CHAPTER II. THE LAND OR GEOGRAPHICAL FEATURES IN THEIR RELATION TO THE INHABITANTS
GEOGRAPHICALLY defined, Japan is a series of long and narrow volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean, lying off the north-eastern coast of the Asiatic continent in the shape of a longitudinal curve.
This simple definition would require a detailed explanation were we to exhaust its full meaning -a task for which we have now no space at command. All we can do is to take up one by one the salient points of the definition and treat them from the standpoint of anthropo-geography. In the present discourse, I wish to amplify the following points: 1st, that Japan is an island country; 2d, that it is volcanic; 3d, that it is narrow; 4th, that it is long; 5th, that it lies off the coast of the Asiatic continent; 6th, that it lies in the Pacific Ocean.
I. First of all, Japan Is a Series of Islands. The whole country consists of no less than five hundred and eighteen islands.
The question what dimensions raise a piece of land in the sea from a mere rock to the dignity of an island, is not yet scientifically or unanimously decided. The statement is sometimes made that the Empire of Japan consists of more than one million islands, and the Tribune Almanac for 1912 gives the number of islands composing the Empire as 4223. In our official returns, however, we exclude all those whose circumference is less than one ri (two and a half miles), unless inhabited or unless they serve as sea-marks of some importance.
Of these hundreds of isles, we will name only the most important:
|Names of Islands||Number of Dependencies||Area|
|Hokkaido||13||30,299.87 " "|
|Kyushu||150||15,600.54 " "|
|Taiwan (Formosa)||7||13,851.99 " "|
|Shikoku||7||7,036.48 " "|
|Chishima (31 Kurile islands)||-||6,028.48 " "|
|Ryukyu (55 Loochoo islands)||-||935.78 " "|
|Sado||-||335.73 " "|
|Tsushima||5||266.53 " "|
|Awaji||I||218.67 " "|
|Oki||I||130.46 " "|
|Hokoto (Pescadores)||12||47.62 " "|
|Iki||I||51.43 " "|
|Ogasawara (20 Bonin islands)||-||26.82 " "|
|Total||156,674.28 sq. mi.|
If we exclude from this list Taiwan or Formosa and the Pescadores, we shall have over 142,000 square miles, which constitute what may be called Old Japan, or Japan Proper. This is quite a respectable area for any nation to possess. We can compare favourably with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland or with Italy. In relation to the United States, however, the comparison will not redound to our glory, for our whole area is only equal in expanse to the State of Montana, is smaller than California or Texas, and is about three times the size of the State of New York or Virginia or Pennsylvania.
Owing to the insular formation of the country, the coast line, in proportion to the area, is naturally considerable, bearing an average of one mile to every eight square miles. The coast bordering the Pacific Ocean, or, as we call it, Outer Japan, is very much more diversified than Inner Japan, or the shores along the Sea of Japan; hence the coast line of the former measures over 10,300 miles as against 2800 miles of the latter. Many of the indentations furnish excellent anchorage.
The insular nature of our country implies that a large number of our population are born and bred within sight of the sea, and, thus destined by nature to wield its craft, breathe its winds, and fight its billows, are inured from infancy to a seafaring life. There were times when our people ploughed the Pacific Ocean in their barks as traders, adventurers, colonists, and pirates, and started settlements along the shores of Asia or in different islands of the Southern Pacific, wander- ing "on from island unto island at the gateways of the day." Only by a strong governmental measure was this enterprising spirit kept in abeyance for two or three centuries, during which time the insular character of the country, far from arousing an adventurous spirit, cramped it within the precincts of its native land; so that the people, instead of looking out upon the great waters which surround them, turned their back upon the sea and strenuously confined their attention to the little valleys and restricted plains of Dai-Nippon. Insularity need not spell narrowness of ideas. It ought to mean breadth of vision. Whether it does the one or the other, will depend upon the attitude which the people take in regard to the sea. The Phœnicians and the Jews dwelt side by side on the same coast, but the Jews became exclusively a land folk, while the Phœnicians filled the farthest end of the then known sea with their ships of exploration and commerce,-truly, as Gibbon says, "The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators." It is said that the love of the sea and the enjoyment of its perils are confined to people of the Norse blood, but a little closer study will reveal the same characteristic in the Malays; and here I touch upon the subject of race.
Among the manifold effects of insularity, I may mention, first of all, the homogeneity of our people.
