Early Baptist Missions in Japan
[The Sunrise Kingdom] By Henry C. Vedder
The Empire and Dependencies
The native name of Japan is Nippon or "Sunrise." Japan proper consists of five principal islands, with a large number of smaller, stretching along the eastern coast of the Asiatic continent a distance of 2,500 miles, approximately equal to that from Maine to Florida. The islands thus contain a great variety of climate, but the largest is in the temperate zone. The area of these islands is 111,239 square miles, and of the whole empire 160,000 square miles (some say 173,786), smaller than California, but about equal to the New England and Middle States. But while that area of our country has some 20,000,000 people, into Japan are crowded over 50,000,000. This fact constitutes Japan's gravest problem. The country is overpopulated, not only absolutely but relatively: Japan is a poor country in natural resources. While her mountains contain considerable mineral wealth, the three chief raw materials of modern production coal, iron, and oil are present only in small quantities and for the most part must be imported. Hence there is double need of expansion: to find homes for a population already excessive and rapidly increasing, and to acquire territory in which iron and coal may be found in sufficient quantities. It is this that makes many Japanese cast longing eyes upon Manchuria, Mongolia, the Philippines, and even China.
The chief dependencies of Japan are:
Formosa, with an area of 13,000 square miles and a population estimated at over 3,000,000. This island was
ceded to Japan by China in 1895. It is a rich region, producing large quantities of rice, tea, sugar, camphor, and a considerable output of minerals. Japan is exploiting Formosa systematically, at the same time greatly improving its educational and administrative system. Thus far it ranks as a territorial possession, and the Japanese people know and care as much about it as Americans know of Alaska or Hawaii.
Korea or Chosen, in which Russia recognized the "paramount interests of Japan" by treaty in 1905; and in 1910 a treaty was concluded between Korea and Japan, by which the former was annexed to the Japanese empire. The Emperor of Korea renounced all political power, and by a rescript in 1919 the Mikado guaranteed Koreans the same rights as Japanese. Korea is mainly an agricultural country, but there are considerable deposits of iron, coal, and other minerals. It has an area of 86,000 square miles and a population of over 17,000,000. Japan's occupation of the country has been attended by charges of tyranny and cruelty and has provoked native opposition. Missions have been hampered by accusations that missionaries encourage disobedience to Japanese authority.
The Japanese are a mixed race, mainly of Mongolian origin, with admixture of Malay elements in the southern parts. An aboriginal race called Ainos still survives in considerable numbers. The Japanese speak an agglutinative language, but they borrowed from China her ideo- graphs and have only recently adopted alphabetic printing.
The civilization of Japan is very ancient, though less ancient than that of China, from which it was probably derived. Writing was not introduced till the fifth century A. D. Paper was in use as early as the seventh century,
and printing was practised from about 1200 on. The social conditions are excellent in many respects, but the position of woman is bad. True, she has a considerable measure of freedom, but little respect. There is no polygamy, but divorce is allowed only to the man, who must however provide for his divorced wife. Prostitution is legal and not disreputable; it is not uncommon for men of high standing to select wives from the geishas.1 An ominous fact is that there are almost as many known prostitutes (112,912) as there are girls in primary schools (176,803). The Buddhist attitude toward women is bad; her only hope is Christianity, with its equal standard of morals and opportunity for both sexes.
Japanese people have many excellent characteristics: perseverance, courage, good humor, politeness, and a large measure of self-confidence. The. lower orders are very industrious, temperate, courteous, and hospitable. There is no question that they are a people of marked intelligence, of exceptional physical stamina, that they are actuated by much pride and ambition, and that they have a great future. They are not as intellectual a people as the Chinese; for ages they took their ideas from China, as recently they have taken their ideas from the West. They imitate and assimilate well, but do not originate. Their temperament is passionate and esthetic. They have recovered from their first indiscriminate admiration and imitation of everything Western, and Japan is now less cosmopolitan and more national than it was twenty-five years ago. The people have the outstanding virtues of feudalism. courage, loyalty to a chief, personal honor. Loyalty and filial piety are the two pillars of Japanese ethics and Japanese life. Christianity must emphasize these, not ignore or oppose them, in order to make the most effective contact with the people.
