Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
JAPAN. The empire of Japan comprises a chain of volcanic islands stretching between Kamschatka and Formosa, off the east coast of Asia. The first settlers known to history coming from the Asian main-land, with their faces set to the eastward, gave the new country the name Nihon (sun-root, or sun-rise), which by the operation of Grimm's law becomes Nippon. Dai (great) is often added, making the name Dai Nihon, or Dai Nippon. Other native terms in common use are Yamato, after the central and ancient province which was the seat of the early mikados; O Yashima (the eight great islands), Toyo-akitsu (dragon-fly shape), and a wonderful variety of poetical and religious appellations, often with kuiei (country) added. Tei-koku (country ruled by the Heavenly dynasty), and Kokoku (the mikado's empire), with or without Nihon added, are official titles. The Coreans use the term Il-pon, and the Chinese Jih-pun, or Ju-pun, with kwo (country) added; which when Marco Polo in the thirteenth century heard, he wrote Zi pan-gu, which in Europe became "Japan." It is doubtful whether this country was heard of in Europe until Polo's time, though undoubtedly known to the Arabs, Persians and Hindoos, as Japanese records attest. Japan has now for her neighbors, Russia, Corea and China; while the possessions of the United States, Great Britain and France are within the limits of neighborhood. The great length of the empire, as contrasted with its narrowness, is remarkable. It lies between the 55th and 24th degrees of north latitude, and the 124th and 130th degrees of longitude east from Greenwich; yet the greatest breadth of its main island is but 350 miles. Japan comprises Chishima (thousand islands) or the Kurile chain, Yezo, Hondo (main island), Shikoku (four provinces), Kiushiu (nine provinces), Riu Kiu (fringe of tassels) or the Loo Choo group, with Sado, Oki, Iki, Tsushima, and the Goto and Bonin clusters, with the smaller islets, numbering in all not far from 3,000. The area of the empire approximates 150,000 square miles—the size of Dakota, or one-fourth more than that of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, or one-thirty-third that of the Chinese empire. The do or geographical subdivisions are based upon lines furnished by the mountain ranges of the main island, and the sea barriers. These do or circuits, called "Eastern Sea," "Eastern Mountain," "Northern Land," "Mountain Back," "Mountain Front," "Southern Sea," "Western Sea," and "Northern Sea," with the "Five Home" provinces, and the "Two Islands," are similar, in effect, to our grouping of states, "Eastern," "Middle," "Southern," etc. They contain 71 provinces, which are again divided into over 700 kori. In actual administration, the province boundaries are ignored, and ken, or prefecture, is made the political unit. The ken now number thirty-six, and there are also three fu or imperial cities, Tökiö, Ozaka and Kiöto.
—The population of the empire, by the carefully executed census of 1880, is 34,338,404; 17,419,785 males and 16,918,619 females. The Chinese and white foreigners living in the open ports number about 4,000. The natives are of homogeneous stock, with the exception of the slightly varied Riu Kiuans, and the 12,000 Ainos of Yezo, who are distinct in physical features and language. Though there are marked peculiarities of speech in the various provinces, especially in Satsuma, yet the ordinary people from remote localities can, with little or no difficulty, understand each other; in this respect differing greatly from the Chinese. The speech of the educated class varies from the vulgar usage mainly in the employment of more honorifies and terms of Chinese origin or pronunciation. The colloquial language of the people is a mirror of their inborn courtesy. The book language varies from the spoken tongue, yet not so much as in China. The present agents of social progress, common schools and newspapers, are rapidly causing these differences to disappear, and preparing the way for a new era in the cultivation of the national language, so long neglected for the Chinese.
—The surface of the country is almost entirely mountains and valleys, with few large plains or great rivers, but with many fertile inland valleys. The climate may be said, in general, to equal any in the temperate zone. Lofty mountains and volcanoes abound, and the phenomena of earthquakes have, doubtless, their influence on the Japanese mind and temperament. The soil is not the most productive, but persistent human labor and the application of fertilizers, compel a fair yield of food crops. The national diet is 90 per cent. vegetable, with fish and game, but with little flesh of domestic animals. A marvelous variety of vegetable products is utilized as food, but the number of cattle as compared with the population is but 2 to 100; whereas in the United States it is 73 to 100. In minerals, scientific surveys show that the country is not rich, though fairly furnished with the precious metals; while coal and iron are abundant, especially in Yezo, the estimated amount of workable fuel being equal to a thousand times the present annual output of England. The fauna is comparatively meagre. Most of the Japanese people are devoted to agriculture, and a rough estimate, based upon the census, shows, farmers, 15,000,000; artisans, 700,000; merchants, 1,300,000; miscellaneous, 2,130,000. In the last class are many seamen and fishermen, the vast number of indentations in the coast line affording employment to these classes, and greatly influencing the national development. The Japanese reckon over fifty harbors, many of which are suitable for the entry of vessels of heavy tonnage.
