Foreign Intercourse in Early and Medieval Times.—There can be no doubt that commerce was carried on by Japan with China and Korea earlier that the 8th century of the Christian era. It would appear that from the very outset over-sea trade was regarded as a government monopoly. Foreigners were allowed to travel freely in the interior of the country provided that they submitted their baggage for official inspection and made no purchases of weapons of war, but all imported goods were bought in the first place by official appraisers who subsequently sold them to the people at arbitrarily fixed prices. Greater importance attached to the trade with China under the Ashikaga shōguns (14th, 15th and 16th centuries), who were in constant need of funds to defray the cost of interminable military operations caused by civil disturbances. In this distress they turned to the neighbouring empire as a source from which money might be obtained. This idea seems to have been suggested to the shōgun Takauji by a Buddhist priest, when he undertook the construction of the temple Tenryū-ji. Two ships laden with goods were fitted out, and it was decided that the enterprise should be repeated annually. Within a few years after this development of commercial relations between the two empires, an interruption occurred owing partly to the overthrow of the Yuen Mongols by the Chinese Ming, and partly to the activity of Japanese pirates and adventurers who raided the coasts of China. The shōgun Yoshimitsu (1368-1394), however, succeeded in restoring commercial intercourse, though in order to effect his object he consented that goods sent from Japan should bear the character of tribute and that he himself should receive investiture at the hands of the Chinese emperor’s ambassador. The Nanking government granted a certain number of commercial passports, and these were given by the shōgun to Ouchi, feudal chief of Cho-shu, which had long been the principal port for trade with the neighbouring empire. Tribute goods formed only a small fraction of a vessel’s cargo: the bulk consisted of articles which were delivered into the government’s stores in China, payment being received in copper cash. It was from this transaction that the shōgun derived a considerable part of his profits, for the articles did not cost him anything originally, being either presents from the great temples and provincial governors or compulsory contributions from the house of Ouchi. As for the gifts by the Chinese government and the goods shipped in China, they were arbitrarily distributed among the noble families in Japan at prices fixed by the shōgun’s assessor. Thus, so far as the shōgun was concerned, these enterprises could not fail to be lucrative. They also brought large profits to the Ouchi family, for, in the absence of competition, the products and manufactures of each country found ready sale in the markets of the other. The articles found most suitable in China were swords, fans, screens, lacquer wares, copper and agate, and the goods brought back to Japan were brocade and other silk fabrics, ceramic productions, jade and fragrant woods. The Chinese seem to have had a just appreciation of the wonderful swords of Japan. At first they were willing to pay the equivalent of 12 guineas for a pair of blades, but by degrees, as the Japanese began to increase the supply, the price fell, and at the beginning of the 16th century all the diplomacy of the Japanese envoys was needed to obtain good figures for the large and constantly growing quantity of goods that they took over by way of supplement to the tribute. Buddhist priests generally enjoyed the distinction of being selected as envoys, for experience showed that their subtle reasoning invariably overcame the economical scruples of the Chinese authorities and secured a fine profit for their master, the shōgun. In the middle of the 16th century these tribute-bearing missions came to an end with the ruin of the Ouchi family and the overthrow of the Ashikaga shōguns, and they were never renewed.
Japan’s medieval commerce with Korea was less ceremonious than that with China. No passports had to be obtained from the Korean government. A trader was sufficiently equipped when he carried a permit from the So With Korea. family, which held the island of Tsushima in fief. Fifty vessels were allowed to pass yearly from ports in Japan to the three Japanese settlements in Korea. Little is recorded about the nature of this trade, but it was rudely interrupted by the Japanese settlers, who, offended at some arbitrary procedure on the part of the local Korean authorities, took up arms (A.D. 1510) and at first signally routed the Koreans. An army from Seoul turned the tables, and the Japanese were compelled to abandon the three settlements. Subsequently the shōgun’s government—which had not been concerned in the struggle—approached Korea with amicable proposals, and it was agreed that the ringleaders of the raiders should be decapitated and their heads sent to Seoul, Japan’s compliance with this condition affording, perhaps, a measure of the value she attached to neighbourly friendship. Thenceforth the number of vessels was limited to 25 annually and the settlements were abolished. Some years later, the Japanese again resorted to violent acts of self-assertion, and on this occasion, although the offenders were arrested by order of the shōgun Yoshiharu, and handed over to Korea for punishment, the Seoul court persisted in declining to restore the system of settlements or to allow the trade to be resumed on its former basis. Fifty years afterwards the taikō’s armies invaded Korea, overrunning it for seven years, and leaving, when they retired in 1598, a country so impoverished that it no longer offered any attraction to commercial enterprise from beyond the sea.
The Portuguese discovered Japan by accident in 1542 or 1543—the exact date is uncertain. On a voyage to Macao from Siam, a junk carrying three Portuguese was blown from her course and fetched Tanegashima, a small With Occidental Nations. island lying south of the province of Satsuma. The Japanese, always hospitable and inquisitive, welcomed the newcomers and showed special curiosity about the arquebuses carried by the Portuguese, fire-arms being then a novelty in Japan and all weapons of war being in great request. Conversation was impossible, of course, but, by tracing ideographs upon the sand, a Chinese member of the crew succeeded in explaining the cause of the junk’s arrival. She was then piloted to a more commodious harbour, and the Portuguese sold two arquebuses to the local feudatory, who immediately ordered his armourer to manufacture similar weapons. Very soon the news of the discovery reached all the Portuguese settlements in the East, and at least seven expeditions were fitted out during the next few years to exploit this new market. Their objective points were all in the island of Kiūshiū—the principal stage where the drama—ultimately converted into a tragedy—of Christian propagandism and European commercial intercourse was acted in the interval between 1542 and 1637.
It does not appear that the Jesuits at Macao, Goa or other centres of Portuguese influence in the East took immediate advantage of the discovery of Japan. The pioneer propagandist was Francis Xavier, who landed at Arrival of the Jesuits. Kagoshima on the 15th of August 1549. During the interval of six (or seven) years that separated this event from the drifting of the junk to Tanegashima, the Portuguese had traded freely in the ports of Kiūshiū, had visited Kiōto, and had reported the Japanese capital to be a city of 96,000 houses, therefore larger than Lisbon. Xavier would certainly have gone to Japan even though he had not been specially encouraged, for the reports of his countrymen depicted the Japanese as “very desirous of being instructed,” and he longed to find a field more promising than that inhabited by “all these Indian nations, barbarous, vicious and without inclination to virtue.” There were, however, two special determinants. One was a request addressed by a feudatory, supposed to have been the chief of the Bungo fief, to the viceroy of the Indies at Goa; the other, an appeal made in person by a Japanese named Yajiro, whom the fathers spoke of as Anjiro, and who subsequently attained celebrity under his baptismal name, Paul of the holy faith. No credible reason is historically assigned for the action of the Japanese feudatory. Probably his curiosity had been excited by accounts which the Portuguese traders gave of the noble devotion of their country’s missionaries, and being entirely without bigotry, as nearly all Japanese were at that epoch, he issued the invitation partly out of curiosity and partly from a sincere desire for progress. Anjiro’s case was very different. Labouring under stress of repentant zeal, and fearful that his evil acts might entail murderous consequences, he sought an asylum abroad, and was taken away in 1548 by a Portuguese vessel whose master advised him to repair to Malacca for the purpose of confessing to Xavier. This might well have seemed to the Jesuits a providential dispensation, for Anjiro, already able to speak Portuguese, soon mastered it sufficiently to interpret for Xavier and his fellow-missionaries (without which aid they must have remained long helpless in the face of the immense difficulty of the Japanese language), and to this linguistic skill he added extraordinary gifts of intelligence and memory. Xavier, with two Portuguese companions and Anjiro, were excellently received by the feudal chiefs of Satsuma and obtained permission to preach their doctrine in any part of the fief. This permit is not to be construed as an evidence of official sympathy with the foreign creed. Commercial considerations alone were in question. A Japanese feudal chief in that era had sedulously to foster every source of wealth or strength, and as the newly opened trade with the outer world seemed full of golden promise, each feudatory was not less anxious to secure a monopoly of it in the 16th century than the Ashikaga shōguns had been in the 15th. The Satsuma daimyō was led to believe that the presence of the Jesuits in Kagoshima would certainly prelude the advent of trading vessels. But within a few months one of the expected merchantmen sailed to Hirado without touching at Kagoshima, and her example was followed by two others in the following year, so that the Satsuma chief saw himself flouted for the sake of a petty rival, Matsudaira of Hirado. This fact could not fail to provoke his resentment. But there was another influence at work. Buddhism has always been a tolerant religion, eclectic rather than exclusive. Xavier, however, had all the bigoted intolerance of his time. The Buddhist priests in Kagoshima received him with courtesy and listened respectfully to the doctrines he expounded through the mouth of Anjiro. Xavier rejoined with a display of aggressive intolerance which shocked and alienated the Buddhists. They represented to the Satsuma chief that peace and good order were inconsistent with such a display of militant propagandism, and he, already profoundly chagrined by his commercial disappointment, issued in 1550 an edict making it a capital offence for any of his vassals to embrace Christianity. Xavier, or, more correctly speaking, Anjiro, had won 150 converts, who remained without molestation, but Xavier himself took ship for Hirado. There he was received with salvoes of artillery by the Portuguese merchantmen lying in the harbour and with marks of profound respect by the Portuguese traders, a display which induced the local chief to issue orders that courteous attention should be paid to the teaching of the foreign missionaries. In ten days a hundred baptisms took place; another significant index of the mood of the Japanese in the early era of Occidental intercourse: the men in authority always showed a complaisant attitude towards Christianity where trade could be fostered by so doing, and wherever the men in authority showed such an attitude, considerable numbers of the lower orders embraced the foreign faith. Thus, in considering the commercial history of the era, the element of religion constantly thrusts itself into the foreground.
Xavier next resolved to visit Kiōto. The first town of importance he reached on the way was Yamaguchi, capital of the Chōshū fief, situated on the northern shore of the Shimonoseki Strait. There the feudal chief, First Visit of Europeans to Kiōto. Ouchi, though sufficiently courteous and inquisitive, showed no special cordiality towards humble missionaries unconnected with commerce, and the work of proselytizing made no progress, so that Xavier and his companion, Fernandez, pushed on to Kiōto. The time was mid-winter; the two fathers suffered terrible privations during their journey of two months on foot, and on reaching Kiōto they found a city which had been almost wholly reduced to ruins by internecine war. Necessarily they failed to obtain audience of either emperor or shōgun, at that time the most inaccessible potentates in the world, the Chinese “son of heaven” excepted, and nothing remained but street preaching, a strange resource, seeing that Xavier, constitutionally a bad linguist, had only a most rudimentary acquaintance with the profoundly difficult tongue in which he attempted to expound the mysteries of a novel creed. A fortnight sufficed to convince him that Kiōto was unfruitful soil. He therefore returned to Yamaguchi. But he had now learned a lesson. He saw that propagandism without scrip or staff and without the countenance of those sitting in the seats of power would be futile in Japan. So he obtained from Hirado his canonicals, together with a clock and other novel products of European skill, which, as well as credentials from the viceroy of India, the governor of Malacca and the bishop of Goa, he presented to the Chōshū chief. His prayer for permission to preach Christianity was now readily granted, and Ouchi issued a proclamation announcing his approval of the introduction of the new religion and according perfect liberty to embrace it. Xavier and Fernandez now made many converts. They also gained the valuable knowledge that the road to success in Japan lay in associating themselves with over-sea commerce and its directors, and in thus winning the co-operation of the feudal chiefs.
Nearly ten years had now elapsed since the first Portuguese landed in Kagoshima, and during that time trade had gone on steadily and prosperously. No attempt was made to find markets in the main island: the Portuguese Christian Propagandists. confined themselves to Kiūshiū for two reasons: one, that having no knowledge of the coasts, they hesitated to risk their ships and their lives in unsurveyed waters; the other, that whereas the main island, almost from end to end, was seething with internecine war, Kiūshiū remained beyond the pale of disturbance and enjoyed comparative tranquillity. At the time of Xavier’s second sojourn in Yamaguchi, a Portuguese ship happened to be visiting Bungo, and at its master’s suggestion the great missionary proceeded thither, with the intention of returning temporarily to the Indies. At Bungo there was then ruling Otomo, second in power to only the Satsuma chief among the feudatories of Kiūshiū. By him the Jesuit father was received with all honour. Xavier did not now neglect the lesson he had learned in Yamaguchi. He repaired to the Bungo chieftain’s court, escorted by nearly the whole of the Portuguese crew, gorgeously bedizened, carrying their arms and with banners flying. Otomo, a young and ambitious ruler, was keenly anxious to attract foreign traders with their rich cargoes and puissant weapons of war. Witnessing the reverence paid to Xavier by the Portuguese traders, he appreciated the importance of gaining the goodwill of the Jesuits, and accordingly not only granted them full freedom to teach and preach, but also enjoined upon his younger brother, who, in the sequel of a sudden rebellion, had succeeded to the lordship of Yamaguchi, the advisability of extending protection to Torres and Fernandez, then sojourning there. After some four months’ stay in Bungo, Xavier set sail for Goa in February 1552. Death overtook him in the last month of the same year.
Xavier’s departure from Japan marked the conclusion of the first epoch of Christian propagandism. His sojourn in Japan extended to 27 months. In that time he and his coadjutors won about 760 converts. In Satsuma more than a year’s labour produced 150 believers. There Xavier had the assistance of Anjiro to expound his doctrines. No language lends itself with greater difficulty than Japanese to the discussion of theological questions. The terms necessary for such a purpose are not current among laymen, and only by special study, which, it need scarcely be said, must be preluded by an accurate acquaintance with the tongue itself, can a man hope to become duly equipped for the task of exposition and dissertation. It is open to grave doubt whether any foreigner has ever attained the requisite proficiency. Leaving Anjiro in Kagoshima to care for the converts made there, Xavier pushed on to Hirado, where he baptized a hundred Japanese in a few days. Now we have it on the authority of Xavier himself that in this Hirado campaign “none of us knew Japanese.” How then did they proceed? “By reciting a semi-Japanese volume” (a translation made by Anjiro of a treatise from Xavier’s pen) “and by delivering sermons, we brought several over to the Christian cult.” Sermons preached in Portuguese or Latin to a Japanese audience on the island of Hirado in the year 1550 can scarcely have attracted intelligent interest. On his first visit to Yamaguchi, Xavier’s means of access to the understanding of his hearers was confined to the rudimentary knowledge of Japanese which Fernandez had been able to acquire in 14 months, a period of study which, in modern times, with all the aids now procurable, would not suffice to carry a student beyond the margin of the colloquial. No converts were won. The people of Yamaguchi probably admired the splendid faith and devotion of these over-sea philosophers, but as for their doctrine, it was unintelligible. In Kiōto the same experience was repeated, with an addition of much physical hardship. But when the Jesuits returned to Yamaguchi in the early autumn of 1551, they baptized 500 persons, including several members of the military class. Still Fernandez with his broken Japanese was the only medium for communicating the profound doctrines of Christianity. It must be concluded that the teachings of the missionaries produced much less effect than the attitude of the local chieftain.
Only two missionaries, Torres and Fernandez, remained in Japan after the departure of Xavier, but they were soon joined by three others. These newcomers landed at Kagoshima and found that, in spite of the official veto Second Period of Christian Propagandism. against the adoption of Christianity, the feudal chief had lost nothing of his desire to foster foreign trade. Two years later, all the Jesuits in Japan were assembled in Bungo. Their only church stood there; and they had also built two hospitals. Local disturbances had compelled them to withdraw from Yamaguchi, not, however, before their violent disputes with the Buddhist priests in that town had induced the feudatory to proscribe the foreign religion, as had previously been done in Kagoshima. From Funai, the chief town of Bungo, the Jesuits began in 1579 to send yearly reports to their Generals in Rome. These reports, known as the Annual Letters, comprise some of the most valuable information available about the conditions then existing in Japan. They describe a state of abject poverty among the lower orders; poverty so cruel that the destruction of children by their famishing parents was an everyday occurrence, and in some instances choice had to be made between cannibalism and starvation. Such suffering becomes easily intelligible when the fact is recalled that Japan had been racked by civil war during more than 200 years, each feudal chief fighting for his own hand, to save or to extend his territorial possessions. From these Annual Letters it is possible also to gather a tolerably clear idea of the course of events during the years immediately subsequent to Xavier’s departure. There was no break in the continuity of the newly inaugurated foreign trade. Portuguese ships visited Hirado as well as Bungo, and in those days their masters and crews not only attended scrupulously to their religious duties, but also showed such profound respect for the missionaries that the Japanese received constant object lessons in the influence wielded over the traders by the Jesuits. Thirty years later, this orderly and reverential demeanour was exchanged for riotous excesses such as had already made the Portuguese sailor a byword in China. But in the early days of intercourse with Japan the crews of the merchant vessels seem to have preached Christianity by their exemplary conduct. Just as Xavier had been induced to visit Bungo by the anxiety of a ship-captain for Christian ministrations, so in 1557 two of the fathers repaired to Hirado in obedience to the solicitations of Portuguese sailors. There the fathers, under the guidance of Vilela, sent brothers to parade the streets ringing bells and chaunting litanies; they organized bands of boys for the same purpose; they caused the converts, and even children, to flagellate themselves at a model of Mount Calvary, and they worked miracles, healing the sick by contact with scourges or with a booklet in which Xavier had written litanies and prayers. It may well be imagined that such doings attracted surprised attention in Japan. They were supplemented by even more striking practices. For a sub-feudatory of the Hirado chief, having been converted, showed his zeal by destroying Buddhist temples and throwing down the idols, thus inaugurating a campaign of violence destined to mark the progress of Christianity throughout the greater part of its history in Japan. There followed the overthrowing of a cross in the Christian cemetery, the burning of a temple in the town of Hirado, and a street riot, the sequel being that the Jesuit fathers were compelled to return once more to Bungo. It is essential to follow all these events, for not otherwise can a clear understanding be reached as to the aspects under which Christianity presented itself originally to the Japanese. The Portuguese traders, reverent as was their demeanour towards Christianity, did not allow their commerce to be interrupted by vicissitudes of propagandism. They still repaired to Hirado, and rumours of the wealth-begetting effects of their presence having reached the neighbouring fief of Omura, its chief, Sumitada, made overtures to the Jesuits in Bungo, offering a port free from all dues for ten years, a large tract of land, a residence for the missionaries and other privileges. The Jesuits hastened to take advantage of this proposal, and no sooner did the news reach Hirado than the feudatory of that island repented of having expelled the fathers and invited them to return. But while they hesitated, a Portuguese vessel arrived at Hirado, and the feudal chief declared publicly that no need existed to conciliate the missionaries, since trade went on without them. When this became known in Bungo, Torres hastened to Hirado, was received with extraordinary honours by the crew of the vessel, and at his instance she left the port, her master declaring that “he could not remain in a country where they maltreated those who professed the same religion as himself.” Hirado remained a closed port for some years, but ultimately the advent of three merchantmen, which intimated their determination not to put in unless the anti-Christian ban was removed, induced the feudal chief to receive the Jesuits, once more. This incident was paralleled a few years later in the island of Amakusa, where a petty feudatory, in order to attract foreign trade, as the missionaries themselves frankly explain, embraced Christianity and ordered all his vassals to follow his example; but when no Portuguese ship appeared, he apostatized, required his subjects to revert to Buddhism arid made the missionaries withdraw. In fact, the competition for the patronage of Portuguese traders was so keen that the Hirado feudatory attempted to burn several of their vessels because they frequented the territorial waters of his neighbour and rival, Sumitada. The latter became a most stalwart Christian when his wish was gratified. He set himself to eradicate idolatry throughout his fief with the strong arm, and his fierce intolerance provoked results which ended in the destruction of the Christian town at the newly opened free port. Sumitada, however, quickly reasserted his authority, and five years later (1567), he took a step which had far-reaching consequences, namely, the building of a church at Nagasaki, in order that Portuguese commerce might have a centre and the Christians an assured asylum. Nagasaki was then a little fishing village. In five years it grew to be a town of thirty thousand inhabitants, and Sumitada became one of the richest of the Kiūshiū feudatories. When in 1573 successful conflicts with the neighbouring fiefs brought him an access of territory, he declared that he owed these victories to the influence of the Christian God, and shortly afterwards he publicly proclaimed banishment for all who would not accept the foreign faith. There were then no Jesuits by his side, but immediately two hastened to join him, and “these, accompanied by a strong guard, but yet not without danger of their lives, went round causing the churches of the Gentiles, with their idols, to be thrown to the ground, while three Japanese Christians went preaching the law of God everywhere. Three of us who were in the neighbouring kingdoms all withdrew therefrom to work in this abundant harvest, and in the space of seven months twenty thousand persons were baptized, including the bonzes of about sixty monasteries, except a few who quitted the State.” In Bungo, however, where the Jesuits were originally so well received, it is doubtful whether Christian propagandism would not have ended in failure but for an event which occurred in 1576, namely, the conversion of the chieftain’s son, a youth of some 16 years. Two years later Otomo himself came over to the Christian faith. He rendered inestimable aid, not merely within his own fief, but also by the influence he exercised on others. His intervention, supported by recourse to arms, obtained for the Jesuits a footing on the island of Amakusa, where one of the feudatories gave his vassals the choice of conversion or exile, and announced to the Buddhist priests that unless they accepted Christianity their property would be confiscated and they themselves banished. Nearly the whole population of the fief did violence to their conscience for the sake of their homes. Christianity was then becoming established in Kiūshiū by methods similar to those of Islam and the inquisition. Another notable illustration is furnished by the story of the Arima fief, adjoining that of Sumitada (Omura), where such resolute means had been adopted to force Christianity upon the vassals. Moreover, the heads of the two fiefs were brothers. Accordingly, at the time of Sumitada’s very dramatic conversion, the Jesuits were invited to Arima and encouraged to form settlements at the ports of Kuchinotsu and Shimabara, which thenceforth began to be frequented by Portuguese merchantmen. The fief naturally became involved in the turmoil resulting from Sumitada’s iconoclastic methods of propagandism; but, in 1576, the then ruling feudatory, influenced largely by the object lesson of Sumitada’s prosperity and puissance, which that chieftain openly ascribed to the tutelary aid of the Christian deity, accepted baptism and became the “Prince Andrew” of missionary records. It is written in those records that “the first thing Prince Andrew did after his baptism was to convert the chief temple of his capital into a church, its revenues being assigned for the maintenance of the building and the support of the missionaries. He then took measures to have the same thing done in the other towns of his fief, and he seconded the preachers of the gospel so well in everything else that he could flatter himself that he soon would not have one single idolater in his states.” Thus in the two years that separated his baptism from his death, twenty thousand converts were won in Arima. But his successor was an enemy of the alien creed. He ordered the Jesuits to quit his dominions, required the converts to return to their ancestral faith, and caused “the holy places to be destroyed and the crosses to be thrown down.” Nearly one-half of the converts apostatized under this pressure, but others had recourse to a device of proved potency. They threatened to leave Kuchinotsu en masse, and as that would have involved the loss of foreign trade, the hostile edict was materially modified. To this same weapon the Christians owed a still more signal victory. For just at that time the great ship from Macao, now an annual visitor, arrived in Japanese waters carrying the visitor-general, Valegnani. She put into Kuchinotsu, and her presence, with its suggested eventualities, gave such satisfaction that the feudatory offered to accept baptism and to sanction its acceptance by his vassals. This did not satisfy Valegnani, a man of profound political sagacity. He saw that the fief was menaced by serious dangers at the hands of its neighbours, and seizing the psychological moment of its extreme peril, he used the secular arm so adroitly that the fief’s chance of survival seemed to be limited to the unreserved adoption of Christianity. Thus, in 1580, the chieftain and his wife were baptized; “all the city was made Christian; they burned their idols and destroyed 40 temples, reserving some materials to build churches.”
