Page images

Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands, the result of which was that, after bombarding Simoneseki and otherwise punishing the rebel daimio, these foreign powers exacted from Japan an indemnity of $3,000,000. The foreign representatives, under the leadership of the British minister, attempted to use two thirds of this sum as a corruption fund to extort from the shogun further concessions, but he resisted their overtures and assumed its payment. Unhappily, however, for Japan, he yielded far enough to agree to the tariff of 1866, to which the United States, through Mr. Portman, chargé d'affaires, was a party, by the terms of which Japan was bound to levy a rate of duty on foreign merchandise not exceeding five per cent during the pleasure of the treaty powers, and although the treaty provided for the revision of this tariff within a specified period, yet it has been so far impos-` sible for Japan to gain the consent of these powers with the exception of the United States.

Our government fully manifested its appreciation of the injustice done to a friendly nation by providing, in the treaty of 1871, that Japan should arrange her tariff in such manner that the owners and cultivators of her soil might be in a measure relieved from the heavy taxes imposed upon them by the deficit in her revenues. The United States Congress, also, in 1883, gave to Japan a further evidence of their good will and sense of justice by returning to that government our share of the Simoneseki indemnity fund of $3,000,000, at least two thirds of which has been popularly regarded as shameless extortion. Another proof of friendship and fairness was indicated in the apology of this government for the action of Commander Selfridge, who violated the sovereignty of Japan by firing at a target on her shores; and an additional act of justice was done in voting a satisfactory indemnity for the killing and wounding of several of her citizens, who, unac

quainted with the character of the unexploded shells fired by the commander, suffered death or injury while trying to strip the copper from one of these missiles. Again, in the postal convention of 1873, the United States manifested anew the respect and confidence due to the Japanese by surrendering to their government the control of her own postal affairs. This sensible and proper recognition of the right and ability of Japan to manage her own mail system was fiercely assailed by European governments, but the wisdom of the step was fully justified by similar favorable action on the part of those governments. Indeed, the kind and liberal spirit that the United States have invariably manifested toward the Japanese has won their confidence and friendship to a degree not enjoyed by any other nation or people.

The brilliant reception extended by the government and people of Japan to General Grant during his visit there excited, in America, general admiration and grateful appreciation. The occasion afforded to the Japanese a favorable opportunity to demonstrate their high regard for America and Americans, and it was improved by them to the fullest extent. General Grant was received with royal honors and every day of his sojourn was distinguished by fresh manifestations of the high respect and gracious hospitality of the entire nation. His journeys through the country assumed the semblance of triumphal processions, his sojourns in the cities were characterized by splendid banquets and brilliant fêtes, and his voyages, as he sailed along the shores, were replete with spontaneous and splendid welcomes amid the roar of cannon, the blaze of fireworks, the waving of banners, and the deafening plaudits of a rejoicing people. Upon his arrival at Tokio, the capital of Japan, where the most elaborate preparations had been made for his reception, he was escorted in regal state to Euriokwan, one of the private palaces

of the emperor, which had been designated as his quarters during his stay in the capital. There, attended by a numerous retinue of the royal officials and servants and surrounded by all the refinements of Japanese art and luxury, he was entertained with such a rare and splendid Oriental hospitality as has never been extended to royalty. There he was visited by the emperor himself, who, in a private interview, discussed with him the policies of state and asked his friendly counsel in the various matters relating to the welfare of his subjects and to the prosperity and progress of his country.

The question that at present overshadows all others in the empire of Japan is the revision and reformation of her treaties with foreign powers. If, upon the opening of the country to foreigners, the government had carefully pursued the prudent policy counseled by the American representative, it would have been spared many of the evils that now afflict the nation; but, in view of the threatening attitude of European diplomatists and the misfortunes that had overwhelmed China, it sought to temporize in the face of apprehended dangers and yielded step by step to the insidious demands that were preferred by England, Germany, and Holland. Thus it granted the right of extraterritoriality, under which foreigners are not amenable to Japanese law and by virtue of which the consular officers of various nations, notoriously uninstructed in legal matters and, in many cases, otherwise unfitted for the administration of justice, have set up miniature courts upon the soil of Japan to shield their subjects from merited punishment, to involve the natives in technical violations of their edicts and afterwards to speculate upon their misfortunes and trade upon their fears. They have resisted the payment of land taxes, of tonnage and lighthouse dues, and tolls upon bridges; they have quite monopolized the coastwise trade to the exclusion of Japanese vessels, and, in a

notable instance, when the government had discovered smuggling and was adopting proper means to prevent it, the minister of Great Britain threatened to land troops to assist his countrymen in violation of Japanese regulations.

The tariff concessions also, extorted from the government in the same manner, have involved the country in financial distress. Under their provisions little more than four per cent can be collected by Japan upon imports from Europe, but the representative of Great Britain still clamored for reductions and finally succeeded in securing the promise of further rebates. By threats and importunities his suggestions and demands have from time to time been acceded to until it appeared that the government, to avoid loss in the collection of its scanty revenues, would be obliged to close its custom houses and declare its ports free to the world. The natural result of this foreign interference with the tariff has been to destroy a legitimate source of revenue and to burden the agricultural interests with taxes that they are unable to pay. Under these circumstances the government is fettered and prevented from adopting adequate measures for the relief of the people, who, groaning under taxes and indignant at the wrongs imposed upon them by foreigners, are beginning to evince those feelings of detestation for the government and disdain for Europeans that may, when least expected, overwhelm the country with terrible internal disorders.



The Kingdom of Korea.

THE kingdom of Korea is situated in the northwestern part of Asia on the Pacific Ocean. It has an area of 82,000 square miles (about that of the state of Kansas), and is a peninsula like Florida, with a population variously estimated at from eight to sixteen millions. The religion of the country is Buddhist and the Chinese language is spoken. Until within recent years, Korea has been closed to the world. The policy of the government, like that long practiced by China and Japan, was to exclude all foreigners from the country and to prevent its citizens from going abroad; hence it has remained for ages in a state of seclusion and until lately very little was known of it by the people of the West.

The United States was the first nation to attempt relations with Korea, and this was due to a curious series of circumstances. An American citizen named Frederick Jenkins, who had for some time served as interpreter at the United States consulate general at Shanghai, formed a small band of conspirators of various nationalities in China, chartered an American schooner, the General Sherman, and sailed for Korea early in 1868 for the purpose of robbing the ton bs of the deceased sovereigns of that country and holding thei: remains for ransom. Having sailed up a river some the interior, the party cast anchor and severa

ance into

the crew

« PreviousContinue »