—The physical situation and configuration of the Japanese archipelago, with the forces of nature and religion acting upon this insular people, have produced a civilization and mental traits strikingly different from those of the Chinese. In spite of the fact of Japan's great indebtedness to China for many elements of culture, the islanders are at many points the antipodes of their older and more conservative neighbors on the main-land. Japan makes the claim, unique among nations, of having been constantly governed from the beginning of history by one changeless dynasty of sovereigns. Though her history is young, compared with that of China, beginning, as the natives believe, from 660 B. C., yet, unlike her larger rival, her throne has been filled by but one family—the nameless line of the mikados. Intense loyalty to the throne characterizes the Japanese people, and unique in history is the fact that no Japanese subject has ever attempted to seize the throne itself, or to found a new imperial dynasty. Yet the measure of power possessed by the sovereign and the form of actual administration have several times suffered radical change. The history of the measure of the mikado's authority is the political history of Japan. Rai Sanyo, the greatest of native historiographers, treats the actual history since the middle ages under the title guai, (outside, foreign, military), while the nai belongs to things of the gods and emperors. Japan having no invaders, and scarcely any foreign influences acting as factors of political history, the reacting forces were the throne and the camp, the mikado and shogun. The internal history is that of the imperial palace; the external, that outside it. From the seventh to this nineteenth century, simple feudalism, centralized monarchy, the rise and struggles for power of rival noble families sprung from sires of imperial blood, civil war, dual system of government with two "capitals," complex feudalism, and finally the return to centralization with a drift toward modern constitutional and limited monarchy, are among the phases of Japan's political development.
—The origin of the Japanese people is enveloped in thick clouds of untrustworthy legend, which critical processes of study are only beginning to clear away. The people, as we now find them, are evidently the resultant of several ethnic stocks, among which are the Ainos of the north, and the Malay or Nigrito elements from the south, though the latest and dominant invaders—the Asiatic Normans of this Britain of the east—were most probably of the same race from the Amoor valley which is represented in the Coreans of to-day. These people, crossing over from the peninsula, and landing on the southern and western coasts, entered at various points from Kiushiu to Echizen. They were already organized under forms of feudalism, and when, through the first trustworthy light of tradition, we are able to distinguish historic figures, we find a powerful tribe dominating the central portion of the main island from Idzumo to Yamato. By their prowess, arms, intelligence and discipline they rapidly subdue the surrounding tribes in every direction. The mikado is their chief. and his captains or lords hold their lands of him, by feudal tenure. These people worship the sun and forces of nature, and the mikado and great men claim kindred with the heavenly gods, and after death are deified and worshiped. The cardinal doctrines of their cult are purity, and reverence for the spirits of the departed. This simple faith, Kami-no-michi, (the way of the gods), afterward called, in imported Chinese equivalent, Shinto, becomes a tremendous engine to complete the work of conquest, and to identify government and religion with the family whose chief is the mikado. As the area of conquest is increased, the mikado is obeyed, though with frequent revolts which compel constant war, and with frequent raids into and from Corea, over all the islands south of the thirty-seventh parallel of latitude. This is the picture of primitive Japan, before the advent of Chinese arts and letters, or of Buddhism: an agricultural people, inhabiting villages, but often called upon to invade or repel the attacks of their "savage" neighbors. so called. Their political life is simple feudalism. and their religion a rudimentary cult. They are without letters, or means of recording time beyond the methods employed by the North American Indians. The level of their civilization was probably about that of the Iroquois of New York. yet with a tendency toward higher development. Into this simple national life a marvelous infusion of new germs and perfected forms of culture was poured, when, during the fourth and fifth centuries of our era, there were introduced, through Corea, the letters, writing, almanacs, arts and sciences