1 Pronounced gay-sha; there are about 60,000 of these "entertainers."
Every visitor to Japan is impressed by the excellence of the nation in the fine arts and the general prevalence of an artistic sense. Long cultivation as well as a racial love of beauty, has contributed to this state of things. The Japanese lacquered wares, their hammered vases, and similar products are renowned the world over. Their painting, though its ideals and methods differ widely from European art, is worthy of most careful study and appreciation. Love of flowers is a national trait, and many of the chrysanthemums, iris, and peonies that win prizes in our horticultural shows, originated in Japan. Their gardeners have developed great skill, and possess some secrets unknown to the Western world, such as the dwarfing of trees so that they can be grown in pots. All of this, however, applies mostly to the old Japan; the new Japan is said by travelers to be ugly, with an intensity of ugliness not found elsewhere. Taste seems to evaporate as soon as the attempt is made to adopt Western things and ways. The Japanese have discovered for themselves that not everything Western is admirable, and are returning to their old customs, dress, and art.
The Revolution weakened and modified the feudal system, of Japan without destroying it. The people are still divided into three classes: owazoku, or nobility; samurai,, or gentry; heimin,, or common people. The former daimios, or feudal barons were abolished in the revolution, but a considerable part were given new titles of nobility (duke, marquis, count). The old clan system, much weakened to be sure, survives; and four of the clans practically control Japan. It is rare that any cabinet officer, general, or admiral is not from one of these clans.
Until its recent development, Japan was an agricultural country, and agriculture is still the occupation of a majority
of its people. The soil is naturally rather poor, and large parts of the islands are not arable. Industrious cultivation has made the land yield generous crops, but even so great quantities of food-stuffs must now be imported, including American flour. About three-fifths of the soil is worked by peasant-proprietors, the rest by tenants. The flora of Japan is much like that of the United States. In the south the palm, banana, bamboo flourish, while in the north there are forests of oaks and pines. Many fruits, such as oranges, pomegranates, pears, apricots, peaches, are of foreign origin, having been introduced from China and Korea. Buckwheat, potatoes, melons, pumpkins are grown in abundance. Ginger, pepper, cotton, hemp, and tobacco are produced in large crops. Much tea is also grown, but it is reckoned inferior to Chinese.
The fauna of Japan differs greatly from that of America. Wild animals are hardly known; they were exterminated or domesticated long ago. The buffalo is found there (not the American bison). The horses of Japan are small; there are few sheep and cows, no asses or mules, unless recently imported. Fowls of varied types are common. Swine are few in proportion to the population. The Japanese are small meat-eaters, which fact accounts for many of their peculiar features. On the other hand, they are large consumers of fish, and the fisheries of Japan are one of her most important industries.
Japan is thus virtually compelled to become a great manufacturing nation in order to support her population. The last fifty years have seen a tremendous development in all directions, which has placed Japan as a producing nation on a par with England, Germany, and the United States. The census of 1920 showed 23,831 factories in operation, employing 1,390,942 persons, of whom the
majority (770,966) were women and girls. Immense quantities of raw cotton are imported, in addition to what is raised, and the major part is exported in all sorts of fabrics, knitted and woven. This may be called Japan's major industry; but raw silk and silk textiles are also exported in enormous bulk and value. The earthenware and lacquered wares of Japan go all over the world and are highly esteemed. Straw mattings and other plaited straw wares are another large item in the export trade. Large quantities of paper, of both native and European types, are sent abroad.
The United States is Japan's best customer; the combined exports from and imports into this country are greater than the trade with any other two nations. This is a strong bond between the two peoples and makes for peace; for, as a Japanese ambassador not long ago remarked, " One does not fight with one's best customer."
The building of railways began in 1872 and has gone on until in 1920 there were 8,475 miles of tracks, all but 1,994 owned and operated by the State; they carried in the previous year 551,826,847 passengers. Preparations are making for electrifying all of them, for which there is abundant water-power in the streams, which though small are numerous. There are 983 miles of electric tramways. The country is covered with a network of telegraphs and telephones, operated by the Government in connection with an excellent postal system.
