The new order of society is reacting on the older ideal of a hero and is materially modifying it. The old-fashioned samurai, girded with two swords, ready to kill a personal foe at sight, is now only the ideal of romance. In actual life he would soon find himself deprived of his liberty and under the condemnation not only of the law, but also of public opinion. The new ideal with which I have come into most frequent contact is far different. Many, possibly the majority, of the young men and boys with whom I have talked as to their aim in life, have said that they desired to secure first of all a thorough education, in order that finally they might become great "statesmen" and might guide the nation into paths of prosperity and international power. The modern hero is one who gratifies the patriotic passion by bringing some marked success to the nation. He must be a gentleman, educated in science, in history, and in foreign languages; but above all, he must be versed in political economy and law. This new ideal of a national hero has been brought in by the order of society, and in proportion as this order continues, and emphasis continues to be laid on mental and moral power, rather than on rank or official position, on the intrinsic rather than on the accidental, will the old ideal fade away and the new ideal take its place. Among an idealizing and emotional people, such as the Japanese, various ideals will naturally find extreme expression. As society grows complex also and its various elements become increasingly differentiated, so will the ideals pass through the same transformations. A study of ideals, therefore, serves several ends; it reveals the present character of those whose ideals they are; it shows the degree of development of the social organism in which they live; it makes known, likewise, the degree of the differentiation that has taken place between the various elements of the nation.
LOVE FOR CHILDREN
An aspect of Japanese life widely remarked and praised by foreign writers is the love for children. Children's holidays, as the third day of the third moon and the fifth day of the fifth moon, are general celebrations for boys and girls respectively, and are observed with much gayety all over the land. At these times the universal aim is to please the children; the girls have dolls and the exhibition of ancestral dolls; while the boys have toy paraphernalia of all the ancient and modern forms of warfare, and enormous wind-inflated paper fish, symbols of prosperity and success, fly from tall bamboos in the front yard. Contrary to the prevailing opinion among foreigners, these festivals have nothing whatever to do with birthday celebrations. In addition to special festivals, the children figure conspicuously in all holidays and merry-makings. To the famous flower-festival celebrations, families go in groups and make an all-day picnic of the joyous occasion.
The Japanese fondness for children is seen not only at festival times. Parents seem always ready to provide their children with toys. As a consequence toy stores flourish. There is hardly a street without its store.
A still further reason for the impression that the Japanese are especially fond of their children is the slight amount of punishment and reprimand which they administer. The children seem to have nearly everything their own way. Playing on the streets, they are always in evidence and are given the right of way.
That Japanese show much affection for their children is clear. The question of importance, however, is whether they have it in a marked degree, more, for instance, than Americans? And if so, is this due to their nature, or may it be attributed to their family life as molded by the social order? It is my impression that, on the whole, the Japanese do not show more affection for their children than Occidentals, although they may at first sight appear to do so. Among the laboring classes of the %est, the father, as a rule, is away from home all through the hours of the day, working in shop or factory. He seldom sees his children except upon the Sabbath. Of course, the father has then very little to do with their care or education, and little opportunity for the manifestation of affection. In Japan, however, the industrial organization of society is still such that the father is at home a large part of the time. The factories are few as yet; the store is usually not separate from the home, but a part of it, the front room of the house. Family life is, therefore, much less broken in upon by the industrial necessities of civilization, and there are accordingly more opportunities for the manifestation of the father's affection for the children. Furthermore, the laboring-people in Japan live much on the street, and it is a common thing to see the father caring for children. While I have seldom seen a father with an infant tied to his back, I have frequently seen them with their infant sons tucked into their bosoms, an interesting sight. This custom gives a vivid impression of parental affection. But, comparing the middle classes of Japan and the West, it is safe to say that, as a whole, the Western father has more to do by far in the care and education of the children than the Japanese father, and that there is no less of fondling and playing with children. If we may judge the degree of affection by the signs of its demonstrations, we must pronounce the Occidental, with his habits of kissing and embracing, as far and away more affectionate than his Oriental cousin. While the Occidental may not make so much of an occasion of the advent of a son as does the Oriental, he continues to remember the birthdays of all his children with joy and celebrations, as the Oriental does not. Although the Japanese invariably say, when asked about it, that they celebrate their children's birthdays, the uniform experience of the foreigner is that birthday celebrations play a very insignificant part in the joys and the social life of the home.
It is not difficult to understand why, apart from the question of affection, the Japanese should manifest special joy on the advent of sons, and particularly of a first son. The Oriental system of ancestral worship, with the consequent need, both religious and political, of maintaining the family line, is quite enough to account for all the congratulatory ceremonies customary on the birth of sons. The fact that special joy is felt and manifested on the birth of sons, and less on the birth of daughters, clearly shows that the dominant conceptions of the social order have an important place in determining even so fundamental a trait as affection for offspring.
Affection for children is, however, not limited to the day of their birth or the period of their infancy. In judging of the relative possession by different races of affection for children, we must ask how the children are treated during all their succeeding years. It must be confessed that the advantage is then entirely on the side of the Occidental. Not only does this appear in the demonstrations of affection which are continued throughout childhood, often even throughout life, but more especially in the active parental solicitude for the children's welfare, striving to fit them for life's duties and watching carefully over their mental and moral education. In these respects the average Occidental is far in advance of the average Oriental.
I have been told that, since the coming in of the new civilization and the rise of the new ideas about woman, marriage, and home, there is clearly observable to the Japanese themselves a change in the way in which children are being treated. But, even still, the elder son takes the more prominent place in the affection of the family, and sons precede daughters.
A fair statement of the case, therefore, is somewhat as follows: The lower and laboring classes of Japan seem to have more visible affection for their children than the same classes in the Occident. Among the middle and upper classes, however, the balance is in favor of the West. In the East, while, without doubt, there always has been and is now a pure and natural affection, it is also true that this natural affection has been more mixed with utilitarian considerations than in the West. Christian Japanese, however, differ little from Christian Americans in this respect. The differences between the East and the West are largely due to the differing industrial and family conditions induced by the social order.
The correctness of this general statement will perhaps be better appreciated if we consider in detail some of the facts of Japanese family life. Let us notice first the very loose ties, as they seem to us, holding the Japanese family together. It is one of the constant wonders to us Westerners how families can break up into fragments, as they constantly do. One third of the marriages end in divorce; and in case of divorce, the children all stay with the father's family. It would seem as if the love of the mother for her children could not be very strong where divorce under such a condition is so common. Or, perhaps, it would be truer to say that divorce would be far more frequent than it is but for the mother's love for her children. For I am assured that many a mother endures most distressing conditions rather than leave her children. Furthermore, the way in which parents allow their children to leave the home and then fail to write or communicate with them, for months or even years at a time, is incomprehensible if the parental love were really strong. And still further, the way in which concubines are brought into the home, causing confusion and discord, is a very striking evidence of the lack of a deep love on the part of the father for the mother of his children and even for his own legitimate children. One would expect a father who really loved his children to desire and plan for their legitimacy; but the children by his concubines are not "ipso facto" recognized as legal. One more evidence in this direction is the frequency of adoption and of separation. Adoption in Japan is largely, though by no means exclusively, the adoption of an adult; the cases where a child is adopted by a childless couple from love of children are rare, as compared with similar cases in the United States, so far, at least, as my observation goes. I recently heard of a conversation on personal financial matters between a number of Christian evangelists. After mutual comparisons they agreed that one of their number was more fortunate than the rest in that he did not have to support his mother. On inquiring into the matter, the missionary learned that this evangelist, on becoming a Buddhist priest many years before, had secured from the government, according to the laws of the land, exemption from this duty. When he became a Christian it did not seem to occur to him that it was his duty and his privilege to support his indigent mother. I may add that this idea has since occurred to him and he is acting upon it.
Infanticide throws a rather lurid light on Japanese affection. First, in regard to the facts: Mr. Ishii's attention was called to the need of an orphan asylum by hearing how a child, both of whose parents had died of cholera, was on the point of being buried alive with its dead mother by heartless neighbors when it was rescued by a fisherman. Certain parts of Japan have been notorious from of old for this practice. In Tosa the evil was so rampant that a society for its prevention has been in existence for many years. It helps support children of poor parents who might be tempted to dispose of them criminally. In that province from January to March, 1898, I was told that "only" four cases of conviction for this crime were reported. The registered annual birth rate of certain villages has increased from 40-50 to 75-80, and this without any immigration from outside. The reason assigned is the diminution of infanticide.
In speaking of infanticide in Japan, let us not forget that every race and nation has been guilty of the same crime, and has continued to be guilty of it until delivered by Christianity.
Widespread infanticide proves a wide lack of natural affection. Poverty is, of course, the common plea. Yet infanticide has been practiced not so much by the desperately poor as by small land-holders. The amount of farming land possessed by each family was strictly limited and could feed only a given number of mouths. Should the family exceed that number, all would be involved in poverty, for the members beyond that limit did not have the liberty to travel in search of new occupation. Infanticide, therefore, bore direct relation to the rigid economic nature of the old social order.