of China, together with Corean teachers, artisans, and an increasing train of civilizing influences. This was the first of the three great waves of civilization from the west to Japan. The second was from Europe in the sixteenth century, and the third from the United States and the world in the nineteenth century. In 552 A. D. there were introduced from Shinra, in Corea. to the imperial residence at Nara, then the capital, the images, sutras, literature and teachers of a new religion that was destined to completely overshadow the indigenous cult. This religion was Buddhism. Though bitterly opposed at first from patriotic and conservative motives, the faith of India spread steadily until it embraced the archipelago. From this time forth, the court at Nara became the centre of art, science and letters, as well as of religion and government. In 645 A. D. history began to be founded on chronology, and a system of registering dates was begun. In 712 A. D. literary culture had so far advanced that books were composed, political and statistical documents compiled, and the floating legends crystallized in the Kojiki (Book of Traditions), and the Nihongi (Chronicles of Japan)—the Eddas, or Bibles of the Japanese. In these books the scheme of creation is fully stated, in the following order: Chaos, separation of heaven and earth, evolution of a germ or sprout from which other beings evolved or sprouted, tending toward perfection of form, until finally sex or differentiation was apparent. Then the creator and creatrix, Izanagi and Izanami, stood on the High Plain of Heaven, and Izanagi plunged his glittering spear into the turbid waters of chaos beneath. The drops trickling from the weapon, solidified and became Onokoro-Jima (island of the congealed drop) or Awaji. Other islands were formed by their creative power, and Great Japan was gradually finished. The sun and moon were evolved from the earth. Of their offspring, Ama-Térasu (heaven-illuminating), their daughter, was given the sun for her kingdom, and Susanoö, her brother, the moon for his realm, while many lesser kami, or gods, were created to inhabit the earth. These in time becoming unruly, Ama-Térasu, the "sun-goddess," sent her grandson Ninigi to earth to rule. Descending from Heaven, with a great retinue, and bearing the three divine regalia—mirror, seal (or crystal ball) and sword—Ninigi reached the mountain of Kirishima in Kiushiu. His great-grandson, whose mother was a sea-monster, was Jimmu Tenno, who set out on the conquest of the islands Advancing through Kiushiu, he reached the neighborhood of Kioto, and "ascended the throne" 660 B. C. The first seventeen mikados, in the line founded by the alleged person, to whom many centuries afterward the name and title Jimmu Tenno were given, are credited with an average life of 108 years, and an average reign of 62 years. In Japanese mythology, "the earth" means Japan, the mikado (sacred gate, or sublime porte) is the Tenno (son of Heaven) and the representative and incarnation of the Heavenly Gods, and the Japanese equivalent of 1882 A. D. is the "2542d year of the Japanese empire"; April 3d being duly observed by all the people as the date of Jimmu's "coronation." There have been, including Jingu Kogo;, 123 mikados (seven of whom were females, and two of whom reigned twice, under different names), the average length of the reigns being twenty-one years; or, excepting the first seventeen on the list, and not counting the present ruler, the average is thirteen years. The great influence of Chinese culture on Japanese politics was soon shown in the creation of a library of books on government, the codification of the laws, and a profound change in the form of government The centralizing system of the Tang dynasty of China, with boards or ministries, was in 603 A. D. substituted for simple feudalism previously in force. Under the Jin Gi Kuan (Council of the Gods of Heaven and Earth) were the eight boards (sho) or ministries of the interior, ceremonies, civil affairs, revenue and census, war, justice, treasury and imperial household. In 786 A. D. the Dai Jo Kuan (Council of the Great Government) was formed. superseding the Jin Gi Kuan in the control of the eight boards. In it were the four great ministers of state, Dai Jo Dai Jin (Great Minister of the Great Government). Sa Dai Jin, U Dai Jin, Nai Dai Jin (Minister of the Left, Right, Interior) Under them were the eight boards. The country was divided into districts (gun) over which governors, appointed by the Dai Jo Kuan for four years, and sent out from the capital. ruled. These gun were subdivided into ken or prefectures. This was the gun-Ken system, which lasted from the seventh to the twelfth century, and a virtual return to which, since 1868, has constituted "the recent revolutions in Japan."