In spite of differences of blood and origin, the races which in time past drifted to our shores- the southern peoples from the tropics, the western from the Asiatic continent-have all mixed and amalgamated on our soil, and have been politically and socially moulded together until they have formed one homogeneous nation with one language, one tradition, one history, one literature. The diverse ancestors of the constituent races have gradually disappeared beyond the veil of obscurity and oblivion; so that our people now trace their ancestry to a common stock and pride themselves upon the name of the Yamato race.
This uniformity explains the strong patriotic sentiment which with us rises to an almost religious ardour. It is also this same consciousness which forms the basis of our loyalty to our ruler, upon whom we look as the personal representative of that ethnic unity-that strong sense of solidarity which defies any uninvited intrusion from without. During the Russo-Japanese War it was often repeated that if Russia were successful, she could never land her army on Japanese soil, or, if she did, it would be after the land was entirely bereft of inhabitants; for to the last survivor the Japanese, women as well as men, would fight for its defence. Intensity is a characteristic of island life. Ratzel, in speaking of "the exclusive personality" of an insular people, says that England reaches the maximum intensity of the civilisation of her neighbouring continent, and I believe that this remark is no less applicable to the only other insular nation which is independent in the strict sense of the term; for I dare say that our compact, intense nationality is the product of the waters which surround us.
To the insularity of our country, again, is due our freedom from foreign invasions and foreign complications. Were it not for the sea, we would not have escaped the catastrophes which so often befell the Korean and Chinese Empires. Only twice in the history of twenty centuries have hostile demonstrations taken place near our shores,- once at the close of the thirteenth century, when Kublai Khan, flushed with his conquests in China, despatched what was then considered an invincible armada; then, again, early in this century, when a hostile fleet under Admiral Rozhdestvensky approached our shores. But in neither case did Japan suffer in honour or in arms. These events only served to strengthen the confidence that we are "compass'd by the inviolate sea," and that our shores are guarded by waves and winds which love our land no less than do our captains and sailors.
Not only in respect to freedom from foreign invasion, but in respect to civil liberty, has Japan been fortunately located. It is true she did not develop that idea to a degree in any way approximating its development by the English or the Swiss. But compare her political career with that of China or India-countries whose examples she usually followed-and we cannot help wondering how her children have escaped the devastation of tyranny and despotism which overtook them. If she did not rise in the cause of liberty, neither did she sink into utter thraldom such as theirs. Singing of Swiss liberty, Wordsworth wrote:
"Two voices are there; one is of the sea, One of mountains; each a mighty voice."If liberty loves the heights and the deep, nowhere will it find a more congenial home than in Japan, which is only sea and mountains. It is worth noting here that Japan is the first country in Asia where parliamentary rule, the surest guarantee of liberty, has been adopted.
It is not only in respect to ethnic unity and solidarity, to loyalty, liberty, and patriotism, that our geographic insularity tells; but also in our every-day mode of living. Fishery supplies an important source of employment and of diet. It furnishes yearly an amount of food valued at about fifty million dollars, and employs the vast number of nearly two million people. Though our people are practically vegetarians, fish and fowl are freely consumed. No less than four hundred and fifty kinds of fish are caught in our waters, many of which are edible. I shall not go into conjecture as to how far a diet of fish affects the size of our brain! but it explains at least in part why stock-farming did not attain an important place in our economy. Cattle were never abundant, swine less so, and sheep unknown until recent years. It has been thought that our climate does not favour the growth of grass; but the discouragement given by Buddhism and Shinto to the slaughter of animals, on the one hand, and the rich harvest of the sea, on the other, were reasons more potent than climate for our poverty in live stock.
Islands naturally possess a maritime climate, the distinctive features of which are equability, relative humidity, and great cloudiness. One curious effect of our moist atmosphere is the frequent use of very warm baths, which are taken at a temperature as high as 120° Fahrenheit. Newcomers to Japan regard such a practice as highly unhygienic, but a few years' residence demonstrates to them that the custom is dictated by climatic demands. Our people are not happy unless they bathe frequently, and this habit of daily ablution is perhaps due to atmospheric humidity.
We have throughout the year an average of 150 days of snow or rain, and 215 days of fair weather; that is, for every three days of rain or snow, we have four fine days. As to quantity, the rainfall ranges, according to locality, from twenty to thirty inches a year.
