The Departure of the Czarevitch from Japan
Tokyo, May 27th, 1891
It was to be expected, as I said in my last letter, that, after the attack made upon him at Otsu on the 11th instant by the fanatical police-constable Tsuda Sanzo, the Russian Prince Imperial would have to abandon the rest of his projected tour in Japan.
When, therefore, an announcement to that effect, made ten days ago, crushed the lingering hope that His Imperial Highness might yet come to this capital, if only for a few hours or a day or two, the general feeling was hardly one of surprise, though the grief and mortification exhibited by the whole country attested the depth to which Japan had been stirred by the greatest disaster that has befallen her in modern times.
All that the sorrowing people could lay to their comfort was the manner in which the Russian Court's decision had been made known; and certainly nothing could have been more gracious and genuine than the tone of the following message, addressed by the Czarevitch to the Emperor of Japan on the subject of his departure:-
"The Emperor, my father, considers that, before undertaking a journey through Siberia, it is necessary that I should rest for some time at Vladivostock, and has directed me to leave Japan.
I have consequently determined to set out on my return voyage to Russia on Tuesday, the 19th instant.
Now that the time has come for taking leave of Your Majesty, I have to express again my sense of gratitude for the friendly reception accorded to me in this country by your Majesty and your Majesty's subjects.
I shall never forget the warm kindliness shown towards me of late by your Majesty and Your Imperial Consort.
It is a source of deep regret to me that I cannot have the honour of expressing my gratitude personally to Her Majesty the Empress.
Your Majesty, let me entreat you to understand that not the slightest sentiment of estrangement is mixed with the feelings which I carry away with me from Japan, and that my sole regret is my inability to proceed to the capital of Japan, there to have the honour of meeting Your Majesty and the Empress."
Plainly from his message, the Crown Prince, so far from harbouring any ill-will on account of the incident of the 11th, sought to bury all recollection of it to the best of his power, and to show by language of the heartiest friendship his appreciation of the really extraordinary amende, almost amounting to self-abasement, that had been so eagerly rendered by all Japan, from its Ruler downward.
It is known also that telegrams in the same friendly strain had been exchanged between the Courts of St. Petersburg and Tokyo, and that the Czarina's very natural anxiety on her son's behalf was the chief determining cause of the Prince's departure.
Further, a special Japanese Embassy, headed by the Imperial Prince Arisugawa, which was to have been despatched immediately for Russia, has been dispensed with by desire of the Czar, on the ground that he is fully satisfied with what Japan has already done.
In these ways the Russian Emperor and Prince have mitigated as far as possible the bitterness of the main blow.
Cordiality, in fact, has been maintained throughout, and the Emperor Mutsuhito's last act of courtesy in the matter was to go and bid farewell to the Czarevitch on board of his ship at Kobe, immediately before the latter's departure thence for Vladivostock, on the 19th instant, under the escort as far as the western mouth of the Inland Sea of a squadron of Japanese war-vessels.
It had been arranged that the Crown Prince should lunch on shore with the Emperor, and there say his adieux, but this programme was suddenly changed at the last, in accordance with medical advice.
In proof of the intense feeling which was excited throughout the country by the untoward incident at Otsu, it may be interesting to mention that several thousands of telegrams of condolence from all parts of Japan were delivered at the Crown Prince's hotel in Kyoto in the first 48 hours after the attack.
Callers to the number of more than 20,000 poured in during the same period.
Each mail brought letters in corresponding profusion, and the trains were filled for days by delegates from nearly every public body in the Empire, charged with addresses and messages of sympathy and lament.
Many costly and beautiful gifts were also showered on the injured Prince.
To acknowledge all these attentions separately within any reasonable time was, of course, impossible, and the Czarevitch was finally driven to expressing his thanks, through the General of his suite, by means of a cordially worded communication to the chief vernacular newspapers.
Special recognition was, however, bestowed on the two jinrikisha-drawers, Mukobatake and Kitaga, who, as I explained in my last letter, so courageously rescued the Prince from the scoundrel Tsuda.
On the 18th these heroes were rewarded for their conduct with a regal liberality that must have utterly astounded them.
From the Czar was granted to each man a life-pension of 1,000 dollars a year, while at the hands of the Crown Prince each received a Russian decoration and a present of 2,500 dollars.
By the side of this munificence, Japan's earlier award of a decoration and life-pension of 36 dollars per annum stands in very humble contrast.
But Japanese have their own way of doing things, and we may be sure that even that little was fully up to the standard of the national custom and ideas.
When the two men, after going on board of the Russian ship, had been decorated and enriched for life beyond the wildest dreams of their class, and had heard words of kindly appreciation and advice from the lips of the Czarevitch himself, they were gleefully pounced upon by the sailors, chaired, toasted, and cheered, and in every way made much of; to all of which the simple fellows, bewildered and abashed, humbly made answer that they had done only what any Japanese would have done under the circumstances.
In painful juxtaposition to this happy incident, the measures meted out to the Governor and the Chief of Police of the province in whose capital town the attack on the Crown Prince took place seem in foreign eyes to be exceptionally harsh.
The Governor, one of the very best officials in Japan, has been deprived of his office, while the Chief of Police has been degraded as well as dismissed.
