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“Let us now give an example of what may befall a native of Japan under the existing laws. Suppose that a gentleman by his conduct in some way arouses the suspicions of the police. They can enter, or, if necessary, break into, his house at dead of night, without giving the slightest notice or having any warrant. Although they may be disguised, and have nothing to evidence the fact of their being constables, they can arrest him, rummage through bis private papers and effects as they please, and then thrust him into prison, where he may be kept for weeks or months undergoing preliminary examinations. The unfortunate accused may be charged with all kinds of offences, refused bail, denied all intercourse with his friends—in fact, deprived of every trace of freedom; and, after all this, if the preliminary investigations prove his innocence, he has no redress for the injuries sustained, and is obliged to be thankful for his escape, and accept some small monetary compensation for his inevitable losses. On the other hand, if the preliminary examinations result in the charge being sent to a higher tribunal for investigation, the accused must there answer all interrogatories put to him. Although the court may be sitting with closed doors, and the public excluded, no exception can be taken to it. The accused will not be allowed the assistance of counsel in his defence, and, altogether, unless he happens to be remarkably clever and well versed in law, it is almost hopeless to expect he will be able to extricate himself from the meshes of the net which surrounds him, although he may be perfectly innocent of the crime laid to his charge. Trial by jury is unknown, and consequently the question of guilt or innocence is in the uncontrolled discretion of the judge who presides, and, in many cases, conducts the trial. No doubt there is a right of appeal, but that is to a single individual, and if he happens to adopt the same view as the judge of the inferior court, the accused is without further redress. It is also a fact, that if a person is acquitted on a charge, he may be tried for the same offence again and again.”
It would be impossible to adduce more conclusive evidence to prove the danger of any concessions in the direction so ardently desired by the Japanese. Doubtless they would take every precaution against the fate here depicted overtaking a foreigner ; but where such possibilities exist, the Western Powers will hardly place their subjects or citizens within their reach.
The somewhat stringent laws made about six years ago for the regulation of the Press have undoubtedly conduced to the elevation of its character, and to a sobriety and good sense in its attitude towards the Government, which can hardly be commended too highly. No impartial observer will deny that, on the whole, these laws have worked well, though they have undoubtedly been at times the instruments of considerable hardship. Still less will it now be contended that the full measure of freedom enjoyed by the Press in countries constitutionally governed, could, without the greatest danger, have been granted to a people just emerging from the institutions of feudalism, and wholly unaccustomed to the exercise and enjoyment of individual and political liberty.
The dispute between China and Japan respecting the right of sovereignty over the Loo-Choo Islands is yet unsettled, but little doubt seems to exist that the stronger claim lies with Japan. The slender present yearly carried to China by the Loo-Chooans appears to have been rather an offering suggested by gratitude and good-feeling for the privilege accorded to them of carrying on an advantageous trade with that country, than, as the Chinese plead, a tribute in acknowledgment of the rights of the Emperor as suzerain of a dependency. It is true that on the death of their king, the name of his successor was always submitted to the Court of Peking; but the Japanese deny, and apparently with good reason, that any power of veto resided in the Emperor of China. They also contend that, for some centuries, the princes of Satsuma have been the undisputed lords paramount of Loo-Cboo; and that, therefore, when the rights formerly possessed by the Daimios merged, as they did at the Restoration, into the Mikadoate, as the political centre of gravity, and the depository of all hitherto uncombined powers in the empire, the sovereignty over Loo-Choo fell into the central body. On the conversion of the Han into Ken, or, in other words, the deposition of the Daimios, the socalled King of Loo-Choo was made Governor of the principality, from which he was subsequently recalled, and he now resides in Tokio, a pensioner of the Imperial Government. The LooChooans themselves, a simple and submissive people, are naturally somewhat anxious about their fate, and dread lest their islands should become alike the field and the object of the contention. They regard China and Japan respectively as their father and mother, and are greatly perplexed which to renounce at the bidding of the other. Their petition, presented to the Japanese Government in the year 1876, is so simple and touching that we shall easily be pardoned for giving two or three short extracts from it :
“ It is the natural instinct of man, when in great distress, to pray for relief, either to Heaven or his parents. We are in this state of distress; and as our power is ineffectual to relieve us, we make the following prayer from our hearts, in hopes that you may take pity upon us and hear it. From the king down to the commoners all are taught the precepts of truth and propriety, which stand us in the stead of army and navy, wealth and luxuries, and to them we owe it that our country has been preserved to us. It is not our wish that we should serve two masters, but a sense of necessity compels us to do so. Our people are accustomed to say that as Great Japan is our father, and Great China our mother, we should reverently obey them both. Surely there is no place where a child is required to obey its father and forsake its mother. Should a child obey such a command, it could not be said to be observant of virtue and propriety. Now, what the Japanese Government commands is this, that we should serve only our father and should forsake our mother. This causes us the deepest sorrow. ... The inhabitants of Loo-Choo, we repeat, from the king down to the commoners, are taught not to forsake truth and propriety, and are commanded to obey both father and mother. Thus it is hard to bid them sever their connection with China, and, even though thus commanded, they could not consent to do so. Confucius has said Truth is more precious than life, and Mencius says “Life is precious and so is virtue. If it is found that they cannot co-exist, cast away the former and cleave to the latter.' When we were leaving the harbour of Naha, our king Shôtai commanded us, saying, that if we failed in our mission we could hope for no forgiveness from him, and must forfeit our lives. If the Japanese Government would send an official to China, and prevail on the Chinese Government to send an envoy to Loo-Choo announcing that the kingdom belonged to Japan alone, all would be well, for this would show that the Loo-Chooans had not forgotten all the former favours bestowed on them by China. But if it be otherwise, and the Loo-Chooans are themselves forced to announce that they belong to Japan alone, both truth and propriety would be violated, and when men forsake these virtues they are in nothing superior to the beasts. We might, indeed, derive increased protection from Japan, but our honour would be lost. The Japanese Government urges this matter upon us, but the opinions we express are those of all the Loo-Chooans, and we are placed in such a strait that we can neither comply with the wishes of the Japanese Government nor return home. Yet there is but one road for us to travel, and that leads to death. When the bird is about to die it sings a sorrowful note, and the stricken deer utters a plaintive sound. The sorrows of death are about us, and our prayer is but a mournful lamentation. We are careless of our own lives, but the life or death of our islands hangs on this question, and we entreat Your Excellency to give good heed to and pronounce a favourable judgment on this our most earnest prayer."