—This centralizing system was not relished by the tribes distant from the capital. Under feudalism, comparative freedom was the rule, but now close obedience to the governors from the Dai Jo Kuan, and prompt payment of taxes, were enforced. The natural consequence was, that revolts became so frequent as to require something like a permanent militia to suppress them. The farmers were so often enrolled, that numbers of them, usually the more robust, abandoned their usual labor of tilling the soil, and became professional soldiers. The generals (shogun) who led the expeditions to chastise the rebels were chosen from those noble families of the capital, which had been founded by the sons of the mikados by concubines. At the court, the mikados no longer living the active life of warriors in the field, became students, monks. Buddhist devotees, or gave themselves up to debauchery. Succession to the throne, in case of failure of direct issue, was then, as now, provided for from the four Shin-no or relatives of the imperial houses. Their numerous offspring outside of the legitimate line were provided for by being made founders of families, on the condition that neither they nor their descendants should ever lay claim to the throne, though the mikado's wives, or empresses, could be taken from them. Thus, in succession, the Fujiwara, Taira, Minamoto, and many other less famous families, sprung up. In the development of their history it resulted that the Fujiwara monopolized the civil offices; while the Taira and Minamoto furnished the military leaders, under the red and the white flags respectively The precedent was early established that the Dai Jo Dai Jin must be of Fujiwara blood: as was, later, that which permitted a shogun to be taken only from the Minamoto stock. As successive expeditions made the sceptre of the mikado respected from Yezo to Satsuma, the soldiers throughout the country gradually became attached in loyalty to their captains rather than to the distant and shadowy court at Nara, or Kioto. More and more the fighters became separated from the tillers of the soil, and made the material for a new order of things. The existence of this military class was recognized by the court as early as the eighth century; and by the eleventh the real power was in their hands, while that of the court weakened. Bred to arms, suffering and rejoicing in common, the relation of the warriors and commanders grew from that of leader and led to that of lord and retainer. The substance of authority was with the generals (shogun); the shadow was with the once active warrior-mikado, now become a puppet-figure set up and pulled down at the will of palace officials. During the twelfth century most of the emperors were children, and reigned only in the nursery. The orders of the court, which sought to sever the relation of lord and vassal, by forbidding the men-at-arms to follow either the red or the white banner, were ignored. Though despised as buké (military or inferior courtiers) by the kugé (civil court-nobles) the Minamoto and Taira families gradually encroached upon the administrative power, so that at Kioto (made the capital in 794 A. D.) the Taira leader, Kiyomori, became successful in palace intrigues. At the opening of the twelfth century most of the high offices of the court and provinces were filled by Taira men, who exceeded the Fujiwara in nepotism. Until 1156 the followers of the red and white flags were friendly rivals. In that year a quarrel in Kioto broke out between them, the prize of victory being possession of the palace, and the person of the mikado, the fetich and talisman in Japanese politics. Whichever party holds this divine personage has the loyal army (kuan-gun) and the imperial court. and constitutes the government; the other party are chotéki, or rebels. Blood was shed in this first feud. The Taira were victors; the palace was first garrisoned by a military clan. Then began that domination of the military classes which, with few intermissions, lasted until 1868. Intoxicated with success, Kiyomori, defying precedent, became in 1161 Dai Jo Dai Jin, and by marrying his daughter to the boy emperor, Takakura, became the virtual ruler of Japan. He planned the extermination of his enemies, and in 1181 died, asking with his last breath that the head of Yoritomo (chief of the Minamotos) be cut off and placed upon his tomb. With the help of a prince of the blood, Yoritomo now rose, even through defeat, to power. Calling his followers together, he founded the city of Kamakura, twelve miles from the modern Yokohama. In 1182 the Minamoto army entered Kioto, and Yoshitsuné, their leader, drove the Taira south, and in a great land and naval battle near Shimonoséki, nearly annihilated them. The white flag was now triumphant everywhere. Yoshitsuné, shamefully treated by his jealous brother, fled to Yezo, and thence, it is said, to Manchuria, becoming the great conqueror known as Genghis Khan. In 1190 the foundations of the second feudal system of Japan were laid by Yoritomo, under whose influence his captains and retainers were appointed military magistrates throughout the eastern half of the country. He secured from the court this division of the two governmental functions: collection of the land taxes, and maintenance of public order, which had been before united in the ken governors appointed by the Dai Jo Kuan, for terms of four years. Yoritomo himself was invested with a ciril title, which made him the chief of these military magistracies. The system worked so well in the eastern provinces, that it was gradually extended to the central and western provinces, and thus the ambition of Yoritomo was effectually concealed; until, in 