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The Inside Story of the Peace Conference By Emile Joseph Dillon Characters: 41037

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Among the solutions of the burning questions which exercised the ingenuity and tested the good faith of the leading Powers at the Peace Conference, none was more rapidly reached there, or more bitterly assailed outside, than those in which Japan was specially interested. The storm that began to rage as soon as the Supreme Council's decision on the Shantung issue became known did not soon subside. Far from that, it threatened for a time to swell into a veritable hurricane. This problem, like most of those which were submitted to the forum of the Conference, may be envisaged from either of two opposite angles of survey; from that of the future society of justice-loving nations, whose members are to forswear territorial aggrandizement, special economic privileges, and political sway in, or at the expense of, other countries; or from the traditional point of view, which has always prevailed in international politics and which cannot be better described than by Signor Salandra's well-known phrase "sacred egotism." Viewed in the former light, Japan's demand for Shantung was undoubtedly as much a stride backward as were those of the United States and France for the Monroe Doctrine and the Saar Valley respectively. But as the three Great Powers had set the example, Japan was resolved from the outset to rebel against any decree relegating her to the second-or third-class nations. The position of equality occupied by her government among the governments of other Great Powers did not extend to the Japanese nation among the other nations. But her statesmen refused to admit this artificial inferiority as a reason for descending another step in the international hierarchy and they invoked the principle of which Britain, France, and America had already taken advantage.

The Supreme Council, like Janus of old, possessed two faces, one altruistic and the other egotistic, and, also like that son of Apollo, held a key in its right hand and a rod in its left. It applied to the various states, according to its own interest or convenience, the principles of the old or the new Covenant, and would fain have dispossessed Japan of the fruits of the campaign, and allotted to her the r?le of working without reward in the vineyard of the millennium, were it not that this policy was excluded by reasons of present expediency and previous commitments. The expediency was represented by President Wilson's determination to obtain, before returning to Washington, some kind of a compact that might be described as the constitution of the future society of nations, and by his belief that this instrument could not be obtained without Japan's adherence, which was dependent on her demand for Shantung being allowed. And the previous commitments were the secret compacts concluded by Japan with Britain, France, Russia, and Italy before the United States entered the war.

Nippon's r?le in the war and the circumstances that shaped it are scarcely realized by the general public. They have been purposely thrust in the background. And yet a knowledge of them is essential to those who wish to understand the significance of the dispute about Shantung, which at bottom was the problem of Japan's international status. Before attempting to analyze them, however, it may not be amiss to remark that during the French press campaign conducted in the years 1915-16, with the object of determining the Tokio Cabinet to take part in the military operations in Europe, the question of motive was discussed with a degree of tactlessness which it is difficult to account for. It was affirmed, for example, that the Mikado's people would be overjoyed if the Allied governments vouchsafed them the honor of participating in the great civilizing crusade against the Central Empires. That was proclaimed to be such an enviable privilege that to pay for it no sacrifice of men or money would be exorbitant. Again, the degree to which Germany is a menace to Japan was another of the texts on which Entente publicists relied to scare Nippon into drastic action, as though she needed to be told by Europeans where her vital interests lay, from what quarters they were jeopardized, and how they might be safeguarded most successfully. So much for the question of tact and form. Japan has never accepted the doctrine of altruism in politics which her Western allies have so zealously preached. Until means have been devised and adopted for substituting moral for military force in the relations of state with state, the only reconstruction of the world in which the Japanese can believe is that which is based upon treaties and the pledged word. That is the principle which underlies the general policy and the present strivings of our Far Eastern ally.

One of the characteristic traits of all Nippon's dealings with her neighbors is loyalty and trustworthiness. Her intercourse with Russia before and after the Manchurian campaign offers a shining example of all the qualities which one would postulate in a true-hearted neighbor and a stanch and chivalrous ally. I had an opportunity of watching the development of the relations between the two governments for many years before they quarreled, and subsequently down to 1914, and I can state that the praise lavished by the Tsar's Ministers on their Japanese colleagues was well deserved. And for that reason it may be taken as an axiom that whatever developments the present situation may bring forth, the Empire of Nippon will carry out all its engagements with scrupulous exactitude, in the spirit as well as the letter.