Whatever, therefore, be the point of view from which we study the question of Japanese affection for children, we see that it was intimately connected with the nature of the social order. Whether we judge such affection or its lack to be a characteristic trait of Japanese nature, we must still maintain that it is not an inherent trait of the race nature, but only a characteristic depending for its greater or less development on the nature of the social order.
If the Japanese are a conspicuously emotional race, as is commonly believed, we should naturally expect this characteristic to manifest itself in a marked degree in the relation of the sexes. Curiously enough, however, such does not seem to be the case. So slight a place does the emotion of sexual love have in Japanese family life that some have gone to the extreme of denying it altogether. In his brilliant but fallacious volume, entitled "The Soul of the Far East," Mr. Percival Lowell states that the Japanese do not "fall in love." The correctness of this statement we shall consider in connection with the argument for Japanese impersonality. That "falling in love" is not a recognized part of the family system, and that marriage is arranged regardless not only of love, but even of mutual acquaintance, are indisputable facts.
Let us confine our attention here to Japanese post-marital emotional characteristics. Do Japanese husbands love their wives and wives their husbands? We have already seen that in the text-book for Japanese women, the "Onna Daigaku," not one word is said about love. It may be stated at once that love between husband and wife is almost as conspicuously lacking in practice as in precept. In no regard, perhaps, is the contrast between the East and the West more striking than the respective ideas concerning woman and marriage. The one counts woman the equal, if not the superior of man; the other looks down upon her as man's inferior in every respect; the one considers profound love as the only true condition of marriage; the other thinks of love as essentially impure, beneath the dignity of a true man, and not to be taken into consideration when marriage is contemplated; in the one, the two persons most interested have most to say in the matter; in the other, they have the least to say; in the one, a long and intimate previous acquaintance is deemed important; in the other, the need for such an acquaintance does not receive a second thought; in the one, the wife at once takes her place as the queen of the home; in the other, she enters as the domestic for her husband and his parents; in the one, the children are hers as well as his; in the other, they are his rather than hers, and remain with him in case of divorce; in the one, divorce is rare and condemned; in the other, it is common in the extreme; in the one, it is as often the woman as the man who seeks the divorce; in the other, until most recent times, it is the man alone who divorces the wife; in the one, the reasons for divorce are grave; in the other, they are often trivial; in the one, the wife is the "helpmate"; in the other, she is the man's "plaything"; or, at most, the means for continuing the family lineage; in the one, the man is the "husband"; in the other, he is the "danna san" or "teishu" (the lord or master); in the ideal home of the one, the wife is the object of the husband's constant affection and solicitous care; in the ideal home of the other, she ever waits upon her lord, serves his food for him, and faithfully sits up for him at night, however late his return may be; in the one, the wife is justified in resenting any unfaithfulness or immorality on the part of her husband; in the other, she is commanded to accept with patience whatever he may do, however many concubines he may have in his home or elsewhere; and however immoral he may be, she must not be jealous. The following characterization of the women of Japan is presumably by one who would do them no injustice, having himself married a Japanese wife (the editor of the Japan Mail).
"The woman of Japan is a charming personage in many ways—gracious, refined, womanly before everything, sweet-tempered, unselfish, virtuous, a splendid mother, and an ideal wife from the point of view of the master. But she is virtually excluded from the whole intellectual life of the nation. Politics, art, literature, science, are closed books to her. She cannot think logically about any of these subjects, express herself clearly with reference to them, or take an intellectual part in conversations relating to them. She is, in fact, totally disqualified to be her husband's intellectual companion, and the inevitable result is that he despises her."[J]
In face of all these facts, it is evident that the emotional element of character which plays so large a part in the relation of the sexes in the West has little, if any, counterpart in the Far East. Where the emotional element does come in, it is under social condemnation. There are doubtless many happy marriages in Japan, if the wife is faithful in her place and fills it well; and if the master is honorable according to the accepted standards, steady in his business, not given to wine or women. But even then the affection must be different from that which prevails in the West. No Japanese wife ever dreams of receiving the loving care from her husband which is freely accorded her Western sister by her husband.[K]
I wish, however, to add at once that this is a topic about which it is dangerous to dogmatize, for the customs of Japan demand that all expressions of affection between husband and wife shall be sedulously concealed from the outer world. I can easily believe that there is no little true affection existing between husband and wife. A Japanese friend with whom I have talked on this subject expresses his belief that the statement made above, to the effect that no Japanese wife dreams of receiving the loving care which is expected by her Western sister, is doubtless true of Old Japan, but that there has been a great change in this respect in recent decades; and especially among the Christian community. That Christians excel the others with whom I have come in contact, has been evident to me. But that even they are still very different from Occidentals in this respect, is also clear. Whatever be the affection lavished on the wife in the privacy of the home, she does not receive in public the constant evidence of special regard and high esteem which the Western wife expects as her right.
How much affection can be expressed by low formal bows? The fact is that Japanese civilization has striven to crush out all signs of emotion; this stoicism is exemplified to a large degree even in the home, and under circumstances when we should think it impossible. Kissing was an unknown art in Japan, and it is still unknown, except by name, to the great majority of the people. Even mothers seldom kiss their infant children, and when they do, it is only while the children are very young.
The question, however, which particularly interests us, is as to the explanation for these facts. Is the lack of demonstrative affection between husband and wife due to the inherent nature of the Japanese, or is it not due rather to the prevailing social order? If a Japanese goes to America or. England, for a few years, does he maintain his cold attitude toward all women, and never show the slightest tendency to fall in love, or exhibit demonstrative affection? These questions almost answer themselves, and with them the main question for whose solution we are seeking.
A few concrete instances may help to illustrate the generalization that these are not fixed because racial characteristics, but variable ones dependent on the social order. Many years ago when the late Dr. Neesima, the founder, with Dr. Davis, of the Doshisha, was on the point of departure for the United States on account of his health, he made an address to the students. In the course of his remarks he stated that there were three principal considerations that made him regret the necessity for his departure at that time; the first was that the Doshisha was in a most critical position; it was but starting on its larger work, and he felt that all its friends should be on hand to help on the great undertaking. The second was that he was compelled to leave his aged parents, whom he might not find living on his return to Japan. The third was his sorrow at leaving his beloved wife. This public reference to his wife, and especially to his love for her, was so extraordinary that it created no little comment, not to say scandal; especially obnoxious was it to many, because he mentioned her after having mentioned his parents. In the reports of this speech given by his friends to the public press no reference was made to this expression of love for his wife. And a few months after his death, when Dr. Davis prepared a short biography of Dr. Neesima, he was severely criticised by some of the Japanese for reproducing the speech as Dr. Neesima gave it.
Shortly after my first arrival in Japan, I was walking home from church one day with an English-speaking Japanese, who had had a good deal to do with foreigners. Suddenly, without any introduction, he remarked that he did not comprehend how the men of the West could endure such tyranny as was exercised over them by their wives. I, of course, asked what he meant. He then said that he had seen me buttoning my wife's shoes. I should explain that on calling on the Japanese, in their homes, it is necessary that we leave our shoes at the door, as the Japanese invariably do; this is, of course, awkward for foreigners who wear shoes; especially so is the necessity of putting them on again. The difficulty is materially increased by the invariably high step at the front door. It is hard enough for a man to kneel down on the step and reach for his shoes and then put them on; much more so is it for a woman. And after the shoes are on, there is no suitable place on which to rest the foot for buttoning and tying. I used, therefore, very gladly to help my wife with hers. Yet, so contrary to Japanese precedent was this act of mine that this well-educated gentleman and Christian, who had had much intercourse with foreigners, could not see in it anything except the imperious command of the wife and the slavish obedience of the husband. His conception of the relation between the Occidental husband and wife is best described as tyranny on the part of the wife.
One of the early shocks I received on this general subject was due to the discovery that whenever my wife took my arm as we walked the street to and from church, or elsewhere, the people looked at us in surprised displeasure. Such public manifestation of intimacy was to be expected from libertines alone, and from these only when they were more or less under the influence of drink. Whenever a Japanese man walks out with his wife, which, by the way, is seldom, he invariably steps on ahead, leaving her to follow, carrying the parcels, if there are any. A child, especially a son, may walk at his side, but not his wife.
Let me give a few more illustrations to show how the present family life of the Japanese checks the full and free development of the affections. In one of our out-stations I but recently found a young woman in a distressing condition. Her parents had no sons, and consequently, according to the custom of the land, they had adopted a son, who became the husband of their eldest daughter; the man proved a rascal, and the family was glad when he decided that he did not care to be their son any longer. Shortly after his departure a child was born to the daughter; but, according to the law, she had no husband, and consequently the child must either be registered as illegitimate, or be fraudulently registered as the child of the mother's father. There is much fraudulent registration, the children of concubines are not recognized as legitimate; yet it is common to register such children as those of the regular wife, especially if she has few or none of her own.