Christian propagandism had now made substantial progress. The Annual Letter of 1582 recorded that at the close of 1581, thirty-two years after the landing of Xavier in Japan, there were about 150,000 converts, of whom some 125,000 were in Kiūshiū and the remainder in Yamaguchi, Kiōto and the neighbourhood of the latter city. The Jesuits in the empire then numbered 75, but down to the year 1563 there had never been more than 9, and down to 1577, not more than 18. The harvest was certainly great in proportion to the number of sowers. But it was a harvest mainly of artificial growth; forced by the despotic insistence of feudal chiefs who possessed the power of life and death over their vassals, and were influenced by a desire to attract foreign trade. To the Buddhist priests this movement of Christian propagandism had brought an experience hitherto unknown to them, persecution on account of creed. They had suffered for interfering in politics, but the fierce cruelty of the Christian fanatic now became known for the first time to men themselves conspicuous for tolerance of heresy and receptivity of instruction. They had had no previous experience of humanity in the garb of an Otomo of Bungo, who, in the words of Crasset, “went to the chase of the bonzes as to that of wild beasts, and made it his singular pleasure to exterminate them from his states.”
In 1582 the first Japanese envoys sailed from Nagasaki for Europe. The embassy consisted of four youths, the oldest not more than 16, representing the fiefs of Arima, Omura and Bungo. They visited Lisbon, Madrid and Rome, First Japanese Embassy to Europe. and in all these cities they were received with displays of magnificence such as 16th century Europe delighted to make. That, indeed, had been the motive of Valegnani in organizing the mission: he desired to let the Japanese see with their own eyes how great were the riches and might of Western states.
In the above statistics of converts at the close of 1581 mention is made of Christians in Kiōto, though we have already seen that the visit by Xavier and Fernandez to that city was wholly barren of results. A second visit, however, Second Visit of Jesuits to Kiōto. made by Vilela in 1559, proved more successful. He carried letters of recommendation from the Bungo chieftain, and the proximate cause of his journey was an invitation from a Buddhist priest in the celebrated monastery of Hiei-zan, who sought information about Christianity. This was before the razing of temples and the overthrow of idols had commenced in Kiūshiū. On arrival at Hiei-zan, Vilela found that the Buddhist prior who had invited him was dead and that only a portion of the old man’s authority had descended to his successor. Nevertheless the Jesuit obtained an opportunity to expound his doctrines to a party of bonzes at the monastery. Subsequently, through the good offices of a priest, described as “one of the most respected men in the city,” and with the assistance of the Bungo feudatory’s letter, Vilela enjoyed the rare honour of being received by the shōgun in Kiōto, who treated him with all consideration and assigned a house for his residence. It may be imagined that, owing such a debt of gratitude to Buddhist priests, Vilela would have behaved towards them and their creed with courtesy. But the Jesuit fathers were proof against all influences calculated to impair their stern sense of duty. Speaking through the mouth of a Japanese convert, Vilela attacked the bonzes in unmeasured terms and denounced their faith. Soon the bonzes, on their side, were seeking the destruction of these uncompromising assailants with insistence inferior only to that which the Jesuits themselves would have shown in similar circumstances. Against these perils Vilela was protected by the goodwill of the shōgun, who had already issued a decree threatening with death any one who injured the missionaries or obstructed their work. In spite of all difficulties and dangers these wonderful missionaries, whose courage, zeal and devotion are beyond all eulogy, toiled on resolutely and even recklessly, and such success attended their efforts that by 1564 many converts had been won and churches had been established in five walled towns within a distance of 50 miles from Kiōto. Among the converts were two Buddhist priests, notoriously hostile at the outset, who had been nominated as official commissioners to investigate and report upon the doctrine of Christianity. The first conversion en masse was due to pressure from above. A petty feudatory, Takayama, whose fief lay at Takatsuki in the neighbourhood of the capital, challenged Vilela to a public controversy, the result of which was that the Japanese acknowledged himself vanquished, embraced Christianity and invited his vassals as well as his family to follow his example. This man’s son—Takayama Yūsho—proved one of the stanchest supporters of Christianity in all Japan, and has been immortalized by the Jesuits under the name of Don Justo Ucondono. Incidentally this event furnishes an index to the character of the Japanese samurai: he accepted the consequences of defeat as frankly as he dared it. In the same year (1564) the feudatory of Sawa, a brother of Takayama, became a Christian and imposed the faith on all his vassals, just as Sumitada and other feudal chiefs had done in Kiūshiū. But the Kiōto record differs from that of Kiūshiū in one important respect—the former is free from any intrusion of commercial motives.
Kiōto was at that time the scene of sanguinary tumults, which culminated in the murder of the shōgun (1565), and led to the issue of a decree by the emperor proscribing Christianity. In Japanese medieval history this Nobunaga and the Jesuits. is one of the only two instances of Imperial interference with Christian propagandism. There is evidence that the edict was obtained at the instance of one of the shōgun’s assassins and certain Buddhist priests. The Jesuits—their number had been increased to three—were obliged to take refuge in Sakai, now little more than a suburb of Osaka, but at that time a great and wealthy mart, and the only town in Japan which did not acknowledge the sway of any feudal chief. Three years later they were summoned thence to be presented to Oda Nobunaga, one of the greatest captains Japan has ever produced. In the very year of Xavier’s landing at Kagoshima, Nobunaga had succeeded to his father’s fief, a comparatively petty estate in the province of Owari. In 1568 he was seated in Kiōto, a maker of shōguns and acknowledged ruler of 30 among the 66 provinces of Japan. Had Nobunaga, wielding such immense power, adopted a hostile attitude towards Christianity, the fires lit by the Jesuits in Japan must soon have been extinguished. Nobunaga, however, to great breadth and liberality of view added strong animosity towards Buddhist priests. Many of the great monasteries had become armed camps, their inmates skilled equally in field-attacks and in the defence of ramparts. One sect (the Nichiren), which was specially affected by the samurai, had lent powerful aid to the murderers of the shōgun three years before Nobunaga’s victories carried him to Kiōto, and the armed monasteries constituted imperia in imperio which assorted ill with his ambition of complete supremacy. He therefore welcomed Christianity for the sake of its opposition to Buddhism, and when Takayama conducted Froez from Sakai to Nobunaga’s presence, the reception accorded to the Jesuit was of the most cordial character. Throughout the fourteen years of life that remained to him, Nobunaga continued to be the constant friend of the missionaries in particular and of foreigners visiting Japan in general. He stood between the Jesuits and the Throne when, in reply to an appeal from the Buddhist priests, the emperor, for the second time, issued an anti-Christian decree (1568); he granted a site for a church and residence at Azuchi on Lake Biwa, where his new fortress stood; he addressed to various powerful feudatories letters signifying a desire for the spread of Christianity; he frequently made handsome presents to the fathers, and whenever they visited him he showed a degree of accessibility and graciousness very foreign to his usually haughty and imperious demeanour. The Jesuits themselves said of him: “This man seems to have been chosen by God to open and prepare the way for our faith.” Nevertheless they do not appear to have entertained much hope at any time of converting Nobunaga. They must have understood that their doctrines had not made any profound impression on a man who could treat them as this potentate did in 1579, when he plainly showed that political exigencies might at any moment induce him to sacrifice them. His last act, too, proved that sacrilege was of no account in his eyes, for he took steps to have himself apotheosized at Azuchi with the utmost pomp and circumstance. Still nothing can obscure the benefits he heaped upon the propagandists of Christianity.
The terrible tumult of domestic war through which Japan passed in the 15th and 16th centuries brought to her service three of the greatest men ever produced in Occident or Orient. They were Oda Nobunaga, Hideyshi and the Christians. Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Iyeyasu. Hideyoshi, as Nobunaga’s lieutenant, contributed largely to the building of the latter’s fortunes, and, succeeding him in 1582, brought the whole 66 provinces of the empire under his own administrative sway. For the Jesuits now the absorbing question was, what attitude Hideyoshi would assume towards their propagandism. His power was virtually limitless. With a word he could have overthrown the whole edifice created by them at the cost of so much splendid effort and noble devotion. They were very quickly reassured. In this matter Hideyoshi walked in Nobunaga’s footsteps. He not only accorded a friendly audience to Father Organtino, who waited on him as representative of the Jesuits, but also he went in person to assign to the company a site for a church and a residence in Osaka, where there was presently to rise the most massive fortress ever built in the East. At that time many Christian converts were serving in high positions, and in 1584 the Jesuits placed it on record that “Hideyoshi was not only not opposed to the things of God, but he even showed that he made much account of them and preferred them to all the sects of the bonzes.... He is entrusting to Christians his treasures, his secrets and his fortresses of most importance, and shows himself well pleased that the sons of the great lords about him should adopt our customs and our law.” Two years later in Osaka he received with every mark of cordiality and favour a Jesuit mission which had come from Nagasaki seeking audience, and on that occasion his visitor recorded that he spoke of an intention of christianizing one half of Japan. Nor did Hideyoshi confine himself to words. He actually signed a patent licensing the missionaries to preach throughout all Japan, and exempting not only their houses and churches from the billeting of soldiers but also the priests themselves from local burdens. This was in 1586, on the eve of Hideyoshi’s greatest military enterprise, the invasion of Kiūshiū and its complete reduction. He carried that difficult campaign to completion by the middle of 1587, and throughout its course he maintained a uniformly friendly demeanour towards the Jesuits. But suddenly, when on the return journey he reached Hakata in the north of the island, his policy underwent a radical metamorphosis. Five questions were by his order propounded to the vice-provincial of the Jesuits: “Why and by what authority he and his fellow-propagandists had constrained Japanese subjects to become Christians? Why they had induced their disciples and their sectaries to overthrow temples? Why they persecuted the bonzes? Why they and other Portuguese ate animals useful to men, such as oxen and cows? Why the vice-provincial allowed merchants of his nation to buy Japanese to make slaves of them in the Indies?” To these queries Coelho, the vice-provincial, made answer that the missionaries had never themselves resorted, or incited, to violence in their propagandism or persecuted bonzes; that if their eating of beef were considered inadvisable, they would give up the practice; and that they were powerless to prevent or restrain the outrages perpetrated by their countrymen. Hideyoshi read the vice-provincial’s reply and, without comment, sent him word to retire to Hirado, assemble all his followers there, and quit the country within six months. On the next day (July 25, 1587) the following edict was published:—
have come into our estates, where they preach a law contrary to that of Japan, and that they even had the audacity to destroy temples dedicated to our Kami and Hotoke; although the outrage merits the most extreme punishment, wishing nevertheless to show them mercy, we order them under pain of death to quit Japan within twenty days. During that space no harm or hurt will be done to them. But at the expiration of that term, we order that if any of them be found in our states, they should be seized and punished as the greatest criminals. As for the Portuguese merchants, we permit them to enter our ports, there to continue their accustomed trade, and to remain in our states provided our affairs need this. But we forbid them to bring any foreign priests into the country, under the penalty of the confiscation of their ships andgoods.”
How are we to account for this apparently rapid change of mood on the part of Hideyoshi? Some historians insist that from the very outset he conceived the resolve of suppressing Christianity and expelling its propagandists, but that he concealed his design pending the subjugation of Kiūshiū, lest, by premature action, he might weaken his hand for that enterprise. This hypothesis rests mainly on conjecture. Its formulators found it easier to believe in a hidden purpose than to attribute to a statesman so shrewd and far-seeing a sudden change of mind. A more reasonable theory is that, shortly before leaving Osaka for Kiūshiū, Hideyoshi began to entertain doubts as to the expediency of tolerating Christian propagandism, and that his doubts were signally strengthened by direct observation of the state of affairs in Kiūshiū. While still in Osaka, he one day remarked publicly that “he feared much that all the virtue of the European priests served only to conceal pernicious designs against the empire.” There had been no demolishing of temples or overthrowing of images at Christian instance in the metropolitan provinces. In Kiūshiū, however, very different conditions prevailed. There Christianity may be said to have been preached at the point of the sword. Temples and images had been destroyed wholesale; vassals in thousands had been compelled to embrace the foreign faith; and the missionaries themselves had come to be treated as demi-gods whose nod was worth conciliating at any cost of self-abasement. Brought into direct contact with these evidences of the growth of a new power, temporal as well as spiritual, Hideyoshi may well have reached the conclusion that a choice had to be finally made between his own supremacy and that of the alien creed, if not between the independence of Japan and the yoke of the great Christian states of Europe.
Hideyoshi gauged the character of the medieval Christians with sufficient accuracy to know that for the sake of their faith they would at any time defy the laws of the island. His estimate received immediate verification, Sequel of the Edict of Banishment. for when the Jesuits, numbering 120, assembled at Hirado and received his order to embark at once they decided that only those should sail whose services were needed in China. The others remained and went about their duties as usual, under the protection of the converted feudatories. Hideyoshi, however, saw reason to wink at this disregard of his authority. At first he showed uncompromising resolution. All the churches in Kiōto, Osaka and Sakai were demolished, while troops were sent to raze the Christian places of worship in Kiūshiū and seize the port of Nagasaki. These troops were munificently dissuaded from their purpose by the Christian feudatories. But Hideyoshi did not protest, and in 1588 he allowed himself to be convinced by a Portuguese envoy that in the absence of missionaries foreign trade must cease, since without the intervention of the fathers peace and good order could not be maintained among the merchants. Rather than suffer the trade to be interrupted Hideyoshi agreed to the coming of priests, and thenceforth, during some years, Christianity not only continued to flourish and grow in Kiūshiū but also found a favourable field of operations in Kiōto itself. Care was taken that Hideyoshi’s attention should not be attracted by any salient evidences of what he had called a “diabolical religion,” and thus for a time all went well. There is evidence that, like the feudal chiefs in Kiūshiū, Hideyoshi set great store by foreign trade and would even have sacrificed to its maintenance and expansion something of the aversion he had conceived for Christianity. He did indeed make one very large concession. For on being assured that Portuguese traders could not frequent Japan unless they found Christian priests there to minister to them, he consented to sanction the presence of a limited number of Jesuits. The statistics of 1595 show how Christianity fared under even this partial tolerance, for there were then 137 Jesuits in Japan with 300,000 converts, among whom were 17 feudal chiefs, to say nothing of many men of lesser though still considerable note, and even not a few bonzes.
For ten years after his unlooked-for order of expulsion, Hideyoshi preserved a tolerant mien. But in 1597 his forbearance gave place to a mood of uncompromising severity. The reasons of this second change are very clear, Hideyoshi’s Final Attitude towards Christianity. though diverse accounts have been transmitted. Up to 1593 the Portuguese had possessed a monopoly of religious propagandism and over-sea commerce in Japan. The privilege was secured to them by agreement between Spain and Portugal and by a papal bull. But the Spaniards in Manila had long looked with somewhat jealous eyes on this Jesuit reservation, and when news of the disaster of 1587 reached the Philippines, the Dominicans and Franciscans residing there were fired with zeal to enter an arena where the crown of martyrdom seemed to be the least reward within reach. The papal bull, however, demanded obedience, and to overcome that difficulty a ruse was necessary: the governor of Manila agreed to send a party of Franciscans as ambassadors to Hideyoshi. In that guise the friars, being neither traders nor propagandists, considered that they did not violate either the treaty or the bull. It was a technical subterfuge very unworthy of the object contemplated, and the friars supplemented it by swearing to Hideyoshi that the Philippines would submit to his sway. Thus they obtained permission to visit Kiōto, Osaka and Fushimi, but with the explicit proviso that they must not preach. Very soon they had built a church in Kiōto, consecrated it with the utmost pomp, and were preaching sermons and chaunting litanies there in flagrant defiance of Hideyoshi’s veto. Presently their number received an access of three friars who came bearing gifts from the governor at Manila, and now they not only established a convent in Osaka, but also seized a Jesuit church in Nagasaki and converted the circumspect worship hitherto conducted there by the fathers into services of the most public character. Officially checked in Nagasaki, they charged the Jesuits in Kiōto with having intrigued to impede them, and they further vaunted the courageous openness of their own ministrations as compared with the clandestine timidity of the methods which wise prudence had induced the Jesuits to adopt. Retribution would have followed quickly had not Hideyoshi’s attention been engrossed by an attempt to invade China through Korea. At this stage, however, a memorable incident occurred. Driven out of her course by a storm, a great and richly laden Spanish galleon, bound for Acapulco from Manila, drifted to the coast of Tosa province, and running—or being purposely run—on a sand-bank as she was being towed into port by Japanese boats, broke her back. She carried goods to the value of some 600,000 crowns, and certain officials urged Hideyoshi to confiscate her as derelict, conveying to him at the same time a detailed account of the doings of the Franciscans and their open flouting of his orders. Hideyoshi, much incensed, commanded the arrest of the Franciscans and despatched officers to Tosa to confiscate the “San Felipe.” The pilot of the galleon sought to intimidate these officers by showing them on a map of the world the vast extent of Spain’s dominions, and being asked how one country had acquired such extended sway, replied: “Our kings begin by sending into the countries they wish to conquer missionaries who induce the people to embrace our religion, and when they have made considerable progress, troops are sent who combine with the new Christians, and then our kings have not much trouble in accomplishing the rest.”
On learning of this speech Hideyoshi was overcome with fury. He condemned the Franciscans to have their noses and ears cut off, to be promenaded through Kiōto, Osaka and Sakai, and to be crucified at Nagasaki. “I The First Execution of Christians. have ordered these foreigners to be treated thus, because they have come from the Philippines to Japan, calling themselves ambassadors, although they were not so; because they have remained here far too long without my permission; because, in defiance of my prohibition, they have built churches, preached their religion and caused disorders.” Twenty-six suffered under this sentence—six Franciscans, three Japanese Jesuits and seventeen native Christians, chiefly domestic servants of the Franciscans. They met their fate with noble fortitude. Hideyoshi further issued a special injunction against the adoption of Christianity by a feudal chief, and took steps to give practical effect to his expulsion edict of 1587. The governor of Nagasaki received instructions to send away all the Jesuits, permitting only two or three to remain for the service of the Portuguese merchants. But the Jesuits were not the kind of men who, to escape personal peril, turn their back upon an unaccomplished work of grace. There were 125 of them in Japan at that time. In October 1597 a junk sailed out of Nagasaki harbour, her decks crowded with seeming Jesuits. In reality she carried 11 of the company, the apparent Jesuits being disguised sailors. It is not to be supposed that such a manœuvre could be hidden from the local authorities. They winked at it, until rumour became insistent that Hideyoshi was about to visit Kiūshiū in person, and all Japanese in administrative posts knew how Hideyoshi visited disobedience and how hopeless was any attempt to deceive him. Therefore, early in 1598, really drastic steps were taken. Churches to the number of 137 were demolished in Kiūshiū, seminaries and residences fell, and the governor of Nagasaki assembled there all the fathers of the company for deportation to Macao by the great ship in the following year. But while they waited, Hideyoshi died. It is not on record that the Jesuits openly declared his removal from the earth to have been a special dispensation in their favour. But they pronounced him an execrable tyrant and consigned his “soul to hell for all eternity.” Yet no impartial reader of history can pretend to think that a 16th-century Jesuit general in Hideyoshi’s place would have shown towards an alien creed and its propagandists even a small measure of the tolerance exercised by the Japanese statesman towards Christianity and the Jesuits.
Hideyoshi’s death occurred in 1598. Two years later, his authority as administrative ruler of all Japan had passed into the hands of Iyeyasu, the Tokugawa chief, and thirty-nine years later the Tokugawa potentates had not Foreign Policy of the Tokugawa Rulers. only exterminated Christianity in Japan but had also condemned their country to a period of international isolation which continued unbroken until 1853, an interval of 214 years. It has been shown that even when they were most incensed against Christianity, Japanese administrators sought to foster and preserve foreign trade. Why then did they close the country’s doors to the outside world and suspend a commerce once so much esteemed? To answer that question some retrospect is needed. Certain historians allege that from the outset Iyeyasu shared Hideyoshi’s misgivings about the real designs of Christian potentates and Christian propagandists. But that verdict is not supported by facts. The first occasion of the Tokugawa chief’s recorded contact with a Christian propagandist was less than three months after Hideyoshi’s death. There was then led into his presence a Franciscan, by name Jerome de Jesus, originally a member of the fictitious embassy from Manila. This man’s conduct constitutes an example of the invincible zeal and courage inspiring a Christian priest in those days. Barely escaping the doom of crucifixion which overtook his companions, he had been deported from Japan to Manila at a time when death seemed to be the certain penalty of remaining. But no sooner had he been landed at Manila than he took passage in a Chinese junk, and, returning to Nagasaki, made his way secretly from the far south of Japan to the province of Kii. There arrested, he was brought into the presence of Iyeyasu, and his own record of what ensued is given in a letter subsequently sent to Manila:—
the previous persecution. I answered him that at that date God had delivered me in order that I might go to Manila and bring back new colleagues from there—preachers of the divine law—and that I had returned from Manila to encourage the Christians, cherishing the desire to die on the cross in order to go to enjoy eternal glory like my former colleagues. On hearing these words the Emperor began to smile, whether in his quality of a pagan of the sect of Shaka, which teaches that there is no future life, or whether from the thought that I was frightened at having to be put to death. Then, looking at me kindly, he said, ‘Be no longer afraid and no longer conceal yourself, and no longer change your habit, for I wish you well; and as for the Christians who every year pass within sight of the Kwantō where my domains are, when they go to Mexico with their ships, I have a keen desire for them to visit the harbours of this island, to refresh themselves there, and to take what they wish, to trade with my vassals and to teach them how to develop silver mines; and that my intentions may be accomplished before my death, I wish you to indicate to me the means to take to realize them.’ I answered that it was necessary that Spanish pilots should take the soundings of his harbours, so that ships might not be lost in future as the ‘San Felipe’ had been, and that he should solicit this service from the governor of the Philippines. The Prince approved of my advice, and accordingly he has sent a Japanese gentleman, a native of Sakai, the bearer of this message.... It is essential to oppose no obstacle to the complete liberty offered by the Emperor to the Spaniards and to our holy order, for the preaching of the holy gospel.... The same Prince (who is about to visit the Kwantō) invites me to accompany him to make choice of a house, and to visit the harbour which he promises to open to us; his desires in this respect are keener thanI can express.”
The above version of the Tokugawa chief’s mood is confirmed by events, for not only did he allow the contumelious Franciscan to build a church—the first—in Yedo and to celebrate Mass there, but also he sent three embassies to the Philippines, proposing reciprocal freedom of commerce, offering to open ports in the Kwantō and asking for competent naval architects. He never obtained the architects, and though the trade came, its volume was small in comparison with the abundance of friars that accompanied it. There is just a possibility that Iyeyasu saw in these Spanish monks an instrument of counteracting the influence of the Jesuits, for he must have known that the Franciscans opened their mission in Yedo by “declaiming with violence against the fathers of the company of Jesus.” In short, the Spanish monks assumed towards the Jesuits in Japan the same intolerant and abusive tone that the Jesuits themselves had previously assumed towards Buddhism.
At that time there appeared upon the scene another factor destined greatly to complicate events. It was a Dutch merchant ship, the “Liefde.” Until the Netherlands revolted from Spain, the Dutch had been the principal distributors of all goods arriving at Lisbon from the Far East; but in 1594 Philip II. closed the port of Lisbon to these rebels, and the Dutch met the situation by turning their prows to the Orient to invade the sources of Portuguese commerce. One of the first expeditions despatched for that purpose set out in 1598, and of the five vessels composing it one only was ever heard of again. This was the “Liefde.” She reached Japan during the spring of 1600, with only four-and-twenty alive out of her original crew of 110. Towed into the harbour at Funai, the “Liefde” was visited by Jesuits, who, on discovering her nationality, denounced her to the local authorities as a pirate and endeavoured to incense the Japanese against them. The “Liefde” had on board in the capacity of “pilot major” an Englishman, Will Adams of Gillingham in Kent, whom Iyeyasu summoned to Osaka, where there commenced between the rough British sailor and the Tokugawa chief a curiously friendly intercourse which was not interrupted until the death of Adams twenty years later. The Englishman became master ship-builder to the Yedo government; was employed as diplomatic agent when other traders from his own country and from Holland arrived in Japan, received in perpetual gift a substantial estate, and from first to last possessed the implicit confidence of the shōgun. Iyeyasu quickly discerned the man’s honesty, perceived that whatever benefits foreign commerce might confer would be increased by encouraging competition among the foreigners, and realized that English and Dutch trade presented the wholesome feature of complete dissociation from religious propagandism. On the other hand, he showed no intolerance to either Spaniards or Portuguese. He issued (1601) two official patents sanctioning the residence of the fathers in Kiōto, Osaka and Nagasaki; he employed Father Rodriguez as interpreter to the court at Yedo; and in 1603 he gave munificent succour to the Jesuits who were reduced to dire straits owing to the capture of the great ship from Macao by the Dutch and the consequent loss of several years’ supplies for the mission in Japan.