Modern banking began in Japan in 1872, and the country is well supplied with banks of the European and American model. The gold standard has prevailed since 1897, the unit of value being the "yen," about half of an American dollar. Gold, silver, and nickel coins much like our own are in use, together with paper money redeemable on demand in coin. There are 659 savings-banks, and the Government has a postal-savings system, in which
there are deposits of $450,000,000. There are also 203 mutual loan societies, with paid-up capital of $2,248,000. The metric system was adopted in 1921, but outside of money is not yet much in use.
Japan is one of the great military nations, and the maintenance of its army and navy is a great tax on its resources. The navy costs approximately $250,000,000 a year and the army (peace strength 250,000) an additional $166,000,000. To this cost must be added the drain on productive power by compulsory and universal military service, beginning at the age of 20 and not ending until 40. Of this two whole years must be spent with the colors and five more in the first reserve with regular training several weeks each year. After that one passes into the second line, to be called on only in case of war, and finally into the home defense army at the age of 38, thenceforth liable to service only if the country suffers foreign invasion.
Many Japanese are dissatisfied with the economic status of the people and Socialism is spreading among them. A "Fabian Society," like that of England, was organized in 1924, and it is reported that 4,000 students have joined it. Russian propaganda has not been without effect, and there are a few plotting and bombing radicals, but as a whole the Japanese still hold to the safe and sane ideal of evolution rather than revolution. Manhood suffrage has been demanded by the more progressive element, and a bill for this is now on the point of passage, but the voting age is likely to be made 30, which will eliminate practically the whole student body, and that will mean more agitation. Woman suffrage has been agitated somewhat, but is making little progress.
The Japanese government has shown special interest in recent years in social welfare work, and has made a splendid record; but there is need of much more than has yet
been attempted. There was no such thing as philanthropy in Japan until the modern missionary movement took hold of the people. Buddhists preached mercy but did not practise it. Now the Red Cross has perhaps more members than in any other part of the world; yet 200,000 Christians still have one-fourth of all the benevolent institutions of the land. Orphanages are a leading kind of work.
The Labor Movement
The condition of the working classes is deplorable, especially of women and children wage-earners. Of these there are 12,000,000, many of them working in twelve-hour shifts. Wages are low; sin and disease take a terrible toll ; 300,000 recruits are demanded every year to keep up the supply. Of child workers, 200,000 are under thirteen years; 725 are between thirteen and seventeen; they work ten and twelve hours a day. Japan is now passing through the same industrial difficulties that afflicted England in the early years of the nineteenth century, and is only beginning to abate these evil conditions by legislation. The organization of the new labor party by Rev. Toyohiko Kagawa has done much to awaken the national conscience and stimulate government action. Professor Abe, of Waseda University, is another prominent leader in this movement. The party includes not only industrial workers but farmers, and is often called the Labor- farmer party. It has a practical program of twenty points, based on three principles: (1) The emancipation of the proletarian class in the social and political fields; (2) reformation by legal means of the system of production and distribution of the land; (3) reconstruction of the parliamentary system and abolition of the old political parties representing capitalism. So closely connected with the Labor-farmer party as to be an integral part of the movement
is a tenant farmers' union organized in 1921 by Kagawa and two others with two hundred members, which has grown to a membership of over twenty-five thousand. The motto is socialization of the land. The union demands include a decrease in the rate paid to the land-owners from fifty-five per cent, to thirty per cent, of the crop, and the legalization of the right to cultivate the land. Probably 70 per cent, of present landworkers are tenant-farmers, and they are compelled to pay to landlords 55 per cent, of their product. Of the 60,000,000 people of Japan, Kagawa tells us 1,500,000 have no property at all, while the wealth of a few is growing greater. No country has on its hands a more serious social problem than Japan.
The first fruit of Kagawa's agitation was the passage by Parliament of a Labor Act reducing the maximum day of twelve hours to eleven, prohibiting child labor in mines and night work for girls under 16. But while the Act went into effect July 1, 1926, the last clause is not to be effective until 1929. The age of child labor is raised from 12 years to 14, only in cases where the primary education has not been completed, and silk factories and machine-shops are excepted from all provisions. The Act therefore affects only a part of the workers and relieves bad conditions to a very slight extent. It has some value as a first step, and that is all.