To be quite frank, then, the Japanese are what we should term realists. Consequently their foreign policy is inspired by the maxims which actuated all nations down to the year 1914, and still move nearly all of them to-day. In fact, the only Powers that have fully and authoritatively repudiated them as yet are Bolshevist Russia, and to a large extent the United States. Holding thus to the old dispensation, Japan entered the war in response to a definite demand made by the British government. The day before Britain declared war against Germany the British Ambassador at Tokio officially inquired whether his government could count upon the active co-operation of the Mikado's forces in the campaign about to begin. On August 4th Baron Kato, having in the meanwhile consulted his colleagues, answered in the affirmative. Three days later another communication reached Tokio from London, requesting the immediate co-operation of Japan, and on the following day it was promised. The motive for this haste was credibly asserted to be Britain's apprehension lest Germany should transfer Kiaochow to China, and reserve to herself, in virtue of Article V of the Convention of 1898, the right of securing after the war "a more suitable territory" in the Middle Empire or Republic. Thereupon they began operations which were at first restricted to the China seas, but were afterward extended to the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and finally to the Mediterranean. The only task that fell to their lot on land was that of capturing Kiaochow. But whatever they set their hands to they carried out thoroughly, and to the complete satisfaction of their European allies.

For many years the people of Nippon have been wending slowly, but with tireless perseverance and unerring instinct, toward their far-off goal, which to the unbiased historian will seem not merely legitimate but praiseworthy. Their intercourse with Russia was the story of one long laborious endeavor to found a common concern which should enable Japan to make headway on her mission. Russia was just the kind of partner whose co-operation was especially welcome, seeing that it could be had without the hitches and set-backs attached to that of most other Great Powers. The Russians were never really intolerant in racial matters, nor dangerous in commercial rivalry. They intermarried freely with all the so-called inferior races and tribes in the Tsardom, and put all on an equal footing before the law. Twenty-three years ago I paid a visit to my friend General Tomitch, the military governor of Kars, and I found myself sitting at his table beside the Prefect of the city, who was a Mohammedan. The individual Russian is generally free from racial prejudices; he has no sense of the "yellow peril," and no objection to receive the Japanese as a comrade, a colleague, or a son-in-law.

And the advances made by Ito and others would have been reciprocated by Witte and Lamsdorff were it not that the Tsar, interested in Bezobrazoff's Yalu venture, subordinated his policy to those vested interests, and compelled Japan to fight. The master-idea of the policy of Ito, with whom I had two interesting conversations on the subject, was to strike up a close friendship with the Tsardom, based on community of durable interests, and to bespeak Russia's help for the hour of storm and stress which one day might strike. The Tsar's government was inspired by analogous motives. Before the war was terminated I repaired to London on behalf of Russia, in order to propose to the Japanese government, in addition to the treaty of peace which was about to be discussed at Portsmouth, an offensive and defensive alliance, and to ask that Prince Ito be sent as first plenipotentiary, invested with full powers to conclude such a treaty.

M. Izvolsky's policy toward Japan, frank and statesman-like, had an offensive and a defensive alliance for its intended culmination, and the treaties and conventions which he actually concluded with Viscount Motono, in drafting which I played a modest part, amounted almost to this. The Tsar's opposition to the concessions which represented Russia's share of the compromise was a tremendous obstacle, which only the threat of the Minister's resignation finally overcame. And Izvolsky's energy and insistence hastened the conclusion of a treaty between them to maintain and respect the status quo in Manchuria, and, in case it was menaced, to concert with each other the measures they might deem necessary for the maintenance of the status quo. And it was no longer stipulated, as it had been before, that these measures must have a pacific character. They were prepared to go farther. And I may now reveal the fact that the treaty had a secret clause, providing for the action which Russia afterward took in Mongolia.