It is thus seen that each of the great trio of Japan’s 16th-century statesmen—Nobunaga, Hideyoshi and Iyeyasu—adopted at the outset a most tolerant demeanour towards Christianity. The reasons of Hideyoshi’s change of mood have been set forth. We have now to examine the reasons that produced a similar metamorphosis in the case of Iyeyasu. Two causes present themselves immediately. The first is that, while tolerating Christianity, Iyeyasu did not approve of it as a creed; the second, that he himself, whether from state policy or genuine piety, strongly encouraged Buddhism. Proof of the former proposition is found in an order issued by him in 1602 to insure the safety of foreign merchantmen entering Japanese ports: it concluded with the reservation, “but we rigorously forbid them” (foreigners coming in such ships) “to promulgate their faith.” Proof of the latter is furnished by the facts that he invariably carried about with him a miniature Buddhist image which he regarded as his tutelary deity, and that he fostered the creed of Shaka as zealously as Oda Nobunaga had suppressed it. There is much difficulty in tracing the exact sequence of events which gradually educated a strong antipathy to the Christian faith in the mind of the Tokugawa chief. He must have been influenced in some degree by the views of his great predecessor, Hideyoshi. But he did not accept those views implicitly. At the end of the 16th century he sent a trusted emissary to Europe for the purpose of directly observing the conditions in the home of Christianity, and this man, the better to achieve his aim, embraced the foreign faith, and studied it from within as well as from without. The story that he had to tell on his return could not fail to shock the ruler of a country where freedom of conscience had existed from time immemorial. It was a story of the inquisition and of the stake; of unlimited aggression in the name of the cross; of the pope’s overlordship which entitled him to confiscate the realm of heretical sovereigns; of religious wars and of well-nigh incredible fanaticism. Iyeyasu must have received an evil impression while he listened to his emissary’s statements. Under his own eyes, too, were abundant evidences of the spirit of strife that Christian dogma engendered in those times. From the moment when the Franciscans and Dominicans arrived in Japan, a fierce quarrel began between them and the Jesuits; a quarrel which even community of suffering could not compose. Not less repellent was an attempt on the part of the Spaniards to dictate to Iyeyasu the expulsion of all Hollanders from Japan, and on the part of the Jesuits to dictate the expulsion of the Spaniards. The former proposal, couched almost in the form of a demand, was twice formulated, and accompanied on the second occasion by a scarcely less insulting offer, namely, that Spanish men-of-war would be sent to Japan to burn all Dutch ships found in the ports of the empire. If in the face of proposals so contumelious of his sovereign authority Iyeyasu preserved a calm and dignified mien, merely replying that his country was open to all comers, and that, if other nations had quarrels among themselves, they must not take Japan for battle-ground, it is nevertheless unimaginable that he did not strongly resent such interference with his own independent foreign policy, and that he did not interpret it as foreshadowing a disturbance of the realm’s peace by sectarian quarrels among Christians. These experiences, predisposing Iyeyasu to dislike Christianity as a creed and to distrust it as a political influence, were soon supplemented by incidents of an immediately determinative character. The first was an act of fraud and forgery committed in the interests of a Christian feudatory by a trusted official, himself a Christian. Thereupon Iyeyasu, conceiving it unsafe that Christians should fill offices at his court, dismissed all those so employed, banished them from Yedo and forbade any feudal chief to harbour them. The second incident was an attempted survey of the coast of Japan by a Spanish mariner and a Franciscan friar. Permission to take this step had been obtained by an envoy from New Spain, but no deep consideration of reasons seems to have preluded the permission on Japan’s side, and when the mariner (Sebastian) and the friar (Sotelo) hastened to carry out the project, Iyeyasu asked Will Adams to explain this display of industry. The Englishman replied that such a proceeding would be regarded in Europe as an act of hostility, especially on the part of the Spaniards or Portuguese, whose aggressions were notorious. He added, in reply to further questions, that “the Roman priesthood had been expelled from many parts of Germany, from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Holland and England, and that although his own country preserved the pure form of the Christian faith from which Spain and Portugal had deviated, yet neither English nor Dutch considered that that fact afforded them any reason to war with, or to annex, States which were not Christian solely for the reason that they were non-Christian.” Iyeyasu reposed entire confidence in Adams. Hearing the Englishman’s testimony, he is said to have exclaimed, “If the sovereigns of Europe do not tolerate these priests, I do them no wrong if I refuse to tolerate them.” Japanese historians add that Iyeyasu discovered a conspiracy on the part of some Japanese Christians to overthrow his government by the aid of foreign troops. It was not a widely ramified plot, but it lent additional importance to the fact that the sympathy of the fathers and their converts was plainly with the only magnate in the empire who continued to dispute the Tokugawa supremacy, Hideyori, the son of Hideyoshi. Nevertheless Iyeyasu shrank from proceeding to extremities in the case of any foreign priest, and this attitude he maintained until his death (1616). Possibly he might have been not less tolerant towards native Christians also had not the Tokugawa authority been openly defied by a Franciscan father—the Sotelo mentioned above—in Yedo itself. Then (1613) the first execution of Japanese converts took place, though the monk himself was released after a short incarceration. At that time, as is still the case even in these more enlightened days, insignificant differences of custom sometimes induced serious misconceptions. A Christian who had violated the secular law was crucified in Nagasaki. Many of his fellow-believers kneeled around his cross and prayed for the peace of his soul. A party of converts were afterwards burned to death in the same place for refusing to apostatize, and their Christian friends crowded to carry off portions of their bodies as holy relics. When these things were reported to Iyeyasu, he said, “Without doubt that must be a diabolic faith which persuades people not only to worship criminals condemned to death for their crimes, but also to honour those who have been burned or cut in pieces by the order of their lord” (feudal chief).
The fateful edict ordering that all foreign priests should be collected in Nagasaki preparatory to removal from Japan, that all churches should be demolished, and that the converts should be compelled to abjure Christianity, Suppression of Christianity. was issued on the 27th of January 1614. There were then in Japan 122 Jesuits, 14 Franciscans, 9 Dominicans, 4 Augustins and 7 secular priests. Had these men obeyed the orders of the Japanese authorities by leaving the country finally, not one foreigner would have suffered for his faith in Japan, except the 6 Franciscans executed at Nagasaki by order of Hideyoshi in 1597. But suffering and death counted for nothing with the missionaries as against the possibility of winning or keeping even one convert. Forty-seven of them evaded the edict, some by concealing themselves at the time of its issue, the rest by leaving their ships when the latter had passed out of sight of the shore of Japan, and returning by boats to the scene of their former labours. Moreover, in a few months, those that had actually crossed the sea re-crossed it in various disguises, and soon the Japanese government had to consider whether it would suffer its authority to be thus flouted or resort to extreme measures.
During two years immediately following the issue of the anti-Christian decree, the attention of the Tokugawa chief and indeed of all Japan was concentrated on the closing episode of the great struggle which assured to Iyeyasu final supremacy as administrative ruler of the empire. That episode was a terrible battle under the walls of Osaka castle between the adherents of the Tokugawa and the supporters of Hideyori. In this struggle fresh fuel was added to the fire of anti-Christian resentment, for many Christian converts threw in their lot with Hideyori, and in one part of the field the Tokugawa troops found themselves fighting against a foe whose banners were emblazoned with the cross and with images of the Saviour and St James, the patron saint of Spain. But the Christians had protectors. Many of the feudatories showed themselves strongly averse from inflicting the extreme penalty on men and women whose adoption of an alien religion had been partly forced by the feudatories themselves. As for the people at large, their liberal spirit is attested by the fact that five fathers who were in Osaka castle at the time of its capture made their way to distant refuges without encountering any risk of betrayal. During these events the death of Iyeyasu took place (June 1, 1616), and pending the dedication of his mausoleum the anti-Christian crusade was virtually suspended.
In September 1616 a new anti-Christian edict was promulgated by Hidetada, son and successor of Iyeyasu. It pronounced sentence of exile against all Christian priests, including even those whose presence had been sanctioned for ministering to the Portuguese merchants: it forbade the Japanese, under the penalty of being burned alive and of having all their property confiscated, to have any connexion with the ministers of religion or to give them hospitality. It was forbidden to any prince or lord to keep Christians in his service or even on his estates, and the edict was promulgated with more than usual solemnity, though its enforcement was deferred until the next year on account of the obsequies of Iyeyasu. This edict of 1616 differed from that issued by Iyeyasu in 1614, since the latter did not prescribe the death penalty for converts refusing to apostatize. But both agreed in indicating expulsion as the sole manner of dealing with the foreign priests. As for the shōgun and his advisers, it is reasonable to assume that they did not anticipate much necessity for recourse to violence. They must have known that a great majority of the converts had joined the Christian church at the instance or by the command of their local rulers, and nothing can have seemed less likely than that a creed thus lightly embraced would be adhered to in defiance of torture and death. It is moreover morally certain that had the foreign propagandists obeyed the Government’s edict and left the country, not one would have been put to death. They suffered because they defied the laws of the land. Some fifty missionaries happened to be in Nagasaki when Hidetada’s edict was issued. A number of these were apprehended and deported, but several of them returned almost immediately. This happened under the jurisdiction of Omura, who had been specially charged with the duty of sending away the bateren (padres). He appears to have concluded that a striking example must be furnished, and he therefore ordered the seizure and decapitation of two fathers, De l’Assumpcion and Machado. The result completely falsified his calculations, and presaged the cruel struggle now destined to begin.
grave. Guards were placed over it, but the concourse was immense. The sick were carried to the sepulchre to be restored to health. The Christians found new strength in this martyrdom; the pagans themselves were full of admiration for it. Numerous conversions andnumerous returns of apostates took place everywhere.
In the midst of all this, Navarette, the vice-provincial of the Dominicans, and Ayala, the vice-provincial of the Augustins, came out of their retreat, and in full priestly garb started upon an open propaganda. The two fanatics—for so even Charlevoix considers them to have been—were secretly conveyed to the island Takashima and there decapitated, while their coffins were weighted with big stones and sunk in the sea. Even more directly defiant was the attitude of the next martyred priest, an old Franciscan monk, Juan de Santa Martha. He had for three years suffered all the horrors of a medieval Japanese prison, when it was proposed to release him and deport him to New Spain. His answer was that, if released, he would stay in Japan and preach there. He laid his head on the block in August 1618. But from that time until 1622 no other foreign missionary suffered capital punishment in Japan, though many of them arrived in the country and continued their propagandism there. During that interval, also, there occurred another incident eminently calculated to fix upon the Christians still deeper suspicion of political designs. In a Portuguese ship captured by the Dutch a letter was found instigating the Japanese converts to revolt, and promising that, when the number of these disaffected Christians was sufficient, men-of-war would be sent to aid them. Not the least potent of the influences operating against the Christians was that pamphlets were written by apostates attributing the zeal of the foreign propagandists solely to political motives. Yet another indictment of Spanish and Portuguese propagandists was contained in a despatch addressed to Hidetada in 1620 by the admiral in command of the British and Dutch fleet then cruising in Far-Eastern waters. In that document the friars were flatly accused of treacherous practices, and the Japanese ruler was warned against the aggressive designs of Philip of Spain. In the face of all this evidence the Japanese ceased to hesitate, and a time of terror ensued for the fathers and their converts. The measures adopted towards the missionaries gradually increased in severity. In 1617 the first two fathers put to death (De l’Assumpcion and Machado) were beheaded, “not by the common executioner, but by one of the first officers of the prince.” Subsequently Navarette and Ayala were decapitated by the executioner. Then, in 1618, Juan de Santa Martha was executed like a common criminal, his body being dismembered and his head exposed. Finally, in 1622, Zuñiga and Flores were burnt alive. The same year was marked by the “great martyrdom” at Nagasaki when 9 foreign priests went to the stake with 19 Japanese converts. The shōgun seems to have been now labouring under vivid fear of a foreign invasion. An emissary sent by him to Europe had returned on the eve of the “great martyrdom” after seven years abroad, and had made a report more than ever unfavourable to Christianity. Therefore Hidetada deemed it necessary to refuse audience to a Philippine embassy in 1624 and to deport all Spaniards from Japan. Further, it was decreed that no Japanese Christian should thenceforth be suffered to go abroad for commerce, and that though non-Christians or men who had apostatized might travel freely, they must not visit the Philippines. Thus ended all intercourse between Japan and Spain. It had continued for 32 years and had engendered a widespread conviction that Christianity was an instrument of Spanish aggression.
Iyemitsu, son of Hidetada, now ruled in Yedo, though Hidetada himself remained the power behind the throne. The year (1623) of the former’s accession to power had been marked by the re-issue of anti-Christian decrees, and by the martyrdom of some 500 Christians within the Tokugawa domains, whither the tide of persecution now flowed for the first time. Thenceforth the campaign was continuous. The men most active and most relentless in carrying on the persecution were Mizuno and Takenaka, governors of Nagasaki, and Matsukura, feudatory of Shimabara. By the latter were invented the punishment of throwing converts into the solfataras at Unzen and the torture of the fosse, which consisted in suspension by the feet, head downwards, in a pit until blood oozed from the mouth, nose and ears. Many endured this latter torture for days, until death came to their relief, but a few—notably the Jesuit provincial Ferreyra—apostatized. Matsukura and Takenaka were so strongly obsessed by the Spanish menace that they contemplated the conquest of the Philippines in order to deprive the Spaniards of a Far-Eastern base. But timid counsels then prevailed in Yedo, where the spirit of a Nobunaga, a Hideyoshi or an Iyeyasu no longer presided. Of course the measures of repression grew in severity as the fortitude of the Christians became more obdurate. It is not possible to state the exact number of victims. Some historians say that, down to 1635, no fewer than 280,000 were punished, but that figure is probably exaggerated, for the most trustworthy records indicate that the converts never aggregated more than 300,000, and many of these, if not a great majority, having accepted the foreign faith very lightly, doubtless discarded it readily under menace of destruction. Every opportunity was given for apostatizing and for escaping death. Immunity could be secured by pointing out a fellow-convert, and when it is observed that among the seven or eight feudatories who embraced Christianity only two or three died in that faith, we must conclude that not a few cases of recanting occurred among the commoners. Remarkable fortitude, however, is said to have been displayed. If the converts were intrepid their teachers showed no less courage. Again and again the latter defied the Japanese authorities by coming to the country or returning thither after having been deported. Ignoring the orders of the governors of Macao and Manila and even of the king of Spain himself, they arrived, year after year, to be certainly apprehended and sent to the stake after brief periods of propagandism. In 1626 they actually baptized over 3000 converts. Large rewards were paid to anyone denouncing a propagandist, and as for the people, they had to trample upon a picture of Christ in order to prove that they were not Christians.
Meanwhile the feuds between the Dutch, the Spaniards and the Portuguese never ceased. In 1636, the Dutch found on a captured Portuguese vessel a report of the governor of Macao describing a two days’ festival which had been held there in honour of Vieyra, the vice-provincial whose martyrdom had just taken place in Japan. This report the Dutch handed to the Japanese authorities “in order that his majesty may see more clearly what great honour the Portuguese pay to those he has forbidden his realm as traitors to the state and to his crown.” Probably the accusation added little to the resentment and distrust already harboured by the Japanese against the Portuguese. At all events the Yedo government took no step distinctly hostile to Portuguese laymen until 1637, when an edict was issued forbidding any foreigners to travel in the empire, lest Portuguese with passports bearing Dutch names might enter it. This was the beginning of the end. In the last month of 1637 a rebellion broke out, commonly called the “Christian revolt of Shimabara,” which sealed the fate of Japan’s foreign intercourse for over 200 years.
The promontory of Shimabara and the island of Amakusa enclose the gulf of Nagasaki on the west. Among all the fiefs in Japan, Shimabara and Amakusa had been the two most thoroughly christianized in the early years of The Shimabara Revolt. Jesuit propagandism. Hence in later days they were naturally the scene of the severest persecutions. Still the people would probably have suffered in silence had they not been taxed beyond all endurance to supply funds for an extravagant chief who employed savage methods of extortion. Japanese annals, however, relegate the taxation grievance to an altogether secondary place, and attribute the revolt solely to the instigation of five samurai who led a roving life to avoid persecution for their adherence to Christianity. Whichever version be correct, it is certain that the outbreak ultimately attracted all the Christians from the surrounding regions, and was regarded by the authorities as in effect a Christian rising. The Amakusa insurgents passed over to Shimabara, and on the 27th of January 1638 the whole body—numbering, according to some authorities, 20,000 fighting men with 17,000 women and children; according to others, little more than one-half of these figures—took possession of the dilapidated castle of Hara, which stood on a plateau with three sides descending perpendicularly to the sea, a hundred feet beneath, and with a swamp on its fourth front. There the insurgents, who fought under flags with red crosses and whose battle cries were “Jesus,” “Maria” and “St Iago,” successfully maintained themselves against the repeated assaults of strong forces until the 12th of April, when, their ammunition and their provisions alike exhausted, they were overwhelmed and put to the sword, with the exception of 105 prisoners. During the siege the Dutch were enabled to furnish a vivid proof of enmity to the Christianity of the Spaniards and the Portuguese. For the guns in possession of the besiegers being too light to accomplish anything, Koeckebacker, the factor at Hirado, was invited to send ships carrying heavier metal. He replied with the “de Ryp” of 20 guns, which threw 426 shot into the castle in 15 days. Probably the great bulk of the remaining Japanese Christians perished at the massacre of Hara. Thenceforth there were few martyrs.
It has been clearly shown that Nobunaga, Hideyoshi and Iyeyasu were all in favour of foreign intercourse and trade, and that the Tokugawa chief, even more than his predecessor Hideyoshi, made strenuous efforts to differentiate Foreign Trade in the 17th Century. between Christianity and commerce, so that the latter might not be involved in the former’s fate. In fact the three objects which Iyeyasu desired most earnestly to compass were the development of foreign commerce, the acquisition of a mercantile marine and the exploitation of Japan’s mines. He offered the Spaniards, Portuguese, English and Dutch a site for a settlement in Yedo, and had they accepted the offer the country might never have been closed. In his time Japan was virtually a free-trade country. Importers had not to pay any duties. It was expected, however, that they should make presents to the feudatory into whose port they carried their goods, and these presents were often very valuable. Naturally the Tokugawa chief desired to attract such a source of wealth to his own domains. He sent more than one envoy to Manila to urge the opening of commerce direct with the regions about Yedo, and to ask the Spaniards for competent naval architects. Perhaps the truest exposition of his attitude is given in a law enacted in 1602:—
any principality or to put into any harbour of Japan, we order that, whoever these foreigners may be, absolutely nothing whatever that belongs to them or that they may have brought in their ship, shall be taken from them. Likewise we rigorously prohibit the use of any violence in the purchase or the sale of any of the commodities brought by their ship, and if it is not convenient for the merchants of the ship to remain in the port they have entered, they may pass to any other port that may suit them, and therein buy and sell in full freedom. Likewise we order in a general manner that foreigners may freely reside in any part of Japan they choose, but we rigorouslyforbid them to promulgate their faith.”
It was in that mood that he granted (1605) a licence to the Dutch to trade in Japan, his expectation doubtless being that the ships which they promised to send every year would make their dépôt at Uraga or in some other place near Yedo. But things were ordered differently. The first Hollanders that set foot in Japan were the survivors of the wrecked “Liefde.” Thrown into prison for a time, they were approached by emissaries from the feudatory of Hirado, who engaged some of them to teach the art of casting guns and the science of gunnery to his vassals, and when two of them were allowed to leave Japan, he furnished them with the means of doing so, at the same time making promises which invested Hirado with attractions as a port of trade, though it was then and always remained an insignificant fishing village. The Dutch possessed precisely the qualifications suited to the situation then existing in Japan: they had commercial potentialities without any religious associations. Fully appreciating that fact, the shrewd feudatory of Hirado laid himself out to entice the Dutchmen to his fief, and he succeeded. Shortly afterwards, an incident occurred which clearly betrayed the strength of the Tokugawa chief’s desire to exploit Japan’s mines. The governor-general of the Philippines (Don Rodrigo Vivero y Velasco), his ship being cast away on the Japanese coast on a voyage to Acapulco, was received by Iyeyasu, and in response to the latter’s request for fifty miners, the Spaniard formulated terms to which Iyeyasu actually agreed: that half the produce of the mines should go to the miners; that the other half should be divided between Iyeyasu and the king of Spain; that the latter might send commissioners to Japan to look after his mining interests, and that these commissioners might be accompanied by priests who would be entitled to have public churches for holding services. This was in 1609, when the Tokugawa chief had again and again imposed the strictest veto on Christian propagandism. There can be little doubt that he understood the concession made to Don Rodrigo in the sense of Hideyoshi’s mandate to the Jesuits in Nagasaki, namely, that a sufficient number might remain to minister to the Portuguese traders frequenting the port. Iyeyasu had confidence in himself and in his countrymen. He knew that emergencies could be dealt with when they arose and he sacrificed nothing to timidity. But his courageous policy died with him and the miners did not come. Neither did the Spaniards ever devote any successful efforts to establishing trade with Japan. Their vessels paid fitful visits to Uraga, but the Portuguese continued to monopolize the commerce.
In 1611 a Dutch merchantman (the “Brach”) reached Hirado with a cargo of pepper, cloth, ivory, silk and lead. She carried two envoys, Spex and Segerszoon, and in the very face of a Spanish embassy which had just arrived Opening of Dutch and English Trade. from Manila expressly for the purpose of “settling the matter regarding the Hollanders,” the Dutchmen obtained a liberal patent from Iyeyasu. Twelve years previously, the merchants of London, stimulated generally by the success of the Dutch in trade with the East, and specially by the fact that “these Hollanders had raised the price of pepper against us from 3 shillings per pound to 6 shillings and 8 shillings,” organized the East India Company which immediately began to send ships eastward. Of course the news that the Dutch were about to establish a trading station in Japan reached London speedily, and the East India Company lost no time in ordering one of their vessels, the “Clove,” under Captain Saris, to proceed to the Far-Eastern islands. She carried a quantity of pepper, and on the voyage she endeavoured to procure some spices at the Moluccas. But the Dutch would not suffer any poaching on their valuable monopoly. The “Clove” entered Hirado on the 11th of June 1613. Saris seems to have been a man self-opinionated, of shallow judgment and suspicious. Though strongly urged by Will Adams to make Uraga the seat of the new trade, though convinced of the excellence of the harbour there, and though instructed as to the great advantage of proximity to the shōgun’s capital, he appears to have conceived some distrust of Adams, for he chose Hirado. From Iyeyasu Captain Saris received a most liberal charter, which plainly displayed the mood of the Tokugawa shōgun towards foreign trade:—
over the sea to Japan may carry on trade of all kinds without hindrance. With regard to future visits (of English ships) permission will be given in regard to all matters.
2. With regard to the cargoes of ships, requisition will be made by list according to the requirements of the shōgunate.
3. English ships are free to visit any port in Japan. If disabled by storms they may put into any harbour.
4. Ground in Yedo in the place which they may desire shall be given to the English, and they may erect houses and reside and trade there. They shall be at liberty to return to their country whenever they wish to do so, and to dispose as they like of the houses they have erected.