Religion of Japan
The native religion of Japan is Shinto, "the way of the gods" and it differs from all other religions in that it has neither founder, creed, nor ritual. The name Shinto describes a group of miscellaneous beliefs, which in latest times have assimilated much from Confucianism and Buddhism. Shinto is believed to have been at first a simple animism, like the Taoism of China, the objects and
forces of nature being conceived as alive and to be worshiped or propitiated; to which was soon added the adoration of deified men. It is polytheistic and recognizes no Supreme Deity; it has no moral code and teaches no future state. What it has is a cult, or rather a collection of more or less incongruous cults; and these have developed priesthoods and rituals. It was not ancestor worship, though this has been adopted into it from China; and in its popular form became chiefly the worship of the Mikado, who was believed to be of divine descent. The average Japanese gets his religious ideas and his patriotic veneration of the Mikado from Shinto; for his moral and social code he turns to Confucius; and his hope of salvation, if any, comes from Buddhism. Hence he can without difficulty profess and practise all three religions simultaneously. A synthesis of Buddhism and the ancient Shinto is now found in Japan that some scholars call "mixed Shinto." There are said to be thirteen distinct sects of Shinto, which together have 49,459 important shrines, besides 66,738 minor shrines; and ministering to these are 14,698 priests.
Thus far Shinto is inseparable from national life the Imperial house still professes and practises this religion so that ideas of loyalty and patriotism that are fundamental in the Japanese character become naturally associated with it. There are two aspects of Shinto; First, State Shinto, officially declared not to be a religion, but merely deep veneration of Imperial ancestors, which finds appropriate expression in public festivities and rites. Revered national heroes are associated with departed emperors in this cult, if it may be" called that in view of the official disclaimers. This form of Shinto prevails in some 50,000 shrines, in charge of guardians and under supervision by the Bureau of Shrines. Nevertheless, it is asserted that there is no state religion in Japan and that no form of
religion receives state support, but all are tolerated. Second, popular Shinto, including numerous sects, supervised with other religions by the Bureau of Religions. Some of these sects have more or less amalgamated with Buddhism; all of them are polytheistic, and there are number- less major and minor deities in the various temples and shrines throughout the empire.
Confucianism is not properly a religion, even in China, and in Japan has never been other than a philosophical ethical system, a school of learning. It is wide-spread and is most important in forming the character of the Japanese. There are many Confucian schools, most of them having a pantheistic tendency. The Analects are still the most revered book. A Japanese newspaper instituted a popular referendum in 1909, as a result of which the Analects ranked first and the New Testament seventh in estimation.
Confucianism was introduced into Japan with many other elements of the Chinese civilization, but has been much modified. Chinese Confucianism teaches filial piety as the first duty of man; Japanese Confucianism gives first place to loyalty to the emperor. Confucius is no longer the great Master to the Japanese, but the chief philosopher of China. His words are considered wise sayings, but no longer authoritative. Both Buddhism and Confucianism fell with the Shogun so say the Japanese themselves. With the Restoration, Shinto again took its place as the national cult, giving a new significance and influence to loyalty, and so far is nationally useful; but the soberest minds among the Japanese recognize its deficiency as an ethical system.
Buddhism was introduced into Japan in the sixth Chris- tian century. It has been more or less favored by the courts, some emperors being professed disciples, but was never made a state religion. In order to promote its
progress, Buddhist evangelists showed considerable skill in syncretizing; they recognized the chief divinities of the Japanese as incarnations of Buddha. They suffered their doctrine of Nirvana to lapse and substituted a heaven and hell more according with Japanese ideas. An active revival of the religion is now in progress, with some tendency to opposition toward Christian missions. The Sunday school, in particular, is used as a propagating agency, to indoctrinate the young with Buddhistic ideas and so make them immune to Christian teaching. Buddhism is still a force to be reckoned with in Japan. Its long history and great wealth are entrenchments not easily captured. There are 71,626 temples, besides 36,086 minor shrines, and 52,894 priests and priestesses.
Japanese Buddhists are undertaking important social service on a scale that Christians have been unable or unwilling to consider. Their program embraces: (1) Poor relief, including dispensaries, hospitals, homes for the aged; (2) prevention of poverty, including employment agencies and workhouses; (3) protection of children, including day-nurseries, kindergartens, orphanages, foundling-asylums; (4) training of defectives, especially the blind and dumb, including also reformatories for wayward youth, care of ex-convicts; (5) education, including children's clubs, night-schools, libraries, amusements; (6) betterment of rural districts; (7) improvement of living conditions. Numerous societies are engaged in these works, and a large number of buildings are already devoted to it. An effort is making to secure endowments for many of these enterprises. Japan is the only country in the world where any program like this has been attempted under other than Christian leaders. It will be very interesting to watch its development.