These transactions one might term the first act of the international drama which is still proceeding. They indicate, if they did not shape, the mold in which the bronze of Japan's political program was cast. It necessarily differed from other politics, although the maxims underlying it were the same. Japan, having become a Great Power after her war with China, was slowly developing into a world Power, and hoped to establish her claim to that position one day. It was against that day that she would fain have acquired a puissant and trustworthy ally, and she left nothing undone to deserve the whole-hearted support of Russia. In the historic year of 1914, many months before the storm-cloud broke, the War Minister Sukhomlinoff transferred nearly all the garrisons from Siberia to Europe, because he had had assurances from Japan which warranted him in thus denuding the eastern border of troops. During the campaign, when the Russian offensive broke down and the armies of the enemy were driving the Tsar's troops like sheep before them, Japan hastened to the assistance of her neighbor, to whom she threw open her military arsenals, and many private establishments as well. And when the Petrograd Cabinet was no longer able to meet the financial liabilities incurred, the Mikado's advisers devised a generous arrangement on lines which brought both countries into still closer and more friendly relations.

The most influential daily press organ in the Tsardom, the Novoye Vremya, wrote: "The war with Germany has supplied our Asiatic neighbor with an opportunity of proving the sincerity of her friendly assurances. She behaves not merely like a good friend, but like a stanch military ally.... In the interests of the future tranquil development of Japan a more active participation of the Japanese is requisite in the war of the nations against the world-beast of prey. An alliance with Russia for the attainment of this object would be an act of immense historic significance."[244]

Ever since her entry into the community of progressive nations, Japan's main aspiration and striving has been to play a leading and a civilizing part in the Far East, and in especial to determine China by advice and organization to move into line with herself, adopt Western methods and apply them to Far-Eastern aims. And this might well seem a legitimate as well as a profitable policy, and a task as noble as most or those to which the world is wont to pay a tribute of high praise. It appeared all the more licit that the Powers of Europe, with the exception of Russia, had denied full political rights to the colored alien. He was placed in a category apart-an inferior class member of humanity.

"In Japan, and as yet in Japan alone, do we find the Asiatic welcoming European culture, in which, if a tree may fairly be judged by its fruit, is to be found the best prospect for the human personal liberty, in due combination with restraints of law sufficient to, but not in excess of, the requirements of the general welfare. In this particular distinctiveness of characteristic, which has thus differentiated the receptivity of the Japanese from that of the continental Asiatic, we may perhaps see the influence of the insular environment that has permitted and favored the evolution of a strong national personality; and in the same condition we may not err in finding a promise of power to preserve and to propagate, by example and by influence, among those akin to her, the new policy which she has adopted, and by which she has profited, affording to them the example which she herself has found in the development of Eastern peoples."[245]

Now that is exactly what the Japanese aimed at accomplishing. They were desirous of contributing to the intellectual and moral advance of the Chinese and other backward peoples of the Far East, in the same way as France is laudably desirous of aiding the Syrians, or Great Britain the Persians. And what is more, Japan undertook to uphold the principle of the open door, and generally to respect the legitimate interests of European peoples in the Far East.

But the white races had economic designs of their own on China, and one of the preliminary conditions of their execution was that Japan's aspirations should be foiled. Witte opened the campaign by inaugurating the process of peaceful penetration, but his remarkable efforts were neutralized and defeated by his own sovereign. The Japanese, after the Manchurian campaign, which they had done everything possible to avoid, contrived wholly to eliminate Russian aggression from the Far East. The feat was arduous and the masterly way in which it was tackled and achieved sheds a luster on Japanese statesmanship as personified by Viscount Motono. The Tsardom, in lieu of a potential enemy, was transformed into a stanch and powerful friend and ally, on whom Nippon could, as she believed, rely against future aggressors. Russia came to stand toward her in the same political relationship as toward France. Japanese statesmen took the alliance with the Tsardom as a solid and durable postulate of their foreign policy.

