the echo. Marquis Ito was responsible for the outbreak of war in 1894. He was afterwards again opposed to the new policy of predatory war, but was powerless to prevent it.[52] His opposition, however, was tiresome, until at last he was murdered in Korea.

Since the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war in 1894, Japan has pursued a consistent career of imperialism, with quite extraordinary success. The nature and fruits of that career I shall consider in the next two chapters. For the time being, it has arrested whatever tendency existed towards the development of democracy; the Diet is quite as unimportant as the English Parliament was in the time of the Tudors. Whether the present system will continue for a long time, it is impossible to guess. An unsuccessful foreign war would probably destroy not only the existing system, but the whole unity and morale of the nation; I do not believe that Japan would be as firm in defeat as Germany has proved to be. Diplomatic failure, without war, would probably produce a more Liberal regime, without revolution. There is, however, one very explosive element in Japan, and that is industrialism. It is impossible for Japan to be a Great Power without developing her industry, and in fact everything possible is done to increase Japanese manufactures. Moreover, industry is required to absorb the growing population, which cannot emigrate to English-speaking regions, and will not emigrate to the mainland of Asia because Chinese competition is too severe. Therefore the only way to support a larger population is to absorb it into industrialism, manufacturing goods for export as a means of purchasing food abroad. Industrialism in Japan requires control of China, because Japan contains hardly any of the raw materials of industry, and cannot obtain them sufficiently cheaply or securely in open competition with America and Europe. Also dependence upon imported food requires a strong navy. Thus the motives for imperialism and navalism in Japan are very similar to those that have prevailed in England. But this policy requires high taxation, while successful competition in neutral markets requires—or rather, is thought to require—starvation wages and long hours for operatives. In the cotton industry of Osoka, for example, most of the work is done by girls under fourteen, who work eleven hours a day and got, in 1916, an average daily wage of 5d.[53] Labour organization is in its infancy, and so is Socialism;[54] but both are certain to spread if the number of industrial workers increases without a very marked improvement in hours and wages. Of course the very rigidity of the Japanese policy, which has given it its strength, makes it incapable of adjusting itself to Socialism and Trade Unionism, which are vigorously persecuted by the Government. And on the other hand Socialism and Trade Unionism cannot accept Mikado-worship and the whole farrago of myth upon which the Japanese State depends.[55] There is therefore a likelihood, some twenty or thirty years hence—assuming a peaceful and prosperous development in the meantime—of a very bitter class conflict between the proletarians on the one side and the employers and bureaucrats on the other. If this should happen to synchronize with agrarian discontent, it would be impossible to foretell the issue.

The problems facing Japan are therefore very difficult. To provide for the growing population it is necessary to develop industry; to develop industry it is necessary to control Chinese raw materials; to control Chinese raw materials it is necessary to go against the economic interests of America and Europe; to do this successfully requires a large army and navy, which in turn involve great poverty for wage-earners. And expanding industry with poverty for wage-earners means growing discontent, increase of Socialism, dissolution of filial piety and Mikado-worship in the poorer classes, and therefore a continually greater and greater menace to the whole foundation on which the fabric of the State is built. From without, Japan is threatened with the risk of war against America or of a revival of China. From within, there will be, before long, the risk of proletarian revolution.

From all these dangers, there is only one escape, and that is a diminution of the birth-rate. But such an idea is not merely abhorrent to the militarists as diminishing the supply of cannon-fodder; it is fundamentally opposed to Japanese religion and morality, of which patriotism and filial piety are the basis. Therefore if Japan is to emerge successfully, a much more intense Westernizing must take place, involving not only mechanical processes and knowledge of bare facts, but ideals and religion and general outlook on life. There must be free thought, scepticism, diminution in the intensity of herd-instinct. Without these, the population question cannot be solved; and if that remains unsolved, disaster is sooner or later inevitable.


[46] McLaren, op. cit. p. 19.

[47] Kegan Paul, 1910, vol. i. p. 20.

[48] “What popular Shinto, as expounded by its village priests in the old time, was we simply do not know. Our carefully selected and edited official edition of Shinto is certainly not true aboriginal Shinto as practised in Yamato before the introduction of Buddhism and Chinese culture, and many plausible arguments which disregard that indubitable fact lose much of their weight.” (Murdoch, I, p. 173 n.)

[49] The strength of this movement may, however, be doubted. Murdoch (op. cit. i, p. 162) says: “At present, 1910, the War Office and Admiralty are, of all Ministries, by far the strongest in the Empire. When a party Government does by any strange hap make its appearance on tho political stage, the Ministers of War and of Marine can afford to regard its advent with the utmost insouciance. For tho most extreme of party politicians readily and unhesitatingly admit that the affairs of the Army and Navy do not fall within the sphere of party politics, but are the exclusive concern of the Commander-in-Chief, his Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Japan. On none in the public service of Japan are titles of nobility, high rank, and still more substantial emoluments showered with a more liberal hand than upon the great captains and the great sailors of the Empire. In China, on the other hand, the military man is, if not a pariah, at all events an exceptional barbarian, whom policy makes it advisable to treat with a certain amount of gracious, albeit semi-contemptuous, condescension.”

[50] The following account is taken from McLaren, op. cit. chaps, xii. and xiii.

[51] The Far East Unveiled, pp. 252-58.

[52] See McLaren, op. cit. pp. 227, 228, 289.

[53] Coleman, op. cit. chap. xxxv.

[54] See an invaluable pamphlet, “The Socialist and Labour Movements in Japan,” published by the Japan Chronicle, 1921, for an account of what is happening in this direction.

[55] The Times of February 7, 1922, contains a telegram from its correspondent in Tokyo, à propos of the funeral of Prince Yamagata, Chief of the Genro, to the following effect:—

“To-day a voice was heard in the Diet in opposition to the grant of expenses for the State funeral of Prince Yamagata. The resolution, which was introduced by the member for Osaka constituency, who is regarded as the spokesman of the so-called Parliamentary Labour Party founded last year, states that the Chief of the Genro (Elder Statesmen) did not render true service to the State, and, although the recipient of the highest dignities, was an enemy of mankind and suppressor of democratic institutions. The outcome was a foregone conclusion, but the fact that the introducer could obtain the necessary support to table the resolution formally was not the least interesting feature of the incident.”

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