The following summary of the financial condition of Japan has been compiled from figures gathered on the spot :
The public receipts for the year which ended June 30 amounted to 55,651,379 yen (the yen is about equal to the American dollar), or 11,130,276l. nearly. Of this sum 41,000,950 yen came from the Land Tax and land rent charge, and 457,500 from other direct taxes. Customs produced 2,181,310 yen, and other indirect taxes 7,643,069 yen.
Receipts from industrial undertakings managed by the State were 1,194,940, and from various other sources 3,173,610 yen. The expenditure for the year was equal to the income. Interest on public debt, provision for sinking fund, and repayments absorbed 21,200,280 yen; the army 7,190,100 yen, the navy 2,636,300 yen; police, 2,486,452
yen; public home civil service, 19,236,444 yen ; diplomatic and consular service, 500,000 yen. The Civil List, including the appanages of the members of the Imperial family, amounts to only 877,000 yen, or 175,4001.; pensions amount to 1,059,404 yen; administration of the cities and provinces, 3,786,700 yen ; buildings and embankments, 1,987,000 yen; industrial undertakings, 1,005,084 yen; temples, 135,000 yen ; miscellaneous expenditure, 1,877,814 yen ; reserve, 1,500,000. Among the subheads of home civil service we find 300,000 yen set down for the Council of State, 170,000 yen for the Department of Foreign Affairs, 1,314,800 yen for the Administration of Justice, and 1,139,870 yen for the Department of Education. The public debt amounts to 250 millions of yen, or about 50 millions sterling. But very nearly four-fifths of this partake of the character of our terminable annuities. When, some years ago, the Japanese political system was reorganised and the pre-existing feudal arrangements extinguished, the Government took upon itself the obligation of providing for the “Samurai," or feudal retainers of the Daimios, and also for some colleges of priests. But, at the same time, it took over the ownership of various parcels of land scattered over the country which had been previously burdened with those charges. These lands are let at a very moderate rate, and it is the income derived from this source which figures as “ land-tax," and is such an important item of State revenue, amounting to about 75 per cent. of the whole. The charges for which this fund is primarily liable will be extinguished in about twenty-five years, while the lands and their income will remain the property of the State. The interest paid on the several portions of the public debt varies from 4 to 9 per cent., the average being 6 per cent. This must be considered satisfactory, since the ordinary rate of domestic interest in Japan is from 12 to 15 per cent., and the Chinese Government has had to pay 8 per cent. on its last loan. The population of Japan is about 34 millions. The peace establishment of the army is fixed at one man for every thousand of the population, exactly one-tenth of the ratio fixed for the German Empire. The military charge amounts to 9 15-17d. per head of the population, and the total amount of taxation, properly so called, is only a minute fraction more than 18. 2 d. per head.
I. EGYPT. AFTER ten years and more of feverish agitation, culminating in the collapse of the arch agitator, Egypt has devoted the past twelve months to the dull monotonous task of paying her debts. Under pressure from without, she has learnt the maxim of the policy of honesty, and strange to say that, whilst her creditors are satisfied, she herself seems in no way impoverished. The amazing fertility of the soil, the patient laboriousness of the fellaheen, and the other resources of the country which had hitherto been used to attract the avarice of speculators, at length began to commend themselves to the confidence of investors. The history of 1880, as far as Egypt is concerned, is the history of the restoration of her credit, and of her fair start on the road to commercial and agricultural wealth. The leading strings in which the Khedive consented to carry on the government may, on various occasions, have galled him not a little, but great praise is due to Tewfik Pasha for his unswerving loyalty to the Powers who placed him on the throne, and for the strict impartiality with which he has listened to the recommendations of the rival Powers. On more than one occasion he supported his own Ministry against their demands ; but more frequently his influence was invoked, and not in vain, to prove to his Cabinet and subjects the necessity of subinitting without a murmur to the necessities of the political or financial situation. The latter was the more critical. From the very first moment of his advent to power he had been forced to face two inevitable changes—the reduction in the rate of interest on Government bonds, and the abolition of the Moukabalah tax, in reality a double tax on all landowners, and one of the latest devices of the ex-Khedive. Under a promise that all landowners paying for a series of years a double tax should subsequently only pay one-half of the regular land-tax, Ismael Pasha had aroused hopes of permanent relief which he never intended to realise ; whilst in like manner his assurance to his creditors and the European Powers that the proceeds of the double tax would be devoted to paying off the public debt was merely intended as a cloak for further extravagance and folly. The result showed that the double payment was practically impossible. When the Moukabalah was regularly paid, the ordinary land-tax fell into arrear, and when the ordinary tax was paid the Moukabalah was neglected. The tax had been useful to the ex-Khedive as a means for obtaining short loans at an exorbitant rate of interest, and had been one of the origins of the floating debt of six millions, contracted within three years, with which the European Controllers had to deal.