chapter  9
17 Pages

Kobe

Young did, however, get full value from his editorial writer at the Kobe Chronicle, and Lafcadio fulfilled his commitment to write daily editorials, contributing 47 to the newspaper in all between 11 October and 14 December 1894, when his failing eyesight forced him to resign. The Sino-Japanese War, which had begun the previous summer and continued until the following April, was the natural focus of his attention. He had

supported Japan in the war from the beginning, describing it in September 1894 as the ' . . .last huge effort of the race for national independence' by a nation 'under the steady torturing pressure of our industrial civilization - being robbed every year by unjust treaties,.4 To all his correspondents, including Page Baker and Watkin, he expressed confidence, rightly as it turned out, in eventual Japanese victory. He held the view that everything Japan had worked for since the beginning of Meiji, her efforts to leave behind her feudal past and create a modem society, might be gloriously realised by military triumph and she might be able to win, not just a place among the great powers, but take a higher rank among them than had ever been deemed possible.s

He did, at the same time, have his doubts: the war might leave Japan independent of foreign interference but he had grave reservations about the possible long-term effects of victory on the Japanese body politic; though the ordinary people were still good, he saw a growing process of corruption within the upper classes. 6 In a sense Hearn was right. Victory strengthened the ruling oligarchy and began a process of military domination within it which helped to lead eventually to the disasters of the Second World War.7