Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/155

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IT is now nearly sixty years since the modern history of Japan began. The arrival of Commodore Perry at Kurihama, the downfall of the Shogun and the restoration of the Mikado mark the point of transition from feudal Japan to the Japan of to-day.

In all this period, the Japanese nation has been the subject of intense interest to the cultivated people of America, and a warm sympathy has arisen between those people of each nation who have come to understand the character and the ideals of the other. This sympathy has been kept alive by the influence of Japanese students in America, on the one hand, and on the other by the interest of those who have gone as missionaries, as teachers or advisers in the affairs of Japan.

In Asia there has existed for many years a division of the non Japanese into two sharply defined parties, or one may say, attitudes of mind, the pro-Japanese and the anti-Japanese. The disputes of these two types of people have not come to our notice until very lately. Till within the last decade, American influence was almost wholly ranged with the pro-Japanese. Contributory to this fact was our general tendency toward sympathetic interest in a nation which rose to constitutional government through influences from within. The Shimonoseki incident, the visit of General Grant, the aid of the United States in setting aside the obnoxious consular jurisdiction in the treaty ports, all these became expressions of the friendly attitude of America.

The Japanese question, as it is now called, first rose to the horizon in 1899, the year of the abrogation of consular jurisdiction.

The needs of cheap labor on the sugar plantations of Hawaii was great and constant. Kalakaua, the king, had tried to meet this need by "blackbirding" expeditions among the islands of Polynesia. The steamship companies followed by strenuous efforts among the laborers. in the rice fields of the region about the Inland Sea of Japan, the districts of Okayama, Hiroshima and Yamaguchi. By their insistence and by offers of real wages their emigration agencies brought to Hawaii many men from the lowest stratum in Japanese life, next to the criminal and the outcast—the unskilled and homeless laborers in the rice fields. These have been called coolies, but their position in Japan was

  1. ↑ Abstract of an address at Clark University.