Today’s installment concludes The New Japan,
the name of our combined selection from Yoshitami Sannomiya, Tokiwo Yokio, and Ito Hirobumi. The concluding installment is by Ito Hirobumi from Japan by the Japanese. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
If you have journeyed through all of the installments of this series, just one more to go and you will have completed selections from the great works of eight thousand words. Congratulations!
Previously in The New Japan.
Another important question of the day is that of our military armaments. It is easy to speak of the completion of armaments, but when we undertake this great task practically, we shall meet with many difficulties on account of the fact that it extends over a number of years.
Besides the complete victory in the war with China, and the success of treaty revision, Japan may be proud of the speediness of her material progress, because she has made a progress seldom paralleled in modern history. For instance, the system of conscription having been introduced into our country shortly after the abolition of a long-rooted feudal system, foreigners doubted that it would be successfully carried out; but it was introduced easily and perfectly, and may serve as a demonstration of how Japan surpasses her neighboring countries, China and Korea.
Next we come to the marked development of the national resources. According to the statistics of our foreign trade for 1872 and 1873, the total amount of our annual exports and imports stood at about thirty million yen only, while it rose to more than four hundred forty million yen in 1898, the rapid increase being unexampled anywhere else in the world. And, furthermore, our commerce and industry have made a marked progress since the year 1885 or thereabouts. Last year , when I was still holding the office of Premier, I made a full investigation of the general features of our commercial and industrial progress, and found that the total amount of capital invested in various enterprises of the country stood then at about nine hundred million yen. Of course, this figure represents the aggregate sum of the authorized capital, and I cannot now calculate the exact amount of the capital actually paid up, but the latter may be safely estimated at about five hundred million yen. True, in this figure are included those funds that were needed for the undertaking of Government works, such as the construction of railways and the extension of telegraphic service. But it is certain that such a large amount of capital has been invested in various enterprises of the country. Thus, commercial and industrial enterprises of various kinds have sprung up in Japan in recent years with such rapid strides as are seldom seen in the newly developed countries of the world; and in this respect she does not stand behind the European States, with the exception of the richer countries — Great Britain, France, Germany, and Russia.
The population of Japan has increased more than ten million since the Restoration. I made full investigation of old official records concerning the population, and found, strange to say, that the increase of our population was very slow in the time of the Tokugawa Shogunate. According to the official estimates made in the Genroku era, our total population numbered only twenty-six million or twenty-seven million, notwithstanding the fact that it made an unprecedented increase in the said era, while its numbers have increased by more than ten million during the past thirty years only. It is evident that such an increase of population would not be made unless it was accompanied by a corresponding increase of the national wealth, for a man can find employment only when there is a place to use his labor, and thereby secure a means of livelihood. Thus, the great increase of population may be taken as another good evidence of the marked development of our national wealth.
The future of China is a matter of importance not only to the Far East, but to the whole world. The following questions may be asked: What will be the future state of affairs in China? What position in China will be held by Japan, which has a much greater interest there than any other nation, on account of her being situated in such close neighborhood? In answer, I can only say that it is at present too difficult to express any definite opinion. Since the war with Japan, China has been exposed to an increasing danger day by day, and, for various reasons, almost all the Powers of the world have had close relations with her. This state of things suggests that it is very necessary for China to maintain her own independence at this juncture, and to take steps to place her country on a firm foundation; while, on the other hand, this line of action on the part of Japan lays her open to the thought held by some, that Japan has a great interest indirectly in the independence of China. This was the reason of my making a tour of China and having interviews with notable Chinese statesmen — who, having the great respect and esteem of the people, hold the administrative power of the State — and expressing to them my views on the most important subjects that should have their careful consideration. On my inspection of the actual condition of China, I found that, although she is running a danger day by day which might plead for prompt action, it would be difficult to reform at once the prevailing customs and usages, as well as the present system of administration, which has been handed down from ancient times, and thereby improve the state of things in the country. It must be admitted that many favorable opportunities to carry out these reforms have already been missed. Thus, in the interviews which I often had with the notable Chinese statesmen during my stay there, I expressed my views above referred to, and they all agreed with my theory, but said that it would be very hard to carry out such reforms.
This ends our selections on The New Japan by three of the most important authorities on this topic:
- Japan by the Japanese by Yoshitami Sannomiya.
- New Japan and Her Constitution (in Contempory Review, Vol. LXXIV) by Tokiwo Yokio published in 1898.
- Japan by the Japanese by Ito Hirobumi.
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