The best medical authorities believe that our climate is particularly excellent for children. By Americans resident in Japan, its moisture is felt to be rather hard to bear, and I have often heard them complain of what they call "Japan head," by which they mean incapacity to work-in fact a species of nervous prostration, the same ailment which Germans name Americanitis, but which American residents prefer to ascribe to the Japanese climate.
I may state in passing, however, that Japan has a modified continental, rather than a strictly maritime, climate; but, lying in the monsoon region, the comparatively regular rains have made rice- culture the basis of agriculture. Though we cannot accept Buckle's conclusion in regard to the physiological effect of rice upon the brain, we can believe with Crawfurd that rice-culture and its indispensable condition, irrigation, exercised a vast influence on the economic, social, and political institutions of our people.
As for the indirect effect of the sea upon nutrition, there is good reason to believe that it is worthy of special study. According to the researches of Schindler, wheat grown in a maritime climate contains less protein, and, to supply its deficiency, crops rich in nitrogen, notably leguminous plants, are cultivated. This accounts for the prominent part played by legumes in our farming, and for their abundant use in our dietary system. The soy bean, crushed and made into what may be called vegetable cheese, or fermented and made into a paste, or simply cooked somewhat like the famous baked beans of New England, shares with rice the honour of being the staff of life among our people.
While I am on the subject of climate, I may be allowed to call your attention to a theory lately advanced by Professor Kullmer of Syracuse and Professor Huntington of Yale, as to the secret of national greatness. Briefly stated, they claim, to use Mr. Huntington's words, that "mankind is most progressive in places where there is not only a marked difference between summer and winter, but also where there are frequent variations from day to day". To substantiate their theory, the cyclonic storms of temperate regions are taken as a measure of atmospheric changes, and they find that "the area included within the line of ten storms, embraces all the leading countries of the world"-the United States, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Northern Italy, Western Russia- and, strange to say, the only Asiatic country subject to similar cyclonic storms happens to be Japan. Thus anemology serves to bind where ethnology attempts to sever. The world is an Æolian harp and nations are but its strings, athwart which the stronger blows the wind, the fuller and finer the note.
There is always a strong temptation to exaggerate the effect of geographic environment. Not a clover plant blooms but is held to sway the destinies of the British Empire. Not a few writers have tried to explain our mode of living, our mental habits, literature, and religion, as corollaries of the volcanic character of the country-the second item of our definition of geographical Japan.
II. The Volcanic Character of our Topography . That most of our islands are volcanic in their formation is not to be disputed. If Egypt is the gift of the Nile, Japan is the legacy of primeval fire.
Three principal volcanic ranges, containing about two hundred volcanoes, fifty of which are active, run lengthwise and crosswise through Japan. To the fact that their mischievous spirits hold rendezvous in the proximity of Fuji, we owe the exquisite form of our "peerless mountain" and many an occasion of terror at their antics. Volcanoes, both extinct and active, abounding, seismic phenomena are frequent. Observations for the twenty-five years between 1885-1909 show that Japan was subject, during this period, to no less than 37,642 earthquakes, not to take into account minor vibrations which are felt only by delicate instruments. This gives a yearly average of 1506 shocks, or about four per day. Four shocks a day certainly represent an alarmingy frequent occurrence of the phenomenon, and would be unendurable if they were not scattered over a very large area. Then, too, there is some comfort in the assurance that minor shocks bind the strata by removing weaker cleavages and will thus prevent the occurrence of severer ones. From records of earthquakes for over three hundred years, one learns to expect a shock of ordinary severity once in about thirty months and a disastrous upheaval once in a life-time.
Any one the least familiar with Japanese art must have observed how our Mount Fuji forms the favourite motif for artists, and a hasty illation is drawn therefrom that volcanoes must exert a strong influence upon the æsthetic sense and upon art. Our low, wooden style of architecture is generally considered to be due to frequent earthquakes, and the study of seismic disturbances convinces us that low, wooden structures suffer decidedly less than high, stone or brick buildings; the last mentioned suffering most.
