Category : 【 THE NEW KOREA 】::┣Chapter [I] ~ [III] Tag :
Korea is destined to occupy a position of constantly increasing importance with reference to the general problem of the Far East. Her geographical situation predetermines for her a future indissolubly linked with that of China, of Asiatic Russia, and of Japan, with two of which she has land frontiers, and from the third is separated only by a narrow strait. It is impossible to foresee any political, social, or economic developments in northeastern Asia in which Korea will not fill a rôle as significant as that of Turkey in respect of the Near East, of Egypt in respect of the British Empire, or of the Panama Canal Zone in respect of the United States.
The annexation of Korea by Japan in 1910 made waste paper out of bales of laboriously compiled reports and of ingenious predictions about Far Eastern affairs. It reflected, in brief, the determination of Japan to forestall any attempt which might be contemplated by China to reassert, and to make active, its former suzerainty over Korea, or on the part of Russia to secure in the Korean Peninsula a position of such dominance as would create the temptation, and furnish the instrument, to take the control of the country out of the hands of its weak, incompetent, and corrupt rulers.
Looking forward from 1910, one thing was clear where many things were obscure, namely that Japan, having decided to make Korea part of her Empire, would deem the permanence of her occupation to be a major element of her national policy, to be held intact, at whatever cost, against internal revolt or foreign intrigue.
In the field of international policy the Japanese annexation of Korea is perfectly suited to serve as a demarcating issue between two schools of political conviction--the imperialist and the nationalist--and according to whether the reader belongs to one or to the other of these schools, so will he convince himself that Japan has the "right" to rule Korea, or that the Koreans have a "right" to independent nationhood.
The common employment of the word "right" in this connection has done much to befog the actual matter in controversy between the imperialists and the nationalists, since the "rightness" of either doctrine when applied to a particular case can only be measured with reference to the particular circumstances.
The most extreme imperialist would balk at the suggestion that the United States should, on account of its great power and of its advanced social development, annex every backward and undeveloped country south of the Rio Grande. The most extreme nationalist would ridicule the idea that the "right" of the Australian aborigines to self-determination justified an effort to emancipate the island-continent from white rule. The pinnacle of absurdity would be reached if anyone should start a movement to restore the control of the North American Continent to the Indian tribes. Grotesque as these instances appear when viewed from the practical standpoint, they suffice to expose the fallacy of basing either an imperialist or a nationalist policy upon a principle of abstract right.
It is my purpose to examine Japanese rule in Korea as a concrete example of colonial administration, without reference to the legal or moral sanctions upon which it rests. The reasons for thus limiting the inquiry will be obvious to all serious students. I state them here in the hope that they will be accepted as valid by the general reader.
The annexation of weak countries by strong countries is a phenomenon which has persisted since the beginning of recorded time; practically every strong nation has practiced the habit.
The arguments for and against such a procedure have been stated and re-stated thousands of times in every country, and have been expressed in almost every language. They are familiar to, or accessible to, every person who will read this volume. I have nothing to add to them. A discussion of the moral, ethical, legal, political, social, and economic problems raised by an act of annexation, as such, is irrelevant to a presentation of the facts descriptive of a working system of colonial government, since the character of an administration is what it is, and can be fairly judged only on the basis of the data of its operation.
To combine a description of a colonial government with an essay on the moral quality of the imperialist principle would be to invite confusion of thought. Thus, in any given case, if the administration of an imperial government is found to be bad in fact, this badness will be used by nationalists as an argument against imperialism, whereas if bad administration is found in a popular government, nationalists will not tolerate any use of this badness as an argument against popular rule.
Conversely, with reference to good administration; if nationalists find that it exists in fact under a system of popular self-government, they will welcome the finding as a justification of that system; but if good administration is found in an imperial dependency, nationalists will not allow the finding to stand to the credit of the imperialist system; they will then shift the issue from the quality of the administration to the quality of the sanctions from which the government derives its authority.