All at once the Tsardom fell to pieces like a house of cards, and the fragments that emerged from the ruins possessed neither the will nor the power to stand by their Far Eastern neighbors. The fruits of twelve years' statesmanship and heavy sacrifices were swept away by the Russian revolution, and Japan's diplomatic position was therefore worse beyond compare than that of the French Republic in July, 1917, because the latter was forthwith sustained by Great Britain and the United States, with such abundance of military and economic resources as made up in the long run for that of Russia. Japan, on the other hand, has as yet no substitute for her prostrate ally. She is still alone among Powers some of whom decline to recognize her equality, while others are ready to thwart her policy and disable her for the coming race.

The Japanese are firm believers in the law of causality. Where they desire to reap, there they first sow. They invariably strive to deal with a situation while there is still time to modify it, and they take pains to render the means adequate to the end. Unlike the peoples of western Europe and the United States, the Japanese show a profound respect for the principles of authority and inequality, and reserve the higher functions in the community for men of the greatest ability and attainments. It is a fact, however, that individual liberty has made perceptible progress in the population, and is still growing, owing to the increase of economic well-being and the spread of general and technical education. But although socialism is likewise spreading fast, I feel inclined to think that in Japan a high grade of instruction and of social development on latter-day lines will be found compatible with that extraordinary cohesiveness to which the race owes the position which it occupies among the communities of the world. The soul of the individual Japanese may be said to float in an atmosphere of collectivity, which, while leaving his intellect intact, sways his sentiments and modifies his character by rendering him impressible to motives of an order which has the weal of the race for its object.

Japan has borrowed what seemed to her leaders to be the best of everything in foreign countries. They analyzed the military, political, and industrial successes of their friends and enemies, satisfactorily explained and duly fructified them. They use the school as the seed-plot of the state, and inculcate conceptions there which the entire community endeavors later on to embody in acts and institutions. And what the elementary school has begun, the intermediate, the technical, and the high schools develop and perfect, aided by the press, which is encouraged by the state.

Japan's ideal cannot be offhandedly condemned as immoral, pernicious, or illegitimate. Its partizans pertinently invoke every principle which their Allies applied to their own aims and strivings. And men of deeper insight than those who preside over the fortunes of the Entente to-day recognize that Europeans of high principles and discerning minds, who perceive the central issues, would, were they in the position of the Japanese statesmen, likewise bend their energies to the achievement of the same aims.

The Japanese argue their case somewhat as follows:

"We are determined to help China to put herself in line with ourselves, and to keep her from falling into anarchy. And no one can honestly deny our qualifications. We and they have very much in common, and we understand them as no Anglo-Saxon or other foreign people can. On the one hand our own past experience resembles that of the Middle Kingdom, and on the other our method of adapting ourselves to the new international conditions challenged and received the ungrudging admiration of a world disposed to be critical. The Peking treaties of May, 1915, between China and Japan, and the pristine drafts of them which were modified before signature, enable the outsider to form a fairly accurate opinion of Japan's economic and political program, which amounts to the application of a Far Eastern Monroe Doctrine.

"What we seek to obtain in the Far East is what the Western Powers have secured throughout the remainder of the globe: the right to contribute to the moral and intellectual progress of our backward neighbors, and to profit by our exertions. China needs the help which we are admittedly able to bestow. To our mission no cogent objection has ever been offered. No Cabinet in Tokio has ever looked upon the Middle Realm as a possible colony for the Japanese. The notion is preposterous, seeing that China is already over-populated. What Japan sorely needs are sources whence to draw coal and iron for industrial enterprise. She also needs cotton and leather."

In truth, the ever-ready command of these raw materials at their sources, which must be neither remote nor subject to potential enemies, is indispensable to the success of Japan's development. But for the moment the English

-speaking nations have a veto upon them, in virtue of possession, and the embargo put by the United States government upon the export of steel during the war caused a profound emotion in Nippon. For the shipbuilding works there had increased in number from nine before the war to twelve in 1917, and to twenty-eight at the beginning of 1918, with one hundred slips capable of producing six hundred thousand tons of net register. The effect of that embargo was to shut down between 70 and 80 per cent. of the shipbuilding works of the country, and to menace with extinction an industry which was bringing in immense profits.