An evangelist who worked long in Kyushu was always in great financial trouble because of the fact that he had to support two mothers, besides giving aid to his father, who had married a third wife. The first was his own mother, who had been divorced, but, as she had no home, the son took her to his. When the father divorced his second wife, the son was induced to take care of her also. Another evangelist, with whom I had much to do, was the adopted son of a scheming old man; it seems that in the earlier part of the present era the eldest son of a family was exempt from military draft. It often happened, therefore, that families who had no sons could obtain large sums of money from those who had younger sons whom they wished to have adopted for the purpose of escaping the draft. This evangelist, while still a boy, was adopted into such a family, and a certain sum was fixed upon to be paid at some time in the future. But the adopted son proved so pleasing to the adopting father that he did not ask for the money; by some piece of legerdemain, however, he succeeded in adopting a second son, who paid him the desired money. After some years the first adopted son became a Christian, and then an evangelist, both steps being taken against the wishes of the adopting father. The father finally said that he would forego all relations to the son, and give him back his original name, provided the son would pay the original sum that had been agreed on, plus the interest, which altogether would, at that time, amount to several hundred yen. This was, of course, impossible. The negotiations dragged on for three or four years. Meanwhile, the young man fell in love with a young girl, whom he finally married; as he was still the son of his adopting father, he could not have his wife registered as his wife, for the old man had another girl in view for him and would not consent to this arrangement. And so the matter dragged for several months more. Unless the matter could be arranged, any children born to them must be registered as illegitimate. At this point I was consulted and, for the first time, learned the details of the case. Further consultations resulted in an agreement as to the sum to be paid; the adopted son was released, and re-registered under his newly acquired name and for the first time his marriage became legal. The confusion and suffering brought into the family by this practice of adoption and of separation are almost endless.
The number of cases in which beautiful and accomplished young women have been divorced by brutal and licentious husbands is appalling. I know several such. What wonder that Christians and others are constantly laying emphasis, in public lectures and sermons and private talks, on the crying need of reform in marriage and in the home?
Throughout the land the newspapers are discussing the pros and cons of monogamy and polygamy. In January of 1898 the Jiji Shimpo, one of the leading daily papers of Tokyo, had a series of articles on the subject from the pen of one of the most illustrious educators of New Japan, Mr. Fukuzawa. His school, the "Keio Gijiku," has educated more thousands of young men than any other, notwithstanding the fact that it is a private institution. Though not a Christian himself, nor making any professions of advocating Christianity, yet Mr. Fukuzawa has come out strongly in favor of monogamy. His description of the existing social and family life is striking, not to say sickening. If I mistake not, it is he who tells of a certain noble lady who shed tears at the news of the promotion of her husband in official rank; and when questioned on the matter she confessed that, with added salary, he would add to the number of his concubines and to the frequency of his intercourse with famous dancing and singing girls.
The distressing state of family life may also be gathered from the large numbers of public and secret prostitutes that are to be found in all the large cities, and the singing girls of nearly every town. According to popular opinion, their number is rapidly increasing. Though this general subject trenches on morality rather than on the topic immediately before us, yet it throws a lurid light on this question also. It lets us see, perhaps, more clearly than we could in any other way, how deficient is the average home life of the people. A professing Christian, a man of wide experience and social standing, not long since seriously argued at a meeting of a Young Men's Christian Association that dancing and singing girls are a necessary part of Japanese civilization to-day. He argued that they supply the men with that female element in social life which the ordinary woman cannot provide; were the average wives and daughters sufficiently accomplished to share in the social life of the men as they are in the West, dancing and singing girls, being needless, would soon cease to be.
One further question in this connection merits our attention. How are we to account for an order of society that allows so little scope for the natural affections of the heart, unless by saying that that order is the true expression of their nature? Must we not say that the element of affection in the present social order is deficient because the Japanese themselves are naturally deficient? The question seems more difficult than it really is.
In the first place, the affectionate relation existing between husbands and wives and between parents and children, in Western lands, is a product of relatively recent times. In his exhaustive work on "The History of Human Marriage," Westermarck makes this very plain. Wherever the woman is counted a slave, is bought and sold, is considered as merely a means of bearing children to the family, or in any essential way is looked down upon, there high forms of affection are by the nature of the case impossible, though some affection doubtless exists; it necessarily attains only a rudimentary development. Now it is conspicuous that the conception of the nature and purpose of woman, as held in the Orient, has always been debasing to her. Though individual women might rise above their assigned position the whole social order, as established by the leaders of thought, was against her. The statement that there was a primitive condition of society in Japan in which the affectionate relations between husband and wife now known in the West prevailed, is, I think, a mistake.
We must remember, in the second place, what careful students of human evolution have pointed out, that those tribes and races in which the family was most completely consolidated, that is to say, those in which the power of the father was absolute, were the ones to gain the victory over their competitors. The reason for this is too obvious to require even a statement. Every conquering race has accordingly developed the "patria potestas" to a greater or less degree. Now one general peculiarity of the Orient is that that stage of development has remained to this day; it has not experienced those modifications and restrictions which have arisen in the West. The national government dealt with families and clans, not with individuals, as the final social unit. In the West, however, the individual has become the civil unit; the "patria potestas" has thus been all but lost. This, added to religious and ethical considerations, has given women and children an ever higher place both in society and in the home. Had this loss of authority by the father been accompanied with a weakening of the nation, it would have been an injury; but, in the West, his authority has been transferred to the nation. These considerations serve to render more intelligible and convincing the main proposition of these chapters, that the distinctive emotional characteristics of the Japanese are not inherent; they are the results of the social and industrial order; as this order changes, they too will surely change. The entire civilization of a land takes its leading, if not its dominant, color from the estimate set by the people as a whole on the value of human life. The relatively late development of the tender affections, even in the West, is due doubtless to the extreme slowness with which the idea of the inherent value of a human being, as such, has taken root, even though it was clearly taught by Christ. But the leaven of His teaching has been at work for these hundreds of years, and now at last we are beginning to see its real meaning and its vital relation to the entire progress of man. It may be questioned whether Christ gave any more important impetus to the development of civilization than by His teaching in regard to the inestimable worth of man, grounding it, as He did, on man's divine sonship. Those nations which insist on valuing human life only by the utilitarian standard, and which consequently keep woman in a degraded place, insisting on concubinage and all that it implies, are sure to wane before those nations which loyally adopt and practice the higher ideals of human worth. The weakness of heathen lands arises in no slight degree from their cheap estimate of human life.
In Japan, until the Meiji era, human life was cheap. For criminals of the military classes, suicide was the honorable method of leaving this world; the lower orders of society suffered loss of life at the hands of the military class without redress. The whole nation accepted the low standards of human value; woman was valued chiefly, if not entirely, on a utilitarian basis, that, namely, of bearing children, doing house and farm work, and giving men pleasure. So far as I know, not among all the teachings of Confucius or Buddha was the supreme value of human life, as such, once suggested, much less any adequate conception of the worth and nature of woman. The entire social order was constructed without these two important truths.
By a great effort, however, Japan has introduced a new social order, with unprecedented rapidity. By one revolution it has established a set of laws in which the equality of all men before the law is recognized at least; for the first time in Oriental history, woman is given the right to seek divorce. The experiment is now being made on a great scale as to whether the new social order adopted by the rulers can induce those ideas among the people at large which will insure its performance. Can the mere legal enactments which embody the principles of human equality and the value of human life, regardless of sex, beget those fundamental conceptions on which alone a steady and lasting government can rest? Can Japan really step into the circle of Western nations, without abandoning her pagan religions and pushing onward into Christian monotheism with all its corollaries as to the relations and mutual duties of man? All earnest men are crying out for a strengthening of the moral life of the nation through the reform of the family and are proclaiming the necessity of monogamy; but, aside from the Christians, none appear to see how this is to be done. Even Mr. Fukuzawa says that the first step in the reform of the family and the establishment of monogamy is to develop public sentiment against prostitution and plural or illegal marriage; and the way to do this is first to make evil practices secret. This, he says, is more important than to give women a higher education. He does not see that Christianity with its conceptions of immediate responsibility of the individual to God, the loving Heavenly Father, and of the infinite value of each human soul, thus doing away with the utilitarian scale for measuring both men and women, together with its conceptions of the relations of the sexes and of man to man, can alone supply that foundation for all the elements of the new social order, intellectual and emotional, which will make it workable and permanent, and of which monogamy is but one element.[L] He does not see that representative government and popular rights cannot stand for any length of time on any other foundation.
