Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

bitterly assailed, and it is the line of least resistance to be passive. Then, too, the latter always know the unworthiness of the agitator and are reluctant to recognize that he can stir up mischief.”

The fourth and last point need not be discussed at length. For who under the sun does not know that the law is in direct contravention of the national foreign policy of the Wilson Administration ? President Wilson and Secretary Bryan, seeing that the commerce of America must inevitably expand towards the Orient, were anxious to befriend Japan and China. Especially were they desirous of healing the wound which we have on more occasions than one inflicted upon the pride of Japan. The time seemed auspicious for the launching of such a policy. The Japanese generously responded to the appeal of the Panama-Pacific Exposition and showed a willingness to coöperate with the Federal Government in the readjustment of relations between the two nations. Now comes the State legislature introducing a flood of bills all aimed at discrimination against the Japanese. To say that these bills are not intended to offend any foreign nation is a mere subterfuge.

Yet amid the vituperations of the politicians and the vociferations of the ignorant, the true spirit of the Republic asserted itself, and called upon the whole nation, like the call of the bugle, to rally under the standard of justice and fairness. Seldom before during my thirteen years' residence in this country have I witnessed the true greatness of the American nation so vividly demonstrated as on the occasion of the land legislation in California. Would that the Japanese on the other side of the Pacific could have seen this imposing spectacle! The majority of American newspapers and of fair-minded Americans turned a solid phalanx to the legislators of California and denounced their selfishness and bigotry. A minister declared from his pulpit : “ The California land bill is something that would disgrace hell in its palmiest days. It is a piece of political perfidy and rotten state's rights—of proverbial buncombe-and of a race and religious bigotry that makes the Oriental heathen a Christian saint in comparison. What a lovely exhibition of low-browed, hard-hearted provincialism for a State that intends to hold the Panama World's Fair. The Fair privilege should be rescinded, or if not Japan and China as well as Europe should boycott it.”

Would such frank and fearless expression of opinion be permitted in Japan, were the Parliament at Tokyo to adopt a measure discriminating against aliens? May not some fanatical patriots regard such outspoken criticism as treason and betrayal of national honour? When we think of this we realize that the spirit of America is not yet dead, that the glory and greatness of the Republic are not a thing of the past.

In the previous chapter I have referred to the “mobs and war talk” alleged to have been brought out in Tokyo on the eve of the passage of the land law. In view of the fact that the so-called war-talk” has been studiously exploited in America not only by sensational newspapers but by influential magazines and critical writers, it seems not amiss to direct attention to a passage in Dr. Hamilton W. Mabie's recent article in the Outlook, wherein this eminent scholar states that

as a matter of fact the mobs and the clamour were imaginary.” On the contrary “there has been a very warm feeling of friendship for the United States among the Japanese; a feeling of confidence and friendship which has been and may continue to be, if wise counsels prevail, a very valuable asset in the Far East; and the feeling in Japan was rather one of astonishment and pain than of anger.” Dr. Francis G. Peabody, of Harvard, who also happened to be in Japan at the time when “twenty thousand people ” were reported to be surging through the streets of Tokyo clamouring for war with America,” testifies to the absurdity of such sensational reports. In refutation of a California writer's statement that “the abrupt change in California's attitude was but the reflection of the Japanese mailed fist,” Dr. Peabody has this to say:

“ This chronology of events has no correspondence, so far as I know, with facts as seen in Japan. No jingo agitation occurred in Tokyo, to my knowledge, until it became evident that the California legislature and Governor, in defiance of advice from Washington, were determined to discriminate against Japan. The war talk was even then limited to a few irresponsible and self-interested demagogues, who had no influence with the Japanese Government and were never taken seriously by responsible people. To speak of the Japanese as provoking the issue, and the Californian as suddenly roused to resentment by Japanese combativeness, seems to me a complete inversion of the facts. Indeed the most marked feature of public opinion in Japan has been the forbearance with which it has been assumed that the United States would in the end reach a just conclusion."

Before concluding this chapter we may be permitted to set forth exact facts with regard to alien landownership in Japan, as the sponsors for the new land law of California repeatedly asserted that in depriving the Japanese of the right of landownership California is doing to the Japanese what Japan is doing to the Americans and other foreigners.

In 1910 Japan adopted a law by virtue of which foreigners were to be permitted to own land, provided such foreigners came from a country where similar privilege was extended to her subjects. The enforcement of this law has been delayed for various reasons, one of which is the difficulty of applying the reciprocal principle to such countries as the United States which has no uniform land law.

But the point I desire to emphasize is that, even in the absence of the new alien ownership law, the foreigners in Japan are allowed to enjoy almost all the rights which are enjoyed by the natives. The civil code of Japan, which was adopted in 1898, was drafted after the Digest or Pandect system, and in consequence has many points of similarity, as to both form and principle, to the civil code of France or the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch of Germany. It recognizes the rights of possession and ownership, the superficies, the emphyteusis, the servitus prædiorum, the lien, the preferential right, the right of pledge, and the right of mortgage.

Of these nine real rights the right of landownership will not generally be conferred upon foreigners until the new alien ownership law takes effect. Of the other rights which are extended to foreigners, I call particular attention to the superficies and the emphyteusis. The superficies is a species of lease, but is not encumbered with any restriction as to its duration. It is attended with almost all the essential features of ownership. The emphyteusis is another kind of lease, the duration of which should not be less than 25 or more than 50 years. Without entering into details, it may reasonably be said that the foreigners allowed to acquire these real rights virtually enjoy the benefits of landownership.

There is another important consideration. The civil

code of Japan extends the right of ownership to corporations organized by foreigners in conformity to the requirements of Japanese laws. To enjoy this privilege it is not necessary that such companies should include any Japanese interest. Moreover, a partnership may consist of any number of persons from two upwards. Suppose a partnership is composed of two persons. In this case one of the duet may hold even as much as 99 per cent. of the whole interest. If a foreigner desires to acquire land under the laws now in operation, it would be comparatively easy for him to attain the end by organizing a company with another person, possibly one of his intimate friends, Japanese or foreigner, and allowing the latter only one per cent. of the entire interest. In this way he would have virtual control of the land acquired by the company, for the interest of his partner would be but nominal. Or if he does not care to take this step, he may be naturalized and own land.

To recur to the alien land law of 1910. This law is, on a par with any similar law enacted upon the principle of reciprocity by any other nation. It has, however, one provision which I consider unfortunate. I refer to the clause forbidding foreigners to acquire land in the three territories, Formosa, Saghalien, and Hokkaido. I do not see why the Japanese Government should make such a restriction. Perhaps the authorities fancy that these new territories, being yet only sparsely populated, may become dominated by foreign capital, if alien ownership of land there be not forbidden. To me such apprehension is absurd. Capital is timid and refuses to go where profitable investment is problematical. Throw open all of her territories, and Japan may yet rest assured that foreign capitalists will not be so quixotic as to invade snow-bound Saghalien, explore

« AnteriorContinuar »