Category : 【 THE NEW KOREA 】::┣Chapter [I] ~ [III] Tag :
CHAPTER III SUMMARY
The internal administration of Korea has, for many years, been a matter of earnest solicitude to the Japanese. The dangers and annoyances associated with corrupt and grossly inefficient rule in a country whose southern coast-line is within a few hours' steaming from Japan will be obvious to those who have had occasion to study the causes of the Spanish-American War, and to those who, today, are hoping to see Mexico develop in such a way as to encourage the most cordial relations with the United States.
There exists, indeed, a certain type of mind to which the contagion of misrule conveys no threat to domestic tranquillity on the other side of a frontier, to which the circumstances of American territorial expansion, and of the extension of British rule in India, teach no lesson. Intelligent observers, however, are aware that bad government can be as poor a neighbor as bad health, that social unrest can cross a boundary line as readily as small-pox or yellow fever, that the "landgrabbing" of the English-speaking races, which followed the original conquest or settlement was due in large measure to the necessity of bringing within the national sovereignty a neighbor who, for one reason or another, was a menace to the national welfare.
In the case of Korea the menace to Japan arose from two main causes--first, that centuries of misrule had reduced the Korean people to a condition from which it was hopeless to expect that, through a popular demand for internal reform, Korea might lift itself into the rank of a State having sufficient wealth and sufficient power to maintain its independence; second, and as a consequence of the first, that, either by force or by guile, Russia or China might take possession of the Peninsula, thus creating a strategic situation which could not be tolerated by any person or party responsible for the national defence of Japan.
All available evidence tends to prove that for many years Japanese policy toward Korea was concerned chiefly with securing for that country the position of an independent sovereign State, and for herself the acceptance by the great powers of the principle that Japan's interest in Korean affairs was to be considered predominant, in the sense that England's special interest in Egypt, and that of the United States in Latin America, had received tacit recognition in the world's chancelleries.
In support of the first conception Japan declared war on China in 1894 and, in the Treaty of Shimoneseki, exacted the renunciation of China's suzerainty over Korea and the acknowledgment of that country's independence. In defence of the second conception Japan, having in view the Russian occupation of Vladivostok and of Port Arthur, the conversion of these places into two of the most formidable fortresses in existence, the extension of the Trans-Siberian Railway to the Korean frontier, and the persistent Russian intrigues in Manchuria and in Korea itself, fought the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905.
At the conclusion of the War Japan decided that in the interest of Korea, in her own interest, and in the general interest of peace and progress in the Far East, her power to influence the Government of Korea in respect of administrative reform, which had hitherto depended upon diplomatic procedure and upon the activities of several Japanese advisers in various departments, could be made effective only by establishing a Residency-General somewhat after the pattern of that set up by the British in the Federated Malay States, a system which had yielded the most beneficial results. This was done in 1905, and had the practical effect of making Korea a Japanese Protectorate. Under the original arrangement the results of the new policy were unsatisfactory, because it was not mandatory upon the Korean officials to follow the advice of the ResidentGeneral. This situation was remedied in 1907 by the conclusion of a Convention between Korea and Japan, under the terms of which the Government of Korea "shall follow the direction of the Resident-General in connection with the reform of the administration" and "shall not enact any law or ordinance, or carry out any important administrative measure, except with the previous approval of the Resident-General."
Three years' experience under the new system showed that it could not be operated successfully in face of the hostility, of the indifference, incompetence, or dishonesty of the Korean officials. In Korea, as elsewhere, divided authority and responsibility--the method of diarchy--led to little but social unrest and administrative impotence. Accordingly, under the terms of a Treaty signed on August 22, 1910, by the plenipotentiaries of the two countries, the Emperor of Korea made complete and permanent cession to the Emperor of Japanof all rights of sovereignty over the whole of Korea. A week later the Emperor of Japan issued an Imperial Rescript announcing the annexation and ordering the establishment of the office of Governor-General of Korea. From August 29, 1910 Japan has had full responsibility for, and full power in, the administration of Korea.
