The fur seal question has been under discussion for more than twenty years, ever since the wanton killing of females at sea first threatened the destruction of the Bering Sea herds. By the pelagic sealing of Canada the number of breeding seals in the Pribilof herd was reduced from about a million to about 180,000. The entrance of Japan into Bering Sea, for the protection of the herd, disregarding the regulations of the Paris tribunal, inadequate as these were, soon reduced these numbers to about 30,000. Last year, a treaty was concluded, Russia, Japan, Canada and the United States being parties to it, by which the matter was honorably and justly settled and the continuance and restoration of the three herds, American, Russian and Japanese finally assured. There is not now a single cloud above the official horizon as between the United States and Japan. There have never been any real difficulties and the apparent ones are no greater than must appear wherever great nations border on each other. As the Japanese are fond of saying: The Pacific Ocean unites our nations. It does not separate.
War talk on either side is foolish and criminal. Japan recognizes the United States as her nearest neighbor among western nations, her best customer and most steadfast friend. Her own ambitions and interest lie in the restoration of Korea, the safeguarding of her investments in Manchuria and in the part she must play in the unforetold future of China. For her own affairs she needs every yen she can raise by any means for the next half century. For the future greatness of Japan depends on the return of "the old peace with velvet-sandalled feet," which made her the nation she is to-day.
War and war demands have made her, for the time being, relatively weak, she who once was strong in her persistent industry, her unchanging good nature, her spirit of progress, her freedom from debt and in the high ambition of her people. Thirteen hundred millions of dollars in war debt is a burden not lightly carried. Through peace, and peace only, Japan will gain her old strength, and none know this better than the men of the wise and patriotic group who now control Japan.