It was with these antecedents and aims that Japan appeared before the Conference in Paris and asked, not for something which she lacked before, but merely for the confirmation of what she already possessed by treaty. It must be admitted that she had damaged her cause by the manner in which that treaty had been obtained. To say that she had intimidated the Chinese, instead of coaxing them or bargaining with them, would be a truism. The fall of Tsingtao gave her a favorable opportunity, and she used and misused it unjustifiably. The demands in themselves were open to discussion and, if one weighs all the circumstances, would not deserve a classification different from some of those-the protection of minorities or the transit proviso, for example-imposed by the greater on the lesser nations at the Conference. But the mode in which they were pressed irritated the susceptible Chinese and belied the professions made by the Mikado's Ministers. The secrecy, too, with which the Tokio Cabinet endeavored to surround them warranted the worst construction. Yuan Shi Kai[246] regarded the procedure as a deadly insult to himself and his country. And the circumstance that the Japanese government failed either to foresee or to avoid this amazing psychological blunder lent color to the objections of those who questioned Japan's qualifications for the mission she had set herself. The wound inflicted on China by that exhibition of insolence will not soon heal. How it reacted may be inferred from the strenuous and well-calculated opposition of the Chinese delegation at the Conference.

Nor was that all. In the summer of 1916 a free fight occurred between Chinese and Japanese soldiers in Cheng-cha-tun, the rights and wrongs of which were, as is usual in such cases, obscure. But the Okuma Cabinet, assuming that the Chinese were to blame, pounced upon the incident and made it the base of fresh demands to China,[247] two of which were manifestly excessive. That China would be better off than she is or is otherwise likely to become under Japanese guidance is in the highest degree probable. But in order that that guidance should be effective it must be accepted, and this can only be the consequence of such a policy of cordiality, patience, and magnanimity as was outlined by my friend, the late Viscount Motono.[248]

At the Conference the policy of the Japanese delegates was clear-cut and coherent. It may be summarized as follows: the Japanese delegation decided to give its entire support to the Allies in all matters concerning the future relations of Germany and Russia, western Europe, the Balkans, the African colonies, as well as financial indemnities and reparations. The fate of the Samoan Archipelago must be determined in accord with Britain and the United States. New Guinea should be allotted to Australia. As the Marshall, Caroline, and Ladrone Islands, although of no intrinsic value, would constitute a danger in Germany's hands, they should be taken over by Japan. Tsingtao and the port of Kiaochow should belong to Japan, as well as the Tainan railway. Japan would co-operate with the Allies in maintaining order in Siberia, but no Power should arrogate to itself a preponderant voice in the matter of obtaining concessions or other interests there. Lastly, the principle of the open door was to be upheld in China, Japan being admittedly the Power which is the most interested in the establishment and maintenance of peace in the Far East.

At the Conference, when the Kiaochow dispute came up for discussion, the Japanese attitude, according to their Anglo-Saxon and French colleagues, was calm and dignified, their language courteous, their arguments were put with studied moderation, and their resolve to have their treaty rights recognized was inflexible. Their case was simple enough, and under the old ordering unanswerable. The only question was whether it would be invalidated by the new dispensation. But as the United States had obtained recognition for its Monroe Doctrine, Britain for the supremacy of the sea, and France for the occupation of the Saar Valley and the suspension of the right of self-determination in the case of Austria, it was obvious that Japan had abundant and cogent arguments for her demands, which were that the Chinese territory once held by Germany, and since wrested from that Power by Japan, be formally retroceded to Japan, whose claim to it rested upon the right of conquest and also upon the faith of treaties which she had concluded with China. At the same time she expressly and spontaneously disclaimed the intention of keeping that territory for herself. Baron Makino said at the Peace Table:

"The acquisition of territory belonging to one nation which it is the intention of the country acquiring it to exploit to its sole advantage is not conducive to amity or good-will." Japan, although by the fortune of war Germany's heir to Kiaochow, did not purpose retaining it for the remaining term of the lease; she had, in fact, already promised to restore it to China. She maintained, however, that the conditions of retrocession should form the subject of a general settlement between Tokio and Peking.