In a word, to the nationalists good government is good government if it is self-government, and even bad government is good government if it is self-government--in the first case because both good government and self-government are good; in the second case because, under self-government, bad government will certainly lead to a demand for, and to the instituting of, good government. Thus, so runs the argument, bad selfgovernment is merely a passing phase in the evolution of good self-government.
This attitude of the nationalists is perfectly logical so far as it affects their desire for nationhood, since it enables them to use bad colonial administration as an argument in support of an independence agitation, and at the same time undercuts the position of those imperialists who seek to justify colonial rule by appealing to the visible evidences of what good colonial administration can do for the safety, health, cultural advancement, and prosperity of a colonial domain.
It is clear, then, that with reference to an accepted group of facts, a totally different evaluation will be made by a nationalist and by an imperialist. Japanese rule in Korea, and the opposition to it on the part of the Korean nationalists, furnish an excellent illustration of the point. The Japanese refer with pride to their road-building, to their great extension of educational facilities, to their effective protection of life and property throughout a country but recently overrun by bandits, to their rapid development of agriculture, trade and industry, to their technical training schools, to their scientific experiment stations which serve the farmer, the fisherman, the stock-breeder, and the manufacturer, to the enormous increase during the past fifteen years in every branch of production, with its connotation of increased employment for Koreans, to the constantly mounting number of Koreans appointed to the Government service.
The foregoing facts cannot be gainsaid, as will be proved by the data contained in subsequent chapters. But the Korean nationalists attribute to them a sinister significance. The roads, they say, are built solely for the purpose of facilitating the movement of Japanese troops; the educational system is nothing more than an ingenious scheme for destroying Korean nationality; the protection of life and property is merely an excuse for maintaining a large Japanese police orce; the economic development of the country is simply a device for swelling the profits of Japanese capitalists; the technical schools and the scientific bureaus have no other aim than to make Japanese rule profitable to the Japanese; the employment of Koreans in the Government service is an insidious form of bribery calculated to secure support for the Japanese occupation of the country.
The situation thus created is familiar to all students of colonial government. If the local administration builds roads, erects schools, and so on, it is wrong, because the motive is base; if it fails to do these things it is wrong, because it is the obvious duty of an imperial ruler to confer such benefits upon a dependency. So also in relation to developing the resources of a dependency; if the sovereign power invests money in the colony, it is wrong because all it amounts to is capitalist exploitation; if it does not invest money in the colony, it is wrong because the failure to do so reflects a determination to keep the people poor and weak in the interest of an easy domination; if it employs natives in the government service it is wrong because such a policy tends to weaken nationalist sentiment; if it fails to do so it is wrong because such a course discloses the purpose of making the colony the happy hunting ground of imperial officials.
To all colonial governors this is an old story.
All sincere and humane colonial governors--and none is more worthy of such a description than is Viscount Saito, Governor-General of Korea since 1919--are compelled to close their ears to the mutually destructive criticisms to which I have alluded, and must content themselves with carrying out from day to day measures designed to improve the general conditions of their dependencies.
The bulk of the present volume is devoted to a description of the administrative system of the Japanese in Korea, and to a statistical account of its results. The author feels it incumbent upon him to furnish his readers with a brief statement of the point of view from which he has approached his task.
During the past forty years he has lived about half the time in self-governing countries--England, the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, France, Germany, and Denmark--and the other half in colonial dependencies--India, the British West Indies, the French West Indies, British and Dutch Malaya, French IndoChina, British Borneo, the Philippine Islands, and in a few scattered dependencies of various powers.
This experience has left him without any trace of prejudice in respect of forms of government, for he has seen government wisely and honestly administered under every form, and stupidly and dishonestly administered under every form; he has seen freedom cherished under a monarchy and destroyed under a republic, and vice versa; he has seen justice dispensed with an even hand under popular rule and under autocratic rule; he has seen judicial decisions bought and sold in self-governing countries and in the dependencies of imperial powers. In each class of territory he has seen, living side by side, persons content with their government (whilst favoring reforms in this or in that particular) and persons who are so discontented with the same government that nothing short of its complete destruction appears to offer an adequate guaranty of desired reforms.
