It is only forty-one years since our Commodore Perry astonished the world by securing admission to Japan and proving to the western people that it was at least worthy of their notice, yet that empire has undergone a most beneficent revolution in which the Daimios or local lords consented to a self-sacrifice without a parallel in history, has been the victor in a great war, has adopted the best features of the western civilization while sacrificing none of its own, and is advancing in material development with a rapidity rarely equalled and perhaps never excelled. Five years ago the first complete census showed thirty-six cotton factories with 377,970 spindles; three years later the number of factories had doubled and that of the spindles had much more than quadrupled, and there is every indication that next year’s tabulation will show a still more rapid increase. In 1894 there were 17,000 people employed in that industry.
Hon. Robert P. Porter, who has recently returned from Japan, after making a thorough study of her progress and resources, tells us that while her export of textiles of all kinds in 1885 was worth but $511,990, they were in 1895 worth $22,177,626, the estimate of both years in silver dollars. Similarly in the same years the exports of raw silks increased from $14,473,396 to $50,928,440, of grain and provisions from $4,514,843 to $12,723,771, of matches from $60,565 to $4,672,861, of porcelain, curios, and sundries from $2,786,876 to $11,624,701, and several other articles in the like proportion, while the commerce for 1895 showed an increase of $30,000,000 over 1894, reaching a total of exports and imports of $296,000,000, or about $7.50 per capita.
The government granted 2,250,000 yen as a bounty to the first iron works, begun in 1892, and already the products of those iron works in hand-made articles are underselling American products on our Pacific coast. In five years, prior to those covered by Mr. Porter’s figures above, Japan’s exports rose from 34,800,000 to 68,400,000 yen, and her imports from 27,000,000 yen to 64,000,000 yen. Nor does there appear any reason to doubt the confident statement of British experts that development for the coming years will go on much more rapidly. Politics in the empire already turns upon fiscal and economic questions; of two bills urged in the Imperial Parliament by the progressists, one decrees the nationalization of all railways not yet owned by the state, and the other asks for an appropriation of 50,000,000 yen for the building of a new railroad. While this is going through the press it is announced that Japan has established two new steamship lines, one running from Yokohama to our own Pacific coast, and the other from Yokohama to Marseilles, stopping at Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Columbo.