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OUTLINE OF TOPICS : Situation of country; relation to the United States; lines of communication ; “Key of Asia." — Area of empire. — Divisions : highways, provinces, prefectures, principal cities and ports. -- Dense population; natives and foreigners; Japanese abroad. - Mountains, volcanoes, hot springs, earthquakes. -Lakes, rivers, bays, harbors, floods, tidal waves. — Epidemics, pests. — Climate: temperature, winds (typhoons), moisture, ocean currents.
- Flora and fauna. — Peculiar position: Japan and the United States. - Bibliography.
HE Japanese may appropriately be called “our antipodal neighbors.” They do not
live, it is true, at a point exactly opposite to us on this globe; but they belong to the obverse, or Eastern, hemisphere, and are an Oriental people of another race. They are separated from us by from 4,000 to 5,000 miles of the so-called, but misnamed, Pacific Ocean; but they are connected to us by many lines of freight and passenger vessels. In fact, in their case, as in many other instances, the “disuniting ocean” (Oceanus dissociabing boto The Romans has
2 Port Richmond Branch, le 12 Bennett St.,
really disappeared, and even a broad expanse of waters has become a connecting link between the countries on the opposite shores. It may be, in a certain measure, correct to say, as pupils in geography are taught to express it, that the Pacific Ocean separates the United States from Japan; but it is, in a broader and higher sense, just as accurate to state that this ocean binds us with our Asiatic neighbors and friends in the closest ties. Japan was “opened" by the United States; has been assisted materially, politically, socially, educationally, and morally by American influences in her wonderful career of progress; and she appreciates the kindliness and friendship of our people. We, in turn, ought to know more about our rapidly developing protégé, and no doubt desire to learn all we can concerning Japan and the Japanese.
The development of trade and commerce has been assisted by the power of steam to bring Japan and the United States into close and intimate relations. There are steamship lines from San Francisco, Vancouver, Tacoma, Seattle, Portland, and San Diego to Yokohama or Kābe; and there are also a great many sailing vessels plying between Japan and America. The routes from San Francisco and San Diego direct to Japan are several hundred miles farther than the routes from the more northerly ports mentioned above. The time occupied by the voyage across the Pacific Ocean varies according to the vessel, the winds and currents, etc.; but it may be put down in a general way at about 14 days. The fast royal mail steamers of the Canadian Pacific line often make the trip in much less time, and thus bring Chicago, for instance, within only a little more than two weeks' communication with Yokohamą. It must, therefore, be evident that Japan is no longer a remote country, but is as near to the Pacific coast of America, in time of passage, as the Atlantic coast of America was twenty years ago to Europe.
It is true that the steamers of the San Francisco and San Diego lines, especially those carrying mails and passengers, go and come via Honolulu, so that the voyage to Japan thus requires a few more days than the direct trip would take. But, as Hawaii is now part of the United States, our country has thus become only about 10 days distant from Japan. Moreover, as the Philippine Islands are also a portion of our country, and Formosa has been for several years a part of Japan, the territories of the two nations are brought almost within a stone's throw, and the people almost within speaking distance, of each other. This proximity of the two nations to each other should be an incentive to draw even more closely together the ties, not only historical, commercial, and material, but also political, social, educational, intellectual, moral, and religious, that bind them to each other, and, so far as possible, to make " Japan and America all the same heart.”
But Japan is also an Asiatic country, and thus holds a peculiar relation to the countries on the eastern coast of the mainland of Asia. The islands of Japan stretch along that shore in close proximity to Siberia, Korea, and China, and are not far distant from Siam. With all of those countries she enters, therefore, into most intimate relationship of many kinds. With Russia the relation is one of rivalry, of more or less hostility, at present passive, but likely to be aroused into activity by some unusually exasperating event. In any case, Japan is the only Far Eastern power that can be relied upon to check the aggressions of Russia; and this fact the wise statesmen of Great Britain have clearly recognized by entering into the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. Toward Korea, China, and Siam, Japan sustains a natural position of leadership, because she is far in advance of all those nations in civilization. Ties geographical, racial, social, political, intellectual, and religious, bind them more or less closely together, so that Japan can more sympathetically and thus more easily lead them out into the path of progress. The natural and common routes of trade and travel from the United States to those countries run via Japan, which thus becomes, in more senses than one, “the key of Asia "; and for that very reason she is also the logical mediator between the East and the West.
The Japanese call their country Dai Nihon, or Dai Nippon (Great Japan), and have always had a patriotic faith in the reality of its greatness. But this delightful delusion is rudely dispelled when the fact is expressed statistically, in cold figures, that the area of the Empire of Japan is about 161,000 square miles, or only a little more than that of California. It has, however, a comparatively long coast line of more than 18,000 miles. The name Nihon, or Nippon (a corruption of the Chinese Jih-pên, from which was derived “ Japan”), means “sun-source,” and was given because the country lay to the east from China. It is for this reason that Japan is often called “The Sunrise Kingdom," and that the Imperial flag contains the simple design of a bright sun on a plain white background.1
Japan proper comprises only the four large islands, called Hondo, Shikoku, Kyūshiu, and Yezo (Hokkaido); but the Empire of Japan includes also Formosa, the Pescadores, and about 4,000 small islands, of which the Ryūkyū (Loo Choo) and the Kurile groups are the most important. Japan proper lies mainly between the same parallels of latitude 2 as the States of the Mississippi valley, and presents even more various and extreme climates than may be found from Minnesota to Louisiana
The extreme northern point of the Empire of Japan is 50° 56' N., and the extreme southern point is 21° 48' N. The extreme eastern point is 156° 32' E., 3 and the extreme western point 119° 20' E. These extremes furnish even greater varieties of climate
1 Another design shows the sun's rays shooting out from the sun in the centre.
2 24° 14'-45° 30' N.