I am not in a position to prove the effect of earthquakes upon our fine art; but that they strongly influence our architecture is so patent that it needs no demonstration. Specially worthy of mention in this connection is the curvature given to the old stone castle walls. It approximates that theoretical curve known in geometry as the parabolic, which gives the greatest stability against earthquakes, and which at the same time conforms most nearly to the line of beauty. As another illustration of how earthquakes stimulate architectural ingenuity, I may mention the way in which the five-storied pagodas, some of them over a hundred feet high, are built to endure the severest shocks. These high structures have never been known to fall. The principle on which they are built is the combination of an inverted pendulum with an ordinary pendulum, which is said to minimise the effect of any tremor. The principle is embodied in a heavy, massive piece of timber, suspended somewhat freely from the top and resting on a pivot below, so that in case the ground shakes, the whole structure sways in such a manner as to maintain its equilibrium.
Aristotle, in remarking that insensibility to fear does not necessarily argue true courage, gives earthquakes and waves as instances of forces which man may fear without losing self-respect. The Semites looked with pious awe and dread upon the earthquake as theophany, and in their language the term for it, ra'ash, was poetically employed for the harmonious choral song of angels. We, too, do not omit earthquakes from the list of things to fear, among which the vulgar populace count three others-the thunderbolt, conflagration, and, last but not least, daddy's frown! It is curious that the external attitude, if I may so say, of the popular mind, in regard to this really terror- inspiring convulsion, is of a humorous nature. Is the underlying idea that of defying the power of the alarming phenomenon? Or is it because, being too awful to think of, human understanding, like Hamlet in the presence of a ghost, revolts against its own weakness and pelts impotent jeers at it? The very origin of earthquakes is ascribed rather jocosely to the movement of a huge, phlegmatic cat-fish, namazu, living in mud beneath the crust of the earth. When its barbels twitch, seismology makes record of fresh shocks; but should the hideous monster feel inclined to raise its broad, glum head in its dozing on the muddy bottom, then woe to civilisation and all its achievements! Nobody takes this creature seriously. When it is mentioned, it is always in a humorous vein. Among the eighty myriad gods of the Shinto pantheon, there is only one solitary mention of a god of earthquakes, and he has no homage paid him such as Poseidon, the Earth-Shaker, enjoyed at the hands of the Hellenes. Then among hundreds of nature-myths, to which one listens with more or less religious reverence, one looks in vain for the story of an earth-shaker.
So, of the mental influence of telluric outbursts we can say little that is definite, and as far as their physical effects are concerned, it is doubtful that the ozone produced could furnish material for nitrogenous fertiliser in any appreciable quantity. Equally doubtful is the production by earthquakes of enough ozone to show a stimulating effect on man or beast.
As a permanent compensation for the disquieting earthquake, terrestrial fire has studded the country with some four hundred and thirty mineral springs, hot and cold, and of diverse medicinal virtues.
Our mountains, not necessarily of igneous origin but as a matter of fact largely so, in conjunction with the damp climate, give rise to many cascades and cataracts, which are valuable assets in the production of water and electric power. The wealth of picturesque scenery is the price Vulcan pays for his sports.
There is a certain feature of the volcanic formation of our islands which has a far-reaching and dire economic effect. I mean the comparatively small extent of land fit for tillage. Under the present mode of husbandry, it is generally admitted that the use of the plough or of the spade is economically possible on fairly level plains, but where farms have a slope exceeding fifteen degrees, cultivation does not repay the toil of the peasant. It is estimated that in Japan tillable plains amount only to 26 1/2 per cent. of the whole area, and even these do not exist in large complexes, being scattered here and there in small bits, sometimes along river-courses and sometimes among the mountains. Out of this limited level area, a moiety only is under actual cultivation. In other words, the arable land of Japan forms only 14.6 per cent. of the entire extent of her territory-a remarkably small proportion, when we remember that fifty million souls find their subsistence here.
Owing, too, to rugged topography and to the absence of extensive plains, large cities have not developed in any number. Tokyo, situated in the most extensive plain-that of Musashi-is at present a city of some two million inhabitants, the size of Chicago-and is still steadily growing, as a result of which the value of land increases at the rate of ten per cent. a year. Osaka, being a harbour and located in the basin of the Yodo River, has now a population approaching one million, and Nagoya (300,000) is fast outgrowing the ancient capital of Kyoto (400,000). Not for geographical but for economic reasons, as in the rest of the world, our larger cities are developing at the expense of the country-so much so that some provinces are suffering from the increase of "abandoned farms."
The smallness of the arable area will be made clearer by considering the third item in our definition;-namely, the narrowness of the country.
