CHAPTER XV. THE MEIJI ERA (Continued)
4. Cosmopolitanism (1899-1910). - It was not so many years ago that the ideal of the Japanese was such a narrow theme as "the Japan of the Japanese"; then the vision widened out so as to include "the Japan of Asia"; but now the horizon is unlimited and extends to "the Japan of the World." Indeed, the Japanese have outgrown "Native Japan," and even "Asiatic Japan," into "Cosmopolitan Japan."
The appropriateness of the title for this period became increasingly evident as the years passed on. In 1900, in quelling the "Boxer" disturbances in China, and particularly in raising the siege of Peking, Japan played a most important part in helping the great nations of Christendom to maintain in China the principles of Occidental, or Christian, civilization. The Japanese troops were officially engaged, together with those of Christian nations, in rescuing Christian missionaries and Chinese converts from mobs; and missionaries, driven out of China, were finding refuge in Japan, where their lives and their property were as secure as in their home lands. Two years later (1902) Japan's claim to be a world-power was still further recognized and thus confirmed by the conclusion of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, which was itself renewed in 1905 for a further term of ten years. This is the very first instance of the alliance of a white nation with a colored nation. The formerly insignificant and "halfcivilized" country of Japan was now "on the same lotus-blossom" with Great Britain. The huge empire on whose possessions the sun never sets took for its ally the small empire of the rising sun. And the fact that, when Great Britain broke her policy of "splendid isolation," it was to enter into alliance with an Oriental power is one of great significance.
In other matters it is possible to trace the reflex influence of the cosmopolitan spirit. In 1899, for instance, official permission was granted to a Baptist "gospel ship," appropriately named "Fukuin Maru,"to cruise freely among the islands of the Inland Sea, with the Stars and Stripes flying from the masthead. The same spirit was manifested in the hearty welcome given to the late President Charles Cuthbert Hall, the late General Booth, Professor Ladd, and others in their visits to Japan. And it was especially evident in the World's Student Christian Federation, which met in Tōkyō in April, 1907, and was the first international association to meet in Japan. It was composed of six hundred and twenty-five delegates from twenty-five nations.
In 1900 a private woman's university was opened in Tōkyō, and it is now in a prosperous condition.
In the same year occurred the marriage of the (then) Crown Prince to the Princess Sada. And legitimate issue of this monogamic union is found in three sons, born in 1901, 1902, and 1905. Their names are Hirohito, Michi-no-Miya; Yasuhito, Atsu-no-Miya; and Nobuhito, Teru-no-Miya.
The National Exhibition at Ōsaka in 1903 also deserves mention because it widely advertised the material progress of the country.
And now we have reached the time of the great RussoJapanese War of 1904 and 1905, and are again compelled by the limitations of space to give only the briefest mention to an affair, the details of which are fortunately still fresh in our minds. The remarkable evidences of excellent preparation, as well as the almost unbroken series of victories on land and sea, once more evoked the wonder and admiration of the world.
The Japanese had felt that this war was inevitable. They had seen Russia, by lease, appropriate the Liaotung Peninsula, which they themselves had been compelled to relinquish as one of the spoils of the successful war with China. They had seen Russian power extend through Manchuria and had encountered Russian designs upon Korea. Unless the "advance of Russia" eastward in Asia should be checked, it meant that Russia would become mistress of the Sea of Japan, and Japan "must forever abandon the hope of winning a position of equality among the great powers." It was "life or death" for Japan.
It was not until after six months of fruitless negotiations that Japan finally adopted the "last resort." She severed diplomatic relations with Russia on February 5, 1904, with a statement that the Japanese authorities "reserve to themselves the right to take such independent action as they may deem best." This was tantamount to a declaration of war.
On the following day Admiral Tōgō left Saseho under official instructions, and, about midnight of February 8, struck the first blow of the war, when six of his torpedo boats attacked the Russian squadron in Port Arthur harbor and inflicted serious damage. The next day Admiral Uriu, with a detachment of the fleet, defeated two Russian cruisers in the harbor of Chemulpo, Korea. Thus the Japanese gained control of the sea and landed troops, who entered Seoul.
The formal declaration of war was made by Japan on February 10, for publication in the newspapers of the following day, which was the anniversary of the reputed founding of the Japanese Empire in 660 B.C. and also of the promulgation of the constitution in 1889. On February 23 a treaty of alliance between Japan and Korea was formally signed at Seoul.