Many writers have dwelt with delight on the cheerful disposition that seems so common in Japan. Lightness of heart, freedom from all anxiety for the future, living chiefly in the present, these and kindred features are pictured in glowing terms. And, on the whole, these pictures are true to life. The many flower festivals are made occasions for family picnics when all care seems thrown to the wind. There is a simplicity and a freshness and a freedom from worry that is delightful to see. But it is also remarked that a change in this regard is beginning to be observed. The coming in of Western machinery, methods of government, of trade and of education, is introducing customs and cares, ambitions and activities, that militate against the older ways. Doubtless, this too is true. If so, it but serves to establish the general proposition of these pages that the more outstanding national characteristics are largely the result of special social conditions, rather than of inherent national character.
The cheerful disposition, so often seen and admired by the Westerner, is the cheerfulness of children. In many respects the Japanese are relatively undeveloped. This is due to the nature of their social order during the past. The government has been largely paternal in form and fully so in theory. Little has been left to individual initiative or responsibility. Wherever such a system has been dominant and the perfectly accepted order, the inevitable result is just such a state of simple, childish cheerfulness as we find in Japan. It constitutes that golden age sung by the poets of every land. But being the cheerfulness of children, the happiness of immaturity, it is bound to change with growth, to be lost with coming maturity.
Yet the Japanese are by no means given up to a cheerful view of life. Many an individual is morose and dejected in the extreme. This disposition is ever stimulated by the religious teachings of Buddhism. Its great message has been the evanescent character of the present life. Life is not worth living, it urges; though life may have some pleasures, the total result is disappointment and sorrow. Buddhism has found a warm welcome in the hearts of many Japanese. For more than a thousand years it has been exercising a potent influence on their thoughts and lives. Yet how is this consistent with the cheerful disposition which seems so characteristic of Japan? The answer is not far to seek. Pessimism is by its very nature separative, isolating, silent. Those oppressed by it do not enter into public joys. They hide themselves in monasteries, or in the home. The result is that by its very nature the actual pessimism of Japan is not a conspicuous feature of national character. The judgment that all Japanese are cheerful rests on shallow grounds. Because, forsooth, millions on holidays bear that appearance, and because on ordinary occasions the average man and woman seem cheerful and happy, the conclusion is reached that all are so. No effort is made to learn of those whose lives are spent in sadness and isolation. I am convinced that the Japan of old, for all its apparent cheer, had likewise its side of deep tragedy. Conditions of life that struck down countless individuals, and mental conditions which made Buddhism so popular, both point to this conclusion.
Again I wish to call attention to the fact that the prominence of children and young people is in part the cause of the appearance of general happiness. The Japanese live on the street as no Western people do. The stores and workshops are the homes; when these are open, the homes are open. When the children go out of the house to play they use the streets, for they seldom have yards. Here they gather in great numbers and play most enthusiastically, utterly regardless of the passers-by, for these latter are all on foot or in jinrikishas, and, consequently, never cause the children any alarm.
The Japanese give the double impression of being industrious and diligent on the one hand, and, on the other, of being lazy and utterly indifferent to the lapse of time. The long hours during which they keep at work is a constant wonder to the Occidental. I have often been amazed in Fukuoka to find stores and workshops open, apparently in operation, after ten and sometimes even until eleven o'clock at night, while blacksmiths and carpenters and wheelwrights would be working away as if it were morning. Many of the factories recently started keep very long hours. Indeed most of the cotton mills run day and night, having two sets of workers, who shift their times of labor every week. Those who work during the night hours one week take the day hours the following week. In at least one such factory, with which I am acquainted, the fifteen hundred girls who work from six o'clock Saturday evening until six o'clock Sunday morning, are then supposed to have twenty-four hours of rest before they begin their day's work Monday morning; but, as a matter of fact, they must spend three or four and sometimes five hours on Sunday morning cleaning up the factory.
In a small silk-weaving factory that I know the customary hours for work were from five in the morning until nine at night, seven days in the week. The wife, however, of the owner became a Christian. Through her intervention time for rest was secured on Sunday long enough for a Bible class, which the evangelist of the place was invited to teach. After several months of instruction a number of the hands became Christian, and all were sufficiently interested to ask that the whole of the Sabbath be granted to them for rest; but in order that the master might not lose thereby, they agreed to begin work at four each morning and to work on until ten at night. With such hours one would have expected them to fall at once into their beds when the work of the day was over. But for many months, at ten o'clock in the evening, my wife and I heard them singing a hymn or two in their family worship before retiring for the night.
In certain weaving factories I have been told that the girls are required to work sixteen hours a day; and that on Sundays they are allowed to have some rest, being then required to work but ten hours! The diligence of mail deliverers, who always run when on duty, the hours of consecutive running frequently performed by jin-irikisha men (several have told me that they have made over sixty miles in a single day), the long hours of persistent study by students in the higher schools, and many kindred facts, certainly indicate a surprising capacity for work.
But there are equally striking illustrations of an opposite nature. The farmers and mechanics and carpenters, among regular laborers, and the entire life of the common people in their homes, give an impression of indifference to the flight of time, if not of absolute laziness. The workers seem ready to sit down for a smoke and a chat at any hour of the day. In the home and in ordinary social life, the loss of time seems to be a matter of no consequence whatever. Polite palaver takes unstinted hours, and the sauntering of the people through the street emphasizes the impression that no business calls oppress them.
In my opinion these characteristics, also, are due to the conditions of society, past and present, rather than to the inherent nature of the people. The old civilization was easy-going; it had no clocks; it hardly knew the time of day; it never hastened. The hour was estimated and was twice as long as the modern hour. The structure of society demanded the constant observance of the forms of etiquette; this, with its numberless genuflections and strikings of the head on the floor, always demanded time. Furthermore, the very character of the footgear compelled and still compels a shuffling, ambling gait when walking the streets. The clog is a well-named hindrance to civilization in the waste of time it compels. The slow-going, time-ignoring characteristics of New Japan are social inheritances from feudal times, characteristics which are still hampering its development. The industrious spirit that is to be found in so many quarters to-day is largely the gift of the new civilization. Shoes are taking the place of clogs. The army and all the police, on ordinary duty, wear shoes. Even the industry of the students is largely due to the new conditions of student life. The way in which the Japanese are working to-day, and the feverish haste that some of them evince in their work, shows that they are as capable as Occidentals of acquiring the rush of civilization.
The home life of the people gives an impression of listlessness that is in marked contrast to that of the West. This is partly due to the fact that the house work is relatively light, there being no furniture to speak of, the rooms small, and the cooking arrangements quite simple. Housewives go about their work with restful deliberation, which is trying, however, to one in haste. It is the experience of the housekeepers from the West that one Japanese domestic is able to accomplish from a third to a half of what is done by a girl in America. This is not wholly due to slowness of movement, however, but also to smallness of stature and corresponding lack of strength. On the other hand, the long hours of work required of women in the majority of Japanese homes is something appalling. The wife is expected to be up before the husband, to prepare his meals, and to wait patiently till his return at night, however late that may be. In all except the higher ranks of society she takes entire care of the children, except for the help which her older children may give her. During much of the time she goes about her work with an infant tied to her back. Though she does not work hard at any one time (and is it to be wondered at?) yet she works long. Especially hard is the life of the waiting girls in the hotels. I have learned that, as a rule, they are required to be up before daylight and to remain on duty until after midnight. In some hotels they are allowed but four or five hours out of the twenty-four. The result is, they are often overcome and fall asleep while at service. Sitting on the floor and waiting to serve the rice, with nothing to distract their thoughts or hold their attention, they easily lose themselves for a few moments.
Two other strongly contrasted traits are found in the Japanese character, absolute confidence and trustfulness on the one hand, and suspicion on the other. It is the universal testimony that the former characteristic is rapidly passing away; in the cities it is well-nigh gone. But in the country places it is still common. The idea of making a bargain when two persons entered upon some particular piece of work, the one as employer, the other as employed, was entirely repugnant to the older generation, since it was assumed that their relations as inferior and superior should determine their financial relations; the superior would do what was right, and the inferior should accept what the superior might give without a question or a murmur. Among the samurai, where the arrangement is between equals, bargaining or making fixed and fast terms which will hold to the end, and which may be carried to the courts in case of differences, was a thing practically unknown in the older civilization. Everything of a business nature was left to honor, and was carried on in mutual confidence.
A few illustrations of this spirit of confidence from my own experience may not be without interest. On first coming to Japan, I found it usual for a Japanese who wished to take a jinrikisha to call the runner and take the ride without making any bargain, giving him at the end what seemed right. And the men generally accepted the payment without question. I have found that recently, unless there is some definite understanding arrived at before the ride, there is apt to be some disagreement, the runner presuming on the hold he has, by virtue of work done, to get more than is customary. This is especially true in case the rider is a foreigner. Another set of examples in which astonishing simplicity and confidence were manifested was in the employment of evangelists. I have known several instances in which a full correspondence with an evangelist with regard to his employment was carried on, and the settlement finally concluded, and the man set to work without a word said about money matters. It need hardly be said that no foreigner took part in that correspondence.