III. The Width of the Country . If we include recent territorial acquisitions, the Japanese Empire extends in length from the middle of Saghalien (50° N. Lat.) to the southern extremity of Formosa (21° 45' N. Lat.), covering about twenty-eight degrees of latitude-equal to the distance from the mouth of the St. Lawrence or the Islands of Vancouver, as far south as Cuba or the southernmost promontory of Lower California. The width, on the contrary, is quite out of proportion to the length, being in many places no more than fifty miles, as the crow flies, and in no place exceeding two hundred miles. Still, having a long chain of mountains running like a rib through its central part, the country is well-nigh impassable from the eastern to the western coast, except by a few narrow valleys. A curious economic effect of this topographical formation is the nationalisation of railways; for, as the railroads must run through mountains and along precipitous valleys-much of the way across ravines and torrents-the cost of construction is very great, and even after construction, the frequent rains, with their consequent floods and washouts and landslides, necessitate continual outlay for the maintenance of the lines.
These considerations, especially the narrowness of many valleys, forbid the building of more than one good trunk line. As long as there is to be but one line, is it not wiser for the government to possess and control it than that such far-reaching public service be left to the monopoly of a private company?
Though the country has not great width, the eastern and western sides offer many points of difference. The western shores are washed by heavy seas, being exposed to the strong and cold northwesterly winds coming from the Siberian plains. Outer Japan is milder in climate, owing to the Black Current; it has more bright days; it abounds in gulfs and bays, harbours and ports. We may say that Japan faces the Pacific and turns her back upon the sea which separates her from China, and the social and political import of this simple fact may be inferred by comparing it with Italy, where harbours of any consequence are all located on the western coast; or with Greece, which turns its face towards Asia Minor.
Since the islands are narrow and mountain ranges divide them lengthwise, the rivers are inevitably short and rapid. There are only fifteen rivers more than a hundred miles long, and only three of these boast double that length. Under drier skies our streams would be insignificant; but the general atmospheric humidity of our climate and our two rainy seasons keep them supplied at all times with water, which is, however, liberally drawn off for purposes of irrigation, thus rendering the main current less serviceable than ever for navigation. On account of reckless denudation of wooded area, every rain washes sand and gravel down the naked slopes of the hills, filling the riverbeds with silt and working havoc upon the surrounding regions. But I must add, to redeem the reputation of our rivers, that many of them afford an excellent source of hydro-electric power.
IV. The Length of the Empire . I have thus far dwelt exclusively on the narrowness of the country. In considering the length, however, special attention must be paid to the fourth item- that the islands lie obliquely within twenty-eight degrees of latitude. This fact allows a wide range of temperature and a great variety of vegetation, and finally-variation in the character and temperament of the inhabitants. The temperature of Tokyo may be taken as an average of that of the whole country. The mean temperature for twenty years shows 36.7° Fahrenheit in January, and 78° in August, the average for the whole year being nearly 57°. In Tokyo snow falls three or four times during the winter, sometimes to a depth of several inches. In the northern island of Hokkaido, we have snow from the end of November to the beginning of April, and there the temperature falls 10, 20, and even 30 degrees below zero.
To Japan's humidity and its prevailing winds, we have incidentally referred. All these factors combined explain in part the wealth of our flora, which Savatier in his Enumeratio gives as 2750 species of plants indigenous to Japan.