1192, being able to control the court, he was created Sei-i Tai Shogun, or Great General for the quelling of Barbarians, and the complete separation of the civil and military functions of government was thus, in effect, attained. Henceforward, until 1868, the throne and the camp were the two factors of history, and Japan had two capitals and two rulers. Yoritomo died in 1198, and his line ended in 1219. The Hojo family of rulers, following out Yoritomo's plans, set up puppet shoguns to be the figure-heads of government at Kamakura, themselves holding the reins of power. It was during their rule, that Japan, through Marco Polo, was made known to Europe, the Mongols repulsed, and Buddhism revived and extended. The Hojo came to an end through misgovernment and luxury, in 1333 A. D., being overthrown by Nitta Yoshisada, who fought in the name of the mikado, and whose portrait now adorns the national "greenback" bank note currency. For two years the shogunate was in abeyance, and the mikadoate existed feebly. The rewards to the victors were in the form of fiefs of land, so firmly had the procedure of feudalism become fixed. A quarrel over an unfair division of rewards led a rival captain. Ashikaga Takauji, to seize Kamakura again, and the duarchy was restored. Setting up Kogen, a scion of imperial blood, as mikado, and his claims being resisted by the court, civil war at once broke out and raged for fifty-six years, reducing the land to desolation. A compromise and union was made in 1392, and the usurping branch of the imperial family became extinct in a few generations, and the original line of rulers filled the impotent throne. The Ashikaga line of shoguns reared higher the edifice of feudalism, by making the military magistracies hereditary in the families of their own nominees The details and etiquette which characterized the Japanese as known to Europeans were settled; castles were built; and the rise and fall of daimio families. with almost constant civil war, the decay of the shogun's power, the neglect of learning, contrasting with the spectacular splendors of feudalism. the transformation of the Buddhist monks into clerical militia, and the ravaging of the coasts of Corea and China by Japanese pirates, belong to this period (1335-1573). In many interesting aspects the state of society in Japan under the Ashikagas was marvelously like that of feudal Europe. In 1539 the first Europeans lauded in Japan, bringing gunpowder and firearms, thus introducing new elements in Japanese civilization The Jesuit missionaries, then in the freshness of their astonishing vigor, led by Xavier, in 1542 entered Japan and speedily secured a following of thousands of converts, while at the same time the Portuguese merchants opened a thriving trade in the southern ports.
—In the latter half of the sixteenth century began another series of influences upon Japan from Europe and the outer world, which for nearly eighty years poured a steady infusion of new ideas into the national mind. The chronic state of war in Japan at this period hindered the due influence of western ideas, which, though without the effect of the earlier importation from Corea in the fifth and sixth centuries, vastly enlarged the horizon of the native mind. Heretofore, also, a salient point in Japanese history was the rise to power of noble families. The striking phenomena of this pivotal half-century was the rise to loftiest power of three individuals of plebeian origin. Nobunaga, born in 1533, extinguished the Ashikaga line, endeavored to curb the rampant Buddhist power, favored Christianity for political purpose, endeavored to unify all Japan and to reduce the feudal chaos and anarchy to order, under and for the mikado. He rose to be Nai Dai Jin, but was assassinated in 1582. His retainer Hidéyoshi (Taiko Sama) completed his work, curbing even the proud Satsuma clan, laid the foundations of the policy afterward carried out by Iyéyasu invaded Corea. to give the warlike claus employment after being thus suddenly pacified after chronic war, and perhaps to be rid of his Christian soldiers, and then turned his attention to the Jesuits, whom he banished with partial success. Setting aside the precedent requiring the Dai Jo Dai Jin to be of Fujiwara blood, he himself filled that office. He died in 1599. Tokugawa Iyéyasu, a retainer of Hidéyoshi, who founded the city of Yedo and the Tokugawa line of shoguns, succeeded, after the battle of Sékigahara, in 1600, in obtaining the appointment, in 1603, of Sei-i Tai Shogun, and thenceforth devoted himself to a policy of unification, peace, the perfection of the duarchy, and the promotion of learning. Henceforth, like a crystal which, by the laws of its formation. secures perfection by casting out whatever is foreign to its substance, the history of Japan, expelling all outer influences, crystallized into the elaborate feudal and dual systems, which excited the wonder of Europeans. Long after the last traces of feudalism had begun to fade out of Europe, Japan was perfecting as minute and peculiar a form of it as the world ever saw. In 1637 Christianity was annihilated by the massacre at Shimabara, and all foreigners were expelled and warned off, except a dozen or so of Hollanders imprisoned, for the sake of trade, and limited to an annual ship's visit from Europe, upon Déshima (outside island), near Nagasaki. The throne and the camp were now perfectly separate; Kioto was the fountain of honors and titles, Yedo, of power and revenue. "The mikado all men love, the shogun all men fear," was taught in every household. Learning revived, and profound peace for 254 years followed. Fifteen shoguns of Tokugawa blood ruled in Yedo.