The Japanese proclamations issued at the time of the annexation were couched in conciliatory language, and the measures adopted when the transfer of authority was effected were well calculated to mollify public sentiment. The imperial house of Korea was liberally provided for, its dignity was preserved by granting to the exemperor and to other members of the imperial family the same privileges and honors enjoyed by princes of the imperial blood in Japan, peerages were conferred upon a number of Korean nobles.
An imperial donation of thirty million yen (fifteen million dollars U. S.) was made by the Emperor of Japan, of which about one third was bestowed upon Korean noblemen, meritorious public servants, scholars, indigent widows, widowers, orphans, and others, the balance, of something over seventeen million yen, being set aside as a permanent fund of which the annual interest was to be devoted to giving various forms of aid to Koreans. If the imperial donation to Korea was only equal to three-quarters of that which the United States had paid in respect of the cession of the Philippine Islands, it should not be overlooked that the American money went to the Spanish Government, whereas the Japanese Donation went to the Korean people.
The problems confronting the GovernmentGeneral of Korea were neither few nor simple. The purpose of the Japanese was to set up a thoroughly modern administrative system, to develop the natural resources of the country, and to foster trade and industry. The road to success was encumbered with every imaginable obstacle, The whole machinery of administration had to be planned, a complete civil service had to be created, a large staff of technical experts had to be engaged, a financial system had to be devised capable of yielding the revenue essential for the carrying out of the government's policy.
The situation presented but one favorable circumstance, the docile character of the mass of the Korean people. There was not, at the time of annexation, nor has there since arisen, any ground for serious anxiety on the part of the Japanese military authorities. It is, therefore, difficult for a foreign observer to understand why the Japanese Government should have made the rule that the Governor-General of Korea could only be appointed from the roster of officers of the army or navy. Experience proved that in this matter a serious mistake in policy had been made, and in 1919 the restriction was removed, the appointment being thrown open to civilians.
The selection of military officers for colonial governorships has been a common practice both of the Dutch and the British; but it is an objectionable procedure. History furnishes, indeed, instances in which the talent for conducting military enterprises has been combined with the talent for civil administration; but such instances are extremely rare. The task of administering the affairs of a colonial dependency is one which calls for a temperament totally different from that which goes to the making of a good military man. The success of a military commander, sound technical knowledge being assumed, will depend upon the extent to which he enforces discipline and exacts compliance with thousands of precise and inflexible regulations; his duties are to issue orders and to see that they are obeyed without argument or protest; he need give no thought to the feelings engendered by his administration.
A civil administrator, on the other hand, can only succeed if he adopts a policy of give and take, and carries it out in a spirit of compromise. A large proportion of his work is constructive in its nature, and needs, for its fruition, the goodwill of the people. What is necessary above all things is that the administrator's rule should bear the impress of urbanity and conciliation--the two qualities least to be expected in a military man.
From 1910 to 1919 Japanese rule in Korea, though it accomplished much good for the people, bore the stamp of a military stiffness which aroused a great deal of resentment, hampered the progress of reform, and was largely responsible for the discontent which culminated in the proclamation of Korean Independence by the leaders of the Korean nationalists on March 1, 1919.
The merciless severity with which the revolt was repressed shocked the public sentiment of the world. In Japan itself the indignation reached such a height that the government was compelled to find means of appeasing it. The GovernorGeneral of Korea was recalled, the rule excluding civilians from eligibility for that post was canceled, the new Governor-General, Admiral Baron Saito (now Viscount), though not a civilian, was recognized throughout the Far East as a man of high administrative ability, of generous and humane disposition, and of great personal charm.
The New Korea of which I write is the Korea which has developed under the wise and sympathetic guidance of Governor-General Saito. I may quote here a few paragraphs of an article by Bishop Herbert Welch, Resident Bishop, in the Korean capital, of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The article appeared in The Christian Advocate of May 13, 1920, and the quotation derives particular significance from the circumstance that Bishop Welch has always been an outspoken critic of everything he has deemed to be blameworthy in the Japanese administration of Korea.