To the above some authorities would add Bushldo, but the better view seems to be that this is not a religion in
any proper sense, but the ancient code of honor of the samurai or knightly class, closely corresponding to chivalry in Europe. It still remains the dominant note of the higher-class life of Japan, and is fostered by the State, though not in any official way, as promoting a high standard of loyalty and public service.
The Status of Christianity
Christianity was a proscribed religion in Japan for two decades after the ports were opened for commerce. The constitution adopted after the Revolution (1889) professed toleration, if not religious liberty. Article XXVIII said:
Japanese subjects shall within limits not prejudicial to peace or order and not antagonistic to their duties as subjects, enjoy freedom of religious belief.
But it was not until 1873 that the government ordered the removal of the posters that had previously studded Japan from end to end. One article of these read:
So long as the sun shall continue to warm the earth let no Christian be so bold as to come to Japan, and let all know that the King of Spain himself, or the Christian's god, or the great God himself, if he dare violate this command, shall pay for it with his head.
In spite of its professions of toleration, the Japanese Government often used repressive measures against our missions and missionaries in the early days, but in January, 1912, the Government announced a different policy, that of recognizing Christianity as a religion that it was prepared to encourage. Leading Japanese have come to understand that Shinto and its cardinal doctrine of the divine descent of the Mikado and his consequent inviolable prerogatives cannot endure the light of modern scientific training. They realize also that neither Buddhism
nor Confucianism can take its place. Either Christianity or some form of agnosticism appear to be the only practical alternatives. A Christian ethic offers greater possibilities of social and political stability than an agnostic; therefore, as practical statesmen, they are inclined to favor Christianity for others, even if they fail to accept it for themselves.
Some native opposition to Christianity is lately manifesting itself, though not in the organized form rife in China. Baron Hiroyuki Kato, at one time president of the Imperial University in Tokio, published in 1907 Our Country and Christianity. He called the idea of universal brotherhood "poisonous doctrine," and objected to Christianity as a cosmopolitan religion that places God on a higher throne than the emperor and his ancestors and so really urges treason. It is a religion unsuited to Japan, because it is individualistic, while Japan is communistic! Moreover it is unscientific and superstitious.
Education is almost universal in Japan, primary education having been compulsory for more than a generation; the percentage of illiteracy is now therefore very small, An imperial rescript established a full system of education in 1890: primary, middle, and normal, university and technical. The enrolment in the primary schools exceeds 8,000,000, which is 97 per cent, of the children of school age ; and children of rich and poor are educated together for six years. The high and normal schools are of excellent grade, and above these are five state universities, of which the largest is in Tokio, and has more than 400 professors and instructors and over 5,000 students. The other four together about equal this number of faculty and students. Besides these, 31 other institutions have been admitted to university rank, with 1,432 teachers and
30,057 students. These figures are all for the year 1920, the latest available.
Waseda University, founded by Count Okuma, is entirely controlled by Japanese, and has the same status as compared with the Government universities that the University of Chicago has as compared with the University of Illinois or Wisconsin. It is, aside from Tokio, probably the largest and most influential Japanese university. It welcomes our Baptist missionaries to its teaching staff and invites our missions to provide hostels for students. Two acres adjoining the campus have been purchased and a group of buildings is planned to meet this great opportunity.
Seven private institutions, recognized by the Government as "high-grade" schools, offer college work for women, including the Doshisha and the Women's Union Christian College in Tokio, with which Baptists cooperate. There is a separate girls' school at Doshisha, but this was the first university in Japan to admit women to university work on equal terms with men.
Japan is engaged in an experiment in completely secularized education. No religious instruction of any kind is permitted in state schools; but there is an attempt to give moral training. The system is rational and well adjusted, but some of the Japanese are not altogether satisfied with the results. Whatever other faults it may have, the Japanese insist that it is the most democratic system in the world; and their claim appears to be justified by the facts.
