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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Japan should object to Russia in Korea


it be asked why, apart from history and national sentiment, Japan should object to Russia in Korea, the answer is, first, because there would thus be planted almost within cannon-shot of her shores a power of enormous strength and traditional ambition; secondly, because whatever voice in Manchuria's destiny Russia derived from her railway, the same voice in Korea's destiny was possessed by Japan, as the sole owner of the railways in the Korean peninsula; thirdly, that whereas Russia had an altogether insignificant share in the foreign commerce of Korea and scarcely ten bona fide settlers, Japan did the greater part of the oversea trade and had tens of thousands of settlers; fourthly, that if Russia's dominions stretched uninterruptedly from the sea of Okhotsk to the Gulf of Pehchili, her ultimate absorption of northern China would be inevitable, and fifthly, that such domination and such absorption would involve the practical closure of all that immense region to the commerce and industry of every Western nation except Russia.

This last proposition did not rest solely on the fact that in opposing artificial barriers to free competition lies Russia's sole hope of utilizing, to her own benefit, any commercial opportunities brought within her reach. It rested, also, on the fact that Russia had objected to foreign settlement at the Manchurian marts recently opened, by Japan's treaty with China, to American and Japanese subjects. Without settlements,

trade at those marts would be impossible, and thus Russia had constructively announced that there should be no trade but the Russian, if she could prevent it. Against such dangers Japan would have been justified in adopting any measure of self-protection. She had foreseen them for six years and had been strengthening herself to avert them. But she wanted peace. She wanted to develop her material resources and to accumulate some measure of wealth without which she must remain insignificant among the nations.

Two pacific programmes offered and she adopted them both. Russia, instead of trusting time to consolidate her tenure of Manchuria, had made the mistake of pragmatically importuning China for a conventional title. If, then, Peking could be strengthened to resist this demand, some arrangement of a distinctly terminable nature might be made. The United States, Great Britain, and Japan, joining hands for that purpose, did succeed in so far stiffening China's backbone that her show of resolution finally induced Russia to sign a treaty pledging herself to withdraw her troops from Manchuria in three installments, each step of evacuation to be accomplished by a fixed date. That was one of the pacific programmes. The other suggested itself in connexion with the new commercial treaties which China had agreed to negotiate in the sequel of the Boxer troubles. These documents contained clauses providing for the opening of three places in Manchuria to foreign trade. It seemed a reasonable hope that the powers, having secured commercial access to Manchuria by covenant with its sovereign, would not allow Russia to restrict arbitrarily their privileges. Both of these hopes were disappointed. When the time came for evacuation, Russia behaved as though no promise had been given. She proposed new conditions which would have strengthened her grasp of Manchuria instead of loosening it.


China being powerless to offer any practical protest, and Japan's interest ranking next in order of importance, the Tokyo Government approached Russia direct. They did not ask for anything that could hurt her pride or impair her position. Appreciating fully the economical status she had acquired in Manchuria by large outlays of capital, they offered to recognize that status, provided that Russia would extend similar recognition to Japan's status in Korea; would promise, in common with Japan, to respect the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of China and Korea, and would be a party to a mutual engagement that all nations should have equal commercial and industrial opportunities in Manchuria and in the Korean peninsula. In a word, they invited Russia to subscribe the policy originally enunciated by the United States and Great Britain, the policy of the open door and of the integrity of the Chinese and Korean empires.

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