The First Army, under Kuroki, gained its first victory at the Yalu River and then fought its way through Maneburia to Liaoyang. The Second Army, under Oku, landed on the Liaotung Peninsula, and, after bloody contests, got possession of Dalny, the Russian "fiat city." A Special Army, under Nodzu, landed at Takushan and soon united with the First Army. When Nogi came out with the Third Army to invest Port Arthur, Oku's army was sent to check the forces dispatched by Kuropatkin for the relief of Port Arthur.
Meanwhile the Japanese navy had not been idle, but had been busy in attempting to blockade Port Arthur, in checking Russian sorties therefrom, and in watching the Vladivostok fleet. In one of the sorties from Port Arthur the Russian flagship "Petropavlovsk," with Admiral Makarov on board, struck a mine and sank immediately. And a little later the Japanese lost the "Yoshino" and the "Hatsuse."
On August 23 began the Battle of Liaoyang, which lasted for over a week. The three armies of Kuroki, Oku, and Nodzu were united under Field Marshal Ōyama and gained a complete victory. And when Kuropatkin advanced with heavy reinforcements to retake Liaoyang, he was again defeated at the Shaho River. After this the armies practically went into winter quarters.
Thus attention was directed to Port Arthur, where the Japanese had been making general assaults with tremendous losses and had finally resorted to the slower but, safer process of mining. In this way they gradually got, possession of the outer forts, including finally the "203- Meter Hill," from which they had command of the inner harbor of Port Arthur and were able to disable the remnants of the Russian fleet. And on January 1, 1905, Stoessel surrendered Port Arthur to Nogi.
In February, 1905, the armies resumed hostilities, and, from February 24 to March 10, fought the great battle of Mukden, which resulted in a victory for the Japanese. And this victory was largely due to the flanking movement of Nogi's army from Port Arthur.
Now Russian hopes centered on the Baltic fleet of Rojestvensky. It had been making its way eastward leisurely and had been enjoying the hospitality of neutral waters. The Japanese fleet, under the indomitable Tōgō, was watching and waiting in the waters between Japan and Korea. And, as all things come to those who wait, to the Japanese came finally the Russian fleet, steering boldly through the Tsushima Channel for Vladivostok. May 27 and 28 (the latter the birthday of the then Empress of Japan) are the red-letter dates of the great naval battle, which resulted in the practical annihilation of the Baltic fleet, with only slight damage to the Japanese fleet. The Battle of the Sea of Japan, as it is officially designated, was the decisive conflict of the war; and it deserves also to rank among the decisive battles of the world's history. If Tōgō had been defeated, the communications of the immense Japanese army in Manchuria would have been severed, and Japan itself would have been at the mercy of the depredations of the Russian fleet.Both Japan and Russia now accepted Roosevelt's proposal for a peace conference. Russia appointed Witte and Rosen (ex-Minister to Japan), and Japan appointed Komura, Foreign Minister, and Takahira, Minister to the United States. They met at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, from August 9 to 29, and finally agreed upon terms of peace. The main points were the following:
|1.||Russia recognized Japan's preponderating influence in Korea.|
|2.||Russia surrendered to Japan all rights under the lease of the Liaotung Peninsula.|
|3.||Russia surrendered to Japan all rights in connection with the Manchurian Railway from Dalny and Port Arthur to Changchun, where the two sections should be connected.|
|4.||Russia surrendered to Japan the southern half of Sakhalin.|
It is, perhaps, not strange that the Japanese nation was, on the whole, disappointed with the terms of the Treaty of Portsmouth. They had borne heavy financial burdens, and had confidently anticipated at least a partial compensation in the shape of an indemnity and the reacquisition of Sakhalin, of which they considered themselves cheated by Russia in 1875. To get only half of Sakhalin was not so much of a loss, because it was the better half, but to get not one sen of indemnity was a bitter pill, without even a coating of sugar. Although most of the Japanese people, as is usual, swallowed their disappointment, agitators utilized the opportunity to stir up the rowdy element to break out in riots in Tōkyō early in September. After the destruction of considerable property, the metropolis was placed under martial law until the excitement subsided. But the wisdom of the Japanese envoys in bringing the war to a close, even on unpopular terms, was fully justified when it soon became evident that the northeastern section of the main island was threatened with a famine, due to the partial or entire failure of crops. And, when the famine did come, the energy which had been spent on the prosecution of the war was at once transferred to the task of relieving the suffering.