5. If an Englishman dies in Japan of disease, or any other cause, his effects shall be handed over without fail.
6. Forced sales of cargo, and violence, shall not take place.
7. If one of the English should commit an offence, he should be sentenced by the English General according to the gravity of his offence.
(Translated by Professor Riess.)
The terms of the 4th article show that the shōgun expected the English to make Yedo their headquarters. Had Saris done so, he would have been free from all competition, would have had an immense market at his very doors, would have economized the expense of numerous overland journeys to the Tokugawa court, and would have saved the payment of many “considerations.” The result of his mistaken choice and subsequent bad management was that, ten years later (1623), the English factory at Hirado had to be closed, having incurred a total loss of about £2000. In condonation of this failure it must be noted that a few months after the death of Iyeyasu, the charter he had granted to Saris underwent serious modification. The original document threw open to the English every port in Japan; the revised document limited them to Hirado. But this restriction may be indirectly traced to the blunder of not accepting a settlement in Yedo and a port at Uraga. For the Tokugawa’s foreign policy was largely swayed by an apprehension lest the Kiūshiū feudatories, over whom the authority of Yedo had never been fully established, might, by the presence of foreign traders, come into possession of such a fleet and such an armament as would ultimately enable them to wrest the administration of the empire from Tokugawa hands. Hence the precaution of confining the English and the Dutch to Hirado, the fief of a daimyō too petty to become formidable, and to Nagasaki which was an imperial city. But evidently an English factory in Yedo and English ships at Uraga would have strengthened the Tokugawa ruler’s hand instead of supplying engines of war to his political foes. It must also be noted that the question of locality had another injurious outcome. It exposed the English—and the Dutch also—to crippling competition at the hands of a company of rich Osaka monopolists, who, as representing an Imperial city and therefore being pledged to the Tokugawa interests, enjoyed Yedo’s favour and took full advantage of it. These shrewd traders not only drew a ring round Hirado, but also sent vessels on their own account to Cochin China, Siam, Tonkin, Cambodia and other places, where they obtained many of the staples in which the English and the Dutch dealt. Still the closure of the English factory at Hirado was purely voluntary. From first to last there had been no serious friction between the English and the Japanese. The company’s houses and godowns were not sold. These as well as the charter were left in the hands of the daimyō of Hirado, who promised to restore them should the English re-open business in Japan. The company did think of doing so on more than one occasion, but no practical step was taken until the year 1673, when a merchantman, aptly named the “Return,” was sent to seek permission. The Japanese, after mature reflection, made answer that as the king of England was married to a Portuguese princess, British subjects could not be permitted to visit Japan. That this reply was suggested by the Dutch is very probable; that it truly reflected the feeling of the Japanese government towards Roman Catholics is certain.
The Spaniards were expelled from Japan in 1624, the Portuguese in 1638. Two years before the latter event, the Yedo government took a signally retrogressive step. They ordained that no Japanese vessel should go abroad; The Last Days of the Portuguese in Japan. that no Japanese subject should leave the country, and that, if detected attempting to do so, he should be put to death, the vessel that carried him and her crew being seized “to await our pleasure”; that any Japanese resident abroad should be executed if he returned; that the children and descendants of Spaniards together with those who had adopted such children should not be allowed to remain on pain of death; and that no ship of ocean-going dimensions should be built in Japan. Thus not only were the very children of the Christian propagandists driven completely from the land, but the Japanese people also were sentenced to imprisonment within the limits of their islands, and the country was deprived of all hope of acquiring a mercantile marine. The descendants of the Spaniards, banished by the edict, were taken to Macao in two Portuguese galleons. They numbered 287 and the property they carried with them aggregated 6,697,500 florins. But if the Portuguese derived any gratification from this sweeping out of their much-abused rivals, the feeling was destined to be short-lived. Already they were subjected to humiliating restrictions.
and their crews executed if any foreign priest was found on board of them. An official of the Japanese government was stationed in Macao for the purpose of inspecting all intending passengers, and of preventing any one that looked at all suspicious from proceeding to Japan. A complete list and personal description of every one on board was drawn up by this officer, a copy of it was handed to the captain and by him it had to be delivered to the authorities who met him at Nagasaki before he was allowed to anchor. If in the subsequent inspection any discrepancy between the list and the persons actually carried by the vessel appeared, it would prove very awkward for the captain. Then in the inspection of the vessel letters were opened, trunks and boxes ransacked, and all crosses, rosaries or objects of religion of any kind had to be thrown overboard. In 1635 Portuguese were forbidden to employ Japanese to carry their umbrellas or their shoes, and only their chief men were allowed to bear arms, while they had to hire fresh servants every year. It was in the following year (1636) that the artificial islet of Deshima was constructed for their special reception, or rather imprisonment. It lay in front of the former Portuguese factory, with which it was connected by a bridge, and henceforth the Portuguese were to be allowed to cross this bridge only twice a year—at their arrival and at their departure. Furthermore, all their cargoes had to be sold at a fixed price during their fifty days’ stay to a ringof licensed merchants from the imperial towns.”
The imposition of such irksome conditions did not deter the Portuguese, who continued to send merchandise-laden galleons to Nagasaki. But in 1638 the bolt fell. The Shimabara rebellion was directly responsible. Probably the fact of a revolt of Christian converts, in such numbers and fighting with such resolution, would alone have sufficed to induce the weak government in Yedo to get rid of the Portuguese altogether. But the Portuguese were suspected of having instigated the Shimabara insurrection, and the Japanese authorities believed that they had proof of the fact. Hence, in 1638, an edict was issued proclaiming that as, in defiance of the government’s order, the Portuguese had continued to bring missionaries to Japan; as they had supplied these missionaries with provisions and other necessaries, and as they had fomented the Shimabara rebellion, thenceforth any Portuguese ship coming to Japan should be burned, together with her cargo, and every one on board of her should be executed. Ample time was allowed before enforcing this edict. Not only were the Portuguese ships then at Nagasaki permitted to close up their commercial transactions and leave the port, but also in the following year when two galleons arrived from Macao, they were merely sent away with a copy of the edict and a stern warning. But the Portuguese could not easily become reconciled to abandon a commerce from which they had derived splendid profits prior to the intrusion of the Spaniards, the Dutch and the English, and from which they might now hope further gains, since, although the Dutch continued to be formidable rivals, the Spaniards had been excluded, the English had withdrawn, and the Japanese, by the suicidal policy of their own rulers, were no longer able to send ships to China. Therefore they took a step which resulted in one of the saddest episodes of the whole story. Four aged men, the most respected citizens of Macao, were despatched (1640) to Nagasaki as ambassadors in a ship carrying no cargo but only rich presents. They bore a petition declaring that for a long time no missionaries had entered Japan from Macao, that the Portuguese had not been in any way connected with the Shimabara revolt, and that interruption of trade would injure Japan as much as Portugal. These envoys arrived at Nagasaki on the 1st of July 1640, and 24 days sufficed to bring from Yedo, whither their petition had been sent, peremptory orders for their execution as well as executioners to carry out the orders. There was no possibility of resistance. The Japanese had removed the ship’s rudder, sails, guns and ammunition, and had placed the envoys, their suite and the crews under guard in Deshima. On the 2nd of August they were all summoned to the governor’s hall of audience, where, after their protest had been heard that ambassadors should be under the protection of international law, the sentence written in Yedo 13 days previously was read to them. The following morning the Portuguese were offered their lives if they would apostatize. Every one rejected the offer, and being then led out to the martyrs’ mount, the heads of the envoys and of 57 of their companions fell. Thirteen were saved to carry the news to Macao. These thirteen, after witnessing the burning of the galleon, were conducted to the governor’s residence who gave them this message:—
wish to receive from them neither gold nor silver, nor any kind of presents or merchandise; in a word, absolutely nothing which comes from them. You are witnesses that I have caused even the clothes of those who were executed yesterday to be burned. Let them do the same with respect to us if they find occasion to do so; we consent to it without difficulty. Let them think no more of us, just as ifwe were no longer in the world.”
Finally the thirteen were taken to the martyrs’ mount where, set up above the heads of the victims, a tablet recounted the story of the embassy and the reasons for the execution, and concluded with the words:—
as to come to Japan, and let all know that if King Philip himself, or even the very God of the Christians, or the great Shaka contravenethis prohibition, they shall pay for it with their heads.”
Had the ministers of the shōgun in Yedo desired to make clear to future ages that to Christianity alone was due the expulsion of Spaniards and Portuguese from Japan and her adoption of the policy of seclusion they could not have placed on record more conclusive testimony. Macao received the news with rejoicing in that its “earthly ambassadors had been made ambassadors of heaven,” but it did not abandon all hope of overcoming Japan’s obduracy. When Portugal recovered her independence in 1640, the people of Macao requested Lisbon to send an ambassador to Japan, and on the 16th of July 1647 Don Gonzalo de Siqueira arrived in Nagasaki with two vessels. He carried a letter from King John IV., setting forth the severance of all connexion between Portugal and Spain, which countries were now actually at war, and urging that commercial relations should be re-established. The Portuguese, having refused to give up their rudders and arms, soon found themselves menaced by a force of fifty thousand samurai, and were glad to put out of port quietly on the 4th of September. This was the last episode in the medieval history of Portugal’s intercourse with Japan.
When (1609) the Dutch contemplated forming a settlement in Japan, Iyeyasu gave them a written promise that “no man should do them any wrong and that he would maintain and defend them as his own subjects.” The Dutch at Deshima. Moreover, the charter granted to them contained a clause providing that, into whatever ports their ships put, they were not to be molested or hindered in any way, but, “on the contrary, must be shown all manner of help, favour and assistance.” They might then have chosen any port in Japan for their headquarters, but they had the misfortune to choose Hirado. For many years they had no cause to regret the choice. Their exclusive possession of the Spice Islands and their own enterprise and command of capital gave them the leading place in Japan’s over-sea trade. Even when things had changed greatly for the worse and when the English closed their books with a large loss, it is on record that the Dutch were reaping a profit of 76% annually. Their doings at Hirado were not of a purely commercial character. The Anglo-Dutch “fleet of defence” made that port its basis of operations against the Spaniards and the Portuguese. It brought its prizes into Hirado, the profits to be equally divided between the fleet and the factories, Dutch and English, which arrangement involved a sum of a hundred thousand pounds in 1622. But after the death of Iyeyasu there grew up at the Tokugawa court a party which advocated the expulsion of all foreigners on the ground that, though some professed a different form of Christianity from that of the Castilians and Portuguese, it was nevertheless one and the same creed. This policy was not definitely adopted, but it made itself felt in a discourteous reception accorded to the commandant of Fort Zelandia when he visited Tōkyō in 1627. He attempted to retaliate upon the Japanese vessels which put into Zelandia in the following year, but the Japanese managed to seize his person, exact reparation for loss of time and obtain five hostages whom they carried to prison in Japan. The Japanese government of that time was wholly intolerant of any injury done to its subjects by foreigners. When news of the Zelandia affair reached Yedo, orders were immediately issued for the sequestration of certain Dutch vessels and for the suspension of the Hirado factory, which veto was not removed for four years. Commercial arrangements, also, became less favourable. The Dutch, instead of selling their silk—which generally formed the principal staple of import—in the open market, were required to send it to the Osaka gild of licensed merchants at Nagasaki, by which means, Nagasaki and Osaka being Imperial cities, the Yedo government derived advantage from the transaction. An attempt to evade this onerous system provoked a very stern rebuke from Yedo, and shortly afterwards all Japanese subjects were forbidden to act as servants to the Dutch outside the latter’s dwellings. The co-operation of the Hollanders in bombarding the castle of Hara during the Shimabara rebellion (1638) gave them some claim on the shōgun’s government, but in the same year the Dutch received an imperious warning that the severest penalties would be inflicted if their ships carried priests or any religious objects or books. So profound was the dislike of everything relating to Christianity that the Dutch nearly caused the ruin of their factory and probably their own destruction by inscribing on some newly erected warehouses the date according to the Christian era. The factory happened to be then presided over by Caron, a man of extraordinary penetration. Without a moment’s hesitation he set 400 men to pull down the warehouses, thus depriving the Japanese of all pretext for recourse to violence. He was compelled, however, to promise that there should be no observance of the Sabbath hereafter and that time should no longer be reckoned by the Christian era. In a few months, further evidence of Yedo’s ill will was furnished. An edict appeared ordering the Dutch to dispose of all their imports during the year of their arrival, without any option of carrying them away should prices be low. They were thus placed at the mercy of the Osaka gild. Further, they were forbidden to slaughter cattle or carry arms, and altogether it seemed as though the situation was to be rendered impossible for them. An envoy despatched from Batavia to remonstrate could not obtain audience of the shōgun, and though he presented, by way of remonstrance, the charter originally granted by Iyeyasu, the reply he received was:—
importance to the Empire of Japan whether foreigners come or do not come to trade. But in consideration of the charter granted to them by Iyeyasu, he is pleased to allow the Hollanders to continue their operations, and to leave them their commercial and other privileges, on the condition that they evacuate Hirado and establishthemselves with their vessels in the port of Nagasaki.”
The Dutch did not at first regard this as a calamity. During their residence of 31 years at Hirado they had enjoyed full freedom, had been on excellent terms with the feudatory and his samurai, and had prospered in their business. But the pettiness of the place and the inconvenience of the anchorage having always been recognized, transfer to Nagasaki promised a splendid harbour and much larger custom. Bitter, therefore, was their disappointment when they found that they were to be imprisoned in Deshima, a quadrangular island whose longest face did not measure 300 yds., and that, so far from living in the town of Nagasaki, they would not be allowed even to enter it. Siebold writes:—
of Nagasaki; no Dutchman without weighty reasons and without the permission of the governor might pass the gate; no Japanese (unless public women) might live in a Dutchman’s house. As if this were not enough, even within Deshima itself our state prisoners were keenly watched. No Japanese might speak with them in his own language unless in the presence of a witness (a government spy) or visit them in their houses. The creatures of the governor had the warehouses under key and the Dutch traders ceased to be mastersof their property.”
There were worse indignities to be endured. No Dutchman might be buried in Japanese soil: the dead had to be committed to the deep. Every Dutch ship, her rudder, guns and ammunition removed and her sails sealed, was subjected to the strictest search. No religious service could be held. No one was suffered to pass from one Dutch ship to another without the governor’s permit. Sometimes the officers and men were wantonly cudgelled by petty Japanese officials. They led, in short, a life of extreme abasement. Some relaxation of this extreme severity was afterwards obtained, but at no time of their sojourn in Deshima, a period of 217 years, were the Dutch relieved from irksome and humiliating restraints. Eleven years after their removal thither, the expediency of consulting the national honour by finally abandoning an enterprise so derogatory was gravely discussed, but hopes of improvement supplementing natural reluctance to surrender a monopoly which still brought large gains, induced them to persevere. At that time this Nagasaki over-sea trade was considerable. From 7 to 10 Dutch ships used to enter the port annually, carrying cargo valued at some 80,000 ℔ of silver, the chief staples of import being silk and piece-goods, and the government levying 5% by way of customs dues. But this did not represent the whole of the charges imposed. A rent of 459 ℔ of silver had to be paid each year for the little island of Deshima and the houses standing on it; and, further, every spring, the Hollanders were required to send to Yedo a mission bearing for the shōgun, the heir-apparent and the court officials presents representing an aggregate value of about 550 ℔ of silver. They found their account, nevertheless, in buying gold and copper—especially the latter—for exportation, until the Japanese authorities, becoming alarmed at the great quantity of copper thus carried away, adopted the policy of limiting the number of vessels, as well as their inward and outward cargoes, so that, in 1790, only one ship might enter annually, nor could she carry away more than 350 tons of copper. On the other hand, the formal visits of the captain of the factory to Yedo were reduced to one every fifth year, and the value of the presents carried by him was cut down to one half.
Well-informed historians have contended that, by thus segregating herself from contact with the West, Japan’s direct losses were small. Certainly it is true that she could not have learned much from European nations in Loss to Japan by adopting the Policy of Exclusion. the 17th century. They had little to teach her in the way of religious tolerance; in the way of international morality; in the way of social amenities and etiquette; in the way of artistic conception and execution; or in the way of that notable shibboleth of modern civilization, the open door and equal opportunities. Yet when all this is admitted, there remains the vital fact that Japan was thus shut off from the atmosphere of competition, and that for nearly two centuries and a half she never had an opportunity of warming her intelligence at the fire of international rivalry or deriving inspiration from an exchange of ideas. She stood comparatively still while the world went on, and the interval between her and the leading peoples of the Occident in matters of material civilization had become very wide before she awoke to a sense of its existence. The sequel of this page of her history has been faithfully summarized by a modern writer:—
scarcely be conceived. In 1541 we find the Japanese celebrated, or notorious, throughout the whole of the Far East for exploits abroad; we find them known as the ‘kings of the sea’; we find them welcoming foreigners with cordiality and opposing no obstacles to foreign commerce or even to the propagandism of foreign creeds; we find them so quick to recognize the benefits of foreign trade and so apt to pursue them that, in the space of a few years, they establish commercial relations with no less than twenty over-sea markets; we find them authorizing the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English to trade at every port in the empire; we find, in short, all the elements requisite for a career of commercial enterprise, ocean-going adventure and industrial liberality. In 1641 everything is reversed.Trade is interdicted to all Western peoples except the Dutch, and
the least symptom of predilection for any alien creed exposes a Japanese subject to be punished with awful rigour; any attempt to leave the limits of the realm involves decapitation; not a ship large enough to pass beyond the shadow of the coast may be built. However unwelcome the admission, it is apparent that for all these changes Christian propagandism was responsible. The policy of seclusion adopted by Japan in the early part of the 17th century and resolutely pursued until the middle of the 19th, was anti-Christian, not anti-foreign. The fact cannot be too clearly recognized. It is the chief lesson taught by the events outlined above. Throughout the whole of that period of isolation, Occidentals were not known to the Japanese by any of the terms now in common use, as gwaikoku-jin, seiyō-jin, or i-jin, which embody the simple meanings ‘foreigner,’ ‘Westerner’ or ‘alien’: they were popularly called bateren (padres). Thus completely had foreign intercourse and Christian propagandism become identified in the eyes of the people. And when it is remembered that foreign intercourse, associated with Christianity, had come to be synonymous in Japanese ears with foreign aggression, with the subversal of the mikado’s ancient dynasty, and with the loss of the independence of the ‘country of the gods,’ there is no difficulty in understandingthe attitude of the nation’s mind towards this question.”
Foreign Intercourse in Modern Times.—From the middle of the 17th century to the beginning of the 19th, Japan succeeded in rigorously enforcing her policy of seclusion. But in the concluding days of this epoch two influences Dutch and Russian Influence. began to disturb her self-sufficiency. One was the gradual infiltration of light from the outer world through the narrow window of the Dutch prison at Deshima; the other, frequent apparitions of Russian vessels on her northern coasts. The former was a slow process. It materialized first in the study of anatomy by a little group of youths who had acquired accidental knowledge of the radical difference between Dutch and Japanese conceptions as to the structure of the human body. The work of these students reads like a page of romance. Without any appreciable knowledge of the Dutch language, they set themselves to decipher a Dutch medical book, obtained at enormous cost, and from this small beginning they passed to a vague but firm conviction that their country had fallen far behind the material and intellectual progress of the Occident. They laboured in secret, for the study of foreign books was then a criminal offence; yet the patriotism of one of their number outweighed his prudence, and he boldly published a brochure advocating the construction of a navy and predicting a descent by the Russians on the northern borders of the empire. Before this prescient man had lain five months in prison, his foresight was verified by events. The Russians simulated at the outset a desire to establish commercial relations by peaceful means. Had the Japanese been better acquainted with the history of nations, they would have known how to interpret the idea of a Russian quest for commercial connexions in the Far East a hundred years ago. But they dealt with the question on its superficial merits, and, after imposing on the tsar’s envoys a wearisome delay of several months at Nagasaki, addressed to them a peremptory refusal together with an order to leave that port forthwith. Incensed by such treatment, and by the subsequent imprisonment of a number of their fellow countrymen who had landed on the island of Etorofu in the Kuriles, the Russians resorted to armed reprisals. The Japanese settlements in Sakhalin and Etorofu were raided and burned, other places were menaced and several Japanese vessels were destroyed. The lesson sank deep into the minds of the Yedo officials. They withdrew their veto against the study of foreign books, and they arrived in part at the reluctant conclusion that to offer armed opposition to the coming of foreign ships was a task somewhat beyond Japan’s capacity. Japan ceased, however, to attract European attention amid the absorbing interest of the Napoleonic era, and the shōgun’s government, misinterpreting this respite, reverted to their old policy of stalwart resistance to foreign intercourse.
Meanwhile another power was beginning to establish close contact with Japan. The whaling industry in Russian waters off the coast of Alaska and in the seas of China and Japan had attracted large investments of American capital American Enterprise. and was pursued yearly by thousands of American citizens. In one season 86 of these whaling vessels passed within easy sight of Japan’s northern island, Yezo, so that the aspect of foreign ships became quite familiar. From time to time American schooners were cast away on Japan’s shores. Generally the survivors were treated with tolerable consideration and ultimately sent to Deshima for shipment to Batavia. Japanese sailors, too, driven out of their route by hurricanes and caught in the stream of the “Black Current,” were occasionally carried to the Aleutian Islands, to Oregon or California, and in several instances these shipwrecked mariners were taken back to Japan with all kindness by American vessels. On such an errand of mercy the “Morrison” entered Yedo Bay in 1837, proceeding thence to Kagoshima, only to be driven away by cannon shot; and on such an errand the “Manhattan” in 1845 lay for four days at Uraga while her master (Mercater Cooper) collected books and charts. It would seem that his experience induced the Washington government to attempt the opening of Japan. A ninety-gun ship and a sloop were sent on the errand. They anchored off Uraga (July 1846) and Commodore Biddle made due application for trade. But he received a positive refusal, and having been instructed by his government to abstain from any act calculated to excite hostility or distrust, he quietly weighed anchor and sailed away.
In this same year (1846) a French ship touched at the Riukiu (Luchu) archipelago and sought to persuade the islanders that their only security against British aggression was to place themselves under the protection of France. In Great Britain reappears upon the scene. fact Great Britain was now beginning to interest herself in south China, and more than one warning reached Yedo from Deshima that English war-ships might at any moment visit Japanese waters. The Dutch have been much blamed for thus attempting to prejudice Japan against the Occident, but if the dictates of commercial rivalry, as it was then practised, do not constitute an ample explanation, it should be remembered that England and Holland had recently been enemies, and that the last British vessel, seen at Nagasaki had gone there hoping to capture the annual Dutch trading-ship from Batavia. Deshima’s warnings, however, remained unfulfilled, though they doubtless contributed to Japan’s feeling of uneasiness. Then, in 1847, the king of Holland himself intervened. He sent to Yedo various books, together with a map of the world and a despatch advising Japan to abandon her policy of isolation. Within a few months (1849) of the receipt of his Dutch majesty’s recommendation, an American brig, the “Preble,” under Commander J. Glynn, anchored in Nagasaki harbour and threatened to bombard the town unless immediate delivery were made of 18 seamen who, having been wrecked in northern waters, were held by the Japanese preparatory to shipment for Batavia. In 1849 another despatch reached Yedo from the king of Holland announcing that an American fleet might be expected in Japanese waters a year later, and that, unless Japan agreed to enter into friendly commercial relations, war must ensue. Appended to this despatch was an approximate draft of the treaty which would be presented for signature, together with a copy of a memorandum addressed by the Washington government to European nations, justifying the contemplated expedition on the ground that it would inure to the advantage of Japan as well as to that of the Occident.
