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THE MISSION OF JAPAN
OUTLINE OF Topics: Aims and ambitions of Japan. – Grand park. — Commercial centre. — Advantageous position. — Leader in civilization. — Example of civilized nation. — Transmitter of Western civilization. — Japan and Korea. — Japan and China. - Fuchow, Yangtse Valley, and Manchuria. - Japanese leaders of Chinese. Dr. Hirth on China and Japan. - Japanese invasion of China. Siam and Japan. - The United States a Pacific Power. - A.complete Anglo-Japanese Alliance. — Russia and Japan. – Two streams of civilization. — New Japan egotistic. – Prospects of Japan. Confidence in Japan.
T is now appropriate to inquire what is apparently the mission of Japan in the world. Since
even much less powerful nations have played most important parts on the stage of the world's history, it is simply inconceivable that Japan should have attained in so brief a period such an eminent position as a world-power without having some special mission to perform and some contribution to make to the sum total of what is called civilization. And in considering this topic of the mission of Japan, it may be well to ascertain what are the aims and aspirations of the Japanese, because it is usually along these lines that a nation, as well as an individual, achieves suc
Let us then permit Japanese themselves to answer largely our queries concerning the rôle which is to be theirs “in the great world-drama that continues unendingly, like a Chinese play, in the Far East.” And the opinions which are now to be presented, even though the individuals themselves are not, in every case, the most prominent personages that might have been selected, nevertheless fairly represent Japanese public opinion.'
One says: “Japan is especially favored by nature with beauty and picturesqueness of scenery and a healthful climate, and has been appropriately called the "Paradise of the East.' We shall turn this country into a grand park of the nations, and draw pleasure-seekers from all parts of the world. We shall build magnificent hotels and establish excellent clubs, in most splendid style, to receive the royal visitors of Europe and the millionaires of America.” And while the objection has been raised that this is not "a very lofty rôle for Japan,” it is claimed that “it is seen to be about the rôle that France, the great nation of artists, is content to play in Europe — making herself infinitely beautiful and infinitely charming.” And certainly to minister artistically to the enjoyment of residents and visitors by making the country as pleasant and delightful as possible is an aim that accords well with the naturally æsthetic tastes of the Japanese people. Therefore, concerning success in this endeavor there cannot be the slightest doubt. That rôle is not, however, purely æsthetic, be
1 Mr. K. Takahashi, President of the Bank of Japan.
cause it contemplates the mercenary advantages to be reaped from the expected throngs of pleasureseekers, and is, therefore, also practical. And the same person makes another suggestion, wholly practical and pecuniary, as follows:
“Japan is geographically situated in an advantageous position, as at the centre of the world's commercial routes. China will be the future market of the world, and Japan will receive the mercantile vessels fitted to be despatched to all parts of the earth. Japan should provide herself with extensive docks at the various ports of the island on the route of the mercantile vessels, to give them shelter and, if needed, necessary repairs and cleaning, and eventually supply fuel and
We have already referred, in the closing paragraphs of the first chapter, to the physiographical advantages of Japan, but we are impelled to dwell more at length on the subject. Another Japanese 1 has emphasized the point with the following suggestions :
“ To all appearances, the seas about Japan and China will be the future theatre of the Far East. The Philippines have been reduced to a province of the United States. China, separated from us only by a very narrow strip of water, is offering every promise of becoming a great resource open to the world of the twentieth century. The Siberia railway has been opened to traffic; and the construction of a canal across Central America
1 Rear-Admiral Kimotsuki in the “Taiyō” (Sun). Şee also chap, xiii. of “Japan in Transition” (Ransome).
is expected to be finished before long. As for fuel, our supply of coal from the mines of Hokkaido and Kyūshiu is so abundant that the surplus not required for our own consumption is exported largely into various parts of the East, where no productive coal mines have been found except a very few ones of poor quality.
“Taking all these [things] into account, it is not too much to say that the future situation of Japan will be that of a central station of various water passages, situation most conducive to the good of our country; and that, numerous as the attractive places of historical interest and natural beauty are, it is chiefly from our excellently advantageous position, a connecting link common to the three chains of water passage to and from Europe, America, and Asia, that we shall be able to obtain the largest share of the riches of the nations of the world.”
With reference to the success of Japan in such a purpose as this, there can be very little doubt; for the natural advantages are so great that they require comparatively little improvement.
But, besides this aim of commercial prosperity, there is a higher ambition.
One writer says:
“Japan's mission at this juncture would be to act as the leader to the Asiatic countries in introducing modern civilization : China and Korea, for instance, can learn about civilization much faster and easier than from the countries in Europe and America, for they have common systems of letters and to a certain extent of ideas."
1 Editorial in the “Taiyo" (Sun).
Prof. K. Ukita 1 makes the following suggestion:
“ It is the mission of Japan to set up an example of a civilized and independent national state for her Asiatic neighbors, and then to make a confederation of all the Asiatic nations on the basis of international law; just as it is the mission of the United States of America to form one vast pan-American Union of all the republics of the new hemisphere, and thus to hasten on the progress toward the organization of the whole world.”
Again we quote from the editor of the “Taiyō” (Sun), as follows:
“It is our duty to transmit the essence of Occidental civilization to our neighbors, as better success may be realized by so doing than by introducing there the new institutions directly from the West. The present state of things in China does not allow her to appreciate fully the ideas of Westerners, more so because their fundamental conception of morals is at variance with that of Occidentals. But Japan has every facility to win the confidence of China, in consideration of its geographical situation and of its literary affinity. The valor, discipline, and order of our army have already gained the confidence and respect of the Chinese, and it now remains for us to guide them to higher possibilities with enlightened thoughts and ideas. Such a work cannot be accomplished in a day; it will require years of perseverance and toil.”
Now, it may be profitable to ascertain to what extent Japan is fulfilling her self-appointed but natural
1 Formerly of the Dōshisha. From the “ Taiyo.”