The Chinese delegation, which worked vigorously and indefatigably and won over a considerable number of backers, argued that Kiaochow had ceased to belong to Germany on the day when China declared war on that state, inasmuch as all their treaties, including the lease of Kiaochow, were abrogated by that declaration, and the ownership of every rood of Chinese territory held by Germany reverted in law to China, and should therefore be handed over to her, and not to Japan. To this plea Baron Makino returned the answer that with the surrender of Tsingtao to Japan in 1914[249] the whole imperial German protectorates of Shantung had passed to that Power, China being still a neutral. Consequently the entry of China into the war in 1917 could not affect the status of the province which already belonged to Nippon by right of conquest. As a matter of alleged fact, this capture of the protectorates by the Japanese had been specially desired by the British government, in order to prevent Germany from ceding it to China. If that move meant anything, therefore, it meant that neither China nor Germany had or could have any hold on the territory once it was captured by Japan. Further, this conquest was effected at the cost of vast sums of money and two thousand Japanese lives.

Nor was that all. In the year 1915[250] China signed an agreement with Japan, undertaking "to recognize all matters that may be agreed upon between the Japanese government and the German government respecting the disposition of all the rights, interests, and concessions which, in virtue of treaties or otherwise, Germany possesses vis-à-vis China, in relation to the province of Shantung." This treaty, the Chinese delegates answered, was extorted by force. Japan, having vainly sought to obtain it by negotiations that lasted nearly four months, finally presented an ultimatum,[251] giving China forty-eight hours in which to accept it. She had no alternative. But at least she made it known to the world that she was being coerced. It was on the day on which that document was signed that the Japanese representative in Peking sent a spontaneous declaration to the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, promising to return the leased territory to China on condition that all Kiaochow be opened as a commercial port, that a Japanese settlement be established, and also an international settlement, if the Powers desired it, and that an arrangement be made beforehand between the Chinese and Japanese governments with regard to "the disposal of German public establishments and populations, and with regard to other conditions and procedures."

The Japanese further invoked another and later agreement, which was, they alleged, signed by the Chinese without demur.[252] This accord, coming after the entry of China into the war, was tantamount to the renunciation of any rights which China might have believed she possessed as a corollary of her belligerency. It also disposed, the Japanese argued, of her contention that the territory in question is indispensable and vital to her-a contention which Japan met with the promise to deliver it up-and which was invalidated by China's refusal to fight for it in the year 1914. This latter argument was controverted by the Chinese assertion that they were ready and willing to declare war against Germany at the outset, but that their co-operation was refused by the Entente, and subsequently by Japan. This allegation is credible, if we remember the eagerness exhibited by the British government that Japan should lose no time in co-operating with her allies, the representations made by the British Ambassador to Baron Kato on the subject,[253] and the alleged motive to prevent the retrocession of Shantung to China by the German government.

The arguments of China and Japan were summarily put in the following questions by a delegate of each country: "Yes or no, does Kiaochow, whose population is exclusively Chinese, form an integral part of the Chinese state? Yes or no, was Kiaochow brutally occupied by the Kaiser in the teeth of right and justice and to the detriment of the peace of the Far East, and it may be of the world? Yes or no, did Japan enter the war against the aggressive imperialism of the German Empire, and for the purpose of arranging a lasting peace in the Far East? Yes or no, was Kiaochow captured by the English and Japanese troops in 1914 with the sole object of destroying a dangerous naval base? Yes or no, was China's co-operation against Germany, which was advocated and offered by President Yuan Shi Kai in August, 1914, refused at the instigation of Japan?"[254]

