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In their counsels there were always two wills, sometimes three, contending for mastery. The question of the balance of power between these elements was always cropping up in connection with all questions of State policy. Able as some of those statesmen were, it was owing mainly to their intestine quarrels that the Ministry proved a failure. Before a year was out the nation was disappointed. Early in the fall Count Okuma resigned office, saying that he felt like a European physician in consultation over & case with Chinese doctors. Henceforth the ship of State, now in troubled waters, was entirely in the hands of the Kagoshima statesmen and their friends. Some heroic and extraordinary efforts were made to revive the fallen credit of the administration, but all in vain. Count Okuma led away the majority of the Progressist party, and the Government was . left with but an insignificant number of supporters. As soon as the Diet met, the spirit of opposition manifested was so strong that the Ministers asked the Emperor to issue an edict for dissolution. It was expected that the Government would at once appeal to the country with some strong programme. But to the astonishment of everybody the Ministry resigned the very next day.
In the midst of the general confusion which followed, Marquis Ito's name was in the mouth of every body. He was unanimously hailed as the only man to bring order into the political situation. In January following, the new Cabinet was announced with Ito for Premier, Count Inouye for the Treasury, and Marquis Saionji, one of the best cultured, most progressive, and, perhaps, also most daring of the younger statesmen, for Education Minister. The general election
, took place in March, and the twelfth session of the Diet was opened on May 19. The session is now in progress and will be short, being the extraordinary session after the dissolution. A Bill on the revision of the electoral laws is now laid before the Diet. It reduces the property qualification of the electors by about two-thirds, making it five yen of land-tax or three yen of income-tax; abolishes it altogether in the case of the candidates for election, and increases the number of representatives to some 470 from 300 as it is now. This Bill, when passed, as it doubtless will be, will have a very far-reaching influence in the progress of the constitutional régime.
How far Marquis Ito feels it expedient to go in the line of rapprochement with political parties it is difficult to forecast. There exists doubtless a tacit understanding between him and his former friends the Liberals and the National Unionists. The parties themselves would doubtless wish the relation made more explicit, while he would rather have it remain as it is, at least for the time being. Evidently he does not feel that the condition of political parties warrants him in throwing himself with open arms into their fellowship, and they, on their part, seem to be quite restive and impatient of his reserves.
The courtship has now lasted for some years, yet the expected wedding has not yet taken place, and no public announcement has been made even of the engagement,
Yet doubtless there has been considerable constitutional progress since the war. A few things may be set down, in the light of what has been said, as legitimate inferences. In the first place it may be with safety predicted that no Cabinet will henceforth dare to remain in office if after one dissolution of the Diet its unpopularity is confirmed. It may be also inferred that the Clan bureaucracy is now in the last stage of its history, and that its merging itself in the larger unified life of the nation is not very far off. contention hitherto of the Opposition leaders that the Government represented the Clan interests and they the national has now largely lost its ground, and henceforth parliamentary strife will take place on some other ground than that of Clanism versus the National Interests. Besides, the great era of industrial expansion into which Japan is fiercely plunging will create problems of a more practical kind, whose urgent claims will increasingly absorb the attention of politicians. Party politics and “heroic” questions will give place to the economic. Necessity and experience both will teach the Japanese the value of compromise and conciliation. Most probably, therefore, the party politics of the coming years will be tempered more and more with reason and moderation.
The great trouble with the political parties of to-day is the lack of discipline and the imperfection of organisation. They need much sound training, and they need intelligent leaders. Excepting Count Okuma, there are but few real party leaders. Yet the signs of improvement are visible on all sides. Many politicians of influence who hitherto have kept out of parties are said to be now thinking of enrolling themselves as members of the different parties. Time is a factor impossible to ignore. We must remember that the Japanese Diet is but eight years old, and no political party is more than twenty years old. Yet in Japan things move with astonishing rapidity. And the change from a Transcendental Cabinet to one in which the Ministers are avowedly or tacitly responsible to the majority in the Diet will take place sooner than many think. At any rate, it does not seem to be wide of the mark to suppose that before another generation passes away Japan will feel as easy and natural under constitutional government as France or Germany does to-day.
ENGLAND'S DESTINY IN CHINA.
NHE history of mankind shows a succession of emigrations from
now and higher centres of civilisation by which superior races have effected a control over inferior. There have, indeed, been reactionary waves, when the hordes of barbarians have thrown back higher races. There has been reaction as well as action, But the long result of time has shown that on the best portions of the earth the inferior have been supplanted by less inferior, and these again by yet superior races. Thousands of years of incessant bloody conflict, such as to this day is being carried on among the barbarous tribes of Central Africa and the untamed races of the Indian frontier
- long ages of the keen struggle for existence—have, in the main, resulted in the most efficient, the best organised, coming to the front. Rude hunting groups of families have been supplanted by pastoral nomadic tribes ; these again by agriculturists with some approach to political organisation ; and these last by peoples with a full industrial, military, and political system.