In 1853, Commodore Perry, with a squadron of four ships-of-war and 560 men, entered Uraga Bay. So formidable a foreign force had not been seen in Japanese waters since the coming of the Mongol Armada. A panic ensued among Commodore Perry. the people—the same people who, in the days of Hideyoshi or Iyeyasu, would have gone out to encounter these ships with assured confidence of victory. The contrast did not stop there. The shōgun, whose ancestors had administered the country’s affairs with absolutely autocratic authority, now summoned a council of the feudatories to consider the situation; and the Imperial court in Kiōto, which never appealed for heaven’s aid except in a national emergency such as had never been witnessed since the creation of the shōgunate, now directed that at the seven principal shrines and at all the great temples special prayers should be offered for the safety of the land and for the destruction of the aliens. Thus the appearance of the American squadron awoke in the cause of the country as a whole a spirit of patriotism hitherto confined to feudal interests. The shōgun does not seem to have had any thought of invoking that spirit: his part in raising it was involuntary and his ministers behaved with perplexed vacillation. The infirmity of the Yedo Administration’s purpose presented such a strong contrast to the single-minded resolution of the Imperial court that the prestige of the one was largely impaired and that of the other correspondingly enhanced. Perry, however, was without authority to support his proposals by any recourse to violence. The United States government had relied solely on the moral effect of his display of force, and his countrymen had supplied him with a large collection of the products of peaceful progress, from sewing machines to miniature railways. He did not unduly press for a treaty, but after lying at anchor off Uraga during a period of ten days and after transmitting the president’s letter to the sovereign of Japan, he steamed away on the 17th of July, announcing his return in the ensuing spring. The conduct of the Japanese subsequently to his departure showed how fully and rapidly they had acquired the conviction that the appliances of their old civilization were powerless to resist the resources of the new. Orders were issued rescinding the long-enforced veto against the construction of sea-going ships; the feudal chiefs were invited to build and arm large vessels; the Dutch were commissioned to furnish a ship of war and to procure from Europe all the best works on modern military science; every one who had acquired any expert knowledge through the medium of Deshima was taken into official favour; forts were built; cannon were cast and troops were drilled. But from all this effort there resulted only fresh evidence of the country’s inability to defy foreign insistence, and on the 2nd of December 1853, instructions were issued that if the Americans returned, they were to be dealt with peacefully. The sight of Perry’s steam-propelled ships, their powerful guns and all the specimens they carried of western wonders, had practically broken down the barriers of Japan’s isolation without any need of treaties or conventions. Perry returned in the following February, and after an interchange of courtesies and formalities extending over six weeks, obtained a treaty pledging Japan to accord kind treatment to shipwrecked sailors; to permit foreign vessels to obtain stores and provisions within her territory, and to allow American ships to anchor in the ports at Shimoda and Hakodate. On this second occasion Perry had 10 ships with crews numbering two thousand, and when he landed to sign the treaty, he was escorted by a guard of honour mustering 500 strong in 27 boats. Much has been written about his judicious display of force and his sagacious tact in dealing with the Japanese, but it may be doubted whether the consequences of his exploit have not invested its methods with extravagant lustre. Standing on the threshold of modern Japan’s wonderful career, his figure shines by the reflected light of its surroundings.
Russia, Holland and England speedily secured for themselves treaties similar to that concluded by Commodore Perry in 1854. But Japan’s doors still remained closed to foreign commerce, and it was reserved for another citizen First Treaty of Commerce. of the great republic to open them. This was Townsend Harris (1803-1878), the first U.S. consul-general in Japan. Arriving in August 1856, he concluded, in June of the following year, a treaty securing to American citizens the privilege of permanent residence at Shimoda and Hakodate, the opening of Nagasaki, the right of consular jurisdiction and certain minor concessions. Still, however, permission for commercial intercourse was withheld, and Harris, convinced that this great goal could not be reached unless he made his way to Yedo and conferred direct with the shōgun’s ministers, pressed persistently for leave to do so. Ten months elapsed before he succeeded, and such a display of reluctance on the Japanese side was very unfavourably criticized in the years immediately subsequent. Ignorance of the country’s domestic politics inspired the critics. The Yedo administration, already weakened by the growth of a strong public sentiment in favour of abolishing the dual system of government—that of the mikado in Kiōto and that of the shōgun in Yedo—had been still further discredited by its own timid policy as compared with the stalwart mien of the throne towards the question of foreign intercourse. Openly to sanction commercial relations at such a time would have been little short of reckless. The Perry convention and the first Harris convention could be construed, and were purposely construed, as mere acts of benevolence towards strangers; but a commercial treaty would not have lent itself to any such construction, and naturally the shōgun’s ministers hesitated to agree to an apparently suicidal step. Harris carried his point, however. He was received by the shōgun in Yedo in November 1857, and on the 29th of July 1858 a treaty was signed in Yedo, engaging that Yokohama should be opened on the 4th of July 1859 and that commerce between the United States and Japan should thereafter be freely carried on there. This treaty was actually concluded by the shōgun’s Ministers in defiance of their failure to obtain the sanction of the sovereign in Kiōto. Foreign historians have found much to say about Japanese duplicity in concealing the subordinate position occupied by the Yedo administration towards the Kiōto court. Such condemnation is not consistent with fuller knowledge. The Yedo authorities had power to solve all problems of foreign intercourse without reference to Kiōto. Iyeyasu had not seen any occasion to seek imperial assent when he granted unrestricted liberty of trade to the representatives of the East India Company, nor had Iyemitsu asked for Kiōto’s sanction when he issued his decree for the expulsion of all foreigners. If, in the 19th century, Yedo shrank from a responsibility which it had unhesitatingly assumed in the 17th, the cause was to be found, not in the shōgun’s simulation of autonomy, but in his desire to associate the throne with a policy which, while recognizing it to be unavoidable, he distrusted his own ability to make the nation accept. But his ministers had promised Harris that the treaty should be signed, and they kept their word, at a risk of which the United States’ consul-general had no conception. Throughout these negotiations Harris spared no pains to create in the minds of the Japanese an intelligent conviction that the world could no longer be kept at arm’s length, and though it is extremely problematical whether he would have succeeded had not the Japanese themselves already arrived at that very conviction, his patient and lucid expositions coupled with a winning personality undoubtedly produced much impression. He was largely assisted, too, by recent events in China, where the Peihō forts had been captured and the Chinese forced to sign a treaty at Tientsin. Harris warned the Japanese that the British fleet might be expected at any moment in Yedo Bay, and that the best way to avert irksome demands at the hands of the English was to establish a comparatively moderate precedent by yielding to America’s proposals.
This treaty could not be represented, as previous conventions had been, in the light of a purely benevolent concession. It definitely provided for the trade and residence of foreign merchants, and thus finally terminated Effects of the Treaty. Japan’s traditional isolation. Moreover, it had been concluded in defiance of the Throne’s refusal to sanction anything of the kind. Much excitement resulted. The nation ranged itself into three parties. One comprised the advocates of free intercourse and progressive liberality; another, while insisting that only the most limited privileges should be accorded to aliens, was of two minds as to the advisability of offering armed resistance at once or temporizing so as to gain time for preparation; the third advocated uncompromising seclusion. Once again the shōgun convoked a meeting of the feudal barons, hoping to secure their co-operation. But with hardly an exception they pronounced against yielding. Thus the shōgunate saw itself compelled to adopt a resolutely liberal policy: it issued a decree in that sense, and thenceforth the administrative court at Yedo and the Imperial court in Kiōto stood in unequivocal opposition to each other, the Conservatives ranging themselves on the side of the latter, the Liberals on that of the former. It was a situation full of perplexity to outsiders, and the foreign representatives misinterpreted it. They imagined that the shōgun’s ministers sought only to evade their treaty obligations and to render the situation intolerable for foreign residents, whereas in truth the situation threatened to become intolerable for the shōgunate itself. Nevertheless the Yedo officials cannot be entirely acquitted of duplicity. Under pressure of the necessity of self-preservation they effected with Kiōto a compromise which assigned to foreign intercourse a temporary character. The threatened political crisis was thus averted, but the enemies of the dual system of government gained strength daily. One of their devices was to assassinate foreigners in the hope of embroiling the shōgunate with Western powers and thus either forcing its hand or precipitating its downfall. It is not wonderful, perhaps, that foreigners were deceived, especially as they approached the solution of Japanese problems with all the Occidental’s habitual suspicion of everything Oriental. Thus when the Yedo government, cognisant that serious dangers menaced the Yokohama settlement, took precautions to guard it, the foreign ministers convinced themselves that a deliberate piece of chicanery was being practised at their expense; that statecraft rather than truth had dictated the representations made to them by the Japanese authorities; and that the alarm of the latter was simulated for the purpose of finding a pretext to curtail the liberty enjoyed by foreigners. Therefore a suggestion that the inmates of the legations should show themselves as little as possible in the streets of the capital, where at any moment a desperado might cut them down, was treated almost as an insult. Then the Japanese authorities saw no recourse except to attach an armed escort to the person of every foreigner when he moved about the city. But even this precaution, which certainly was not adopted out of mere caprice or with any sinister design, excited fresh suspicions. The British representative, in reporting the event to his government, said that the Japanese had taken the opportunity to graft upon the establishment of spies, watchmen and police-officers at the several legations, a mounted escort to accompany the members whenever they moved about.
Just at this time (1861) the Yedo statesmen, in order to reconcile the divergent views of the two courts, negotiated a marriage between the emperor’s sister and the shōgun. But in order to bring the union about, they had to Attacks upon Foreigners and their Consequences. placate the Kiōto Conservatives by a promise to expel foreigners from the country within ten years. When this became known, it strengthened the hands of the reactionaries, and furnished a new weapon to Yedo’s enemies, who interpreted the marriage as the beginning of a plot to dethrone the mikado. Murderous attacks upon foreigners became more frequent. Two of these assaults had momentous consequences. Three British subjects attempted to force their way through the cortège of the Satsuma feudal chief on the highway between Yokohama and Yedo. One of them was killed and the other two wounded. This outrage was not inspired by the “barbarian-expelling” sentiment: to any Japanese subject violating the rules of etiquette as these Englishmen had violated them, the same fate would have been meted out. Nevertheless, as the Satsuma daimyō refused to surrender his implicated vassals, and as the shōgun’s arm was not long enough to reach the most powerful feudatory in Japan, the British government sent a squadron to bombard his capital, Kagoshima. It was not a brilliant exploit in any sense, but its results were invaluable; for the operations of the British ships finally convinced the Satsuma men of their impotence in the face of Western armaments, and converted them into advocates of liberal progress. Three months previously to this bombardment of Kagoshima another puissant feudatory had thrown down the gauntlet. The Chōshū chief, whose batteries commanded the entrance to the inland sea at Shimonoseki, opened fire upon ships flying the flags of the United States, of France and of Holland. In thus acting he obeyed an edict obtained by the extremists from the mikado without the knowledge of the shōgun, which edict fixed the 11th of May 1863 as the date for practically inaugurating the foreigners-expulsion policy. Again the shōgun’s administrative competence proved inadequate to exact reparation, and a squadron, composed chiefly of British men-of-war, proceeding to Shimonoseki, demolished Chōshū’s forts, destroyed his ships and scattered his samurai. In the face of the Kagoshima bombardment and the Shimonoseki expedition, no Japanese subject could retain any faith in his country’s ability to oppose Occidentals by force. Thus the year 1863 was memorable in Japan’s history. It saw the “barbarian-expelling” agitation deprived of the emperor’s sanction; it saw the two principal clans, Satsuma and Chōshū, convinced of their country’s impotence to defy the Occident; it saw the nation almost fully roused to the disintegrating and weakening effects of the feudal system; and it saw the traditional antipathy to foreigners beginning to be exchanged for a desire to study their civilization and to adopt its best features.
The treaty concluded between the shōgun’s government and the United States in 1858 was of course followed by similar compacts with the principal European powers. From the outset these states agreed to co-operate Ratification of the Treaties. for the assertion of their conventional privileges, and they naturally took Great Britain for leader, though such a relation was never openly announced. The treaties, however, continued during several years to lack imperial ratification, and, as time went by, that defect obtruded itself more and more upon the attention of their foreign signatories. The year 1865 saw British interests entrusted to the charge of Sir Harry Parkes, a man of keen insight, indomitable courage and somewhat peremptory methods, learned during a long period of service in China. It happened that the post of Japanese secretary at the British legation in Yedo was then held by a remarkably gifted young Englishman, who, in a comparatively brief interval, had acquired a good working knowledge of the Japanese language, and it happened also that the British legation in Yedo was already—as it has always been ever since—the best equipped institution of its class in Japan. Aided by these facilities and by the researches of Mr Satow (afterwards Sir Ernest Satow) Parkes arrived at the conclusions that the Yedo government was tottering to its fall; that the resumption of administrative authority by the Kiōto court would make for the interests not only of the West but also of Japan; and that the ratification of the treaties by the mikado would elucidate the situation for foreigners while being, at the same time, essential to the validity of the documents. Two other objects also presented themselves, namely, that the import duties fixed by the conventions should be reduced from 15 to 5% ad valorem, and that the ports of Hiōgō and Osaka should be opened at once, instead of at the expiration of two years as originally fixed. It was not proposed that these concessions should be entirely gratuitous. When the four-power flotilla destroyed the Shimonoseki batteries and sank the vessels lying there, a fine of three million dollars (some £750,000) had been imposed upon the daimyō of Chōshū by way of ransom for his capital, which lay at the mercy of the invaders. The daimyō of Chōshū, however, was in open rebellion against the shōgun, and as the latter could not collect the debt from the recalcitrant clansmen, while the four powers insisted on being paid by some one, the Yedo treasury was finally compelled to shoulder the obligation. Two out of the three millions were still due, and Parkes conceived the idea of remitting this debt in exchange for the ratification of the treaties, the reduction of the customs tariff from 15 to 5% ad valorem and the immediate opening of Hiōgō and Osaka. He took with him to the place of negotiation (Hiōgō) a fleet of British, French and Dutch war-ships, for, while announcing peaceful intentions, he had accustomed himself to think that a display of force should occupy the foreground in all negotiations with Oriental states. This coup may be said to have sealed the fate of the shōgunate. For here again was produced in a highly aggravated form the drama which had so greatly startled the nation eight years previously. Perry had come with his war-ships to the portals of Yedo, and now a foreign fleet, twice as strong as Perry’s, had anchored at the vestibule of the Imperial city itself. No rational Japanese could suppose that this parade of force was for purely peaceful purposes, or that rejection of the amicable bargain proposed by Great Britain’s representative would be followed by the quiet withdrawal of the menacing fleet, whose terrible potentialities had been demonstrated at Kagoshima and Shimonoseki. The seclusionists, whose voices had been nearly silenced, raised them in renewed denunciation of the shōgun’s incompetence to guarantee the sacred city of Kiōto against such trespasses, and the emperor, brought once more under the influence of the anti-foreign party, inflicted a heavy disgrace on the shōgun by dismissing and punishing the officials to whom the latter had entrusted the conduct of negotiations at Hiōgō. Such procedure on the part of the throne amounted to withdrawing the administrative commission held by the Tokugawa family since the days of Iyeyasu. The shōgun resigned. But his adversaries not being yet ready to replace him, he was induced to resume office, with, however, fatally damaged prestige. As for the three-power squadron, it steamed away successful. Parkes had come prepared to write off the indemnity in exchange for three concessions. He obtained two of the concessions without remitting a dollar of the debt.
The shōgun did not long survive the humiliation thus inflicted on him. He died in the following year (1866), and was succeeded by Keiki, destined to be the last of the Tokugawa rulers. Nine years previously this Final Adoption of Western Civilization. same Keiki had been put forward by the seclusionists as candidate for the shōgunate. Yet no sooner did he attain that distinction in 1866 than he remodelled the army on French lines, engaged English officers to organize a navy, sent his brother to the Paris Exhibition, and altered many of the forms and ceremonies of his court so as to bring them into accord with Occidental fashions. The contrast between the politics he represented when a candidate for office in 1857 and the practice he adopted on succeeding to power in 1866 furnished an apt illustration of the change that had come over the spirit of the time. The most bigoted of the exclusionists were now beginning to abandon all idea of expelling foreigners and to think mainly of acquiring the best elements of their civilization. The Japanese are slow to reach a decision but very quick to act upon it when reached. From 1866 onwards the new spirit rapidly permeated the whole nation; progress became the aim of all classes, and the country entered upon a career of intelligent assimilation which, in forty years, won for Japan a universally accorded place in the ranks of the great Occidental powers.
After the abolition of the shōgunate and the resumption of administrative functions by the Throne, one of the first acts of the newly organized government was to invite the foreign representatives to Kiōto, where they Japan’s Claim for Judicial Autonomy. had audience of the mikado. Subsequently a decree was issued, announcing the emperor’s resolve to establish amicable relations with foreign countries, and “declaring that any Japanese subject thereafter guilty of violent behaviour towards a foreigner would not only act in opposition to the Imperial command, but would also be guilty of impairing the dignity and good faith of the nation in the eyes of the powers with which his majesty had pledged himself to maintain friendship.” From that time the relations between Japan and foreign states grew yearly more amicable; the nation adopted the products of Western civilization with notable thoroughness, and the provisions of the treaties were carefully observed. Those treaties, however, presented one feature which very soon became exceedingly irksome to Japan. They exempted foreigners residing within her borders from the operation of her criminal laws, and secured to them the privilege of being arraigned solely before tribunals of their own nationality. That system had always been considered necessary where the subjects of Christian states visited or sojourned in non-Christian countries, and, for the purpose of giving effect to it, consular courts were established. This necessitated the confinement of foreign residents to settlements in the neighbourhood of the consular courts, since it would have been imprudent to allow foreigners to have free access to districts remote from the only tribunals competent to control them. The Japanese raised no objection to the embodiment of this system in the treaties. They recognized its necessity and even its expediency, for if, on the one hand, it infringed their country’s sovereign rights, on the other, it prevented complications which must have ensued had they been entrusted with jurisdiction which they were not prepared to discharge satisfactorily. But the consular courts were not free from defects. A few of the powers organized competent tribunals presided over by judicial experts, but a majority of the treaty states, not having sufficiently large interests at stake, were content to delegate consular duties to merchants, not only deficient in legal training, but also themselves engaged in the very commercial transactions upon which they might at any moment be required to adjudicate in a magisterial capacity. In any circumstances the dual functions of consul and judge could not be discharged without anomaly by the same official, for he was obliged to act as advocate in the preliminary stages of complications about which, in his position as judge, he might ultimately have to deliver an impartial verdict. In practice, however, the system worked with tolerable smoothness, and might have remained long in force had not the patriotism of the Japanese rebelled bitterly against the implication that their country was unfit to exercise one of the fundamental attributes of every sovereign state, judicial autonomy. From the very outset they spared no effort to qualify for the recovery of this attribute. Revision of the country’s laws and reorganization of its law courts would necessarily have been an essential feature of the general reforms suggested by contact with the Occident, but the question of consular jurisdiction certainly constituted a special incentive. Expert assistance was obtained from France and Germany; the best features of European jurisprudence were adapted to the conditions and usages of Japan; the law courts were remodelled, and steps were taken to educate a competent judiciary. In criminal law the example of France was chiefly followed; in commercial law that of Germany; and in civil law that of the Occident generally, with due regard to the customs of the country. The jury system was not adopted, collegiate courts being regarded as more conducive to justice, and the order of procedure went from tribunals of first instance to appeal courts and finally to the court of cassation. Schools of law were quickly opened, and a well-equipped bar soon came into existence. Twelve years after the inception of these great works, Japan made formal application for revision of the treaties on the basis of abolishing consular jurisdiction. She had asked for revision in 1871, sending to Europe and America an important embassy to raise the question. But at that time the conditions originally calling for consular jurisdiction had not undergone any change such as would have justified its abolition, and the Japanese government, though very anxious to recover tariff autonomy as well as judicial, shrank from separating the two questions, lest by prematurely solving one the solution of the other might be unduly deferred. Thus the embassy failed, and though the problem attracted great academical interest from the first, it did not re-enter the field of practical politics until 1883. The negotiations were long protracted. Never previously had an Oriental state received at the hands of the Occident recognition such as that now demanded by Japan, and the West naturally felt deep reluctance to try a wholly novel experiment. The United States had set a generous example by concluding a new treaty (1878) on the lines desired by Japan. But its operation was conditional on a similar act of compliance by the other treaty powers. Ill-informed European publicists ridiculed the Washington statesmen’s attitude on this occasion, claiming that what had been given with one hand was taken back with the other. The truth is that the conditional provision was inserted at the request of Japan herself, who appreciated her own unpreparedness for the concession. From 1883, however, she was ready to accept full responsibility, and she therefore asked that all foreigners within her borders should thenceforth be subject to her laws and judiciable by her law-courts, supplementing her application by promising that its favourable reception should be followed by the complete opening of the country and the removal of all restrictions hitherto imposed on foreign trade, travel and residence in her realm. “From the first it had been the habit of Occidental peoples to upbraid Japan on account of the barriers opposed by her to full and free foreign intercourse, and she was now able to claim that these barriers were no longer maintained by her desire, but that they existed because of a system which theoretically proclaimed her unfitness for free association with Western nations, and practically made it impossible for her to throw open her territories completely for the ingress of foreigners.” She had a strong case, but on the side of the European powers extreme reluctance was manifested to try the unprecedented experiment of placing their people under the jurisdiction of an Oriental country. Still greater was the reluctance of those upon whom the experiment would be tried. Foreigners residing in Japan naturally clung to consular jurisdiction as a privilege of inestimable value. They saw, indeed, that such a system could not be permanently imposed on a country where the conditions justifying it had nominally disappeared. But they saw, also, that the legal and judicial reforms effected by Japan had been crowded into an extraordinarily brief period, and that, as tyros experimenting with alien systems, the Japanese might be betrayed into many errors.
The negotiations lasted for eleven years. They were begun in 1883 and a solution was not reached until 1894. Finally European governments conceded the justice of Japan’s case, and it was agreed that from July 1899 Japanese Recognition by the Powers. tribunals should assume jurisdiction over every person, of whatever nationality, within the confines of Japan, and the whole country should be thrown open to foreigners, all limitations upon trade, travel and residence being removed. Great Britain took the lead in thus releasing Japan from the fetters of the old system. The initiative came from her with special grace, for the system and all its irksome consequences had been originally imposed on Japan by a combination of powers with Great Britain in the van. As a matter of historical sequence the United States dictated the terms of the first treaty providing for consular jurisdiction. But from a very early period the Washington government showed its willingness to remove all limitations of Japan’s sovereignty, whereas Europe, headed by Great Britain, whose preponderating interests entitled her to lead, resolutely refused to make any substantial concession. In Japanese eyes, therefore, British conservatism seemed to be the one serious obstacle, and since the British residents in the settlements far outnumbered all other nationalities, and since they alone had newspaper organs to ventilate their grievances—it was certainly fortunate for the popularity of her people in the Far East that Great Britain saw her way finally to set a liberal example. Nearly five years were required to bring the other Occidental powers into line with Great Britain and America. It should be stated, however, that neither reluctance to make the necessary concessions nor want of sympathy with Japan caused the delay. The explanation is, first, that each set of negotiators sought to improve either the terms or the terminology of the treaties already concluded, and, secondly, that the tariff arrangements for the different countries required elaborate discussion.
Until the last of the revised treaties was ratified, voices of protest against revision continued to be vehemently raised by a large section of the foreign community in the settlements. Some were honestly apprehensive as to the Reception given to the Revised Treaties. issue of the experiment. Others were swayed by racial prejudice. A few had fallen into an insuperable habit of grumbling, or found their account in advocating conservatism under pretence of championing foreign interests; and all were naturally reluctant to forfeit the immunity from taxation hitherto enjoyed. It seemed as though the inauguration of the new system would find the foreign community in a mood which must greatly diminish the chances of a happy result, for where a captious and aggrieved disposition exists, opportunities to discover causes of complaint cannot be wanting. But at the eleventh hour this unfavourable demeanour underwent a marked change. So soon as it became evident that the old system was hopelessly doomed, the sound common sense of the European and American business man asserted itself. The foreign residents let it be seen that they intended to bow cheerfully to the inevitable, and that no obstacles would be willingly placed by them in the path of Japanese jurisdiction. The Japanese, on their side, took some promising steps. An Imperial rescript declared in unequivocal terms that it was the sovereign’s policy and desire to abolish all distinctions between natives and foreigners, and that by fully carrying out the friendly purpose of the treaties his people would best consult his wishes, maintain the character of the nation, and promote its prestige. The premier and other ministers of state issued instructions to the effect that the responsibility now devolved on the government, and the duty on the people, of enabling foreigners to reside confidently and contentedly in every part of the country. Even the chief Buddhist prelates addressed to the priests and parishioners in their dioceses injunctions pointing out that, freedom of conscience being now guaranteed by the constitution, men professing alien creeds must be treated as courteously as the followers of Buddhism, and must enjoy the same rights and privileges.