The simple, childlike trustfulness of the country people is seen in multiplied ways; yet on the whole I cannot escape the conviction that it is a trustfulness which is shown toward each other as equals. Certain farmers whom I have employed to care for a cow and to cultivate the garden, while showing a trustful disposition towards me, have not had the same feelings toward their fellows apparently.
This confidence and trustfulness were the product of a civilization resting on communalistic feudalism; the people were kept as children in dependence on their feudal lord; they had to accept what he said and did; they were accustomed to that order of things from the beginning and had no other thought; on the whole too, without doubt, they received regular and kindly treatment. Furthermore, there was no redress for the peasant in case of harshness; it was always the wise policy, therefore, for him to accept whatever was given without even the appearance of dissatisfaction. This spirit was connected with the dominance of the military class. Simple trustfulness was, therefore, chiefly that of the non-military classes. The trustfulness of the samurai sprang from their distinctive training. As already mentioned, when drawing up a bond in feudal times, in place of any tangible security, the document would read, "If I fail to do so and so, you may laugh at me in public."
Since the overthrow of communal feudalism and the establishment of an individualistic social order, necessitating personal ownership of property, and the universal use of money, trustful confidence is rapidly passing away. Everything is being more and more accurately reduced to a money basis. The old samurai scorn for money seems to be wholly gone, an astonishing transformation of character. Since the disestablishment of the samurai class many of them have gone into business. Not a few have made tremendous failures for lack of business instinct, being easily fleeced by more cunning and less honorable fellows who have played the "confidence" game most successfully; others have made equally great successes because of their superior mental ability and education. The government of Japan is to-day chiefly in the hands of the descendants of the samurai class. They have their fixed salaries and everything is done on a financial basis, payment being made for work only. The lazy and the incapable are being pushed to the wall. Many of the poorest and most pitiable people of the land to-day are the proud sons of the former aristocracy, who glory in the history of their ancestors, but are not able or willing to change their old habits of thought and manner of life.
The American Board has had a very curious, not to say disastrous, experience with the spirit of trustful confidence that was the prevailing business characteristic of the older civilization. According to the treaties which Japan had made with foreign nations, no foreigner was allowed to buy land outside the treaty ports. As, however, mission work was freely allowed by the government and welcomed by many of the people in all parts of the land, and as it became desirable to have continuous missionary work in several of the interior towns, it seemed wise to locate missionaries in those places and to provide suitable houses for them. In order to do this, land was bought and the needed houses erected, and the title was necessarily held in the names of apparently trustworthy native Christians. The government was, of course, fully aware of what was being done and offered no objection. It was well understood that the property was not for the private ownership of the individual missionary, but was to be held by the Christians for the use of the mission to which the missionary belonged. For many years no questions were raised and all moved along smoothly. The arrangement between the missionaries and the Christian or Christians in whose names the property might be held was entirely verbal, no document being of any legal value, to say nothing of the fact that in those early days the mention of documentary relationships would have greatly hurt the tender feelings of honor which were so prominent a part of samurai character. The financial relations were purely those of honor and trust.
Under this general method, large sums of money were expended by the American Board for homes for its missionaries in various parts of Japan, and especially in Kyoto. Here was the Doshisha, which grew from a small English school and Evangelists' training class to a prosperous university with fine buildings. Tens of thousands of dollars were put into this institution, besides the funds needful for the land and the houses for nine foreign families. An endowment was also raised, partly in Japan, but chiefly in America. In a single bequest, Mr. Harris of New London gave over one hundred thousand dollars for a School of Science. It has been estimated that, altogether, the American Board and its constituency have put into the Doshisha, including the salaries of the missionary teachers, toward a million dollars.
In the early nineties the political skies were suddenly darkened. The question of treaty revision loomed up black in the heavens. The politicians of the land clamored for the absolute refusal of all right of property ownership by foreigners. In their political furore they soon began to attack the Japanese Christians who were holding the property used by the various missions. They accused them of being traitors to the country. A proposed law was drafted and presented in the National Diet, confiscating all such property. The Japanese holders naturally became nervous and desirous of severing the relationships with the foreigners as soon as possible. In the case of corporate ownership the trustees began to make assumptions of absolute ownership, regardless of the moral claims of the donors of the funds. In the earlier days of the trouble frequent conferences on the question were held by the missionaries of the American Board with the leading Christians of the Empire, and their constant statement was, "Do not worry; trust us; we are samurai and will do nothing that is not perfectly honorable." So often were these sentiments reiterated, and yet so steadily did the whole management of the Doshisha move further and further away from the honorable course, that finally the "financial honor of the samurai" came to have an odor far from pleasant. A deputation of four gentlemen, as representatives of the American Board, came from America especially to confer with the trustees as to the Christian principles of the institution, and the moral claims of the Board, but wholly in vain. The administration of the Doshisha became so distinctly non-Christian, to use no stronger term, that the mission felt it impossible to co-operate longer with the Doshisha trustees; the missionary members of the faculty accordingly resigned. In order to secure exemption from the draft for its students the trustees of the Doshisha abrogated certain clauses of the constitution relating to the Christian character of the institution, in spite of the fact that these clauses belonged to the "unchangeable" part of the constitution which the trustees, on taking office, had individually sworn to maintain. Again the Board sent out a man, now a lawyer vested with full power to press matters to a final issue. After months of negotiations with the trustees in regard to the restoration of the substance of the abrogated clauses, without result, he was on the point of carrying the case into the courts, when the trustees decided to resign in a body. A new board of trustees has been formed, who bid fair to carry on the institution in accord with the wishes of its founders and benefactors, as expressed in the original constitution. At one stage of the proceedings the trustees voted magnanimously, as they appeared to think, to allow the missionaries of the Board to live for fifteen years, rent free, in the foreign houses connected with the Doshisha; this, because of the many favors it had received from the Board! By this vote they maintained that they had more than fulfilled every requirement of honor. That they were consciously betraying the trust that had been reposed in them is not for a moment to be supposed.
It would not be fair not to add that this experience in Kyoto does not exemplify the universal Japanese character. There are many Japanese who deeply deplore and condemn the whole proceeding. Some of the Doshisha alumni have exerted themselves strenuously to have righteousness done.
Passing now from the character of trustful confidence, we take up its opposite, suspiciousness. The development of this quality is a natural result of a military feudalism such as ruled Japan for hundreds of years. Intrigue was in constant use when actual war was not being waged. In an age when conflicts were always hand to hand, and the man who could best deceive his enemy as to his next blow was the one to carry off his head, the development of suspicion, strategy, and deceit was inevitable. The most suspicious men, other things being equal, would be the victors; they, with their families, would survive and thus determine the nature of the social order. The more than two hundred and fifty clans and "kuni," "clan territory," into which the land was divided, kept up perpetual training in the arts of intrigue and subtlety which are inevitably accompanied by suspicion.
Modern manifestations of this characteristic are frequent. Not a cabinet is formed, but the question of its make-up is discussed from the clannish standpoint. Even though it is now thirty years since the centralizing policy was entered upon and clan distinctions were effectually broken down, yet clan suspicion and jealousy is not dead.
The foreigner is impressed by the constant need of care in conversation, lest he be thought to mean something more or other than he says. When we have occasion to criticise anything in the Japanese, we have found by experience that much more is inferred than is said. Shortly after my arrival in Japan I was advised by one who had been in the land many years to be careful in correcting a domestic or any other person sustaining any relation to myself, to say not more than one-tenth of what I meant, for the other nine-tenths would be inferred. Direct and perfectly frank criticism and suggestion, such as prevail among Anglo-Americans at least, seem to be rare among the Japanese.
In closing, it is in order to note once again that the emotional characteristics considered in this chapter, although customarily thought to be deep-seated traits of race nature, are, nevertheless, shown to be dependent on the character of the social order. Change the order, and in due season corresponding changes occur in the national character, a fact which would be impossible were that character inherent and essential, passed on from generation to generation by the single fact of biological heredity.
According to the teachings of Confucius, jealousy is one of the seven just grounds on which a woman may be divorced. In the "Greater Learning for Women,"[M] occur the following words: "Let her never even dream of jealousy. If her husband be dissolute, she must expostulate with him, but never either render her countenance frightful or her accents repulsive, which can only result in completely alienating her husband from her, and making her intolerable in his eyes." "The five worst maladies that afflict the female mind are indocility, discontent, slander, jealousy, and silliness. Without any doubt, these five maladies infest seven or eight out of every ten women, and it is from these that arises the inferiority of women to men ... Neither when she blames and accuses and curses innocent persons, nor when in her jealousy of others she thinks to set herself up alone, does she see that she is her own enemy, estranging others and incurring their hatred."
The humiliating conditions to which women have been subjected in the past and present social order, and to which full reference has been made in previous chapters, give sufficient explanation of the jealousy which is recognized as a marked, and, as might appear, inevitable characteristic of Japanese women. Especially does this seem inevitable when it is remembered how slight is their hold on their husbands, on whose faithfulness their happiness so largely depends. Only as this order changes and the wife secures a more certain place in the home, free from the competition of concubines and harlots and dancing girls, can we expect the characteristic to disappear. That it will do so under such conditions, there is no reason to question. Already there are evidences that in homes where the husband and the wife are both earnest Christians, and where each is confident of the loyalty of the other, jealousy is as rare as it is in Christian lands.