Each month of the year has its favourite flower. January has its pine, the symbol of evergreen old age, which, with the bamboo and the plum, form in our language of flowers a triad used on all propitious occasions. February has its plum, the umé-botanically different from your plum- which is the first tree to bloom in the spring, unfolding its pink, white, or yellow buds while the snow still continues to fall. Under such adverse circumstances does it bloom, that the plum has won a reputation for courage among flowers, and when you see its pink blossoms covered with snowflakes, its delicate perfume lending further charm to the song of the warbler which delights to make its abode among its branches, you will not wonder at our infatuation over it. The fruit of the umé has an economic value, for it is not only edible in itself, but makes the juice with which our best silk is dyed red. The plum is succeeded in March by the peach, a flower that typifies beauty, and, like beauty, quickly fades to give place to another no less ephemeral but the most exquisite of all-the cherry. April is sacred to the sakura, the cherry, the most popular child of all our floral world. It is cultivated not for its fruit, nor for its wood, but for its flowers, that bloom for half a week, and if a more material motive for its cultivation is looked for, it lies in the use of the flower as a dainty beverage when pickled in salt and steeped in hot water. Thus we quaff this vernal essence of our clime in as literal a sense as we inhale its breath. No wonder we look upon it as the national flower, embodying the spirit of the race, as an old poet has sung,-
"Should strangers ask what the spirit of Yamato is, Point to the cherry blowing fragrant in the morning sun."But the short-lived cherry is succeeded in May by the Wistaria, which was introduced into this country by Dr. Wistar; hence the name. This is followed in June by the iris, and as the heat of summer rises in July, the morning-glory refreshes our eyes with its many tints, and while it is still at the height of its glory, the lotus, dear to the religion of Buddha as lilies are to Christians, takes up its turn in August. The lotus, of various dainty hues, grows in water; and many a lover of flowers leaves his bed before dawn to hasten to a pond that he may hear the bursting of its buds. The lotus adds to its spiritual meaning a tangible quality; for its seeds are edible and its long rhizomes are used as a vegetable. When the summer heat is gone, and with September the thermometer begins to take a downward course, the so-called "seven plants of autumn" (including the graceful Eulalia, the chaste Campanella, the rough-leaved Patrinia, which we call the maiden-flower, etc.) gladden the hearts which are sobered by the fall of leaves and mellowed by the saddening moon, which shines particularly clear in the drier autumn nights. When these rather delicate and tender plants begin to fade one by one in quick succession, robbing the wayside of its glowing tints, then in the month of October bloom in luxuriance chrysanthemums of every imaginable hue. Amateurs and professionals then vie with each other in exhibiting their best plants, and the Emperor opens his garden to his invited guests to show the chrysanthemum-this flower, painted with sixteen petals, being the crest of his family. The chrysanthemum has long outgrown its Greek etymon- the blossom of gold. It boasts of innumerable shades of colour, and gives promise through its fecund power to produce newer varieties. You certainly have worked marvels in the chrysanthemum in this country; but I wonder if you raise two or three edible varieties of this plant, using, as we do, the petals for salad and the leaves as well as the flowers for fritters. But I have no time now to linger in the kitchen; for, when November comes with its bright sunshine, it is time for every lover of nature to sally forth among hills and dales "a-maple-hunting," as we call it. As in the spring multitudes wend their way to certain localities famed for the sakura, so now they make their excursion to feast their eyes upon the brocade of foliage. Japan, I understand, is richest in varieties of maple, but when the branches are shorn of their gorgeous drapery by the chilly breeze of December, this month makes compensation by bringing among the deep verdure of the camellia a profuse display of colours-white, scarlet, pink, and red.
I have loitered too long-a whole year-among the flowers of my land, but will now retrace my steps to take up a more serious discussion of the fifth item of my definition, which refers to the fact that Japan lies off the coast of China, at considerable distance from the rest of the world.
V. Japan's Location off the Asiatic Coast . This distance from the continent as well as from the southern seas is not too great for a daring people to cross, but it was too far to enable large numbers to make an expedition with weapons and provisions in days when steam was unknown. Hence, peaceful immigrants came from time to time to settle here, to merge with those who had occupied the land before them, while invading troops could not make inroads upon these shores.
Being located where they are, the Japanese islands are farthest removed from the centre or centres of world politics,-from European capitals or from the Atlantic coast of this continent. It is over seven thousand miles from New York to Yokohama. It has become a fashion in these latter days to speak rather disrespectfully of distance, as though electricity and steam have practically annihilated it. We brag of the recent achievement, whereby a wireless message was sent and received across the Pacific Ocean. This is all very remarkable and we are justified in congratulating ourselves, but the element of space exists just the same, the actual distance not shrinking a mile or an inch. It is as impossible to subtract a cubit from space as it is to add it to our stature.
To the artistic, distance may serve the purpose of lending enchantment to the view, but for more utilitarian purposes, it is too real an element to be lightly trifled with. As applied to our case, this distance brought in its train at least two important psychological consequences, viz.; the sense of isolation and of discontinuity. In spite of all the recent improvements in transportation, it is still no easy undertaking, financially or physically, for most people to go back and forth across a space "where half the convex world intrudes between." Such remoteness is enough to create apartness or to estrange sympathy. Hence Japan has to bear the disadvantage of a certain degree of isolation, until the centres of the world are moved elsewhere or until easier means of transportation come in vogue.
Then, too, the sense of discontinuity engendered by the presence of vast deserts, lofty mountain chains, and unfathomed ocean, gives one an impression that there must be a wide and deep chasm that cannot be bridged over between the mental habits and moral notions of the denizens of the antipodes.