Thus the great change was effected in circumstances of happy augury. Its results were successful on the whole. Foreigners residing in Japan now enjoy immunity of domicile, personal and religious liberty, freedom from official interference, and security of life and property as fully as though they were living in their own countries, and they have gradually learned to look with greatly increased respect upon Japanese law and its administrators.
Next to the revision of the treaties and to the result of the great wars waged by Japan since the resumption of foreign intercourse, the most memorable incident in her modern career was the conclusion, first, of an entente, and, Anglo-Japanese Alliance. secondly, of an offensive and defensive alliance with Great Britain in January 1902 and September 1905, respectively. The entente set out by disavowing on the part of each of the contracting parties any aggressive tendency in either China or Korea, the independence of which two countries was explicitly recognized; and went on to declare that Great Britain in China and Japan in China and Korea might take indispensable means to safeguard their interests; while, if such measures involved one of the signatories in war with a third power, the other signatory would not only remain neutral but would also endeavour to prevent other powers from joining in hostilities against its ally, and would come to the assistance of the latter in the event of its being faced by two or more powers. The entente further recognized that Japan possessed, in a peculiar degree, political, commercial and industrial interests in Korea. This agreement, equally novel for each of the contracting parties, evidently tended to the benefit of Japan more than to that of Great Britain, inasmuch as the interests in question were vital from the former power’s point of view but merely local from the latter’s. The inequality was corrected by an offensive and defensive alliance in 1905. For the scope of the agreement was then extended to India and eastern Asia generally, and while the signatories pledged themselves, on the one hand, to preserve the common interests of all powers in China by insuring her integrity and independence as well as the principle of equal opportunities for the commerce and industry of all nations within her borders, they agreed, on the other, to maintain their own territorial rights in eastern Asia and India, and to come to each other’s armed assistance in the event of those rights being assailed by any other power or powers. These agreements have, of course, a close relation to the events which accompanied or immediately preceded them, but they also present a vivid and radical contrast between a country which, less than half a century previously, had struggled vehemently to remain secluded from the world, and a country which now allied itself with one of the most liberal and progressive nations for the purposes of a policy extending over the whole of eastern Asia and India. This contrast was accentuated two years later (1907) when France and Russia concluded ententes with Japan, recognizing the independence and integrity of the Chinese Empire, as well as the principle of equal opportunity for all nations in that country, and engaging to support each other for assuring peace and security there. Japan thus became a world power in the most unequivocal sense.
Japan’s Foreign Wars and Complications.—The earliest foreign war conducted by Japan is said to have taken place at the beginning of the 3rd century, when the empress Jingō led an army to the conquest of Korea. But as the War with Korea. event is supposed to have happened more than 500 years before the first Japanese record was written, its traditional details cannot be seriously discussed. There is, however, no room to doubt that from time to time in early ages Japanese troops were seen in Korea, though they made no permanent impression on the country. It was reserved for Hideyoshi, the taikō, to make the Korean peninsula the scene of a great over-sea campaign. Hideyoshi, the Napoleon of Japan, having brought the whole empire under his sway as the sequel of many years of incomparable generalship and statecraft, conceived the project of subjugating China. By some historians his motive has been described as a desire to find employment for the immense mob of armed men whom four centuries of almost continuous fighting had called into existence in Japan: he felt that domestic peace could not be permanently restored unless these restless spirits were occupied abroad. But although that object may have reinforced his purpose, his ambition aimed at nothing less than the conquest of China, and he regarded Korea merely as a stepping-stone to that aim. Had Korea consented to be put to such a use, she need not have fought or suffered. The Koreans, however, counted China invincible. They considered that Japan would be shattered by the first contact with the great empire, and therefore although, in the 13th century, they had given the use of their harbours to the Mongol invaders of Japan, they flatly refused in the 16th to allow their territory to be used for a Japanese invasion of China. On the 24th of May 1592 the wave of invasion rolled against Korea’s southern coast. Hideyoshi had chosen Nagoya in the province of Hizen as the home-base of his operations. There the sea separating Japan from the Korean peninsula narrows to a strait divided into two channels of almost equal width by the island of Tsushima. To reach this island from the Japanese side was an easy and safe task, but in the 56-mile channel that separated Tsushima from the peninsula an invading flotilla had to run the risk of attack by Korean war-ships. At Nagoya Hideyoshi assembled an army of over 300,000 men, of whom some 70,000 constituted the first fighting line, 87,000 the second, and the remainder formed a reserve to be subsequently drawn on as occasion demanded. The question of transport presented some difficulty, but it was solved by the simple expedient of ordering every feudatory to furnish two ships for each 100,000 koku of his fief’s revenue. These were not fighting vessels but mere transports. As for the plan of campaign, it was precisely in accord with modern principles of strategy, and bore witness to the daring genius of Hideyoshi. The van, consisting of three army corps and mustering in all 51,000 men, was to cross rapidly to Fusan, on the south coast of the peninsula, and immediately commence a movement northward towards the capital, Seoul, one corps moving by the eastern coast-road, one by the central route, and one by the western coast-line. Thereafter the other four corps, which formed the first fighting line, together with the corps under the direct orders of the commander-in-chief, Ukida Hideiye, were to cross, for the purpose of effectually subduing the regions through which the van had passed; and, finally, the two remaining corps of the second line were to be transported by sea up the west coast of the peninsula, to form a junction with the van which, by that time, should be preparing to pass into China over the northern boundary of Korea, namely, the Yalu River. For the landing place of these reinforcements the town of Phyong-yang was adopted, being easily accessible by the Taidong River from the coast. In later ages Japanese armies were destined to move twice over these same regions, once to the invasion of China, once to the attack of Russia, and they adopted almost the same strategical plan as that mapped out by Hideyoshi in the year 1592. The forecast was that the Koreans would offer their chief resistance, first, at the capital, Seoul; next at Phyong-yang, and finally at the Yalu, as the approaches to all these places offered positions capable of being utilized to great advantage for defensive purposes.
On the 24th of May 1592 the first army corps, under the command of Konishi Yukinaga, crossed unmolested to the peninsula; next day the castle of Fusan was carried by storm, which same fate befell, on the 27th, Landing In Korea and Advance of the Invaders. another and stronger fortress lying 3 miles inland and garrisoned by 20,000 picked soldiers. The invaders were irresistible. From the landing-place at Fusan to the gates of Seoul the distance is 267 miles. Konishi’s corps covered that interval in 19 days, storming two forts, carrying two positions and fighting one pitched battle en route. On the 12th of June the Korean capital was in Japanese hands, and by the 16th four army corps had assembled there, while four others had effected a landing at Fusan. After a rest of 15 days the northward advance was resumed, and July 15th saw Phyong-yang in Japanese possession. The distance of 130 miles from Seoul to the Taidong had been traversed in 18 days, 10 having been occupied in forcing the passage of a river which, if held with moderate resolution and skill, should have stopped the Japanese altogether. At this point, however, the invasion suffered a check owing to a cause which in modern times has received much attention, though in Hideyoshi’s days it had been little considered; the Japanese lost the command of the sea.
The Japanese idea of sea-fighting in those times was to use open boats propelled chiefly by oars. They closed as quickly as possible with the enemy, and then fell on with the trenchant swords which they used so skilfully. Fighting at Sea. Now during the 15th century and part of the 16th the Chinese had been so harassed by Japanese piratical raids that their inventive genius, quickened by suffering, suggested a device for coping with these formidable adversaries. Once allow the Japanese swordsman to come to close quarters and he carried all before him. To keep him at a distance, then, was the great desideratum, and the Chinese compassed this in maritime warfare by completely covering their boats with roofs of solid timber, so that those within were protected against missiles, while loop-holes and ports enabled them to pour bullets and arrows on a foe. The Koreans learned this device from the Chinese and were the first to employ it in actual warfare. Their own history alleges that they improved upon the Chinese model by nailing sheet iron over the roofs and sides of the “turtle-shell” craft and studding the whole surface with chevaux de frise, but Japanese annals indicate that in the great majority of cases solid timber alone was used. It seems strange that the Japanese should have been without any clear perception of the immense fighting superiority possessed by such protected war-vessels over small open boats. But certainly they were either ignorant or indifferent. The fleet which they provided to hold the command of Korean waters did not include one vessel of any magnitude; it consisted simply of some hundreds of row-boats manned by 7000 men. Hideyoshi himself was perhaps not without misgivings. Six years previously he had endeavoured to obtain two war-galleons from the Portuguese, and had he succeeded, the history of the Far East might have been radically different. Evidently, however, he committed a blunder which his countrymen in modern times have conspicuously avoided; he drew the sword without having fully investigated his adversary’s resources. Just about the time when the van of the Japanese army was entering Seoul, the Korean admiral, Yi Sun-sin, at the head of a fleet of 80 vessels, attacked the Japanese squadron which lay at anchor near the entrance to Fusan harbour, set 26 of the vessels on fire and dispersed the rest. Four other engagements ensued in rapid succession. The last and most important took place shortly after the Japanese troops had seized Phyong-yang. It resulted in the sinking of over 70 Japanese vessels, transports and fighting ships combined, which formed the main part of a flotilla carrying reinforcements by sea to the van of the invading army. This despatch of troops and supplies by water had been a leading feature of Hideyoshi’s plan of campaign, and the destruction of the flotilla to which the duty was entrusted may be said to have sealed the fate of the war by isolating the army in Korea from its home base. It is true that Konishi Yukinaga, who commanded the first division, would have continued his northward march from Phyong-yang without delay. He argued that China was wholly unprepared, and that the best hope of ultimate victory lay in not giving her time to collect her forces. But the commander-in-chief, Ukida Hideiye, refused to endorse this plan. He took the view that since the Korean provinces were still offering desperate resistance, supplies could not be drawn from them, neither could the troops engaged in subjugating them be freed for service at the front. Therefore it was essential to await the consummation of the second phase of Hideyoshi’s plan, namely, the despatch of reinforcements and munitions by water to Phyong-yang. The reader has seen how that second phase fared. The Japanese commander at Phyong-yang never received any accession of strength. His force suffered constant diminution from casualties, and the question of commissariat became daily more difficult. It is further plain to any reader of history—and Japanese historians themselves admit the fact—that no wise effort was made to conciliate the Korean people. They were treated so harshly that even the humble peasant took up arms, and thus the peninsula, instead of serving as a basis of supplies, had to be garrisoned perpetually by a strong army.
The Koreans, having suffered for their loyalty to China, naturally looked to her for succour. Again and again appeals were made to Peking, and at length a force of 5000 men, which had been mobilized in the Liaotung Chinese Intervention. peninsula, crossed the Yalu and moved south to Phyong-yang, where the Japanese van had been lying idle for over two months. This was early in October 1592. Memorable as the first encounter between Japanese and Chinese, the incident also illustrated China’s supreme confidence in her own ineffable superiority. The whole of the Korean forces had been driven northward throughout the entire length of the peninsula by the Japanese armies, yet Peking considered that 5000 Chinese “braves” would suffice to roll back this tide of invasion. Three thousand of the Chinese were killed and the remainder fled pell-mell across the Yalu. China now began to be seriously alarmed. She collected an army variously estimated at from 51,000 to 200,000 men, and marching it across Manchuria in the dead of winter, hurled it against Phyong-yang during the first week of February 1593. The Japanese garrison did not exceed 20,000, nearly one-half of its original number having been detached to hold a line of forts which guarded the communications with Seoul. Moreover, the Chinese, though their swords were much inferior to the Japanese weapon, possessed great superiority in artillery and cavalry, as well as in the fact that their troopers wore iron mail which defied the keenest blade. Thus, after a severe fight, the Japanese had to evacuate Phyong-yang and fall back upon Seoul. But this one victory alone stands to China’s credit. In all subsequent encounters of any magnitude her army suffered heavy defeats, losing on one occasion some 10,000 men, on another 4000, and on a third 39,000. But the presence of her forces and the determined resistance offered by the Koreans effectually saved China from invasion. Indeed, after the evacuation of Seoul, on the 9th of May 1593, Hideyoshi abandoned all idea of carrying the war into Chinese territory, and devoted his attention to obtaining honourable terms of peace, the Japanese troops meanwhile holding a line of forts along the southern coast of Korea. He died before that end had been accomplished. Had he lived a few days longer, he would have learned of a crushing defeat inflicted on the Chinese forces (at Sö-chhön, October 30, 1598), when the Satsuma men under Shimazu Yoshihiro took 38,700 Chinese heads and sent the noses and ears to Japan, where they now lie buried under a tumulus (mimizuka, ear-mound) near the temple of Daibutsu in Kiōto. Thereafter the statesmen to whom the regent on his death-bed had entrusted the duty of terminating the struggle and recalling the troops, intimated to the enemy that the evacuation of the peninsula might be obtained if a Korean prince repaired to Japan as envoy, and if some tiger-skins and ginseng were sent to Kiōto in token of amity. So ended one of the greatest over-sea campaigns recorded in history. It had lasted 6½ years, had seen 200,000 Japanese troops at one time on Korean soil, and had cost something like a quarter of a million lives.
From the recall of the Korea expedition in 1598 to the resumption of intercourse with the Occident in modern times, Japan enjoyed uninterrupted peace with foreign nations. Contrast between Foreign Relations in Medieval and Modern Times. Thereafter she had to engage in four wars. It is a striking contrast. During the first eleven centuries of her historical existence she was involved in only one contest abroad; during the next half century she fought four times beyond the sea and was confronted by many complications. Whatever material or moral advantages her association with the West conferred on her, it did not bring peace.
The first menacing foreign complication with which the Japanese government of the Meiji era had to deal was connected with the traffic in Chinese labour, an abuse not yet wholly eradicated. In 1872, a Peruvian ship, the The “Maria Luz” Complication. “Maria Luz,” put into port at Yokohama, carrying 200 contract labourers. One of the unfortunate men succeeded in reaching the shore and made a piteous appeal to the Japanese authorities, who at once seized the vessel and released her freight of slaves, for they were little better. The Japanese had not always been so particular. In the days of early foreign intercourse, before England’s attitude towards slavery had established a new code of ethics, Portuguese ships had been permitted to carry away from Hirado, as they did from Macao, cargoes of men and women, doomed to a life of enforced toil if they survived the horrors of the voyage. But modern Japan followed the tenets of modern morality in such matters. Of course the Peruvian government protested, and for a time relations were strained almost to the point of rupture; but it was finally agreed that the question should be submitted to the arbitration of the tsar, who decided in Japan’s favour. Japan’s attitude in this affair elicited applause, not merely from the point of view of humanity, but also because of the confidence she showed in Occidental justice.
Another complication which occupied the attention of the Tōkyō government from the beginning of the Meiji era was in truth a legacy from the days of feudalism. In those days the island of Yezo, as well as Sakhalin The Sakhalin Complication. on its north-west and the Kurile group on its north, could scarcely be said to be in effective Japanese occupation. It is true that the feudal chief of Matsumae (now Fuku-yama), the remains of whose castle may still be seen on the coast at the southern extremity of the island of Yezo, exercised nominal jurisdiction; but his functions did not greatly exceed the levying of taxes on the aboriginal inhabitants of Yezo, the Kuriles and southern Sakhalin. Thus from the beginning of the 18th century Russian fishermen began to settle in the Kuriles and Russian ships menaced Sakhalin. There can be no doubt that the first explorers of Sakhalin were Japanese. As early as 1620, some vassals of the feudal chief of Matsumae visited the place and passed a winter there. It was then supposed to be a peninsula forming part of the Asiatic mainland, but in 1806 a daring Japanese traveller, by name Mamiya Rinzo, made his way to Manchuria, voyaged up and down the Amur, and, crossing to Sakhalin, discovered that a narrow strait separated it from the mainland. There still prevails in the minds of many Occidentals a belief that the discovery of Sakhalin’s insular character was reserved for Captain Nevelskoy, a Russian, who visited the place in 1849, but in Japan the fact had then been known for 43 years. Muravief, the great Russian empire-builder in East Asia, under whose orders Nevelskoy acted, quickly appreciated the necessity of acquiring Sakhalin, which commands the estuary of the Amur. After the conclusion of the treaty of Aigun (1857) he visited Japan with a squadron, and required that the strait of La Pérouse, which separates Sakhalin from Yezo, should be regarded as the frontier between Russia and Japan. This would have given the whole of Sakhalin to Russia. Japan refused, and Muravief immediately resorted to the policy he had already pursued with signal success in the Usuri region: he sent emigrants to settle in Sakhalin. Twice the shōgunate attempted to frustrate this process of gradual absorption by proposing a division of the island along the 50th parallel of north latitude, and finally, in 1872, the Meiji government offered to purchase the Russian portion for 2,000,000 dollars (then equivalent to about £400,000). St Petersburg, having by that time discovered the comparative worthlessness of the island as a wealth-earning possession, showed some signs of acquiescence, and possibly an agreement might have been reached had not a leading Japanese statesman—afterwards Count Kuroda—opposed the bargain as disadvantageous to Japan. Finally St Petersburg’s perseverance won the day. In 1875 Japan agreed to recognize Russia’s title to the whole island on condition that Russia similarly recognized Japan’s title to the Kuriles. It was a singular compact. Russia purchased a Japanese property and paid for it with a part of Japan’s belongings. These details form a curious preface to the fact that Sakhalin was destined, 30 years later, to be the scene of a Japanese invasion, in the sequel of which it was divided along the 50th parallel as the shōgun’s administration had originally proposed.
The first of Japan’s four conflicts was an expedition to Formosa in 1874. Insignificant from a military point of view, this affair derives vicarious interest from its effect upon the relations between China and Japan, Military Expedition to Formosa. and upon the question of the ownership of the Riūkiū islands. These islands, which lie at a little distance south of Japan, had for centuries been regarded as an apanage of the Satsuma fief. The language and customs of their inhabitants showed unmistakable traces of relationship to the Japanese, and the possibility of the islands being included among the dominions of China had probably never occurred to any Japanese statesman. When therefore, in 1873, the crew of a wrecked Riūkiūan junk were barbarously treated by the inhabitants of northern Formosa, the Japanese government unhesitatingly assumed the responsibility of seeking redress for their outrage. Formosa being a part of the Chinese Empire, complaint was duly preferred in Peking. But the Chinese authorities showed such resolute indifference to Japan’s representations that the latter finally took the law into her own hands, and sent a small force to punish the Formosan murderers, who, of course, were found quite unable to offer any serious resistance. The Chinese government, now recognizing the fact that its territories had been invaded, lodged a protest which, but for the intervention of the British minister in Peking, might have involved the two empires in war. The final terms of arrangement were that, in consideration of Japan withdrawing her troops from Formosa, China should indemnify her to the extent of the expenses of the expedition. In sending this expedition to Formosa the government sought to placate the Satsuma samurai, who were beginning to show much opposition to certain features of the administrative reforms just inaugurated, and who claimed special interest in the affairs of the Riūkiū islands.
Had Japan needed any confirmation of her belief that the Riūkiū islands belonged to her, the incidents and settlement of the Formosan complication would have constituted conclusive evidence. Thus in 1876 she did not The Riūkiū Complication. hesitate to extend her newly organized system of prefectural government to Riūkiū, which thenceforth became the Okinawa prefecture, the former ruler of the islands being pensioned, according to the system followed in the case of the feudal chiefs in Japan proper. China at once entered an objection. She claimed that Riūkiū had always been a tributary of her empire, and she was doubtless perfectly sincere in the contention. But China’s interpretation of tribute did not seem reducible to a working theory. So long as her own advantage could be promoted, she regarded as a token of vassalage the presents periodically carried to her court from neighbouring states. So soon, however, as there arose any question of discharging a suzerain’s duties, she classed these offerings as insignificant interchanges of neighbourly courtesy. It was true that Riūkiū had followed the custom of despatching gift-bearing envoys to China from time to time, just as Japan herself had done, though with less regularity. But it was also true that Riūkiū had been subdued by Satsuma without China stretching out a hand to help her; that for two centuries the islands had been included in the Satsuma fief, and that China, in the sequel to the Formosan affair, had made a practical acknowledgment of Japan’s superior title to protect the islanders. Each empire positively asserted its claims; but whereas Japan put hers into practice, China confined herself to remonstrances. Things remained in that state until 1880, when General Grant, visiting the East, suggested the advisability of a compromise. A conference met in Peking, and the plenipotentiaries agreed that the islands should be divided, Japan taking the northern group, China the southern. But on the eve of signature the Chinese plenipotentiary drew back, pleading that he had no authority to conclude an agreement without previously referring it to certain other dignitaries. Japan, sensible that she had been flouted, retired from the discussion and retained the islands, China’s share in them being reduced to a grievance.
From the 16th century, when the Korean peninsula was overrun by Japanese troops, its rulers made a habit of sending a present-bearing embassy to Japan to felicitate the accession of each shōgun. But after the fall of The Korean Complication. the Tokugawa shōgunate, the Korean court desisted from this custom, declared a determination to have no further relations with a country embracing Western civilization, and refused even to receive a Japanese embassy. This conduct caused deep umbrage in Japan. Several prominent politicians cast their votes for war, and undoubtedly the sword would have been drawn had not the leading statesmen felt that a struggle with Korea, involving probably a rupture with China, must fatally check the progress of the administrative reforms then (1873) in their infancy. Two years later, however, the Koreans crowned their defiance by firing on the boats of a Japanese war-vessel engaged in the operation of coast-surveying. No choice now remained except to despatch an armed expedition against the truculent kingdom. But Japan did not want to fight. In this matter she showed herself an apt pupil of Occidental methods such as had been practised against herself in former years. She assembled an imposing force of war-ships and transports, but instead of proceeding to extremities, she employed the squadron—which was by no means so strong as it seemed—to intimidate Korea into signing a treaty of amity and commerce, and opening three ports to foreign trade (1876). That was the beginning of Korea’s friendly relations with the outer world, and Japan naturally took credit for the fact that, thus early in her new career, she had become an instrument for extending the principle of universal intercourse opposed so strenuously by herself in the past.
