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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

She did not possess a single ironclad


It

might have been supposed that she would then rest content with the assurance of safety her prowess had won. But, in the immediate sequel of the war, three of the great European powers, Russia, Germany, and France, joined hands to deprive Japan of the fruits of her victory by calling upon her to vacate the southern littoral of Manchuria from the mouth of the Yalu to the Liaotung peninsula. Japan thus acquired the conviction that her successes against China were not estimated by Western States as any great evidence of belligerent power, and that it would be necessary for her to fight again if she hoped to win any considerable measure of international respect. Prince Ito, then prime minister, keenly appreciated this necessity. He invited the Diet to vote for a substantial increment of land and sea forces, and after much opposition in the House of Representatives, funds were obtained for raising the army to thirteen divisions and for an increase of the navy which will be by and by spoken of.

The wisdom of these measures found full justification, in 1904, when swords had to be crossed with Russia. After that war, which raised Japan to a leading place among the nations, the old problem came up again for solution. Once more the Elder Statesmen--as the Meiji leaders were called--asked the Diet to maintain the organization of the army at the point to which it had been carried during the war, and once more the lower house of the Diet proved very difficult

to persuade. Ultimately, however, the law of military service was revised so that the fixed establishment became nineteen divisions, together with various special corps. It is not possible to speak with absolute accuracy of the force that Japan is now capable of mobilizing, but when the new system is in full working order, she will be able to put something like a million and a half of men into the fighting line. Her military budget amounts to only seven millions sterling--$35,000,000--a wonderfully small sum considering the results obtained.

THE NAVY

It has been shown how, in the year 1636, the Bakufu Government strictly interdicted the building of all vessels of ocean-going capacity. The veto naturally precluded enterprise in the direction of naval expansion, and when Commodore Perry, at the head of a powerful squadron, arrived in Uraga Bay, two centuries afterwards, the Japanese were suddenly and vividly instructed in the enormous power of a nation wielding such weapons of war. This object lesson having been most practically inculcated by the bombardments of Kagoshima and Shimonoseki, Japan saw that she must not lose one moment in equipping herself with a naval force. At first, she had to purchase all her ships from foreign countries, and so difficult was it to obtain parliamentary support for these acquisitions that, as already stated, when war with the neighbouring empire broke out in 1894, she did not possess a single ironclad, her strongest vessels being four second-class cruisers, which, according to modern ideas, would not be worthy of a place in the fighting line.

During the next ten years the teachings of experience took deeper root, and when the great combat with Russia commenced, the Japanese navy included four ironclads and six armoured cruisers. The signal victories obtained by her in that war did not induce any sentiment of self-complacency. She has gone on ever since increasing her navy, and the present programme of her statesmen is that by the end of 1921, she will possess twenty-five units of the first fighting line; that figure being based on the principle that she should be competent to encounter the greatest force which any foreign State, England excluded, will be able to mass in Far Eastern waters ten years hence. Her annual expenditure on account of the up-keep of her navy is at present three and one-quarter million pounds sterling $17,000,000. No feature is more remarkable than the fact that Japan can now build and equip in her own yards and arsenals warships of the largest size. She is no longer dependent on foreign countries for these essentials of safety.


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