MINT AND PUBLIC WORKS.The Ōzaka mint is a series of fine and substantial buildings, in the Roman style of architecture, equipped with twelve first-class English coining-presses, thirty-seven melting-furnaces, and a sulphuric and nitric acid manufactory. The mint makes its own tools, cuts its own dies, and performs the usual bullion, assaying, refining, and analyzing business of a mint in other countries. The establishment was organized by Major T. W. Kinder, who was the efficient superintendent from 1870 to 1875. To his energy and ability are due the success and reputation of the mint, which it devolves upon the Japanese to maintain. Three hundred and eighty natives and several Englishmen are employed in it. The coins minted are gold, silver, and copper, and of the same weight, fineness, denomination, and decimal division as the American coinage. They are round, with milled edges. They are stamped with the devices of the rising sun, coiled dragons, legend of date and denomination, in Chinese and Roman numerals, chrysanthemum, and Paulownia imperialis leaves and flower. Japanese prejudices are against the idea of stamping the mikado's image on their coins. This dislike will probably pass away before many years. From 1871 to 1875, the number of pieces coined was 136,885,541, their value being $62,421,744. The denominations are fourteen: five being gold, five silver, and four copper. The average metal money now in circulation is nearly two dollars per head of the population, and of gold about seven-eighths of that sum per head.
The coasts of Japan, once the most dangerous, are now comparatively safe by night and day. The statistics of 1873 (below the maximum in 1876) show that there are thirty-one light-houses, two light-ships, five buoys, three beacons, and two steam tenders in operation. Over three million dollars have been expended by the Light-house Bureau (Tō Dai Riō). All the modern improvements dictated by advanced science and mechanical skill have been made use of. The coast of Japan now compares favorably with any in Europe. Mr. R. H. Brunton, the capable foreign superintendent, was in the Government service from 1868 to 1876.
The railway from Yokohama to Tōkiō, eighteen miles long, carried, in 1873, 1,435,656 passengers; and, in 1874, 1,592,314 passengers. The railway from Ōzaka to Kobé, twenty-two miles long, began operations in 1873. The railway from Ōzaka to Kiōto is nearly finished, and will probably open in autumn, 1876. From Kiōto the road is surveyed to Tsuruga. Steam-transit lines are also projected from Kiōto into Kii, from Kiōto to Tōkiō and thence to Awomori. The excellence and convenience of transit by sea, and the fact that the mass of the people follow the agricultural life and habits, more than the lack of capital, will delay the completion of these enterprises for years. The great need of Japan is good wagon roads: comparatively few of these exist.
Telegraphs are now completed from Nagasaki to Sapporo, in Yezo. The main line connects the extremities, through the centre of the empire. A number of branch lines are also in operation. All the kens will probably soon be in electric communication with the capital. Two submarine cables cross the Sea of Japan to Asia, and two wires the Straits of Shimonoséki and Tsugaru. The material used is English, and the Wheatstone system and katagana letters are used. All the above are Government enterprises and property. The Public Works Department also has charge of mines (see page 602), dock-yards, and foundries. A number of steam paper-making, weaving, spinning, sawing, planing, printing, typecasting, and other establishments, representing a great variety of new industries, are being established by natives with foreign assistance. Many of these are assisted or encouraged by the Government.