—"The history of Japan, as manifested in the current of events since the advent of Commodore Perry. has its sources in a number of distinct movements, some logically connected, others totally distinct from the rest. They were intended to effect. 1, The overthrow of the shogun, and his reduction to his proper level as a vassal; 2, The restoration of the true emperor to power; 3, The abolition of the feudal system, and a return to the ancient imperial régime; 4, The abolition of Buddhism, and the establishment of pure Shinto, as the national faith and the engine of government. These four movements were historically and logically connected. The fifth was the expulsion of the 'foreign barbarians,' and the dictatorial isolation of Japan from the rest of the world; the sixth, the abandonment of this design, the adoption of western civilization, and the entrance of Japan into the comity of nations. The origin of the first and second movements must be referred to a time distant from the present by a century and a half; the third and fourth to a period with in the past century; the fifth and sixth to an impulse developed mainly within the memory of young men now living" ("North American Review," April, 1875.—"The Mikado's Empire," p 291.) Into the details of these internal movements we have not space to enter. Suffice it to say that the seed of them was sown when the ancient texts, so long neglected during two centuries of civil war, were deciphered, re-edited and studied, when the scholars of Mito had published their historical researches, and when Rai Sanyo had written his masterpiece. Nihon Guaisln ("Military History of Japan"), all of which opened the eyes of students to the fact that the shogun was a usurper and the mikado the true sovereign. When all within the country was ripe for revolution, the coming of foreigners precipitated the crisis. The resultant of the two motions—that within and that without—was an acceleration of movement in the unexpected direction of western civilization such as has astonished the world, and the Japanese themselves. In producing the results which opened this secluded nation to the world, the United States has borne an honorable and leading part. as becomes her geographical position. The edict of Iyéyasu, compelling all native craft to be built so as to be unseaworthy, was the cause of hundreds of fishing and trading junks being driven by storms into the Kuro Shiwo, the gulf stream of the Pacific, whence they stranded on the Aleutian Islands and along the coast of America from Alaska to San Francisco. Over fifty known instances of such wrecks with survivors on board, since 1785, are recorded. ("The Mikado's Empire," Appendix) The majority of these waifs were picked up by captains of American ships. In 1837 Mr. Clarence A. King dispatched the American brig Morrison from Macao to Yedo bay to return three shipwrecked Japanese picked up in Washington territory. The ship was fired upon, and returned. In 1839, 1840 and 1841 American captains rescued more waifs, one of whom afterward translated Bowditch's "Navigator" into Japanese, and in 1860 sailed a Japanese steam vessel across the Pacific. In 1845 Capt. Mercator Cooper of the Manhattan, rescued at sea, and delivered up near Yokohama, twenty-two Japanese. In the same year Gen. Zadoc Pratt, of Ulster county, N. Y., chairman of the committee on naval affairs in congress, on the 15th of February, reported a bill for the effecting of commercial arrangements with Japan and Corea. In 1848 Commodore Biddle, with the United States steamers, Vincennes and Columbus, was sent to open trade if possible, but without success. Two American ships having been wrecked on the Japan coasts, Commodore Glyn on the Preble was sent to Nagasaki to bring away the sailors, all of whom had been required, in Dutch fashion, to trample on the crucifix to show that they were not Portuguese. The discovery and settlement of California and the increase of our Asiatic trade and whale fishery in the Pacific increased the desire to have access to Japanese ports, while the increasing frequency of shipwreck made such access necessary. Daniel Webster, secretary of state, prepared a letter from the president to the "emperor" (shogun) of Japan, but the expedition was delayed until after his death, when Matthew C. Perry was