From time immemorial China’s policy towards the petty states on her frontiers had been to utilize them as buffers for softening the shock of foreign contact, while contriving, at the same time, that her relations with them should War with China. involve no inconvenient responsibilities for herself. The aggressive impulses of the outside world were to be checked by an unproclaimed understanding that the territories of these states partook of the inviolability of China, while the states, on their side, must never expect their suzerain to bear the consequences of their acts. This arrangement, depending largely on sentiment and prestige, retained its validity in the atmosphere of Oriental seclusion, but quickly failed to endure the test of modern Occidental practicality. Tongking, Annam, Siam and Burma were withdrawn, one by one, from the fiction of dependence on China and independence towards all other countries. But with regard to Korea, China proved more tenacious. The possession of the peninsula by a foreign power would have threatened the maritime route to the Chinese capital and given easy access to Manchuria, the cradle of the dynasty which ruled China. Therefore Peking statesmen endeavoured to preserve the old-time relations with the little kingdom. But they could never persuade themselves to modify the indirect methods sanctioned by tradition. Instead of boldly declaring Korea a dependency of China, they sought to keep up the romance of ultimate dependency and intermediate sovereignty. Thus in 1876 Korea was suffered to conclude with Japan a treaty of which the first article declared her “an independent state enjoying the same rights as Japan,” and subsequently to make with the United States (1882), Great Britain (1883) and other powers, treaties in which her independence was constructively admitted. China, however, did not intend that Korea should exercise the independence thus conventionally recognized. A Chinese resident was placed in Seoul, and a system of steady though covert interference in Korea’s affairs was inaugurated. The chief sufferer from these anomalous conditions was Japan. In all her dealings with Korea, in all complications that arose out of her comparatively large trade with the peninsula, in all questions connected with her numerous settlers there, she found herself negotiating with a dependency of China, and with officials who took their orders from the Chinese representative. China had long entertained a rooted apprehension of Japanese aggression in Korea—an apprehension not unwarranted by history—and that distrust tinged all the influence exerted by her agents there. On many occasions Japan was made sensible of the discrimination thus exercised against her. Little by little the consciousness roused her indignation, and although no single instance constituted a ground for strong international protest, the Japanese people gradually acquired a sense of being perpetually baffled, thwarted and humiliated by China’s interference in Korean affairs. For thirty years China had treated Japan as a contemptible deserter from the Oriental standard, and had regarded her progressive efforts with openly disdainful aversion; while Japan, on her side, had chafed more and more to furnish some striking evidence of the wisdom of her preference for Western civilization. Even more serious were the consequences of Chinese interference from the point of view of Korean administration. The rulers of the country lost all sense of national responsibility, and gave unrestrained sway to selfish ambition. The functions of the judiciary and of the executive alike came to be discharged by bribery only. Family interests predominated over those of the state. Taxes were imposed in proportion to the greed of local officials. No thought whatever was taken for the welfare of the people or for the development of the country’s resources. Personal responsibility was unknown among officials. To be a member of the Min family, to which the queen belonged, was to possess a passport to office and an indemnity against the consequences of abuse of power. From time to time the advocates of progress or the victims of oppression rose in arms. They effected nothing except to recall to the world’s recollection the miserable condition into which Korea had fallen. Chinese military aid was always furnished readily for the suppression of these risings, and thus the Min family learned to base its tenure of power on ability to conciliate China and on readiness to obey Chinese dictation, while the people at large fell into the apathetic condition of men who possess neither security of property nor national ambition.
As a matter of state policy the Korean problem caused much anxiety to Japan. Her own security being deeply concerned in preserving Korea from the grasp of a Western power, she could not suffer the little kingdom to drift into a condition of such administrative incompetence and national debility that a strong aggressor might find at any moment a pretext for interference. On two occasions (1882 and 1884) when China’s armed intervention was employed in the interests of the Min to suppress movements of reform, the partisans of the victors, regarding Japan as the fountain of progressive tendencies, destroyed her legation in Seoul and compelled its inmates to fly from the city. Japan behaved with forbearance at these crises, but in the consequent negotiations she acquired conventional titles that touched the core of China’s alleged suzerainty. In 1882 her right to maintain troops in Seoul for the protection of her legation was admitted; in 1885 she concluded with China a convention by which each power pledged itself not to send troops to Korea without notifying the other.
In the spring of 1894 a serious insurrection broke out in Korea, and the Min family appealed for China’s aid. On the 6th of July 2500 Chinese troops embarked at Tientsin and were transported to the peninsula, where they went The Rupture with China. into camp at Ya-shan (Asan), on the south-west coast, notice of the measure being given by the Chinese government to the Japanese representative at Peking, according to treaty. During the interval immediately preceding these events, Japan had been rendered acutely sensible of China’s arbitrary and unfriendly interference in Korea. Twice the efforts of the Japanese government to obtain redress for unlawful and ruinous commercial prohibitions had been thwarted by the Chinese representative in Seoul; and an ultimatum addressed from Tōkyō to the Korean government had elicited from the viceroy Li in Tientsin a thinly veiled threat of Chinese armed opposition. Still more provocative of national indignation was China’s procedure with regard to the murder of Kim Ok-kyun, the leader of progress in Korea, who had been for some years a refugee in Japan. Inveigled from Japan to China by a fellow-countryman sent from Seoul to assassinate him, Kim was shot in a Japanese hotel in Shanghai; and China, instead of punishing the murderer, conveyed him in a war-ship of her own to Korea to be publicly honoured. When, therefore, the Korean insurrection of 1894 induced the Min family again to solicit China’s armed intervention, the Tōkyō government concluded that, in the interests of Japan’s security and of civilization in the Orient, steps must be taken to put an end to the misrule which offered incessant invitations to foreign aggression, and checked Korea’s capacity to maintain its own independence. Japan did not claim for herself any rights or interests in the peninsula superior to those possessed there by China. But there was not the remotest probability that China, whose face had been contemptuously set against all the progressive measures adopted by Japan during the preceding twenty-five years, would join in forcing upon a neighbouring kingdom the very reforms she herself despised, were her co-operation invited through ordinary diplomatic channels only. It was necessary to contrive a situation which would not only furnish clear proof of Japan’s resolution, but also enable her to pursue her programme independently of Chinese endorsement, should the latter be finally unobtainable. She therefore met China’s notice of a despatch of troops with a corresponding notice of her own, and the month of July 1894 found a Chinese force assembled at Asan and a Japanese force occupying positions in the neighbourhood of Seoul. China’s motive for sending troops was nominally to quell the Tonghak insurrection, but really to re-affirm her own domination in the peninsula. Japan’s motive was to secure such a position as would enable her to insist upon the radically curative treatment of Korea’s malady. Up to this point the two empires were strictly within their conventional rights. Each was entitled by treaty to send troops to Korea, provided that notice was given to the other. But China, in giving notice, described Korea as her “tributary state,” thus thrusting into the forefront of the discussion a contention which Japan, from conciliatory motives, would have kept out of sight. Once formally advanced, however, the claim had to be challenged. In the treaty of amity and commerce concluded in 1876 between Japan and Korea, the two high contracting parties were explicitly declared to possess the same national status. Japan could not agree that a power which for nearly two decades she had acknowledged and treated as her equal should be openly classed as a tributary of China. She protested, but the Chinese statesmen took no notice of her protest. They continued to apply the disputed appellation to Korea, and they further asserted their assumption of sovereignty in the peninsula by seeking to set limits to the number of troops sent by Japan, as well as to the sphere of their employment. Japan then proposed that the two empires should unite their efforts for the suppression of disturbances in Korea, and for the subsequent improvement of that kingdom’s administration, the latter purpose to be pursued by the despatch of a joint commission of investigation. But China refused everything. Ready at all times to interfere by force of arms between the Korean people and the dominant political faction, she declined to interfere in any way for the promotion of reform. She even expressed supercilious surprise that Japan, while asserting Korea’s independence, should suggest the idea of peremptorily reforming its administration. In short, for Chinese purposes the Peking statesmen openly declared Korea a tributary state; but for Japanese purposes they insisted that it must be held independent. They believed that their island neighbour aimed at the absorption of Korea into the Japanese empire. Viewed in the light of that suspicion, China’s attitude became comprehensible, but her procedure was inconsistent, illogical and unpractical. The Tōkyō cabinet now declared its resolve not to withdraw the Japanese troops without “some understanding that would guarantee the future peace, order, and good government of Korea,” and since China still declined to come to such an understanding, Japan undertook the work of reform single-handed.
The Chinese representative in Seoul threw his whole weight into the scale against the success of these reforms. But the determining cause of rupture was in itself a belligerent operation. China’s troops had been sent originally for Outbreak of Hostilities. the purpose of quelling the Tonghak rebellion. But the rebellion having died of inanition before the landing of the troops, their services were not required. Nevertheless China kept them in Korea, her declared reason for doing so being the presence of a Japanese military force. Throughout the subsequent negotiations the Chinese forces lay in an entrenched camp at Asan, while the Japanese occupied Seoul. An attempt on China’s part to send reinforcements could be construed only as an unequivocal declaration of resolve to oppose Japan’s proceedings by force of arms. Nevertheless China not only despatched troops by sea to strengthen the camp at Asan, but also sent an army overland across Korea’s northern frontier. At this stage an act of war occurred. Three Chinese men-of-war, convoying a transport with 1200 men encountered and fired on three Japanese cruisers. One of the Chinese ships was taken; another was so shattered that she had to be beached and abandoned; the third escaped in a dilapidated condition; and the transport, refusing to surrender, was sunk. This happened on the 25th of July 1894, and an open declaration of war was made by each empire six days later.
From the moment when Japan applied herself to break away from Oriental traditions, and to remove from her limbs the fetters of Eastern conservatism, it was inevitable that a widening gulf should gradually grow between Remote Origin of the Conflict. herself and China. The war of 1894 was really a contest between Japanese progress and Chinese stagnation. To secure Korean immunity from foreign—especially Russian—aggression was of capital importance to both empires. Japan believed that such security could be attained by introducing into Korea the civilization which had contributed so signally to the development of her own strength and resources. China thought that she could guarantee it without any departure from old-fashioned methods, and by the same process of capricious protection which had failed so signally in the cases of Annam, Tongking, Burma and Siam. The issue really at stake was whether Japan should be suffered to act as the Eastern propagandist of Western progress, or whether her efforts in that cause should be held in check by Chinese conservatism.
The war itself was a succession of triumphs for Japan. Four days after the first naval encounter she sent from Seoul a column of troops who routed the Chinese entrenched at Asan. Many of the fugitives effected their escape to Events of the War. Phyong-yang, a town on the Taidong River, offering excellent facilities for defence, and historically interesting as the place where a Japanese army of invasion had its first encounter with Chinese troops in 1592. There the Chinese assembled a force of 17,000 men, and made leisurely preparations for a decisive contest. Forty days elapsed before the Japanese columns converged upon Phyong-yang, and that interval was utilized by the Chinese to throw up parapets, mount Krupp guns and otherwise strengthen their position. Moreover, they were armed with repeating rifles, whereas the Japanese had only single-loaders, and the ground offered little cover for an attacking force. In such circumstances, the advantages possessed by the defence ought to have been well-nigh insuperable; yet a day’s fighting sufficed to carry all the positions, the assailants’ casualties amounting to less than 700 and the defenders losing 6000 in killed and wounded. This brilliant victory was the prelude to an equally conspicuous success at sea. For on the 17th of September, the very day after the battle at Phyong-yang, a great naval fight took place near the mouth of the Yalu River, which forms the northern boundary of Korea. Fourteen Chinese war-ships and six torpedo-boats were returning to home ports after convoying a fleet of transports to the Yalu, when they encountered eleven Japanese men-of-war cruising in the Yellow Sea. Hitherto the Chinese had sedulously avoided a contest at sea. Their fleet included two armoured battleships of over 7000 tons displacement, whereas the biggest vessels on the Japanese side were belted cruisers of only 4000 tons. In the hands of an admiral appreciating the value of sea power, China’s naval force would certainly have been led against Japan’s maritime communications, for a successful blow struck there must have put an end to the Korean campaign. The Chinese, however, failed to read history. They employed their war-vessels as convoys only, and, when not using them for that purpose, hid them in port. Everything goes to show that they would have avoided the battle off the Yalu had choice been possible, though when forced to fight they fought bravely. Four of their ships were sunk, and the remainder escaped to Wei-hai-wei, the vigour of the Japanese pursuit being greatly impaired by the presence of torpedo-boats in the retreating squadron.
The Yalu victory opened the over-sea route to China. Japan could now strike at Talien, Port Arthur, and Wei-hai-wei, naval stations on the Liaotung and Shantung peninsulas, where powerful permanent fortifications, built after plans prepared by European experts and armed with the best modern weapons, were regarded as almost impregnable; They fell before the assaults of the Japanese troops as easily as the comparatively rude fortifications at Phyong-yang had fallen. The only resistance of a stubborn character was made by the Chinese fleet at Wei-hai-wei; but after the whole squadron of torpedo-craft had been destroyed or captured as they attempted to escape, and after three of the largest vessels had been sunk at their moorings by Japanese torpedoes, and one by gun-fire, the remaining ships surrendered, and their brave commander, Admiral Ting, committed suicide. This ended the war. It had lasted seven and a half months, during which time Japan put into the field five columns, aggregating about 120,000 of all arms. One of these columns marched northward from Seoul, won the battle of Phyong-yang, advanced to the Yalu, forced its way into Manchuria, and moved towards Mukden by Feng-hwang, fighting several minor engagements, and conducting the greater part of its operations amid deep snow in midwinter. The second column diverged westwards from the Yalu, and, marching through southern Manchuria, reached Hai-cheng, whence it advanced to the capture of Niuchwang and Ying-tse-kow. The third landed on the Liaotung peninsula, and, turning southwards, carried Talien and Port Arthur by assault. The fourth moved up the Liaotung peninsula, and, having seized Kaiping, advanced against Ying-tse-kow, where it joined hands with the second column. The fifth crossed from Port Arthur to Wei-hai-wei, and captured the latter. In all these operations the total Japanese casualties were 1005 killed and 4922 wounded—figures which sufficiently indicate the inefficiency of the Chinese fighting. The deaths from disease totalled 16,866, and the total monetary expenditure was £20,000,000 sterling.
The Chinese government sent Li Hung-chang, viceroy of Pechili and senior grand secretary of state, and Li Ching-fong, to discuss terms of peace with Japan, the latter being represented by Marquis (afterwards Prince) Itō and Conclusion of Peace. Count Mutsu, prime minister and minister for foreign affairs, respectively. A treaty was signed at Shimonoseki on the 17th of April 1895, and subsequently ratified by the sovereigns of the two empires. It declared the absolute independence of Korea; ceded to Japan the part of Manchuria lying south of a line drawn from the mouth of the river Anping to the mouth of the Liao, through Feng-hwang, Hai-cheng and Ying-tse-kow, as well as the islands of Formosa and the Pescadores; pledged China to pay an indemnity of 200,000,000 taels; provided for the occupation of Wei-hai-wei by Japan pending payment of the indemnity; secured some additional commercial privileges, such as the opening of four new places to foreign trade and the right of foreigners to engage in manufacturing enterprises in China, and provided for the conclusion of a treaty of commerce and amity between the two empires, based on the lines of China’s treaties with Occidental powers.
No sooner was this agreement ratified than Russia, Germany and France presented a joint note to the Tōkyō government, recommending that the territories ceded to Japan on the mainland of China should not be permanently Foreign Interference. occupied, as such a proceeding would be detrimental to peace. The recommendation was couched in the usual terms of diplomatic courtesy, but everything indicated that its signatories were prepared to enforce their advice by an appeal to arms. Japan found herself compelled to comply. Exhausted by the Chinese campaign, which had drained her treasury, consumed her supplies of warlike material, and kept her squadrons constantly at sea for eight months, she had no residue of strength to oppose such a coalition. Her resolve was quickly taken. The day that saw the publication of the ratified treaty saw also the issue of an Imperial rescript in which the mikado, avowing his unalterable devotion to the cause of peace, and recognizing that the counsel offered by the European states was prompted by the same sentiment, “yielded to the dictates of magnanimity, and accepted the advice of the three Powers.” The Japanese people were shocked by this incident. They could understand the motives influencing Russia and France, for it was evidently natural that the former should desire to exclude warlike and progressive people like the Japanese from territories contiguous to her borders, and it was also natural that France should remain true to her alliance with Russia. But Germany, wholly uninterested in the ownership of Manchuria, and by profession a warm friend of Japan, seemed to have joined in robbing the latter of the fruits of her victory simply for the sake of establishing some shadowy title to Russia’s goodwill. It was not known until a later period that the German emperor entertained profound apprehensions about the “yellow peril,” an irruption of Oriental hordes into the Occident, and held it a sacred duty to prevent Japan from gaining a position which might enable her to construct an immense military machine out of the countless millions of China.
Japan’s third expedition over-sea in the Meiji era had its origin in causes which belong to the history of China (q.v.). In the second half of 1900 an anti-foreign and anti-dynastic rebellion, breaking out in Shantung, spread Chinese Crisis of 1900. to the metropolitan province of Pechili, and resulted in a situation of extreme peril for the foreign communities of Tientsin and Peking. It was impossible for any European power, or for the United States, to organize sufficiently prompt measures of relief. Thus the eyes of the world turned to Japan, whose proximity to the scene of disturbance rendered intervention comparatively easy for her. But Japan hesitated. Knowing now with what suspicion and distrust the development of her resources and the growth of her military strength were regarded by some European peoples, and aware that she had been admitted to the comity of Western nations on sufferance, she shrank, on the one hand, from seeming to grasp at an opportunity for armed display, and, on the other, from the solecism of obtrusiveness in the society of strangers. Not until Europe and America made it quite plain that they needed and desired her aid did she send a division (21,000) men to Pechili. Her troops played a fine part in the subsequent expedition for the relief of Peking, which had to be approached in midsummer under very trying conditions. Fighting side by side with European and American soldiers, and under the eyes of competent military critics, the Japanese acquitted themselves in such a manner as to establish a high military reputation. Further, after the relief of Peking they withdrew a moiety of their forces, and that step, as well as their unequivocal co-operation with Western powers in the subsequent negotiations, helped to show the injustice of the suspicions with which they had been regarded.
From the time (1895) when Russia, with the co-operation of Germany and France, dictated to Japan a cardinal alteration of the Shimonoseki treaty, Japanese statesmen seem to have concluded that their country must one day War with Russia. cross swords with the great northern power. Not a few European and American publicists shared that view. But the vast majority, arguing that the little Eastern empire would never invite annihilation by such an encounter, believed that sufficient forbearance to avert serious trouble would always be forthcoming on Japan’s side. Yet when the geographical and historical situation was carefully considered, little hope of an ultimately peaceful settlement presented itself.
Japan along its western shore, Korea along its southern and eastern, and Russia along the eastern coast of its maritime province, are washed by the Sea of Japan. The communications between the sea and the Pacific Ocean are practically two only. One is on the north-east, namely, Tsugaru Strait; the other is on the south, namely, the channel between the extremity of the Korean peninsula and the Japanese island of the nine provinces. Tsugaru Strait is entirely under Japan’s control. It is between her main island and her island of Yezo, and in case of need she can close it with mines. The channel between the southern extremity of Korea and Japan has a width of 102 m. and would therefore be a fine open sea-way were it free from islands. But almost mid-way in this channel lie the twin islands of Tsushima, and the space of 56 m. that separates them from Japan is narrowed by another island, Iki. Tsushima and Iki belong to the Japanese empire. The former has some exceptionally good harbours, constituting a naval base from which the channel on either side could easily be sealed. Thus the avenues from the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Japan are controlled by the Japanese empire. In other words, access to the Pacific from Korea’s eastern and southern coasts and access to the Pacific from Russia’s maritime province depend upon Japan’s goodwill. So far as Korea was concerned this question mattered little, it being her fate to depend upon the goodwill of Japan in affairs of much greater importance. But with Russia the case was different. Vladivostok, which until recent times was her principal port in the Far East, lies at the southern extremity of the maritime province; that is to say, on the north-western shore of the Japan Sea. It was therefore necessary for Russia that freedom of passage by the Tsushima channel should be secured, and to secure it one of two things was essential, namely, either that she herself should possess a fortified port on the Korean side, or that Japan should be bound neither to acquire such a port nor to impose any restriction upon the navigation of the strait. To put the matter briefly, Russia must either acquire a strong foothold for herself in southern Korea, or contrive that Japan should not acquire one. There was here a strong inducement for Russian aggression in Korea.
Russia’s eastward movement through Asia has been strikingly illustrative of her strong craving for free access to southern seas and of the impediments she had experienced in gratifying that wish. An irresistible impulse had driven her oceanward. Checked again and again in her attempts to reach the Mediterranean, she set out on a five-thousand-miles march of conquest right across the vast Asiatic continent towards the Pacific. Eastward of Lake Baikal she found her line of least resistance along the Amur, and when, owing to the restless perseverance of Muravief, she reached the mouth of that great river, the acquisition of Nikolayevsk for a naval basis was her immediate reward. But Nikolayevsk could not possibly satisfy her. Situated in an inhospitable region far away from all the main routes of the world’s commerce, it offered itself only as a stepping-stone to further acquisitions. To push southward from this new port became an immediate object to Russia. There lay an obstacle in the way, however; the long strip of sea-coast from the mouth of the Amur to the Korean frontier—an area then called the Usuri region because the Usuri forms its western boundary—belonged to China, and she, having conceded much to Russia in the matter of the Amur, showed no disposition to make further concessions in the matter of the Usuri. In the presence of menaces, however, she agreed that the region should be regarded as common property pending a convenient opportunity for clear delimitation. That opportunity came very soon. Seizing the moment (1860) when China had been beaten to her knees by England and France, Russia secured final cession of the Usuri region, which now became the maritime province of Siberia. Then Russia shifted her naval base on the Pacific from Nikolayevsk to Vladivostok. She gained ten degrees in a southerly direction.
From the mouth of the Amur, where Nikolayevsk is situated, to the southern shore of Korea there rests on the coast of eastern Asia an arch of islands having at its northern point Sakhalin and at its southern Tsushima, the keystone of the arch being the main island of Japan. This arch embraces the Sea of Japan and is washed on its convex side by the Pacific Ocean. Immediately after the transfer of Russia’s naval base from Nikolayevsk to Vladivostok, an attempt was made to obtain possession of the southern point of the arch, namely, Tsushima. A Russian man-of-war proceeded thither and quietly began to establish a settlement, which would soon have constituted a title of ownership had not Great Britain interfered. The Russians saw that Vladivostok, acquired at the cost of so much toil, would be comparatively useless unless from the sea on whose shore it was situated an avenue to the Pacific could be opened, and they therefore tried to obtain command of the Tsushima channel. Immediately after reaching the mouth of the Amur the same instinct had led them to begin the colonization of Sakhalin. The axis of this long narrow island is inclined at a very acute angle to the Usuri region, which its northern extremity almost touches, while its southern is separated from Yezo by the strait of La Pérouse. But in Sakhalin the Russians found Japanese subjects. In fact the island was a part of the Japanese empire. Resorting, however, to the Usuri fiction of joint occupation, they succeeded by 1875 in transferring the whole of Sakhalin to Russia’s dominion. Further encroachments upon Japanese territory could not be lightly essayed, and the Russians held their hands. They had been trebly checked: checked in trying to push southward along the coast of the mainland; checked in trying to secure an avenue from Vladivostok to the Pacific; and checked in their search for an ice-free port, which definition Vladivostok did not fulfil. Enterprise in the direction of Korea seemed to be the only hope of saving the maritime results of the great Trans-Asian march.
Was Korea within safe range of such enterprises? Everything seemed to answer in the affirmative. Korea had all the qualifications desired by an aggressor. Her people were unprogressive, her resources undeveloped, her self-defensive capacities insignificant, her government corrupt. But she was a tributary of China, and China had begun to show some tenacity in protecting the integrity of her buffer states. Besides, Japan was understood to have pretensions with regard to Korea. On the whole, therefore, the problem of carrying to full fruition the work of Muravief and his lieutenants demanded strength greater than Russia could exercise without some line of communications supplementing the Amur waterway and the long ocean route. Therefore she set about the construction of a railway across Asia.
The Amur being the boundary of Russia’s east Asian territory, this railway had to be carried along its northern bank where many engineering and economic obstacles presented themselves. Besides, the river, from an early stage in its course, makes a huge semicircular sweep northward, and a railway following its bank to Vladivostok must make the same détour. If, on the contrary, the road could be carried over the diameter of the semicircle, it would be a straight and therefore shorter line, technically easier and economically better. The diameter, however, passed through Chinese territory, and an excuse for extorting China’s permission was not in sight. Russia therefore proceeded to build each end of the road, deferring the construction of the Amur section for the moment. She had not waited long when, in 1894, war broke out between China and Japan, and the latter, completely victorious, demanded as the price of peace the southern littoral of Manchuria from the Korean boundary to the Liaotung peninsula at the entrance to the Gulf of Pechili. This was a crisis in Russia’s career. She saw that her maritime extension could never get nearer to the Pacific than Vladivostok were this claim of Japan’s established. For the proposed arrangement would place the littoral of Manchuria in Japan’s direct occupation and the littoral of Korea in her constructive control, since not only had she fought to rescue Korea from Chinese suzerainty, but also her object in demanding a slice of the Manchurian coast-line was to protect Korea against aggression from the north; that is to say, against aggression from Russia. Muravief’s enterprise had carried his country first to the mouth of the Amur and thence southward along the coast to Vladivostok and to Possiet Bay at the north-eastern extremity of Korea. But it had not given to Russia free access to the Pacific, and now she was menaced with a perpetual barrier to that access, since the whole remaining coast of east Asia as far as the Gulf of Pechili was about to pass into Japan’s possession or under her domination.