One of these great waves of emigration it is which is at present flooding Asia, submerging old forms, and substituting higher and better. Country after country is now being brought under the subjection of European civilisation. Russia has thrown her influence over all Northern Asia. The various countries of India are now controlled from England. Indo-China has gradually been absorbed by France. Is China to follow the rest, and be brought within the pale of the higher civilisation, or are we to support her in her obstructive mediævalism, and preserve her as a huge stumbling-block in the path of progress?
What is the root cause of this general spread of European influence over Asia ? What is it which makes the European press so hard on
China ? If the inhabitants of a country could find at hand, in sufficient quantities, everything they could possibly want, they would undoubtedly stay at home. There would be no need for going abroad, except to “eat the air,” as the Indian expression goes—except for purposes of recreation and enjoyment. Unfortunately, no European nation has that advantage. One country can grow enough wheat for all its inbabitants, but has no means of clothing them—at any rate, in a state fit for society. Another has all the means for making up clothes, but has nothing to make them with. No one country has all the means for taking its place in the civilised society of the present day. All have to go abroad to obtain one or other requisite detail. And year by year, as the population of Europe increases, more and more is required from other parts of the world.
Now, one of these parts where the raw materials which European nations most require are to be found in the greatest quantity is China. Hence the general impulse towards it. French, Germans, English, Russians, all flock there to obtain tea for their homes, silk for their wives and daughters, china for their drawing-rooms; each bringing with him something to give in exchange, manufactured cotton goods, tools, machinery, &c., but all bent upon obtaining from China the riches so eagerly desired at home.
For many years the Chinese told these foreigners that they did not want their things, and refused to let them take what they had. They wanted to keep themselves to themselves, and be left alone. The foreign nations were then far distant, and the need they had for the products of China was not urgent. The population of these European countries was small in comparison with that of the present day, and their natural resources were not inadequate to the supply of the needs of this population.
But during the present century the population of Europe has been increasing by leaps and bounds. The resources are no longer adequate ; and, what is more, a higher standard of comfort now prevails than formerly. Not only is the number of inhabitants increased, but each single inhabitant needs more. He requires better and more varied food; he requires more and better clothes ; and he needs more comforts in his home. At the same time, modern scientific inventions have brought these numerous and covetous European nations practically right alongside China. They are no longer distant; they are pressing hard at the gate. And they are saying with everincreasing emphasis that the vast natural resources of China can no longer be allowed to run to waste, undeveloped and unutilised. The Europeans have no desire to come as burglars and steal from the Chinese, or take by force what is not their own, as in the buccaneering days of yore. But what they say is that, while the population of the earth is not limited, the land-area is ; still more limited is the
quantity of this land which is of any value to mankind. So that when a section of the human race occupies one of the richest parts of the whole earth, makes only very partial use of the riches it contains, and refuses to let others come and exploit it, that section must in time, by the common pressure on it, be made to give up its exclusive pretensions. The Chinese shall not be prevented from exploiting their own country to any extent they wish, but they must not absolately prevent others from doing the same. Every inhabitant of the earth must have a fair opportunity of sharing in the limited amount of products which the earth affords.
As this moral conviction grows stronger among the European nations as they are beginning to realise that for their own maintenance they must insist upon such a principle, and that the enforcement of it brings no hardship, but, on the contrary, benefit to those upon whom it is enforced—the pressure upon the Chinese, always close, becomes ever stronger and more difficult to resist.
Now, while the struggle among the peoples of the earth has always been for the means of sustenance and of multiplying their numbers, that object has not always been carried out in the same manner. At first the rival tribes increased their means of subsistence by stealing their neighbours' cattle or crops, and they augmented their numbers by seizing men and women, but with the progress of time and the improvement of political organisation the greater tribes commenced to absorb the lesser bodily. The European empires of our times have, indeed, grown in this manner, though in some cases the morsels absorbed have not yet been digested, and in many instances they have been disgorged again. And at the present day the process seems to be one by which the European nations will absorb the uncivilised, or semi-civilised, all over the world ; and the competition appears to be for the possession of these people. Witness the scramble among the English, the French, the Germans, the Italians, and the Dutch for the possession of Africa ; witness the hard struggle between the Portuguese, the French, and the English for the mastery of India; witness, further, the competition now going on between the English, the Russians, and the French to control and eventually assimilate the best parts of Asia, and how each has absorbed a part of China itself. And not a single country which has once come under European control will ever again be free of it. India may not remain for ever under British administration, but it will assuredly never again come under native role ; the governors of India will always be European.
There is a danger of over-feeding. But probably the most powerful States of the future—those which will come out at the top in the struggle for existence will be those which, having the necessary cohesive power to hold themselves together, possess also the means to nourish an ample growth ; which, having the inherent capabilities of