appointed commander and envoy. With consummate tact, Perry, arriving in the bay of Yedo, July 8, 1853, after stating his object, left, but appeared again, and with a fuller force, Feb. 12, 1854. In the negotiations, Perry treated with the shogun (an official of the sixth rank; though of de facto power) as if he were the emperor; while the latter styled himself "Tycoon" (Taikun, great prince). Treaties on the Perry model were soon after made with England, France, Russia and Holland, until twenty nations had entered into relations with Japan. These outward events only served to precipitate the crisis within. Enraged at the signing of a treaty, the admittance of foreigners on the sacred soil of the God-country, and the culmination of a long series of usurpations by assumption of the title of tycoon, the "patriots" or mikado reverencers raised the cry, "Honor the mikado and expel the barbarian." Townsend Harris, the consul general of the United States, secured a second convention with the Yedo government, which the regent li signed without the consent of the mikado. This fanned the flames of patriotism, and at once began a systematic assassination of foreigners, and the firing of their legations. The daimios broke through the law of centuries compelling their residence at Yedo, and the political centre of gravity shifted to Kioto. To further embroil the shogun with the treaty powers, fresh acts of violence were committed, and, as a result, Kagoshima in Satsuma and Shimonoséki in Choshiu were bombarded; the former by a British, the latter by an allied squadron; and heavy indemnities were exacted. Kioto was burned in the civil war between the Choshiu clan and the Yedo troops. On Jan. 3, 1868, the coalition of clans hostile to the shogun secured possession of the palace and the person of the mikado, and proclaimed the ancient form of government. When, therefore, the followers of the shogun Keiki, who had resigned his title and authority, regretted his action and attempted to re-enter Kioto in force, they were fired on, and in the three days battle of Fushimi beaten, thus becoming choteki. The result of the two years civil war which followed with American rifles and the iron-clad ram Stonewall on the loyal side, was that the mikado's authority was re-established all over Japan, and the ancient imperial régime established. Among the first acts of the new government was to ratify the treaties in the name of the mikado, to make Yedo the kio or capital, which they named Tokio, to take from the mikado an oath and promise to establish a national deliberative assembly to decide measures by public opinion, and to seek for intellect and learning from foreign countries, "to establish the foundations of the empire" Rapidly in succession followed the abolition of the feudal system, the mediatizing of the daimios, and the commutation of the hereditary pensions of the samurai or military class, the reconstruction of society into three classes, the restoration of the eta to citizenship, and reforms innumerable on a national scale. Fourteen years of absolute government have followed the restoration. The new rulers, nearly all of whom were men sprung from the middle class, had their hands too full to remind the mikado of his oath, or to wish it fulfilled. Other able men outside the government firmly demanded that the promise be kept, and the vigorous press and able political lecturers—new engines in politics—seconded the demand. Meanwhile in the southern part of Japan, the samurai, their occupation gone, irritated at the unforeseen drift of the restoration, using various pretexts—under all of which was plainly visible the warlike spirit of feudalism and Old Japan—rose repeatedly in rebellion, which taxed the power of the new government to the utmost, and, during the Satsuma uprising in 1877, threatened its very existence. To suppress these, cost the nation 20,000 lives and $100,000,000. This sum, with the amount expended on national improvements, lighthouses, railroads, commuting pensions of the samurai, etc., etc., has created a national debt (June, 1880) of $358,040,000. At last, in 1881, the government yielded to the pressure of a growing public opinion, and the mikado issued a proclamation granting the formation and powers of a true national deliberative assembly in 1890.