But is jealousy a characteristic limited to women? or is it not also a characteristic of men? I am assured from many quarters that men also suffer from it. The jealousy of a woman is aroused by the fear that some other woman may supplant her in the eyes of her husband; that of a man by the fear that some man may supplant him in rank or influence. Marital jealousy of men seems to be rare. Yet I heard not long since of a man who was so afraid lest some man might steal his wife's affections that he could not attend to his business, and finally, after three months of married wretchedness, he divorced her. A year later he married her again, but the old trouble reappeared, and so he divorced her a second time. If marital jealousy is less common among men than among women, the explanation is at hand in the lax moral standard for man. The feudal order of society, furthermore, was exactly the soil in which to develop masculine jealousy. In such a society ambition and jealousy go hand in hand. Wherever a man's rise in popularity and influence depends on the overthrow of someone already in possession, jealousy is natural. Connected with the spirit of jealousy is that of revenge. Had we known Japan only during her feudal days, we should have pronounced the Japanese exceedingly revengeful. Revenge was not only the custom, it was also the law of the land and the teaching of moralists. One of the proverbs handed down from the hoary past is: "Kumpu no ada to tomo ni ten we itadakazu." "With the enemy of country, or father, one cannot live under the same heaven." The tales of heroic Japan abound in stories of revenge. Once when Confucius was asked about the doctrine of Lao-Tse that one should return good for evil, he replied, "With what then should one reward good? The true doctrine is to return good for good, and evil with justice." This saying of Confucius has nullified for twenty-four hundred years that pearl of truth enunciated by Lao-Tse, and has caused it to remain an undiscovered diamond amid the rubbish of Taoism. By this judgment Confucius sanctified the rough methods of justice adopted in a primitive order of society. His dictum peculiarly harmonized with the militarism of Japan. Being, then, a recognized duty for many hundred years, it would be strange indeed were not revengefulness to appear among the modern traits of the Japanese.
But the whole order of society has been transformed. Revenge is now under the ban of the state, which has made itself responsible for the infliction of corporal punishment on individual transgressors. As a result conspicuous manifestations of the revengeful spirit have disappeared, and, may we not rightly say, even the spirit itself? The new order of society leaves no room for its ordinary activity; it furnishes legal methods of redress. The rapid change in regard to this characteristic gives reason for thinking that if the industrial and social order could be suitably adjusted, and the conditions of individual thought and life regulated, this, and many other evil traits of human character, might become radically changed in a short time. Intelligent Christian Socialism is based on this theory and seems to have no little support for its position.
Are Japanese cruel or humane? The general impression of the casual tourist doubtless is that they are humane. They are kind to children on the streets, to a marked degree; the jinrikisha runners turn out not only for men, women, and children, but even for dogs. The patience, too, of the ordinary Japanese under trying circumstances is marked; they show amazing tolerance for one another's failings and defects, and their mutual helpfulness in seasons of distress is often striking. To one traveling through New Japan there is usually little that will strike the eye as cruel.
But the longer one lives in the country, the more is he impressed with certain aspects of life which seem to evince an essentially unsympathetic and inhumane disposition. I well remember the shock I received when I discovered, not far from my home in Kumamoto, an insane man kept in a cage. He was given only a slight amount of clothing, even though heavy frost fell each night. Food was given him once or twice a day. He was treated like a wild animal, not even being provided with bedding. This is not an exceptional instance, as might, perhaps, at first be supposed. The editor of the Japan Mail, who has lived in Japan many years, and knows the people well, says: "Every foreigner traveling or residing in Japan must have been shocked from time to time by the method of treating lunatics. Only a few months ago an imbecile might have been seen at Hakone confined in what was virtually a cage, where, from year's end to year's end, he received neither medical assistance nor loving tendance, but was simply fed like a wild beast in a menagerie. We have witnessed many such sights with horror and pity. Yet humane Japanese do not seem to think of establishing asylums where these unhappy sufferers can find refuge. There is only one lunatic asylum in Tokyo. It is controlled by the municipality, its accommodation is limited, and its terms place it beyond the reach of the poor." And the amazing part is that such sights do not seem to arouse the sentiment of pity in the Japanese.
The treatment accorded to lepers is another significant indication of the lack of sympathetic and humane sentiments among the people at large. For ages they have been turned from home and house and compelled to wander outcasts, living in the outskirt of the villages in rude booths of their own construction, and dependent on their daily begging, until a wretched death gives them relief from a more wretched life. So far as I have been able to learn, the opening of hospitals for lepers did not take place until begun by Christians in recent times. This casting out of leper kindred was not done by the poor alone, but by the wealthy also, although I do hot affirm or suppose that the practice was universal. I am personally acquainted with the management of the Christian Leper Hospital in Kumamoto, and the sad accounts I have heard of the way in which lepers are treated by their kindred would seem incredible, were they not supported by the character of my informants, and by many other facts of a kindred nature.
A history of Japan was prepared by Japanese scholars under appointment from the government and sent to the Columbian Exposition in 1893; it makes the following statement, already referred to on a previous page: "Despite the issue of several proclamations ... people were governed by such strong aversion to the sight of sickness that travelers were often left to die by the roadside from thirst, hunger, or disease, and householders even went to the length of thrusting out of doors and abandoning to utter destitution servants who suffered from chronic maladies.... Whenever an epidemic occurred, the number of deaths that resulted was enormous."[N] This was the condition of things after Buddhism, with its civilizing and humanizing influences, had been at work in the land for about four hundred years, and Old Japan was at the height of her glory, whether considered from the standpoint of her government, her literature, her religious development, or her art.
Of a period some two hundred years earlier, it is stated that, by the assistance of the Sovereign, Buddhism established a charity hospital in Nara, "where the poor received medical treatment and drugs gratis, and an asylum was founded for the support of the destitute. Measures were also taken to rescue foundlings, and, in general, to relieve poverty and distress" (p. 92). The good beginning made at that time does not seem to have been followed up. As nearly as I can make out, relying on the investigations of Rev. J.H. Pettee and Mr. Ishii, there are to-day in Japan fifty orphan asylums, of which eleven are of non-Christian, and thirty-nine of Christian origin, support, and control. Of the non-Christian, five are in Osaka, two in Tokyo, four in Kyoto, and one each in Nagoya, Kumamoto, and Matsuye. Presumably the majority of these are in the hands of Buddhists. Of the Christian asylums twenty are Roman Catholic and nineteen are Protestant. It is a noteworthy fact that in this form of philanthropy and religious activity, as in so many others, Christians are the pioneers and Buddhists are the imitators. In a land where Buddhism has been so effective as to modify the diet of the nation, leading them in obedience to the doctrines of Buddha, as has been stated, to give up eating animal food, it is exceedingly strange that the people apparently have no regard for the pain of living animals. Says the editor of the Mail in the article already quoted: "They will not interfere to save a horse from the brutality of its driver, and they will sit calmly in a jinrikisha while its drawer, with throbbing heart and straining muscles, toils up a steep hill." How often have I seen this sight! How the rider can endure it, I cannot understand, except it be that revolt at cruelty and sympathy with suffering do not stir within his heart. Of course, heartless individuals are not rare in the West also. I am speaking here, however, not of single individuals, but of general characteristics.
But a still more conspicuous evidence of Japanese deficiency of sympathy is the use, until recently, of public torture. It was the theory of Japanese jurisprudence that no man should be punished, even though proved guilty by sufficient evidence, until he himself confessed his guilt; consequently, on the flimsiest evidence, and even on bare suspicion, he was tortured until the desired confession was extracted. The cruelty of the methods employed, we of the nineteenth century cannot appreciate. Some foreigner tells how the sight of torture which he witnessed caused him to weep, while the Japanese spectators stood by unmoved. The methods of execution were also refined devices of torture. Townsend Harris says that crucifixion was performed as follows: "The criminal is tied to a cross with his arms and legs stretched apart as wide as possible; then a spear is thrust through the body, entering just under the bottom of the shoulder blade on the left side, and coming out on the right side, just by the armpit. Another is then thrust through in a similar manner from the right to the left side. The executioner endeavors to avoid the heart in this operation. The spears are thrust through in this manner until the criminal expires, but his sufferings are prolonged as much as possible. Shinano told me that a few years ago a very strong man lived until the eleventh spear had been thrust through him."
From these considerations, which might be supported by a multitude of illustrations, we conclude that in the past there has certainly been a great amount of cruelty exhibited in Japan, and that even to this day there is in this country far less sympathy for suffering, whether animal or human, than is felt in the West.