Other educational forces outside of and beyond schools are functioning well in Japan. The publication of books and newspapers equals that of any other country about 35,000 books a year, and 3,424 newspapers and periodicals. This literature is as cheap as it is plentiful, and most of it is of good quality. There are 1,511 libraries in
the country, with more than 5,000,000 volumes. The use of foman letters is growing, both in school-books and in the popular literature; thoughtful Japanese have recognized that learning the immense number of the old ideographs means a great sacrifice of energy on the part of their youth, and is the chief hindrance to rapid progress in education.
Newspapers and magazines have sprung up since the Revolution. Example of Christian missionaries has much to do with the growth of popular literature; publication of tracts was an early feature of missions. Millions of copies of single tracts have been distributed.
The Japanese have shown a far greater flexibility of mind than the Chinese; they early recognized the superiority of Western civilization in all that relates to material progress and proceeded to adopt it. They sent their most promising young men to Europe and America for training, as they still do to some extent; they imported teachers, engineers, mechanics, and speedily built up a new civilization of their own. The Russo-Japanese war, ending with the treaty of Portsmouth in 1905, first opened the eyes of the Western world to the fact that Japan must henceforth be reckoned with in all world questions. In medical science and hygiene the Japanese have not only taken the best from the Western world but have made important researches and discoveries of their own. In fifty years Japan has accomplished what Europe required five hundred years to do. But this has been mainly a work of imitation and adoption, not of achievement. It proves the Japanese genius for assimilation, but not necessarily a capacity for independent advancement.
History and Government
The present dynasty of Japan claims a continuous history from its foundation in 660 B. G, and if this claim
were substantiated it would be by far the oldest government in the world. Much of the early history, however, can be regarded as only mythical, including the story of the divine descent of the reigning house. The Mikado, or emperor, is both supreme ruler and high priest. (Mikado is said to mean "honorable gate," which recalls the title of the former government of Turkey, "sublime porte.") The present ruler, Hirohito, who came to the throne on Christmas Day, 1926, is reckoned the 124th of his line. We may begin with some real history: In the twelfth century of our era, Japan developed a feudal system very like that of medieval Europe, and from a similar cause the decay of the central government, which permitted the country to break up into little groups, each gathering around a powerful noble, who gave them protection in return for their military service. Minamoto Yoritamo, as commander-in-chief of the army, that is, Shogun, established a military empire comparable to that of Charlemagne; and the Mikado, shorn of power but highly revered in his person, was thenceforth a virtual prisoner in his palace at Tokio. During this period the Mughal invasions were repulsed, and Japan made considerable progress in civilization. It was this Shogun, or Tycoon as he was also called, with whom foreigners came in contact, if they had any relations with Japan. They supposed him to be the emperor.
Up to 1854, Japan was known as "the hermit nation." It refused all intercourse with foreigners, so far as that policy was possible, and its ports were closed to the ships of other nations. In that year Commodore Perry, U. S. N., succeeded in negotiating a treaty with the Shogun which provided for the opening of certain ports to American ships. The results were immediate and extraordinary, and it has been well said that "when the Susquehanna sailed up the bay of Yeddo, she led the
squadrons of seventeen nations." All the governments of Europe hastened to follow the example of the United States and share the advantages of trade with Japan. In 1856 Lord Elgin got five ports opened to commerce with Great Britain. In this century the whole of Japan has been thrown open to foreigners, for trade, residence, or travel; and this has made possible the carrying on of successful foreign missions in that land.
In 1868 there was a Revolution, which abolished the Shogunate and brought the Mikado back into his ancient powers and prerogatives. Hence many Japanese writers prefer to call this the Restoration. This was followed by the proclamation of a constitution, all of which introduced the new era, the Meji, or period of enlightened rule. According to this document the Mikado reserves to himself the sovereign power; he can declare war, make peace, and negotiate treaties, and is commander-in-chief of the army and navy, commissioning generals, admirals, and other officers. An imperial Diet has the nominal legislative power, including taxation, but every statute must receive the Mikado's approval before it becomes valid. The Diet is really a luxury, rather than a political necessity; it has no real power and probably can acquire none. It has no real control of finances or administration, since ministers are not responsible to it, but only to the Mikado. His theoretically absolute power is really exercised under advice of an oligarchy of military nobles, popularly known as "the elder statesmen." Only one of these now survives and the oligarchy may soon disappear.
