But whatever causes may have helped Japan in her progress, and however much we may have been instrumental in the achievements of the past years, they are insignificant when compared with what the country owes to his Majesty the Emperor.
Today we continue The New Japan,
with a selection from Japan by the Japanese by Ito Hirobumi. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. This selection is presented in 3 installments for 5 minute daily reading each.
Previously in The New Japan.
Although it has been necessary first of all to develop our fleet, the army has not been neglected. It has been more than doubled of late, and has now a war footing of more than five hundred thousand men. The bold experiment of conscription, tried at the beginning of the New Era, has proved itself on many occasions, notably the Satsuma Rebellion, the Chinese War, and the Boxer outbreak. On the last occasion the Japanese army was enabled to play a very great part in the relief of Peking, and showed to the other allies a striking illustration of organization, morale, personnel, and equipment; and this efficiency and thoroughness are to be found throughout our army system. First based on French models and later on German, with foreign instructors, the Japanese army has since developed a model of its own, and has proved its capability of training and further developing itself.
Although so much has already been done in respect to the army, I believe we shall not remain idle, and even if no great increase in numbers should be made in the near future, great efforts will continue toward the further improvement of the training and efficiency of the soldiers. In Japan we have the advantage that, although the soldiers are raised by conscription, every conscript is animated by the highest sense of patriotism and pride in his country.
In commercial and industrial matters Japan is becoming well established, and is making secure her hold upon the markets of the Far East. The resources of the country are very good, the coal-supply especially being abundant. Although many of the beds are not of the best quality, still, the fact that there is an abundance of coal is a very important factor in the national economy and strength. Besides coal, there are considerable oil- deposits in the northern provinces of Japan, and these are now beginning to be systematically worked in connection with the Standard Oil Company. The iron deposits are also considerable, but are undeveloped as yet, Japan relying on foreign countries for the greater portion of her present supply of iron. Copper, a metal of which the importance becomes yearly greater, is found and worked in very considerable quantities.
Japan’s financial condition is by no means so bad as is often depicted, thanks to the growing material prosperity of the empire. When the effects of the economic depression of 1900 and 1901 shall have passed away, Japan will advance still more rapidly than at present.
But whatever causes may have helped Japan in her progress, and however much we may have been instrumental in the achievements of the past years, they are insignificant when compared with what the country owes to his Majesty the Emperor. The Imperial will has ever been the guiding star of the nation. Whatever may have been the work done by those who, like myself, tried to assist him in his enlightened government, it could not have achieved such wonderful results had it not been for the great, progressive, and wise influence of the Emperor, ever behind each new measure of reform. From the Emperor Japan has learned that lesson which has made her what she is at present. In connection with the growth of Japan, I will quote some extracts from a speech which I made in 1899, just before the coming into force of the revised treaties.
It is true that the readjustment of the State finance and the completion of the military preparations are very important questions of the day; but there is another question hardly less important than those above referred to, namely, the enforcement of the revised treaties, for the concluding of which both the Government and the people have made steady efforts in every way since the Restoration, and which have at last been crowned with brilliant success. Now, the time of the enforcement of the revised treaties coming near, what we have to consider is how the revised treaties can be effectively put into force. Is there any country in the Orient, except Japan, which preserves the full right of an independent state? A country cannot be said to have preserved the full right of independence unless it is able to exercise its own jurisdiction freely, and conduct its own administration without restriction in the interior. Then, what is the case with Japan? Preserving the full right of independence, she has now brought all the foreigners residing within her empire under her own jurisdiction and administration, and is protecting them as well as the subjects of the empire. Such being the case, it is not exaggeration to say that Japan far surpasses all the rest of the Orient. To enforce the revised treaties freely and smoothly is to prove the fact that Japan is the most civilized country in the Far East, and, consequently, not only the Government, but also the local authorities, municipal corporations, courts of justice, police-stations, as well as the general public, must be very careful in the enforcement of the treaties in question; otherwise various affairs which may be made international questions and cause much trouble to the State will take place.
As for the State finance, I firmly believe that the Government has proper schemes for administering the State affairs and undertaking various public enterprises in a satisfactory manner with the present resources of the country, and that the readjustment of finance will be perfectly effected in future by means of the increase or reduction of tax, according to circumstances.
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