The twenty-second session of the Imperial Diet (December 28, 1905, to March 27, 1906) is worthy of notice because it passed, with only slight amendments, the government's bill for the nationalization of the railways of the Empire. And, in the same year, the railways in Korea passed under the management of the Japanese government.
Japan, while martially strong, is also desirous of peace. The Japan Peace Society and other similar organizations are growing in power and influence. The peace of the Far East has been strengthened by the Russo-Japanese Convention and the Franco-Japanese Agreement of 1907, the Americo-Japanese Arbitration Treaty, the Americo-Japanese Entente of 1908, etc. Japan's pacific policy was also made evident by the cordial way in which she met representatives of Canada and the United States and conferred upon delicate questions of immigration.
In the Christian world of Japantwo General Conferences (1900 and 1909) gave a tremendous impulse to the desire for greater co-operation and unity. The widespread "revival" of 1901 and 1902, and the Union Hymnal (issued in 1903), were object-lessons of the possibilities along this line. The beginning of the Young Women's Christian Association work in 1904 was the introduction of one more interdenominational effort. And the Standing Committee of Co-operating Missions, now known as the Conference of Federated Missions, has proved itself another most efficient unifying force.
Other significant episodes of this period were the visits of American business men to Japan and of Japanese business men to the United States. The former coincided with the visit of an American fleet to Japan. In welcoming the fleet, the Kokumin Shimbun, one of the leading journals of Tōkyō, said: "The sixteen battleships, representative of the noble traditions of American justice, come to our shores as heralds of peace." This was in 1908, and in the fall of 1909 a party of Japanese business men started for a trip to the United States, and returned in the spring of 1910. These visits were most beneficial in both cases, because they gave representative men of both nations opportunities to see the real conditions of affairs in the two countries.
One more important event of this period should at least be mentioned - the completion in 1908 of the railway which runs the length of the island of Formosa and is facilitating greatly the development of the resources of that "Beautiful Isle."
Inasmuch as the great prosperity which followed the war led to speculation and extravagance, the Emperor issued an edict of warning to the people (1908).
One shocking event of this period was the discovery in 1910 of an anarchist plot against the "sacred" person of the Emperor. Several were arrested as conspirators and tried by secret trial. A few were acquitted, a few were condemned to imprisonment for terms of years, and twelve were condemned to death and executed (in 1911).
During this period national politics became quite interesting. The Katsura ministry, which established a record by holding office for four and one-half years, was held responsible for the unpopular terms of peace and resigned in December, 1905. It was succeeded a month later by a cabinet under Marquis Saionji, without special change of policy. Saionji had succeeded Itō in the leadership of a new political party, which the latter had organized in 1900, chiefly from the old Liberal party. It was known in full as the Rikken Seiyūkai, but is generally called only by the second name. The Saionji ministry, however, resigned in 1908, ostensibly on account of the Premier's illness, and Katsura again formed a cabinet.
One of the most important results of the RussoJapanese War has been "the passing of Korea." After the war, as political intrigues did not cease, a Japanese protectorate was established, with Itō as Resident-General; and into his hands passed the control of Korea's foreign affairs. In the following year, by a new agreement, the control of the internal administrative affairs in Korea passed into the same hands. The protectorate then established a "clear differentiation" of the executive and the judicial departments and appointed an earnest Japanese Christian, Judge Watanabe, as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in Korea . Meantime the Emperor, whose corrupt rule had brought his country to its deplorable condition, abdicated, and was succeeded by his son. The new Crown Prince went over to Japan to be educated; and the Crown Prince of Japan made a visit to Korea(the first instance of a Japanese Crown Prince leaving his native land).
In June, 1909, Itō resigned his position as ResidentGeneral, and was succeeded by Sone, who had been ViceResident-General. In October, Itō was assassinated at Harbin by a Korean fanatic; and he was honored, as the greatest statesman of Modern Japan, with a most elaborate state funeral.
Having been compelled, on account of a dangerous illness, to return to Japan, Sone resigned his post.He was succeeded by Terauchi, then Minister of War, who carried through the plan of annexation, which was formally announced on August 29, 1910 - just five years after the Treaty of Portsmouth. Thus Korea became a "territory" of Japan, with the old name of Chōsen, under a "government-general." This made Japan a continental power.
This "passing of Korea" is a truly unfortunate but inevitable occurrence. It was a practical impossibility for Korea, in her peculiar geographical position, to maintain political independence. The "Poland of the Far East" was destined, not to partition like the European Poland, but to absorption by Russia, or China, or Japan; and she has fallen to the lot of the one best able, probably, to improve her condition.