The Japanese catechism ran thus: "Yes or no, was Kiaochow a German possession in the year 1914? Yes or no, was the world, including the United States, a consenting party to the occupation of that province by the Germans? Why did China, who to-day insists that that port is indispensable to her, cede it to Germany? Why in 1914 did she make no effort to recover it, but leave this task to the Japanese army? Further, who can maintain that juridically the last war abolished ipso facto all the cessions of territory previously effected? Turkey formerly ceded Cyprus to Great Britain. Will it be argued that this cession is abrogated and that Cyprus must return to Turkey directly and unconditionally? The Conference announced repeatedly that it took its stand on justice and the welfare of the peoples. It is in the name of the welfare of the peoples, as well as in the name of justice, that we assert our right to take over Kiaochow. The harvest to him whose hands soweth the seed."[255]

If we add to all these conflicting data the circumstance that Great Britain, France, and Russia had undertaken[256] to support Japan's demands at the Conference, and that Italy had promised to raise no objection, we shall have a tolerable notion of the various factors of the Chino-Japanese dispute, and of its bearings on the Peace Treaty and on the principles of the Covenant. It was one of the many illustrations of the incompatibility of the Treaty and the Covenant, the respective scopes of which were radically and irreconcilably different. The Supreme Council had to adjudicate upon the matter from the point of view either of the Treaty or of the Covenant; as part of a vulgar bargain of the old, unregenerate days, or as an example of the self-renunciation of the new ethical system. The majority of the Council was pledged to the former way of contemplating it, and, having already promulgated a number of decrees running counter to the Covenant doctrine in favor of their own peoples, could not logically nor politically make an exception to the detriment of Japan.

What actually happened at the Peace Table is still a secret, and President Wilson, who knows its nature, holds that it is in the best interests of humanity that it should so remain! The little that has as yet been disclosed comes mainly from State-Secretary Lansing's answers to the questions put by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. America's second delegate, in answer to the questions with which he was there plied, affirmed that "President Wilson alone approved the Shantung decision, that the other members of the American delegation made no protest against it, and that President Wilson alone knows whether Japan has guaranteed to return Shantung to China."[257] Another eminent American, who claims to have been present when President Wilson's act was officially explained to the Chinese delegates, states that the President, disclosing to them his motives, pleaded that political exigencies, the menace that Japan would abandon the Conference, and the rumor that England herself might withdraw, had constrained him to accept the Shantung settlement in order to save the League.[258] Rumors appear to have played an undue part in the Conference, influencing the judgment or the decisions of the Supreme Council. The reader will remember that it was a rumor to the effect that the Italian government had already published a decree annexing Fiume that is alleged to have precipitated the quarrel between Mr. Wilson and the first Italian delegation. It is worth noting that the alleged menace that Japan would quit the Conference if her demands were rejected was not regarded by Secretary Lansing as serious. "Could Japan's signature to the League have been obtained without the Shantung decision?" he was asked. "I think so," he answered.

The decision caused tremendous excitement among the Chinese and their numerous friends. At first they professed skepticism and maintained that there must be some misunderstanding, and finally they protested and refused to sign the Treaty. One of the American journals published in Paris wrote: "Shantung was at least a moral explosion. It blew down the front of the temple, and now everybody can see that behind the front there was a very busy market. The morals were the morals of a horse trade. If the muezzin were loud and constant in his calls to prayer, it probably was to drown the sound of the dickering in the market. There is no longer any obligation upon this nation to accept the Covenant as a moral document. It is not."[259]

All that may be perfectly true, but it sounds odd that the discovery should not have been made until Japan's claim was admitted formally to take over Shantung, after she had solemnly promised to restore it to China. The Covenant was certainly transgressed long before this, and much more flagrantly than by President Wilson's indorsement of Japan's demand for the formal retrocession of Shantung. But by those infractions nobody seemed scandalized. Quod licet Jovi non licet bovi. Debts of gratitude had to be paid at the expense of the Covenant, and people closed their eyes or their lips. It was not until the Japanese asked for something which all her European allies considered to be her right that an outcry was raised and moral principles were invoked.