In connection with the distance factor, I may here refer to an idea advanced by Professor Davis of Harvard, who in speaking of a remote colony, says that the most enterprising and aggressive new-comers press to the frontier where gentleness, considerateness, forbearance in their dealings with others, especially with inferiors, are less common on the part of the invaders than the contrasted qualities of roughness, dominance, and intolerance. The hasty acts of the isolated frontiersman are seldom restrained by a tempered public sentiment in favour of patience and conciliation, for at the outposts of civilisation there is no public to have a sentiment. In the case of the United States, California being on its frontier, that State has once or twice given an illustration of this effect of the distance factor in its attitude toward Japanese immigration. That brilliant French writer, Maurice Leblanc, has recently shown in the form of a novel, The Frontier, how trivial deeds of unfriendliness, when enacted near national boundaries, may assume a gigantic magnitude.
Now, let me proceed to my sixth and last article of definition.
VI. Japan's Position in the Pacific Ocean . Japan lies in the Pacific, with her face toward the morning sun and her gates open to the east. Before her spreads the illimitable expanse of the Pacific, where the bravest of folks, nurtured in the salt air and in the daring crafts of the sea, can find ample space for action. They can ride on the wings of the storm or plunge into the billows for the treasures of the deep, realising here the widest scope of action, fulfilling their highest calling and prepared for whatever awaits them. Here will be solved many a world problem that has puzzled philosophers and perplexed statesmen. We believe that it will be in the island realm of ours, lying between the two continents, that the world's contradictions will be solved.
Japan is aware that her mission is to mediate between the old and the new civilisations. We believe that it is in us and through us that the East and the West should meet. Our history of the last fifty years is a proof of our assertion.
On the Asiatic continent there are crude manifestations of impatience of European control; of fear and hatred of the White Peril. There are also evidences of the awakening of self-consciousness; of a feeling that an organised Asia can turn back the flood of European aggression. For all these recent signs of an inimical attitude that the East takes towards the West, Japan is held directly or indirectly responsible. She is in the exceedingly delicate and unenviable position of a scapegoat for the whole of Asia. If a white power snatches a piece of property on the continent, be it in China, India, Siam, or Persia, and the victim raises a hue and cry, Japan is suspected of supplying the air to his windpipe! But he reads these signs of the times amiss who sees bloody conflicts as their final and inevitable issues. Japan feels it her own responsibility to set the world's ideas right on this momentous point. She interprets her geographical position not in a negative, hostile spirit; but in a positive, friendly attitude of service to mankind, by bringing together nations that have long trodden different ways and establishing between them bonds of mutual understanding, unity, and respect.
The meaning of the Pacific Ocean seems to have dawned with sudden luminosity upon the eyes of the Occident. Twenty years ago, a British statesman of first rank could hardly be induced to annex part of an island near Australia; but now, were there discovered a fragment of a coral reef in the remotest part of this ocean, the great powers would rush with their gun-boats to plant their flag. Spain and Portugal have practically receded from the stage where they played their best and their worst, and in their stead Russia and America have made their appearance. Holland and England still maintain their prestige, and France and Germany are ambitious to have their share in the interests of the Pacific. To China and Japan this ocean presents a question of life and death. When we remember that in the Asiatic countries bordering it, swarms of mankind numbering some six hundred million souls, or one-third of the whole human family, live and have their being, it is no wonder that the world's chief interest during the twentieth century will be centred here. Should concerns of such magnitude be decided by one or two powers for their selfish ends? Whatever suspicion other nations may maintain, it is not the ambition of Japan to control all these vast masses of humanity or to make the Pacific Ocean her lake. As to a breach between America and Japan, that mighty sea may well rest peacefully true to its name. It is interesting to note that, while some people on this side of the Pacific speak of the completion of the Panama Canal as a signal for the outbreak of war, the Japanese are looking forward to it with utmost complacency and the hope of increased trade.
When the Suez Canal was about to be opened, many anticipated the event with consternation- among them no less a statesman than Sir Robert Peel,-fearing that the new waterway might serve the purposes of war rather than those of peace; but with us who have seen the working of this canal, should there not be a rational belief that its history may be repeated in that of Panama, and that through this great new artery will throb the life blood of the East and the West in ever swelling and rhythmic pulsations of vigour and health?