But we must not be too quick to jump to the conclusion that in this regard we have discovered an essential characteristic of the Japanese nature. With reference to the reported savagery displayed by Japanese troops at Port Arthur, it has been said and repeated that you have only to scratch the Japanese skin to find the Tartar, as if the recent development of human feelings were superficial, and his real character were exhibited in his most cruel moments. To get a true view of the case let us look for a few moments at some other parts of the world, and ask ourselves a few questions.
How long is it since the Inquisition was enforced in Europe? Who can read of the tortures there inflicted without shuddering with horror? It is not necessary to go back to the times of the Romans with their amphitheaters and gladiators, and with their throwing of Christians to wild animals, or to Nero using Christians as torches in his garden. How long is it since witches were burned, not only in Europe by the thousand, but in enlightened and Christian New England? although it is true that the numbers there burned were relatively few and the reign of terror brief. How long is it since slaves were feeling the lash throughout the Southern States of our "land of freedom"? How long is it since fiendish mobs have burned or lynched the objects of their rage? How long is it since societies for preventing cruelty to animals and to children were established in England and America? Is it not a suggestive fact that it was needful to establish them and that it is still needful to maintain them? The fact is that the highly developed humane sense which is now felt so strongly by the great majority of people in the West is a late development, and is not yet universal. It is not for us to boast, or even to feel superior to the Japanese, whose opportunities for developing this sentiment have been limited.
Furthermore, in regard to Japan, we must not overlook certain facts which show that Japan has made gradual progress in the development of the humane feelings and in the legal suppression of cruelty. The Nihon Shoki records that, on the death of Yamato Hiko no Mikoto, his immediate retainers were buried alive in a standing position around the grave, presumably with the heads alone projecting above the surface of the ground. The Emperor Suijin Tenno, on hearing the continuous wailing day after day of the slowly dying retainers, was touched with pity and said that it was a dreadful custom to bury with the master those who had been most faithful to him when alive. And he added that an evil custom, even though ancient, should not be followed, and ordered it to be abandoned. A later record informs us that from this time arose the custom of burying images in the place of servants. According to the ordinary Japanese chronology, this took place in the year corresponding to 1 B.C. The laws of Ieyasu (1610 A.D.) likewise condemn this custom as unreasonable, together with the custom in accordance with which the retainers committed suicide upon the master's death. These same laws also refer to the proverb on revenge, given in the third paragraph of this chapter, and add that whoever undertakes thus to avenge himself or his father or mother or lord or elder brother must first give notice to the proper office of the fact and of the time within which he will carry out his intention; without such a notice, the avenger will be considered a common murderer. This provision was clearly a limitation of the law of revenge. These laws of Ieyasu also describe the old methods of punishing criminals, and then add: "Criminals are to be punished by branding, or beating, or tying up, and, in capital cases, by spearing or decapitation; but the old punishments of tearing to pieces and boiling to death are not to be used." Torture was finally legally abolished in Japan only as late as 1877.
It has already become quite clear that the prevalence of cruelty or of humanity depends largely upon the social order that prevails. It is not at all strange that cruelty, or, at least, lack of sympathy for suffering in man or beast, should be characteristic of an order based on constant hand-to-hand conflict. Still more may we expect to find a great indifference to human suffering wherever the value of man as man is slighted. Not until the idea of the brotherhood of man has taken full possession of one's heart and thought does true sympathy spring up; then, for the first time, comes the power of putting one's self in a brother's place. The apparently cruel customs of primitive times, in their treatment of the sick, and particularly of those suffering from contagious diseases, is the natural, not to say necessary, result of superstitious ignorance. Furthermore, it was often the only ready means to prevent the spread of contagious or epidemic diseases.
In the treatment of the sick, the first prerequisite for the development of tenderness is the introduction of correct ideas as to the nature of disease and its proper treatment. As soon as this has been effectually done, a great proportion of the apparent indifference to human suffering passes away. The cruelty which is to-day so universal in Africa needs but a changed social and industrial order to disappear. The needed change has come to Japan. Physicians trained in modern methods of medical practice are found all over the land. In 1894 there were 597 hospitals, 42,551 physicians, 33,921 nurses and midwives, 2869 pharmacists, and 16,106 druggists, besides excellent schools of pharmacy and medicine.[O]
It is safe to say that nearly all forms of active cruelty have disappeared from Japan; some amount of active sympathy has been developed, though, as compared to that of other civilized lands, it is still small. But there can be no doubt that the rapid change which has come over the people during the past thirty years is not a change in essential innate character, but only in the social order. As soon as the idea takes root that every man has a mission of mercy, and that the more cruel are not at liberty to vent their barbarous feelings on helpless creatures, whether man or beast, a strong uprising of humane activity will take place which will demand the formation of societies for the prevention of cruelty and for carrying active relief to the distressed and wretched. Lepers will no longer need to eke out a precarious living by exhibiting their revolting misery in public; lunatics will no longer be kept in filthy cages and left with insufficient care or clothing. The stream of philanthropy will rise high, to be at once a blessing and a glory to a race that already has shown itself in many ways capable of the highest ideals of the West.
Ambition is a conspicuous characteristic of New Japan. I have already spoken of the common desire of her young men to become statesmen. The stories of Neesima and other young Japanese who, in spite of opposition and without money, worked their way to eminence and usefulness, have fired the imagination of thousands of youths. They think that all they need is to get to America, when their difficulties will be at an end. They fancy that they have but to look around to find some man who will support them while they study.
Not only individuals, but the people as a whole, have great ambitions. Three hundred years ago the Taiko, Hideyoshi, the Napoleon of Japan, and the virtual ruler of the Empire, planned, after subjugating Korea, to conquer China and make himself the Emperor of the East. He thought he could accomplish this in two years. During the recent war, it was the desire of many to march on to Pekin. Frequent expression was given to the idea that it is the duty of Japan to rouse China from her long sleep, as America roused Japan in 1854. It is frequently argued, in editorial articles and public speeches, that the Japanese are peculiarly fitted to lead China along the path of progress, not only indirectly by example, as they have been doing, but directly by teaching, as foreigners have led Japan. "The Mission of Japan to the Orient" is a frequent theme of public discourse. But national ambitions do not rest here. It is not seldom asserted that in Japan a mingling of the Occidental and Oriental civilizations is taking place under such favorable conditions that, for the first time in history, the better elements of both are being selected; and that before long the world will sit to learn at her feet. The lofty ambition of a group of radical Christians is to discover or create a new religion which shall unite the best features of Oriental and Occidental religious thought and experience. The religion of the future will be, not Christianity, nor Buddhism, but something better than either, more consistent, more profound, more universal; and this religion, first developed in Japan, will spread to other lands and become the final religion of the world.
A single curious illustration of the high-flying thoughts of the people may well find mention here. When the Kumamoto Boys' School divided over the arbitrary, tyrannical methods of their newly secured, brilliant principal, already referred to in a previous chapter, the majority of the trustees withdrew and at once established a new school for boys. For some time they struggled for a name which should set forth the principles for which the school stood, and finally they fixed on that of "To-A Gakko." Translated into unpretentious English, this means "Eastern Asia School"; the idea was that the school stood for no narrow methods of education, and that its influence was to extend beyond the confines of Japan. This interpretation is not an inference, but was publicly stated oil various occasions. The school began with twenty-five boys, if my memory is correct, and never reached as many as fifty. In less than three years it died an untimely death through lack of patronage.
The young men of the island of Kyushu, especially of Kumamoto and Kagoshima provinces, are noted for their ambitious projects. The once famous "Kumamoto Band" consisted entirely of Kyushu boys. Under the masterful influence of Captain Jaynes those high-spirited sons of samurai, who had come to learn foreign languages and science, in a school founded to combat Christianity and to upbuild Buddhism, became impressed with the immense superiority of foreign lands, which superiority they were led to attribute to Christianity. They accordingly espoused the Christian cause with great ardor, and, in their compact with one another, agreed to work for the reform of Japan. I have listened to many addresses by the Kumamoto schoolboys, and I have been uniformly impressed with the political and national tendencies of their thought.
Accompanying ambition is a group of less admirable qualities, such as self-sufficiency and self-conceit. They are seldom manifested with that coarseness which in the West we associate with them, for the Japanese is usually too polished to be offensively obtrusive. He seldom indulges in bluster or direct assertion, but is contented rather with the silent assumption of superiority.
I heard recently of a slight, though capital, illustration of my point. Two foreign gentlemen were walking through the town of Tadotsu some years since and observed a sign in English which read "Stemboots." Wondering what the sign could mean they inquired the business of the place, and learning that it was a steamboat office, they gave the clerk the reason for their inquiry, and at his request made the necessary correction. A few days later, however, on their return, they noticed that the sign had been re-corrected to "Stem-boats," an assumption of superior knowledge on the part of some tyro in English. The multitude of signboards in astonishing English, in places frequented by English-speaking people, is one of the amusing features of Japan. It would seem as if the shopkeepers would at least take the pains to have the signs correctly worded and spelled, by asking the help of some foreigner or competent Japanese. Yet they assume that they know all that is needful.