The Japanese press was nowise jubilant over the finding of the Supreme Council. The journals of all parties argued that their country was receiving no more than had already been guaranteed to it by China, and ratified by the Allies before the Peace Conference met, and to have obtained what was already hers by rights of conquest and of treaties was anything but a triumph. What Japan desired was to have herself recognized practically, not merely in theory, as the nation which is the most nearly interested in China, and therefore deserving of a special status there. In other words, she aimed at the proclamation of something in the nature of a Far Eastern doctrine analogous to that of Monroe. As priority of interest had been conceded to her by the Ishii-Lansing Agreement with the United States, it was in this sense that her press was fain to construe the clause respecting non-interference with "regional understandings."

That policy is open. The principles underlying it, always tenable, were never more so than since the Peace Conference set the Great Powers to direct the lesser states. Moreover, Japan, it is argued, knows by experience that China has always been a temptation to the Western peoples. They sent expeditions to fight her and divided her territory into zones of influence, although China was never guilty of an aggressive attitude toward them, as she was toward Japan. They were actuated by land greed and all that that implies, and if China were abandoned to her own resources to-morrow she would surely fall a prey to her Western protectors. In this connection they point to an incident which took place during the Conference, when Signor Tittoni demanded that Italy should receive the Austrian concession in Tientsin, which adjoins the Italian concession. But Viscount Chinda protested and the demand was ruled out. To sum up, the broad maxim underlying Japan's policy as defined by her own representatives is that in the resettlement of the world the principle adopted, whether the old or the new, shall be applied fairly and impartially at least to all the Great Powers.

Every world conflict has marked the close of one epoch and the opening of another. Into the melting-pot on the fire kindled by the war many momentous problems have been flung, any one of which would have sufficed to bring about a new political, economic, and social constellation. Japan's advance along the road of progress is one of these far-ranging innovations. She became a Great Power in the wars against China and Russia, and is qualifying for the part of a World Power to-day. And her statesmen affirm that in order to achieve her purpose she will recoil from no sacrifice except those of honor and of truth.

FOOTNOTES:

[244] Novoye Vremya, June 13-26, 1915.

[245] Cf. The Problem of Asia (Capt. A.T. Mahan), pp. 150-151.

[246] The late President of the Chinese Republic.

[247] These demands were (1) an apology from the Chinese authorities; (2) an indemnity for the killed and wounded; (3) the policing of certain districts of Manchuria by the Japanese; and (4) the employment of Japanese officers to train Chinese troops in Manchuria.

[248] Minister of Foreign Affairs. He repudiated his predecessor's policy.

[249] November 8th.

[250] May 25, 1915.

[251] On May 6, 1915.

[252] On September 24, 1918.

[253] On August 7, 1914.

[254] Cf. Le Matin, April 25, 1919.

[255] Le Matin, April 23, 1919.

[256] "His Majesty's Government accede with pleasure to the requests of the Japanese Government for assurances that they will support Japan's claims in regard to the disposal of Germany's rights in Shantung, and possessions in islands north of the Equator, on the occasion of a Peace Conference, it being understood that the Japanese Government will, in the event of a peace settlement, treat in the same spirit Great Britain's claims to German islands south of the Equator." (Signed) Conyngham Greene, British Ambassador, Tokio, February 16, 1917. France gave a similar assurance in writing on March 1, 1917, and the Russian government had made a like declaration on February 20, 1917.

[257] As a matter of fact, the entire world knew and knows that she had guaranteed the retrocession. Baron Makino declared it at the Conference. Cf. The (London) Times, February 13, 1919; also on May 5, 1919; and Viscount Uchida confirmed it on May 17, 1919. It had also been stated in the Japanese ultimatum to Germany, August 15, 1914, and repeated by Viscount Uchida at the beginning of August, 1919.

[258] Mr. Thomas Millard, some of whose letters were published by The New York Times. Cf. Le Temps, July 29, 1919.

[259] The Chicago Tribune (Paris edition), August 20, 1919.

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