By the Revolution a collection of feudal fiefs was transformed into a consolidated empire, more like the German Empire before the war than any other modern State. Loyalty to the Mikado has been exalted beyond all
reason, and this Mikadoism has resulted in the suppression of thought and the repression of reason to a degree that the Japanese themselves are just beginning to appreciate. Japan's advance as a military power was shown first in the war with China (1894-5), and then in the war with Russia (1904-5). In the latter conflict she blocked the Russian advance eastward, established herself firmly in Korea and Manchuria and compelled her recognition as a world power.
Japan and the United States
Trouble has arisen over the question of immigration, and especially as a result of the Immigration Act of 1925, which, though it does not mention Japan by name or apply to her alone, does exclude from immigration persons who are "not eligible to citizenship." And our Supreme Court has decided that only persons of the white race are so eligible; indeed, citizenship has of late been refused in some instances to Hindus who are as truly Aryan as ourselves, though darker hued. It may be urged also that Japan exercises similar rights to those of which she complains, by excluding Chinese and Korean coolies, be- cause of their lower standards of living and wage scale. The question is fundamentally economic and only incidentally racial. American action might perhaps have been more polite and conciliatory, but our policy cannot be changed. It has the approval of virtually the whole country. The future is likely to see more and not less restrictions in immigration. Ultimately we shall exclude all foreigners who are not likely to make desirable citizens, and we can permit no nation to question our right to do this.
The feeling in Japan has probably been deliberately stimulated by the military party, to strengthen their waning prestige. There are jingo elements in that country
as in our own, unscrupulous politicians and journalists, who are willing to foment national and race hatreds for their own ends. In this way, many Japanese have been brought to distrust Americans. They have been led to believe us to be an imperialistic people, militaristic in spirit, and having economic designs in the East that are sure to clash with their interests. The Japanese are said to feel that America cannot be relied on, that we may at any time turn into an enemy. They criticize us for maintaining a Monroe doctrine for the American continents and refusing to recognize a similar principle for Asia. We might retort that they have a short memory for kindnesses and a long one for slights and injuries. The true feeling of the United States for Japan was shown by the sympathy and relief that we quickly sent her after the devastating earthquake. It is a pity that the folly of a few politicians should so quickly obliterate the gratitude with which Japan appeared to respond.
In so far as these criticisms correctly represent the feeling of the Japanese, it must be said that they misread the history and misunderstand the spirit of the American people. But there is a class among us that aspires to be the ruling class, which is both militaristic and plutocratic, and if that class should succeed in its ambitious plan to rule the United States, Japan would have good reason for its hostile feeling. Fortunately, there is slight prospect that success will attend imperialistic propaganda.
The Japanese Government procured the passage of a bill in 1924, known as the "expatriation bill," by which rights were renounced over Japanese subjects born on American soil and therefore American citizens. This disposed of the difficulty of a dual nationality. It is the Japanese view that they should be admitted to the United States on the same quota basis as Europeans, in which case they urge that only 146 would be admitted annually,
which could not constitute any grave danger to the republic. On the other hand, it should be borne in mind by both peoples that Japanese are as really, if less formally, excluded from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, as they are from the United States. South America, Central America, and Mexico are still open to them, but less desirable, with the exception of Brazil, to which there has been quite a large emigration of late years.
Some American missionaries have yielded to the Japanese resentment against the Immigration Act and have published criticisms of the policy of their own country. They have asked reversal of action on the ground that the law is inconsistent with American professions of belief in Christian brotherhood and the equal rights of all men. Does belief in equality and brotherhood mean that any foreigner has a right to enter any American's house without permission, stay as long as he likes, and behave as he pleases while he stays? If an individual American has the right to say who shall enter his house, and set limits to their stay and behavior, why have not collective Americans a right to say through their government and laws who shall enter their country? If the one does not impugn the principles of equality and brotherhood, how does the other? This question deeply affects the future of missions and the future of nations; and it must be considered and settled on a basis of reason and Christian principle, and not by appeals to racial or religious emotion.
[From Henry C. Vedder, A Short History of Baptist Missions, chapter VIII, Judson Press, 1927, pp. 206-226. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]