When the strongly dissatisfied group exists in a sovereign state, its members become socialists of one kind or another, or communists, or syndicalists, or fascists, or anarchists, according to their individual temperaments; when the group exists in a dependency, its members create a party aiming at the achievement of independence from the sovereign state.
It is one of the most curious matters forced upon the attention of a student of comparative government that the chief object of the nationalist party in a dependency should be to obtain the status of an independent sovereign nation, since the obvious fact is that in most of the countries which already exist as sovereign states there are to be observed all the evil conditions for which a colonial independence party deems independent sovereignty to be the unfailing panacea.
If the opponents of imperially imposed rule could point to the self-ruled countries and say: "In these countries there are justice, toleration, honest and efficient administration, social equality, adequate protection of life and property, equal economic opportunity, and freedom from the exploitation of the weak by the strong, and of the poor by the rich," the argument against imperialism would rest upon solid foundations. But the anti-imperialists cannot say with truth that the kind of dispensation described above exists in any marked degree in the general category of self-ruled states; nor can they say with truth that, in whatever degree it does exist anywhere, this degree is higher in self-ruled countries than it is in imperial dependencies.
No informed person would be prepared to maintain that Spain, Mexico, the Central American Republics, Russia, Rumania, and Bulgaria --all of them self-governing, independent states --enjoy a superior general social condition, or are better administered, than Burma, Java, British Guiana, the Federated Malay States, Korea, and the Philippine Islands--all of them ruled as dependencies.
Self-rule and dependent rule each have inherent in them the possibility of misrule. In selfruled countries the danger lies in the dishonesty and incompetence of which partisan politics and political machinery are the supple instruments and the staunch defenders. As between the good of the country and the good of the party, the latter is usually--by the liberal use of patronage, and by the unrestrained employment of sophistical oratory--accorded in practice the leading position.
In dependencies the threat to good government comes from another source--the stupidity, the incompetence, or the arrogance of colonial officials. In the matter of corruption I am convinced beyond all doubt that, allowing for an occasional exception, the government of selfruled countries is much more corrupt than that of colonial dependencies, and that, in the latter, malversation in public office is of very rare occurrence. In the twenty-five years during which I have kept in touch with the dependencies controlled by the India Office and by the Colonial Office in London I have not heard of a dozen cases of graft on the part of non-native government officials above the rank of mere clerks.
There exists, of course, in each type of government an obligation to govern well. This responsibility is rooted in morals, and where moral considerations do not operate with sufficient force to compel the ruling authority to govern well, the promptings of expediency will usually suffice to dip the scale on the side of reasonably humane and efficient administration.
It seems to me that these two factors, morality and expediency, act with greater effectiveness in colonial dependencies than in self-governing countries, and this chiefly for two reasons. In self-governing countries the moral responsibilty is split up among thousands, or millions of voters; in dependencies it is centered in a single person, the Governor-General, the Governor, the Chief Commissioner, or whatever the title may be. In the former case every voter can shift the blame for bad government on to some one else's shoulders; each political party can shift it on to the shoulders of the other party, one branch of a legislature can make a gift of it to the other; both branches can leave it on the doorstep of the Chief Executive; the Chief Executive can hand it back to the voters with the comment that he is but the servant of the people, that they had demanded certain legislation, certain administrative measures, and that he had carried out their wishes; finally, the Chief Executive and the Legislature can combine to lay the blame upon incompetent or corrupt officials, who will presently be disciplined, reformed, dismissed, or denied re-election, as the case may be.
In a dependency the situation is totally different. A Colonial Governor, vis-à-vis his colony and his Colonial Office in the home country, occupies a position analogous to that of a ship's captain vis-à-vis his ship and his owners. He is directly responsible for the conduct of affairs; he takes the credit for success, he must accept the penalties of failure; he can never plead an alibi.