Indications of perfect self-confidence crop out in multitudes of ways far too numerous to mention. The aspiring ambition spoken of in the immediately preceding pages is one indication of this characteristic. Another is the readiness of fledglings to undertake responsibilities far beyond them. Young men having a smattering of English, yet wholly unable to converse, set up as teachers. Youths in school not infrequently undertake to instruct their teachers as to what courses of study and what treatment they should receive. Still more conspicuous is the cool assumption of superiority evinced by so many Japanese in discussing intellectual and philosophical problems. The manner assumed is that of one who is complete master of the subject. The silent contempt often poured on foreigners who attempt to discuss these problems is at once amusing and illustrative of the characteristic of which I am speaking.[P]
We turn next to inquire for the explanation of these characteristics. Are they inherent traits of the race? Or are they the product of the times? Doubtless the latter is the true explanation. It will be found that those individuals in whom these characteristics appear are descendants of the samurai. A small class of men freed from heavy physical toil, given to literature and culture, ever depending on the assumption of superiority for the maintenance of their place in society and defending their assumption by the sword—such a class, in such a social order, would develop the characteristics in question to a high degree. Should we expect an immediate change of character when the social order has been suddenly changed?
In marked contrast to the lofty assumptions of superiority which characterized the samurai of Old Japan, was the equally marked assumption of inferiority which characterized the rest of the people, or nineteen-twentieths of the nation. I have already sufficiently dwelt on this aspect of national character. I here recur to it merely to enforce the truth that self-arrogation and self-abnegation, haughtiness and humility, proud, high-handed, magisterial manners, and cringing, obsequious obedience, are all elements of character that depend on the nature of the social order. They are passed on from generation to generation more by social than by biological heredity. Both of these sets of contrasted characteristics are induced by a full-fledged feudal system, and must remain for a time as a social inheritance after that system has been overthrown, particularly if its overthrow is sudden. In proportion as the principles of personal rights and individual worth on the basis of manhood become realized by the people and incorporated into the government and customs of the land, will abnegating obsequiousness, as well as haughty lordliness, be replaced by a straightforward manliness, in which men of whatever grade of society will frankly face each other, eye to eye.
But what shall we say in regard to the assumption made by young Japan in its attitude to foreigners? Are the assumptions wholly groundless? Is the self-confidence unjustified? Far from it. When we study later the intellectual elements of Japanese character, we shall see some reasons for their feeling of self-reliance. The progress which the nation has made in many lines within thirty years shows that it has certain kinds of power and, consequently, some ground for self-reliance. Furthermore, self-reliance, if fairly supported by ability and zeal, is essential in the attainment of any end whatever. Faint heart never won fair lady. Confidence in self is one form of faith. No less of peoples than individuals is it true, that without faith in themselves they cannot attain their goal. The impression of undue self-confidence made by the Japanese may be owing partly to their shortness of stature. It is a new experience for the West to see a race of little people with large brains and large plans. Especially does it seem strange and conceited for a people whose own civilization is so belated to assume a role of such importance in the affairs of the world. Yet we must learn to dissociate physical size from mental or spiritual capacity. The future alone will disclose what Japanese self-reliance and energy can produce.
The present prominence of this characteristic in Japan is still further to be accounted for by her actual recent history. The overthrow of the Shogunate was primarily the work of young men; the introduction of almost all the sweeping reforms which have transformed Japan has been the work of young men who, though but partly equipped for their work, approached it with energy and perfect confidence, not knowing enough perhaps to realize the difficulties they were undertaking. They had to set aside the customs of centuries; to do this required startling assumptions of superiority to their ancestors and their immediate parents. The young men undertook to dispute and doubt everything that stood in the way of national re-organization. In what nation has there ever been such a setting aside of parental teaching and ancestral authority? These heroic measures secured results in which the nation glories. Is it strange, then, that the same spirit should show itself in every branch of life, even in the attitude of the people to the Westerners who have brought them the new ways and ideas?
The Japanese, however, is not the only conceited nation. Indeed, it would be near the truth to say that there is no people without this quality. Certainly the American and English, French and German nations cannot presume to criticise others. The reason why we think Japan unique in this respect is that in the case of these Western nations we know more of the grounds for national self-satisfaction than in the case of Japan. Yet Western lands are, in many respects, truly provincial to this very day, in spite of their advantages and progress; the difficulty with most of them is that they do not perceive it. The lack of culture that prevails among our working classes is in some respects great. The narrow horizon still bounding the vision of the average American or Briton is very conspicuous to one who has had opportunities to live and travel in many lands. Each country, and even each section of a country, is much inclined to think that it has more nearly reached perfection than any other.
This phase of national and local feeling is interesting, especially after one has lived in Japan a number of years and has had opportunities to mingle freely with her people. For they, although self-reliant and self-conceited, are at the same time surprisingly ready to acknowledge that they are far behind the times. Their open-mindedness is truly amazing. In describing the methods of land tenure, of house-building, of farming, of local government, of education, of moral instruction, of family life, indeed, of almost anything in the West that has some advantageous feature, the remark will be dropped incidentally that these facts show how uncivilized Japan still is. In their own public addresses, if any custom is attacked, the severest indictment that can be brought against it is that it is uncivilized. In spite, therefore, of her self-conceit, Japan is in a fairer way of making progress than many a Western nation, because she is also so conscious of defects. A large section of the nation has a passion for progress. It wishes to learn of the good that foreign lands have attained, and to apply the knowledge in such wise as shall fit most advantageously into the national life. Although Japan is conceited, her conceit is not without reason, nor is it to be attributed to her inherent race nature. It is manifestly due to her history and social order past and present.
No word is so dear to the patriotic Japanese as the one that leaps to his lips when his country is assailed or maligned, "Yamato-Damashii." In prosaic English this means "Japan Soul." But the native word has a flavor and a host of associations that render it the most pleasing his tongue can utter. "Yamato" is the classic name for that part of Japan where the divinely honored Emperor, Jimmu Tenno, the founder of the dynasty and the Empire, first established his court and throne. "Damashii" refers to the soul, and especially to the noble qualities of the soul, which, in Japan of yore, were synonymous with bravery, the characteristic of the samurai. If, therefore, you wish to stir in the native breast the deepest feelings of patriotism and courage, you need but to call upon his "Yamato-Damashii."
There has been a revival in the use of this word during the last decade. The old Japan-Spirit has been appealed to, and the watchword of the anti-foreign reaction has been "Japan for the Japanese." Among English-speaking and English-reading Japanese there has been a tendency to give this term a meaning deeper and broader than the historic usage, or even than the current usage, will bear. One Japanese writer, for instance, defines the term as meaning, "a spirit of loyalty to country, conscience, and ideal." An American writer comes more nearly to the current usage in the definition of it as "the aggressive and invincible spirit of Japan." That there is such a spirit no one can doubt who has the slightest acquaintance with her past or present history.
Concerning the recent rise of patriotism I have spoken elsewhere, perhaps at sufficient length. Nor is it needful to present extensive evidence for the statement that the Japanese have this feeling of patriotism in a marked degree. One or two rather interesting items may, however, find their place here.
The recent war with China was the occasion of focusing patriotism and fanning it into flame. Almost every town street, and house, throughout the Empire, was brilliantly decked with lanterns and flags, not on a single occasion only, but continuously. Each reported victory, however small, sent a thrill of delight throughout the nation. Month after month this was kept up. In traveling through the land one would not have fancied that war was in progress, but rather, that a long-continued festival was being observed.
An incident connected with sending troops to Korea made a deep impression on the nation. The Okayama Orphan Asylum under the efficient management of its founder, Mr. Ishii, had organized the older boys into a band, securing for them various kinds of musical instruments. These they learned to use with much success. When the troops were on the point of leaving, Mr. Ishii went with his band to the port of Hiroshima, erected a booth, prepared places for heating water, and as often as the regiments passed by, his little orphans sallied forth with their teapots of hot tea for the refreshment of the soldiers. Each regiment was also properly saluted, and if opportunity offered, the little fellows played the national anthem, "Kimi-ga yo," which has been thus translated: "May Our Gracious Sovereign reign a thousand years, reign till the little stone grow into a mighty rock, thick velveted with ancient moss." And finally the orphans would raise their shrill voices with the rhythmical national shout, "Tei-koku Ban-zai, Tei-koku Ban-zai"; "Imperial-land, a myriad years, Imperial-land, a myriad years." This thoughtful farewell was maintained for the four or five days during which the troops were embarking for the seat of war, well knowing that some would never return, and that their children would be left fatherless even as were these who saluted them. So deep was the impression made upon the soldiers that many of them wept and many a bronzed face bowed in loving recognition of the patriotism of these Christian boys. It is said that the commander-in-chief of the forces himself gave the little fellows the highest military salute in returning theirs.