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A RECORD AND REVIEW

OF

CURRENT REFORM

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JOSEPH COOK, EDITOR
Miss FRANCES E. WILLARD . . TEMPERANCE
PROF. EDMUND J. JAMES, Ph. D. LABOR REFORM
PROF. L. T. TOWNSEND, D. D. EDUCATION
ANTHONY COMSTOCK .

SUPPRESSION OF VICE
Rev. C. S. EBY. .

MISSIONS
REV. WILBUR F. CRAFTS

CHURCH WORK

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ASSOCIATE EDITORS

WITH THE COÖPERATION OF EMINENT SPECIALISTS IN

REFORM, AT HOME AND ABROAD

Hia Lucis, Via Crucis

Vol. II.-JULYDECEMBER. — 1888

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BOSTON
OUR DAY PUBLISHING COMPANY

28 BEACON STREET

Index ofend of blume.

Copyright, 1888,
BY OUR DAY PUBLISHING COMPANY.

All rights reserved.

The Riverside Press, Cambridge: Electrotyped and Printed by H. 0. Houghton & Co.

OUR DAY:

A RECORD AND REVIEW OF CURRENT REFORM.

Vol. II. — JULY, 1888. — No. 7.

POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT IN NEW JAPAN.

The men who planned and carried out the revolution of 1868 are still at the helm of state in Japan, conscious of having already accomplished a herculean task, ripened with the experience of years, and sobered by the hard fact that theoretical right cannot always have its own way, and that practical politics are not always synonymous with national aspirations. On the other hand, a new generation has sprung up, bred in the new atmosphere prevailing since the revolution, ignorant of the hole of the pit whence they were digged, educated in the modern schools, mentally nourished by the literature of the West, aspiring after the freedom of English nations, angered at the humiliating incubus of unrighteous treaty provisions, indignant at the abortive attempts of the government to revise the treaties, and ready at a moment's notice to reconstruct the statesmanship of the empire by means of recipes learned in the schools and copied out of Western books. But the difficulty is that they have scarcely passed out of their teens, and have had no practical experience in politics. There are in reality no conservatives as such, all are for reform ; but the “Köslim,” or distinguished citizens, who are in control, wish to go only as rapidly as the country can use the new reforms properly, and as fast as the outside world will let them ; but the “Soshi,” or enterprising youths, who would like to control affairs according to their

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new philosophy, wish to go with a bound to the top of the ladder. These are the two great dividing armies, although of course there are numerous sections, running from the borders of conservatism down to the apostles of the dagger and dynamite. There is something mournful as well as ridiculous in the attempts of gangs of school-boys who think themselves wiser than their fathers, wiser than the statesmen to whom they owe their schools, to force open by assault the offices and residences of gray-haired cabinet ministers and instruct them in the right methods of government! The race of politicians who seek to overturn the government by sedition and assassination, who raised the standard of triple rebellion and just ten years ago slew the patriot statesman Okubo in the streets of Tokio, is not yet extinct, and furnishes an unscrupulous leadership to the hosts of unbaked students, inciting them to add the dagger to their arguments from school-books.

To understand the political problems and the political progress of Japan, one must dismiss from view the English or American standard and look at these topics from the unique position of Japan alone. She is situated as no nation ever was before. There is that ever-present problem of treaty revision with seventeen nations combined in one, vis-à-vis this empire, but with no other bond of union. Thus far it has been impossible to bring them to one mind, and treaty revision has been impossible. Then it must not be forgotten that Japan is not yet a generation removed from feudal times. Although she has adopted wholesale the externals of advanced Christian civilization, that which has come to the Anglo-Saxon through centuries of growth and accumulation of varied powers cannot be put into the fibre of even the Japanese nation in the short space of two or three decades. An observant Englishman or American in Germany, for instance, that teacher and leader of nations, could not help feeling that the free institutions of Anglo-Saxondom would, if placed suddenly upon Germans, produce a harvest of anarchy and disaster. Japan can hardly be expected to have caught up with Germany, much less be on a par with England. Government is certainly for the people, but a government by this people would be a government by

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political children for political children. This government is and must be necessarily a paternal government; it is not the outcome of popular vote and the expression of the voice of the majority in any such way as is understood in America, but it has inaugurated a new era for the people, releasing them from the bondage of feudalism and pointing them to the highest political goal of popular freedom; it now leads the way in this development as fast as the land can possibly bear it. The world has looked on with astonishment at the transformation thus far accomplished in so short a time, coupled with the fact that the reforms appear to be neither superficial nor ephemeral.

Let it be understood that the constitution now almost framed, and parliamentary privileges to be given in 1890, are not and cannot be the outcome of a consensus of freemen, formed for themselves like the constitution of the United States, for instance, but the free gift of an emperor, son of the most ancient dynasty now reigning, through his noblest subjects, to the mass of the people, who have just emerged from the Egyptian bondage of feudalism, and who have but just learned the first lessons of personal freedom. At first the progress was too fast. A free press and platform were given. But very soon newspapers and pamphlets teemed with sedition, personal slander, moral filth, a veritable riot of literature, while the platform became the centre of political intrigues. Looking at it from the standpoint of actual facts on the field rather than from that of free America, no one can be surprised that the government found that a mistake had been made in giving Japan liberties intrusted to no people outside of Anglo-Saxondom. Press and platform were at once muzzled. It was a matter of regret, but the people themselves were to blame ; better forbid children playing with edged tools for a while until they can use them without injury to themselves and to others. The result was that the tone of the press very greatly improved, and it was hoped that a larger liberty would soon be granted, a hope which has not been disappointed. In the same way the government has frequently found it necessary to take steps which were theoretically retrograde, but which were thought to be made advisable in the circumstances by the exigencies of the case. No

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