The former, newly appointed, had been but two days at his post; the latter, also, a new man, a week only; and it is believed that the Governor would have been degraded also if the Czarevitch, with kindly appreciation of the cruel ill-luck of his case, had not interceded with the Emperor in his behalf.
Even the modified sentence, however, seems more than severe.
Japanese practice evidently sanctions no lax interpretation of the word responsibility, but enforces it with inexorable rigour.
It is impossible, nevertheless, to believe that, the forms of stern justice having been once compiled with, the eclipse of so excellent an official will be more than temporary.
As for the prisoner Tsuda, his fate is not yet decided.
Though Japan's Penal Code awards punishment by death for assaults on members of the Japanese Imperial family, it is doubtful whether this provision can be applied to attacks upon Potentates of foreign States.
Nor does the spirit of the Code warrant any special treatment or enactment for the purpose of meeting cases of the latter kind.
Tsuda will probably, therefore, have to be tried only under the existing law of the land - tried, that is to say, under the provisions relating to murderous assaults upon ordinary individuals.
There are, however, provisions of law by which in certain cases, of which this is held to be one, special sessions of the Supreme Court of Japan may be convened in District Courts.
Such a session has been ordered to be held in the Otsu District Court for the trial of the present offence.
Before that Court Tsuda is to be arraigned to-day, and we may expect that in a day or two his fate will be known.
Of the Otsu outrage itself some fuller particulars have come to light since my last letter.
It is now established that the Prince Imperial, instead of heading the procession as was at first understood, was in the fifth jinrikisha from the front, the leading vehicle being occupied by the Governor of the province, the second by the Chief of Police, and the next two by police-inspectors.
When the assault took place, the shafts of the Prince's jinrikisha were, of course, instantly dropped by the drawer between them, and the Prince, leaping out, ran off towards the head of the procession, where he was stopped by the Governor and led into the nearest house.
I find also that there is no truth in the story, at first circulated, that Prince George of Greece felled the assailant Tsuda with his stick.
Without doubt, the Czarevitch's abandonment of his tour has been a very bitter thing for Japan.
It is to be hoped, nevertheless, that good will come of it.
Probably nothing could have better brought home to the Japanese people the great lesson which they have not hitherto sufficiently learned, namely, that the sole means of preventing any future recurrence of the humiliation they are now undergoing lies in the hands of the nation itself - of the whole public, that is to say, rather than of any unit of the body politic.
It is not at present possible to fathom with certainty the motives of the fanatic Tsuda, though, as I showed in my last letter, there are very strong grounds for the belief that he belonged to the party of Russophobists, a considerable and highly bigoted element which looks upon Russia as the natural enemy of Japan.
But, whatever his motives may have been, the way in which he gave expression to his views at once identifies him with the soshi and other unworthy modern exponents of the old Japanese creed of feudal days, according to which it used to be more or less pardonable to enforce political protests with even extreme forms of violence, provided that the actors therein voluntarily took upon themselves all the consequences of their deeds.
Against the survival and, above all, the growth of this mediaeval creed, Japan is bound to take immediately the strongest steps in her power.
It is a sorry thing that a country thirsting for equal recognition by the Western world should suffer disgrace at the hands of such miscreants as Tsuda, and be afflicted by the presence of such pests as the cowardly soshi who planned and carried out the attempt on Count Okuma's life in 1889.
The remedy, however, if not easy, is plain enough.
In the first place, as I have before stated in your columns, the public at large has all along shown itself curiously tolerant of the misdeeds of ruffians of the above classes.
This tolerance is, no doubt, largely attributable to the easy going and kindly disposition of the Japanese people.
But, that it needs to be replaced in such cases by a sterner mood is a fact which the recent disaster must have stamped with painful force on the mind of the nation.
In the second place, there are certain groups of men in the country who, if they do not actually create the malcontents and malefactors that are the curse of modern Japan, at least give encouragement more or less directly to the production of them and their crimes.
Of such are the hare-brained editors who seek to revive the old spirit of national isolation; reckless political demagogues who airily preach the same doctrine, and let slip no chance of saying ugly things about foreigners; the Russophobists, whose inflammatory appeal probably drove the wretched Tsuda to his desperate deed; men of standing and repute who harbour and support the soshi; and some few public men, literati, and even professors, whose whole attitude towards aliens is as bad as it can be, and a shameful example.
These are the men who are Japan's worst enemies - worse even than the actual perpetrators of crimes of violence like that of the 11th instant - because they prove themselves traitors to the spirit of true patriotism which is the nation's pride, by persistently educating in various ways among the dangerous classes a temper the serious manifestation of which may at any moment bring grave disaster upon the empire.
If the recent outrage at Otsu have the effect of staying the mischievous utterances and doings of these madmen and their followers, and of inciting the gentle, order-loving, and thoroughly respectable mass of the people to stamp them out by the resistless force of public opinion, Japan will wake up from her present depression to a far happier condition of things.
Then the Western world will see and admit that the grief and abasement so intensely manifested during the past fortnight have been no mere passing hysterical fit, but the forerunners of sturdy and successful effort to uproot the evils which now constitute a standing menace to the empire's tranquility and status.
The Times: Not appeared
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