Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/251

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THE IMPERIAL UNIVERSITIES OF JAPAN

received from the study of "Greek, Latin and Philosophy," in the early American colleges. When studying the rapid progress of Japan in the acquirement of western science, it is more nearly correct to think of men with B.A. and M.A. degrees derived from the study of Greek, taking to engineering, than to think of a wholly uneducated people suddenly turned loose to browse in the whole field of knowledge. Indeed, in the later days of the Shogunate, Western knowledge had already begun to penetrate the hidden country. Books brought in by the Dutch and translated into Japanese, by scholars working as did our own when first deciphering the hieroglyphics of Egypt, had a large influence if small circulation. Soon after the visit of Commodore Perry, the Shogun established in 1857 an institution for the translation of foreign books, which by easy transition became first a school of foreign languages and finally a component part of the present Tokyo Imperial University. Similarly the medical school of the university had its roots in the Seiyo Igakujo, established under the Shoguns. In the early years of the Meiji era there was a bewildering succession of organizations and reorganizations in the higher educational institutions as in other branches of the public service, but with the issuance of Imperial Ordinance No. 3 (March 1, 1886), providing for the organization of imperial universities, the institution in Tokyo took essentially its present form. In 1890 an existing agricultural college there was consolidated with the faculties of law, medicine, engineering, literature and science already organized. In 1897, with the establishment of the sister institution at Kyoto, the name was changed from Teikoku Daigaku, or Imperial University, to its present form, the prefix Tokyo being added to indicate the place of its establishment.

The imperial ordinance already mentioned is a remarkable document, warranting careful attention from educators. It evidences a close study of existing universities and their fitness to the needs of the people in both Europe and America, and a nice critical sense in the selection of those features best suited to conditions in Japan. In it, as throughout contemporary Japanese institutions, there is at the same time the germ of new things, for Japan is far from being content to adapt, and purposes to originate as well. The object of the imperial universities is stated to be "the teaching of such arts and sciences as are required for the purposes of the state, and the prosecution of original research in such arts and sciences." This article foreshadowed concisely and accurately what has become the essential characteristics of the great universities that have been established under the ordinance. Essentially the schools were to be, and are, sources of information rather than devices for mental training. They had for their field all knowledge "required for the purposes of the state" and were to be frankly utilitarian branches of the government. This, however, was not to be, and has not been, interpreted in any narrow spirit since—and in this