Furthermore, the Colonial Governor looks for his advancement to the distant authority of a Secretary of State at the national capital. Promotion and other rewards will depend upon the way in which he administers his charge. He is little likely to earn them if, from preventable causes, his territory fails to advance in its health, prosperity, and general social condition; he is almost certain to miss them if, in consequence of harsh and incompetent administration, the people rise in revolt against his rule, or sink into the apathy and sloth which are the assured products of prolonged misgovernment. Briefly, the success of his rule will be the measure of his personal success.
Since he is directly responsible for the conduct of his subordinates, and for the appointment of most of them, and has in addition the power of promotion and dismissal, his officials have every incentive to earn their own advancement by rendering such service as will redound to the credit of the Governor.
I do not intend to imply that a home government may not, even in modern times, be actuated by the base motive of ruthlessly exploiting a colonial dependency--the earlier history of the Belgian Congo is a case in point--or that in such circumstances the administration may not be as bad as the motive. But such a situation is, year by year, falling in the scale of statistical expectation because, international relations being what they now are, the influence of publicity being what it now is, and party tactics in home countries demanding, as they now do, a diligent assemblage of material on which to base attacks on the party in power, the ventilation of grave abuses in colonial administration presents a very serious political problem to the home government which is responsible for them or which tolerates them.
The other important factor, which has to be taken into account when estimating the probability of government being competently administered in a dependency, is one to which recent political events in Europe have imparted a striking significance. It is that as social and economic conditions increase in complexity under the combined influences traceable to industrial development, to the growing size of commercial and banking enterprises, and to the gradual substitution of the community for the individual as the unit of social progress, the problems of government are, day by day, becoming less amenable to political solutions--to legislative debate, long ballots, and the popular election of public officials --and more clamorous of solutions dependent upon highly expert technical knowledge.
The assumption that politics would be the competent and all-sufficient handmaid of social service was given authoritative currency through the propaganda associated with the American War of Independence, the French Revolution, and the fight for Parliamentary Reform in England. These movements were spread over a period of about a century and a quarter, roughly from 1760 to 1890, a period during which public sentiment was strongly averse to the idea of government regulation, and was totally blind to the possibility that Government might become, as it has since become, not only the trustee of social progress but also its most powerful instrument. What these revolutionary and reform movements were chiefly concerned with was, in fact, settling what Government should not do to people, not with what Government should do for people.
It is safe, indeed, to infer that the liberalminded statesmen of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries would be horrified if they could witness the extent to which Government today intrudes upon everything, and regulates almost everything which happens to a citizen, or is done by him whilst he is moving from his cradle to his grave.
Whether or not Government should undertake its vast business of regulation and of social service is a question upon which opinions may well differ; but the obstinate adhesion to the belief that politics, whose life-blood is a mixture of contention, intrigue, and self-interest, can and will furnish the spirit, the knowledge, and the technique essential to the effective handling of social and economic problems is what has brought parliamentary government into disrepute in almost every country in which it is practiced.
The establishment of Fascism in Italy, the support which that principle is receiving in other countries, the adoption of the City-manager plan in the United States, the setting up, by the mutual consent of opposing interests, of "Czars" to administer the affairs of certain great American industries (baseball and the movies, for instance), and the recent dictatorship in Spain, are all in their essence revolts against the opento-all system of guidance and control.
If my observation has led me to believe that in countries where authority is vested in a small group of trained public officials there will, as a rule, be found a better administration of government than in countries where administration is subject to the influence of an uninformed and, ad hoc, unintelligent public, I do not from that belief infer that, because a country is ruled under a system of concentrated authority and of fixed responsibility, it is, therefore well governed.
So, with reference to Korea, there can be found in its history under Japanese rule instances of the abuse of power, of official incompetence, to some extent of corruption; but whether or not Korea has on the whole been well governed can be determined only from a study of the available data. From such a study, which has occupied me for more than three years, and of which the results are presented in this volume, I have formed the opinion that Korea is today infinitely better governed than it ever was under its own native rulers, that it is better governed than most self-governing countries, that it is as well governed as any of the British, American, French, Dutch, and Portuguese dependencies which I have visited, and is better governed than most of them, having in view as well the cultural and economic development of the people as the technique of administration.