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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Or against disturbances in China or Korea


"An

Imperial rescript declared in unequivocal terms that it was the sovereign's policy and desire to abolish all distinctions between natives and foreigners, and that, by fully carrying out the friendly purpose of the treaties, his people would best consult his wishes, maintain the character of the nation, and promote its prestige. The premier and other ministers of State issued instructions to the effect that the responsibility now devolved on the Government, and the duty on the people, of enabling foreigners to reside confidently and contentedly in every part of the country. Even the chief Buddhist prelates addressed to the priests and parishioners of their dioceses injunctions pointing out that freedom of conscience being now guaranteed by the Constitution, men professing alien creeds must be treated as courteously as the disciples of Buddhism and must enjoy the same privileges."*

*Brinkley, article "Japan," Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition.

It may here be stated once for all that Japan's recovery of her judicial autonomy has not been attended by any of the disastrous results freely predicted at one time. Her laws are excellent, and her judiciary is competent and just.

FIRST ANGLO-JAPANESE ALLIANCE

The second of the two incidents alluded to above was an alliance between England and Japan, signed on January 30, 1902. The preamble of this

agreement--the first of its kind ever concluded between England and an Oriental power--affirmed that the contracting parties were solely actuated by a desire to preserve the status quo and the general peace of the Far East; that they were both specially interested in maintaining the independence and territorial integrity of the empires of China and Korea, and in securing equal opportunities in these countries for all nations; that they mutually recognized it as admissible for either of the contracting parties to take such measures as might be indispensable to safeguard these interests against a threat of aggressive action by any other power, or against disturbances in China or Korea, and that, if one of the contracting parties became involved in war in defence of these interests, the other should maintain strict neutrality and endeavour to prevent any third power from joining in hostilities against its ally. Finally, should a third power join in such hostilities, then the other contracting party promised to come to the assistance of its ally, to conduct the war in common, and to make peace by mutual agreement only. The alliance was to hold good for five years from the date of signature, but if either ally was engaged in war at such time, the alliance was to continue until the conclusion of peace.

It is unnecessary to dwell upon the influence exerted by this compact on the Russo-Japanese war. It kept the field clear for Japan and guaranteed her against a repetition of such a combination as that which must be regarded as the remote cause of the struggle.

THE EARLY PHASES OF THE WAR

Japan's great problem in crossing swords with Russia was to obtain a safe avenue for her troops over the sea. Russia might at once have gained an overwhelming advantage had she seized and controlled the lines of communication between the Japanese islands and the continent of Asia. Her strategists can scarcely have failed to appreciate that fact, and would doubtless have acted accordingly had they obtained a few months' leisure to mass an overwhelmingly strong fleet in the seas of China and Japan. They had such a fleet actually in esse; for, at the moment when war broke out, the Russian squadrons assembled in the East, or en route thither, comprised no less than fifty-nine fighting ships, mounting 1350 guns and manned by 18,000 men. But these figures included the Mediterranean squadron which, surprised by the outbreak of hostilities, abandoned its journey to the Pacific. Obviously, Japan's wisest course was to anticipate the combination of Russia's sea forces, and consciousness of that fact operated to hasten the current of events.


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