Referring to Baron Saito's assumption of the Governor-Generalship, Bishop Welch says:
A sharp contrast at once became evident with the methods and spirit of the preceding administration. The Governor-General himself was simple and unaffected in manner, genial, approachable, evidently anxious to know and to propitiate foreign opinion in the country. His advent was marked by the speedy disappearance of countless swords and uniforms. . . . His chief associate, Dr. R. Midzuno, the Administrative Superintendent, an official of high standing and wide executive experience, seemed to share with the Governor to a large degree the ideals of simplicity, directness and the permeation of the government activities by the civilian as contrasted with the military spirit. . . .
Meanwhile, on the Korean side the past year has unquestionably brought a further crystallization of opinion which is hostile to any Japanese government. The minds of many are fixed on complete national independence as the only goal, and they declare that they have no interest whatever in the question of reforms by the present or any Japanese administration. On the other hand many, including some of the most intelligent and far-seeing, are persuaded that there is no hope of speedy independence, and that they must settle down for a long period to build up the Korean people, in physical conditions, in knowledge, in morality, and in the ability to handle government concerns. . . .
It must be fully recognized that the Japanese government has by no means as yet won the hearts of the Korean people; rather they are further off from that today than fifteen months ago. . . . On the other hand, there are elements of decided encouragement. One of these I find in the character of the Governor-General, Admiral Baron Saito himself. He came to Korea last September with the possibility in his thought of declaring a general political amnesty-wiping the political slate clean and making a new start on the basis of a liberal and humane policy. He was met at the railway station in Seoul by a bomb thrown by the hand of a fanatic, an action which was promptly disavowed by representative Koreans, yet which could not but affect somewhat one's view of the situation.
Baron Saito, however, instead of taking a strong hand, as some would have justified him in doing under those circumstances, has continued of mild and friendly temper. I have implicit trust in his sincerity, and I believe that with time enough he will show the strength, even in spite of the difficulties which confront him in Korea, and of the backfire of criticism and opposition from the militaristic and bureaucratic groups in Tokyo, to bring to pass large things for the welfare of the Korean people. . . .
The foregoing paragraphs were written in 1920, when Governor-General Saito had only been a few months in the country. At the time of my own visit to Korea, in 1922, the GovernorGeneral had nearly completed three years of his tenure of office. He had latterly had the advantage of having as Vice-Governor-General, or Administrative Superintendent (the two titles appear to be used indiscriminately in the official documents) Mr. T. Ariyoshi, one of Japan's most expert and highly regarded civil administrators-a man whom, from my own observation, I know to be a tireless worker and sympathetic toward the Korean people.
The general consensus of opinion in Korea in 1922, except in so far as it reflected the feelings of the anti-Japanese extremists, was that Governor-General Saito had been animated by a sincere desire to rule Korea through a just and tolerant administration, that he had accomplished notable reforms, that in the matter of education he had ministered very generously to the cultural ambitions of the people, and that in regard to their political ambitions he had, whilst setting his face sternly against anything which could encourage the vain hope of independence, shown himself eager to foster local self-government, and to infuse into the personal relations of the Japanese and Koreans a spirit of friendliness and cooperation.
Discussing Korean affairs with a good many people--Korean, Japanese, and foreign, official and non-official--I found almost unanimous agreement on two points: one, that native sentiment had, in recent years, shown a continuing tendency to become less anti-Japanese; the other, that the remarkable increase in the country's prosperity had been accompanied by a striking improvement in the living conditions of the Korean people at large.
Writing now, four years after the date of my visit, and having in mind the most recent accounts of the state of Korea, I can express my conviction that there has occurred a steady and accelerating improvement in the general conditions of the country, in the administrative organization and personnel, and in the temper of the intercourse between the Koreans and the Japanese.
In the following pages I present a brief summary, under specific heads, of the salient features of Korean progress from the time of annexation down to the date of the latest available information. With reference to statistics it is to be noted that the official fiscal year begins on April 1 and ends on March 31 of the year following. The unit of money is the yen, which has a par value of fifty cents, U. S., fluctuating, however, with the movement of the foreign exchange market,