Then Russia took an extraordinary step. She persuaded Germany and France to force Japan out of Manchuria. It is not to be supposed that she frankly exposed her own aggressive designs and asked for assistance to prosecute them. Neither is it to be supposed that France and Germany were so curiously deficient in perspicacity as to overlook those designs. At all events these three great powers served on Japan a notice to quit, and Japan, exhausted by her struggle with China, had no choice but to obey.
The notice was accompanied by an exposé of reasons. Its signatories said that Japan’s tenure of the Manchurian littoral would menace the security of the Chinese capital, would render the independence of Korea illusory, and would constitute an obstacle to the peace of the Orient.
By way of saving the situation in some slight degree Japan sought from China a guarantee that no portion of Manchuria should thereafter be leased or ceded to a foreign state. But France warned Japan that to press such a demand would offend Russia, and Russia declared that, for her part, she had no intention of trespassing in Manchuria. Japan, had she been in a position to insist on the guarantee, would also have been in a position to disobey the mandate of the three powers. Unable to do either the one or the other, she quietly stepped out of Manchuria, and proceeded to double her army and treble her navy.
As a reward for the assistance nominally rendered to China in this matter, Russia obtained permission in Peking to divert her Trans-Asian railway from the huge bend of the Amur to the straight line through Manchuria. Neither Germany nor France received any immediate recompense. Three years later, by way of indemnity for the murder of two missionaries by a mob, Germany seized a portion of the province of Shantung. Immediately, on the principle that two wrongs make a right, Russia obtained a lease of the Liaotung peninsula, from which she had driven Japan in 1895. This act she followed by extorting from China permission to construct a branch of the Trans-Asian railway through Manchuria from north to south.
Russia’s maritime aspirations had now assumed a radically altered phase. Instead of pushing southward from Vladivostok and Possiet Bay along the coast of Korea, she had suddenly leaped the Korean peninsula and found access to the Pacific in Liaotung. Nothing was wanting to establish her as practical mistress of Manchuria except a plausible excuse for garrisoning the place. Such an excuse was furnished by the Boxer rising in 1900. Its conclusion saw her in military occupation of the whole region, and she might easily have made her occupation permanent by prolonging it until peace and order should have been fully restored. But here she fell into an error of judgment. Imagining that the Chinese could be persuaded or intimidated to any concession, she proposed a convention virtually recognizing her title to Manchuria.
Japan watched all these things with profound anxiety. If there were any reality in the dangers which Russia, Germany and France had declared to be incidental to Japanese occupation of a part of Manchuria, the same dangers must be doubly incidental to Russian occupation of the whole of Manchuria—the security of the Chinese capital would be threatened, and an obstacle would be created to the permanent peace of the East. The independence of Korea was an object of supreme solicitude to Japan. Historically she held towards the little state a relation closely resembling that of suzerain, and though of her ancient conquests nothing remained except a settlement at Fusan on the southern coast, her national sentiment would have been deeply wounded by any foreign aggression in the peninsula. It was to establish Korean independence that she waged war with China in 1894; and her annexation of the Manchurian littoral adjacent to the Korean frontier, after the war, was designed to secure that independence, not to menace it as the triple alliance professed to think. But if Russia came into possession of all Manchuria, her subsequent absorption of Korea would be almost inevitable. For the consideration set forth above as to Vladivostok’s maritime avenues would then acquire absolute cogency. Manchuria is larger than France and the United Kingdom lumped together. The addition of such an immense area to Russia’s east Asiatic dominions, together with its littoral on the Gulf of Pechili and the Yellow Sea, would necessitate a corresponding expansion of her naval forces in the Far East. With the one exception of Port Arthur, however, the Manchurian coast does not offer any convenient naval base. It is only in the splendid harbours of southern Korea that such bases can be found. Moreover, there would be an even stronger motive impelling Russia towards Korea. Neither the Usuri region nor the Manchurian littoral possesses so much as one port qualified to satisfy her perennial longing for free access to the ocean in a temperate zone. Without Korea, then, Russia’s east Asian expansion, though it added huge blocks of territory to her dominions, would have been commercially incomplete and strategically defective.
If it be asked why, apart from history and national sentiment, Japan should object to a Russian Korea, the answer is, first, because there would thus be planted almost within cannon-shot of her shores a power of enormous strength and insatiable ambition; secondly, because, whatever voice in Manchuria’s destiny Russia derived from her railway, the same voice in Korea’s destiny was possessed by Japan as the sole owner of railways in the peninsula; thirdly, that whereas Russia had an altogether insignificant share in the foreign commerce of Korea and scarcely ten bona-fide settlers, Japan did the greater part of the over-sea trade and had tens of thousands of settlers; fourthly, that if Russia’s dominions stretched uninterruptedly from the Sea of Okhotsk to the Gulf of Pechili, her ultimate absorption of north China would be as certain as sunrise; and fifthly, that such domination and such absorption would involve the practical closure of all that immense region to Japanese commerce and industry as well as to the commerce and industry of every Western nation except Russia. This last proposition did not rest solely on the fact that to oppose artificial barriers to free competition is Russia’s sole hope of utilizing to her own benefit any commercial opportunities brought within her reach. It rested also on the fact that Russia had objected to foreign settlements at the marts recently opened by treaty with China to American and Japanese subjects. Without settlements, trade at those marts would be impossible, and thus Russia had constructively announced that there should be no trade but Russian, if she could prevent it.
Against such dangers Japan would have been justified in adopting any measure of self-protection. She had foreseen them for six years, and had been strengthening herself to avert them. But she wanted peace. She wanted to develop her material resources and to accumulate some measure of wealth, without which she must remain insignificant among the nations. Two pacific devices offered, and she adopted them both. Russia, instead of trusting time to consolidate her tenure of Manchuria, had made the mistake of pragmatically importuning China for a conventional title. If then Peking could be strengthened to resist this demand, some arrangement of a distinctly terminable nature might be made. The United States, Great Britain and Japan, joining hands for that purpose, did succeed in so far stiffening China’s backbone that her show of resolution finally induced Russia to sign a treaty pledging herself to withdraw her troops from Manchuria in three instalments, each step of evacuation to be accomplished by a fixed date. That was one of the pacific devices. The other suggested itself in connexion with the new commercial treaties which China had promised to negotiate in the sequel of the Boxer troubles. In these documents clauses provided for the opening of three places in Manchuria to foreign trade. It seemed a reasonable hope that, having secured commercial access to Manchuria by covenant with its sovereign, China, the powers would not allow Russia arbitrarily to restrict their privileges. It seemed also a reasonable hope that Russia, having solemnly promised to evacuate Manchuria at fixed dates, would fulfil her engagement.
The latter hope was signally disappointed. When the time came for evacuation, Russia behaved as though no promise had ever been given. She proposed wholly new conditions, which would have strengthened her grasp of Manchuria instead of loosening it. China being powerless to offer any practical protest, and Japan’s interests ranking next in order of importance, the Tōkyō government approached Russia direct. They did not ask for anything that could hurt her pride or injure her position. Appreciating fully the economical status she had acquired in Manchuria by large outlays of capital, they offered to recognize that status, provided that Russia would extend similar recognition to Japan’s status in Korea, would promise, in common with Japan, to respect the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of China and Korea, and would be a party to a mutual engagement that all nations should have equal industrial and commercial opportunities in Manchuria and the Korean peninsula. In a word, they invited Russia to subscribe the policy enunciated by the United States and Great Britain, the policy of the open door and of the integrity of the Chinese and Korean empires.
Thus commenced a negotiation which lasted five and a half months. Japan gradually reduced her demands to a minimum. Russia never made the smallest appreciable concession. She refused to listen to Japan for one moment about Manchuria. Eight years previously Japan had been in military possession of Manchuria, and Russia with the assistance of Germany and France had expelled her for reasons which concerned Japan incomparably more than they concerned any of the three powers—the security of the Chinese capital, the independence of Korea, the peace of the East. Now, Russia had the splendid assurance to declare by implication that none of these things concerned Japan at all. The utmost she would admit was Japan’s partial right to be heard about Korea. And at the same time she herself commenced in northern Korea a series of aggressions, partly perhaps to show her potentialities, partly by way of counter-irritant. That was not all. Whilst she studiously deferred her answers to Japan’s proposals and protracted the negotiations to an extent which was actually contumelious, she hastened to send eastward a big fleet of war-ships and a new army of soldiers. It was impossible for the dullest politician to mistake her purpose. She intended to yield nothing, but to prepare such a parade of force that her obduracy would command submission. The only alternatives for Japan were war or total and permanent effacement in Asia. She chose war, and in fighting it she fought the battle of free and equal opportunities for all without undue encroachment upon the sovereign rights or territorial integrity of China or Korea, against a military dictatorship, a programme of ruthless territorial aggrandizement and a policy of selfish restrictions.
The details of the great struggle that ensued are given elsewhere (see Russo-Japanese War). After the battle of Mukden the belligerents found themselves in a position which must either prelude another stupendous effort on The Results of the War. both sides or be utilized for the purpose of peace negotiations. At this point the president of the United States of America intervened in the interests of humanity, and on the 9th of June 1905 instructed the United States’ representative in Tōkyō to urge that the Japanese government should open direct negotiations with Russia, an exactly corresponding note being simultaneously sent to the Russian government through the United States’ representative in St Petersburg. Japan’s reply was made on the 10th of June. It intimated frank acquiescence, and Russia lost no time in taking a similar step. Nevertheless two months elapsed before the plenipotentiaries of the belligerents met, on the 10th of August, at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, U.S.A. Russia sent M. (afterwards Count) de Witte and Baron Rosen; Japan, Baron (afterwards Count) Komura, who had held the portfolio of foreign affairs throughout the war, and Mr. (afterwards Baron) Takahira. In entering this conference, Japanese statesmen, as was subsequently known, saw clearly that a great part of the credit accruing to them for their successful conduct of the war would be forfeited in the sequel of the negotiations. For the people of Japan had accustomed themselves to expect that Russia would assuredly recoup the expenses incurred by their country in the contest, whereas the cabinet in Tōkyō understood well that to look for payment of indemnity by a great state whose territory had not been invaded effectively nor its existence menaced must be futile. Nevertheless, diplomacy required that this conviction should be concealed, and thus Russia carried to the conference a belief that the financial phase of the discussion would be crucial, while, at the same time, the Japanese nation reckoned fully on an indemnity of 150 millions sterling. Baron Komura’s mandate was, however, that the only radically essential terms were those formulated by Japan prior to the war. She must insist on securing the ends for which she had fought, since she believed them to be indispensable to the peace of the Far East, but she would not demand anything more. The Japanese plenipotentiary, therefore, judged it wise to marshal his terms in the order of their importance, leaving his Russian colleague to imagine, as he probably would, that the converse method had been adopted, and that everything preliminary to the questions of finance and territory was of minor consequence. The negotiations, commencing on the 10th of August, were not concluded until the 5th of September, when a treaty of peace was signed. There had been a moment when the onlooking world believed that unless Russia agreed to ransom the island of Sakhalin by paying to Japan a sum of 120 millions sterling, the conference would be broken off; nor did such an exchange seem unreasonable, for were Russia expelled from the northern part of Sakhalin, which commands the estuary of the Amur River, her position in Siberia would have been compromised. But the statesmen who directed Japan’s affairs were not disposed to make any display of earth-hunger. The southern half of Sakhalin had originally belonged to Japan and had passed into Russia’s possession by an arrangement which the Japanese nation strongly resented. To recover that portion of the island seemed, therefore, a legitimate ambition. Japan did not contemplate any larger demand, nor did she seriously insist on an indemnity. Therefore the negotiations were never in real danger of failure. The treaty of Portsmouth recognized Japan’s “paramount political, military and economic interests” in Korea; provided for the simultaneous evacuation of Manchuria by the contracting parties; transferred to Japan the lease of the Liaotung peninsula held by Russia from China together with the Russian railways south of Kwang-Cheng-tsze and all collateral mining or other privileges; ceded to Japan the southern half of Sakhalin, the 50th parallel of latitude to be the boundary between the two parts; secured fishing rights for Japanese subjects along the coasts of the seas of Japan, Okhotsk and Bering; laid down that the expenses incurred by the Japanese for the maintenance of the Russian prisoners during the war should be reimbursed by Russia, less the outlays made by the latter on account of Japanese prisoners—by which arrangement Japan obtained a payment of some 4 millions sterling—and provided that the contracting parties, while withdrawing their military forces from Manchuria, might maintain guards to protect their respective railways, the number of such guards not to exceed 15 per kilometre of line. There were other important restrictions: first, the contracting parties were to abstain from taking, on the Russo-Korean frontier, any military measures which might menace the security of Russian or Korean territory; secondly, the two powers pledged themselves not to exploit the Manchurian railways for strategic purposes; and thirdly, they promised not to build on Sakhalin or its adjacent islands any fortifications or other similar military works, or to take any military measures which might impede the free navigation of the straits of La Pérouse and the Gulf of Tartary. The above provisions concerned the two contracting parties only. But China’s interests also were considered. Thus it was agreed to “restore entirely and completely to her exclusive administration” all portions of Manchuria then in the occupation, or under the control, of Japanese or Russian troops, except the leased territory; that her consent must be obtained for the transfer to Japan of the leases and concessions held by the Russians in Manchuria; that the Russian government would disavow the possession of “any territorial advantages or preferential or exclusive concessions in impairment of Chinese sovereignty or inconsistent with the principle of equal opportunity in Manchuria”; and that Japan and Russia “engaged reciprocally not to obstruct any general measures common to all countries which China might take for the development of the commerce and industry of Manchuria.” This distinction between the special interests of the contracting parties and the interests of China herself as well as of foreign nations generally is essential to clear understanding of a situation which subsequently attracted much attention. From the time of the opium war (1857) to the Boxer rising (1900) each of the great Western powers struggled for its own hand in China, and each sought to gain for itself exclusive concessions and privileges with comparatively little regard for the interests of others, and with no regard whatever for China’s sovereign rights. The fruits of this period were: permanently ceded territories (Hong-Kong and Macao); leases temporarily establishing foreign sovereignty in various districts (Kiaochow, Wei-hai-wei and Kwang-chow); railway and mining concessions; and the establishment of settlements at open ports where foreign jurisdiction was supreme. But when, in 1900, the Boxer rising forced all the powers into a common camp, they awoke to full appreciation of a principle which had been growing current for the past two or three years, namely, that concerted action on the lines of maintaining China’s integrity and securing to all alike equality of opportunity and a similarly open door, was the only feasible method of preventing the partition of the Chinese Empire and averting a clash of rival interests which might have disastrous results. This, of course, did not mean that there was to be any abandonment of special privileges already acquired or any surrender of existing concessions. The arrangement was not to be retrospective in any sense. Vested interests were to be strictly guarded until the lapse of the periods for which they had been granted, or until the maturity of China’s competence to be really autonomous. A curious situation was thus created. International professions of respect for China’s sovereignty, for the integrity of her empire and for the enforcement of the open door and equal opportunity, coexisted with legacies from an entirely different past. Russia endorsed this new policy, but not unnaturally declined to abate any of the advantages previously enjoyed by her in Manchuria. Those advantages were very substantial. They included a twenty-five years’ lease—with provision for renewal—of the Liaotung peninsula, within which area of 1220 sq. m. Chinese troops might not penetrate, whereas Russia would not only exercise full administrative authority, but also take military and naval action of any kind; they included the creation of a neutral territory in the immediate north of the former and still more extensive, which should remain under Chinese administration, but where neither Chinese nor Russian troops might enter, nor might China, without Russia’s consent, cede land, open trading marts or grant concessions to any third nationality; and they included the right to build some 1600 m. of railway (which China would have the opportunity of purchasing at cost price in the year 1938 and would be entitled to receive gratis in 1982), as well as the right to hold extensive zones on either side of the railway, to administer these zones in the fullest sense, and to work all mines lying along the lines. Under the Portsmouth treaty these advantages were transferred to Japan by Russia, the railway, however, being divided so that only the portion (521½ m.) to the south of Kwang-Cheng-tsze fell to Japan’s share, while the portion (1077 m.) to the north of that place remained in Russia’s hands. China’s consent to the above transfers and assignments was obtained in a treaty signed at Peking on the 22nd of December 1905. Thus Japan came to hold in Manchuria a position somewhat contradictory. On the one hand, she figured as the champion of the Chinese Empire’s integrity and as an exponent of the new principle of equal opportunity and the open door. On the other, she appeared as the legatee of many privileges more or less inconsistent with that principle. But, at the same time, nearly all the great powers of Europe were similarly circumstanced. In their cases also the same incongruity was observable between the newly professed policy and the aftermath of the old practice. It was scarcely to be expected that Japan alone should make a large sacrifice on the altar of a theory to which no other state thought of yielding any retrospective obedience whatever. She did, indeed, furnish a clear proof of deference to the open-door doctrine, for instead of reserving the railway zones to her own exclusive use, as she was fully entitled to do, she sought and obtained from China a pledge to open to foreign trade 16 places within those zones. For the rest, however, the inconsistency between the past and the present, though existing throughout the whole of China, was nowhere so conspicuous as in the three eastern provinces (Manchuria); not because there was any real difference of degree, but because Manchuria had been the scene of the greatest war of modern times; because that war had been fought by Japan in the cause of the new policy, and because the principles of the equally open door and of China’s integrity had been the main bases of the Portsmouth treaty, of the Anglo-Japanese alliance, and of the subsequently concluded ententes with France and Russia. In short, the world’s eyes were fixed on Manchuria and diverted from China proper, so that every act of Japan was subjected to an exceptionally rigorous scrutiny, and the nations behaved as though they expected her to live up to a standard of almost ideal altitude. China’s mood, too, greatly complicated the situation. She had the choice between two moderate and natural courses: either to wait quietly until the various concessions granted by her to foreign powers in the evil past should lapse by maturity, or to qualify herself by earnest reforms and industrious development for their earlier recovery. Nominally she adopted the latter course, but in reality she fell into a mood of much impatience. Under the name of a “rights-recovery campaign” her people began to protest vehemently against the continuance of any conditions which impaired her sovereignty, and as this temper coloured her attitude towards the various questions which inevitably grew out of the situation in Manchuria, her relations with Japan became somewhat strained in the early part of 1909.
Having waged two wars on account of Korea, Japan emerged from the second conflict with the conviction that the policy of maintaining the independence of Korea must be modified, and that since the identity of Korean and Japan in Korea after the War with Russia. Japanese interests in the Far East and the paramount character of Japanese interests in Korea would not permit Japan to leave Korea to the care of any third power, she must assume the charge herself. Europe and America also recognized that view of the situation, and consented to withdraw their legations from Seoul, thus leaving the control of Korean foreign affairs entirely in the hands of Japan, who further undertook to assume military direction in the event of aggression from without or disturbance from within. But in the matter of internal administration she continued to limit herself to advisory supervision. Thus, though a Japanese resident-general in Seoul, with subordinate residents throughout the provinces, assumed the functions hitherto discharged by foreign representatives and consuls, the Korean government was merely asked to employ Japanese experts in the position of counsellors, the right to accept or reject their counsels being left to their employers. Once again, however, the futility of looking for any real reforms under this optional system was demonstrated. Japan sent her most renowned statesman, Prince Ito, to discharge the duties of resident-general; but even he, in spite of profound patience and tact, found that some less optional methods must be resorted to. Hence on the 24th of July 1907 a new agreement was signed, by which the resident-general acquired initiative as well as consultative competence to enact and enforce laws and ordinances, to appoint and remove Korean officials, and to place capable Japanese subjects in the ranks of the administration. That this constituted a heavy blow to Korea’s independence could not be gainsaid. That it was inevitable seemed to be equally obvious. For there existed in Korea nearly all the worst abuses of medieval systems. The administration of justice depended solely on favour or interest. The police contributed by corruption and incompetence to the insecurity of life and property. The troops were a body of useless mercenaries. Offices being allotted by sale, thousands of incapables thronged the ranks of the executive. The emperor’s court was crowded by diviners and plotters of all kinds, male and female. The finances of the throne and those of the state were hopelessly confused. There was nothing like an organized judiciary. A witness was in many cases considered particeps criminis; torture was commonly employed to obtain evidence, and defendants in civil cases were placed under arrest. Imprisonment meant death or permanent disablement for a man of small means. Flogging so severe as to cripple, if not to kill, was a common punishment; every major offence from robbery upward was capital, and female criminals were frequently executed by administering shockingly painful poisons. The currency was in a state of the utmost confusion. Extreme corruption and extortion were practised in connexion with taxation. Finally, while nothing showed that the average Korean lacked the elementary virtue of patriotism, there had been repeated proofs that the safety and independence of the empire counted for little in the estimates of political intriguers. Japan must either step out of Korea altogether or effect drastic reforms there. She necessarily chose the latter alternative, and the things which she accomplished between the beginning of 1906 and the close of 1908 may be briefly described as the elaboration of a proper system of taxation; the organization of a staff to administer annual budgets; the re-assessment of taxable property; the floating of public loans for productive enterprises; the reform of the currency; the establishment of banks of various kinds, including agricultural and commercial; the creation of associations for putting bank-notes into circulation; the introduction of a warehousing system to supply capital to farmers; the lighting and buoying of the coasts; the provision of posts, telegraphs, roads and railways; the erection of public buildings; the starting of various industrial enterprises (such as printing, brick-making, forestry and coal-mining); the laying out of model farms; the beginning of cotton cultivation; the building and equipping of an industrial training school; the inauguration of sanitary works; the opening of hospitals and medical schools; the organization of an excellent educational system; the construction of waterworks in several towns; the complete remodelling of the central government; the differentiation of the court and the executive, as well as of the administration and the judiciary; the formation of an efficient body of police; the organization of law courts with a majority of Japanese jurists on the bench; the enactment of a new penal code; drastic reforms in the taxation system. In the summer of 1907 the resident-general advised the Throne to disband the standing army as an unserviceable and expensive force. The measure was doubtless desirable, but the docility of the troops had been over-rated. Some of them resisted vehemently, and many became the nucleus of an insurrection which lasted in a desultory manner for nearly two years; cost the lives of 21,000 insurgents and 1300 Japanese; and entailed upon Japan an outlay of nearly a million sterling. Altogether Japan was 15 millions sterling out of pocket on Korea’s account by the end of 1909. She had also lost the veteran statesman Prince Ito, who was assassinated at Harbin by a Korean fanatic on the 26th of October 1909. Finally an end was put to an anomalous situation by the annexation of Korea to Japan on the 29th of August 1910. (See further Korea.)
- The problem was to induce the co-operation of a feudatory whose castle served for frontier guard to the fief of a powerful chief, his suzerain. The feudatory was a Christian. Nobunaga seized the Jesuits in Kiōto, and threatened to suppress their religion altogether unless they persuaded the feudatory to abandon the cause of his suzerain.
- The mutilation was confined to the lobe of one ear. Crucifixion, according to the Japanese method, consisted in tying to a cross and piercing the heart with two sharp spears driven from either side. Death was always instantaneous.
- See A History of Christianity in Japan (1910), by Otis Cary.
- The Imperial cities were Yedo, Kiōto, Osaka and Nagasaki. To this last the English were subsequently admitted. They were also invited to Kagoshima by the Shimazu chieftain, and, had not their experience at Hirado proved so deterrent, they might have established a factory at Kagoshima.
- A History of Japan (Murdoch and Yamagata).
- H.M.S. “Phaeton,” which entered that port in 1808.