—The constitution of the government is as follows: The supreme council (Dai Jo Kuan), consisting of the premier (Dai Jo Dai Jin) two vice-premiers (U Dai Jin and Sa Dai Jin), a varying, but small, number of councilors (Sangi), and the ministers or heads of departments of foreign affairs, interior, finance, war. marine, public works, justice, colonies and agriculture, all of whom receive salaries much lower than those of a corresponding grade in western countries. The second of the governing bodies of the state is the senate, or Genro-in (house of elders), composed of nobles, and men of eminent service or political ability, nominated and paid by the government. Its powers are more restricted than those of the British house of lords, the initiative of its business being given by the Dai Jo Kuan, though the tendency of its nature is to broaden the law-making power. In 1878 a long step was taken toward representative institutions, by the formation of local assemblies sitting once a year, dealing, under the supervision of the minister of the interior, with questions of local taxation, with the right of petition to the central government on other matters of local interest. The qualifications of members and electors, men only, are limited by ability to read and write, and the payment of an annual land tax of at least $5. Under the Dai Jo Kuan, are the three cities and the thirty-five ken, which are ruled by governors (rei). The three classes of society are nobility (kuazoku), gentry (shizoku). and common people (heimin). Under every department the work of administration has been more or less conformed to modern and western procedure and usage, a fair proportion being based on American models. In foreign affairs, legations and consulates are now established in many foreign capitals and ports, and the steady aim is now to obtain from the treaty powers recognition of Japan's sovereignty, the removal of the extra-territoriality clauses from the treaties, and the right to regulate her own tariff and commerce. In finance, the total revenue, for 1879-80. was $61,860,000; and the expenditure, $59,610,000. The chief revenue is from the land tax, which, in 1877, was lowered to 22 per cent. upon the assessed value. $108,680,000 of paper money is in circulation. Of the total debt of $358,040,000, five sevenths was inherited from the past, incurred in commuting pensions, assuming the debts of the daimios, etc. 152 national banks, established on the American principle, possess a capital of $41,921,100, and have reduced the rate of interest from 14 to 11.2 per cent., besides greatly developing commercial enterprise and general prosperity. The whole amount of taxation levied by the government, in nineteen kinds, is $54,550,000, of which the land tax yielded, in 1879-80. $41,900,000, or about four-fifths of the whole: customs duties yielding, in 1878, $2,350,000, and all other taxes $8,670,000. The value of the government assets, forest and building land, public works, etc., etc., is appraised at $300,000,000. 4,000 miles of telegraph connect the chief towns of Japan with the rest of the world Postal lines, on which a letter may be sent for two cents, amount to 40,000 miles, and Japan is in the international postal union, besides having at home all the equipment necessary even to postal cards and savings banks, and forwarding nearly 50,000,000 covers annually. About 100 miles of railroad lines are opened. Thirty-five lighthouses, besides buoys, beacons and harbor improvements, have greatly aided foreign as well as native commerce. 460,000 vessels of native model and 400 of foreign, many of them steamers, form the mercantile marine, and 27 vessels, with 4,242 men and 149 guns, compose the navy. 400,000 wheeled vehicles in the country now pay tax, though before 1868 they were in very limited use, horses for draught being nearly unknown. The army, on a peace footing. consists of 35,560 men, and in war time of 50,230, with a reserve of 20,000 men. The police force, which in spirit and organization equals the army and can be used as military, numbers 23,334 men. Newspapers, 211 in number, have an aggregate circulation of 29,000,000 copies. The number of schools in 1879 was 25,459, with 59,825 teachers (of whom 1,558 were female), and 2,162,962 scholars (of whom 568,220 were guls). The voluntary private contributions in aid of education, from 1872 to 1879, were $9,000,000. The old judicial system has been reformed; the penal laws are based on the Code Napoleon. and the system of tribunals from the supreme court (Dai Shin In) in Tokio to the humblest magistrate's bar, are being steadily conformed in theory and practice to the models of christendom. The mere statement of these facts is sufficient to prove the sincerity of Japan's purpose to cast away the Chinese and adopt the western model of progressive civilization. In spite of many mistakes and discouragements her rulers have persevered, until it is doubtful whether history has recorded so sudden and thorough a transformation of an entire nation Christianity is also working among the masses. the way being well prepared for her by the rapid adoption of those institutions and forms of life with which this faith always assimilates. (See also
—Among the number. ous writers on Japan, Kaempfer. Thunberg and Tetsingh are the best among the older ones. Of modern writers before the restoration, F. L. Hawks' Narrative of the American Expedition under Commodore Perry. R. Hildreth's Japan as it was and is, Boston, 1855, and R. Alcock's The Capital of the Tycoon, London, 1863, are best suited to the student of political science. Writers since the restoration are F. O. Adams, History of Japan, London. 1875; W. E. Griffis, The Mikado's Empire (History. Travels, Essays, Social and Political Life. Statistics, etc.), New York, 1876-8; G. Bousquet, Le Japan de nos jours, Paris, 1877; C. Le Gendre, Prayrexsire Japan. New York, 1878; E. J. Read, Japan, London. 1881; J. J. Rein, Japan, Natur und Volk des Mikudoreiches, Leipzig, 1881. Especially valuable are the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, 1872-8, and the various publications in English issued by the Japanese government.
Return to top