Them and Us: Perceptions of the Japanese Among the Foreign Community

Race Theory and Race Relations in Post-Extraterritorial Japan

Darren L. Swanson, Lecturer, Tezukayama University [About | Email]

Volume 12, Issue 1 (article 2 in 2012). First published in ejcjs on 1 May 2012.


With the abolition of extraterritoriality in Japan in 1899, the Japanese had skillfully maneuvered themselves into a position of equal footing among the nations of the world. Through a relentless drive towards modernisation in the previous fifty years, and a number of successful military campaigns culminating in the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, the balance of power in East Asia had now shifted from China to Japan. For imperialist powers like the British, Japan had gone from 'exotic other' to a trusted ally. This analysis examines what impact this transition had on the perceptions of the Japanese among the Western expatriate community in Japan. There is very clear evidence from the Japanese English language press that the Japanese took strenuous efforts to accommodate foreigners in the years after extraterritoriality. However, racial exclusion acts in North America and the far more stringent racial segregation of the communities in the other East Asian ports, coupled with the ever present threat of Western expansion from Russia, in many cases, all contributed to the gap between the two communities becoming significantly wider. While the opinion of prominent diplomats and Japanophiles of the period are widely accessible, the voices of lesser known authors and Western residents of Japan offer unique insight into the relationships between the two communities. This analysis examines how these perceptions were formed and focuses on the lives of two prominent Kobe residents, war correspondent and author, Capt. David Henry James, and the editor of the Japan Chronicle, Robert Young.

Keywords: expatriates, race theory, Russo-Japanese War, gentleman's clubs, extraterritoriality


The partnership between Japan and the West should have been one of history’s greatest success stories. Instead, the only conclusion I can come to was that there was a chance for real internationalism in Japan on a scale that had never been seen anywhere else in the Modern Era. A real chance for mutual co-operation and understanding that could have been replicated amongst nascent communities all over the globe. Ultimately, it was a chance lost, with the Pacific War effectively resulting in the ‘reset’ button being pressed regarding relations between Japan and the West. With the construction of the Japanese 'other' in the minds of Western observers, historical commentators have often wrestled with the notion of the Japanese sacrificing their cultural purity in favour of rapid modernisation. As the Japanese came into their own during the modern global era, their interpretation and hybridization of Western cultural practices were often somehow perceived as lacking in authenticity. However, the incorporation of these modes into Japanese life has been hugely influential into how the country has formed itself, and in turn, how it has been viewed by the West.

Japan is often singled out for it's 'uniqueness' among the cultures of the world. However, Japan's true uniqueness lies in the contrasting paths it has chosen on the way towards modernisation compared to that of other Asian countries. Japan alone was able not only to maintain its national independence, but also to develop the military and industrial capabilities of the country in a relatively short period of time. By the mid 1880s, Japan had become a serious contender on the world stage and was now in a position to undercut the established economic powers of the day. It was during the late 1800s hat the general perception of the Japanese as a 'race' came under increased scrutiny. As Barr has noted, the Japanese were considered the highest of the 'Mongoloid'; and the 'whitest' of the coloured peoples.1 What characterised the period of extraterritoriality and the expatriate institutions that formed during those years was their 'whiteness'. Despite the fact that these institutions were formed in order to nurture the oft-quoted ideology of 'mutual cooperation', social clubs, similar to those that formed elsewhere within an imperial context, were in effect a 'whites only' domain. Indeed, the Shioya Club and Estate advertised itself as Kobe's only 'exclusively Caucasian residence' as late as the 1970s, suggesting there was a deep-rooted culture of racial segregation embedded in the social fabric of the foreign community that transcended WWII.2 The unwritten rule of excluding 'Eurasians' from the Kobe Club tells us a great deal about what kind patron was permissible. The Kobe Club was an elitist businessman's club established by and frequented by the 'gentlemanly capitalist's' who were intent on preserving their own little piece of 'Empire' right in the heart of Kobe. Just as politicians and playwrights mingled equally with each other in the clubs of St James in London, so too did they in the clubs of Bengal, Shanghai and Kobe. Clubs such as the Kobe Club had been two hundred and fifty years in the making from their inception as coffee houses in the late 1600s to the more grand arenas of Pall Mall in the mid-1800s. In this regard, the clubs themselves were testimony to the success of European economics and as such, membership became sacrosanct and the premises hallowed ground.

It was chiefly in these environments that the assertion of white supremacy became increasingly articulated in the nineteenth century. During this era, the newly-emerging anthropological theorists rubbed shoulders with journalistic moguls and military generals. It was in the inner ring of private clubs and societies in nineteenth century London where Darwin sought 'clubbable' friends who would sympathise with his then fledgling theories concerning evolution.3 Race theory would go on to legitimize the military conquest of the imperialist powers, although Social Darwinism as articulated by Herbert Spencer dates only from the 1860s. Military interventions in China could be justified as necessary to awaken the Chinese from their natural stubbornness or 'hereditary stupidity'.4 Just as China needed to be 'awakened', so too did Japan by the gunboat diplomacy of Commodore Perry. These actions were seen as necessary to show the Japanese that the choice was a simple one; open up or be opened. How different it could have been if the Japanese had proved to be as 'naturally stubborn' as the Chinese. Despite years of so-called 'isolation' the Japanese knew very well the consequences of taking on the Western powers in such a weakened position. The strategic maneuvering of each of the great powers of the day was a clear indicator that Japan was not as isolated as the West had previously believed. With commendable foresight the Meiji government embarked on a strategy of employing yatoi, skilled foreign workers schooled in the imperial system and in all sense and purposes imperialists themselves; in many cases the yatoi were party to pressure being heaped upon Japan to fall in line with the rest of the Western powers on its path towards modernisation.5 Their significance as actors in Japan's development also occupies another role as they were more often than not chroniclers of a society that Western countries knew very little about at that time. Those who stayed to watch Japan's progress often earned the monicker of 'Old Japan hand', in reference to the role that they played in helping the Japanese revolutionize the infrastructure and, subsequently, Japanese society as a whole.

Race Theory and Discrimination in the Foreign Settlements:

Western science had placed 'Asiatics', 'Orientals', and 'Mongolians' in the intermediary position within the hierarchy of the races. This theory developed largely through the history of trade in luxury or exotic goods that were in high demand in Europe. The quality of these goods coupled with the distance and mystery associated with their origin was enough to instill an image of Asian peoples in the European mind that was akin but not equal to their own society. Asian society at this juncture was associated with stagnation and isolationism, leading to the theory that intervention by the white race as being deemed an inescapable necessity, the white man's burden if you will.6 In this mid-nineteenth-century anticipation of the late-twentieth-century phenomenon of 'globalization', Marx assumed that the pre-capitalist countries of Asia were destined to follow the Western capitalist path of development. They would do so, he concluded, under the universalistic pressure of Western imperialism. While imperialism for Marx was morally detestable, it was historically progressive, breaking apart stagnant 'Asiatic' societies unable to move into modern history on their own. In universalizing capitalism, imperialism was laying the basis for an international socialist future.7 At the cusp of the Meiji Restoration, Marx viewed Japan as a society in a higher state of development compared to that of China or India. Indeed, it was the progressiveness of Japanese society, such as the relative freedom of Japanese women in contrast to other women in Asia, that so endeared many foreigners to the Japanese. Successive military campaigns in China gradually began to erode the more traditional prejudices concerning Asian society, and the British in particular were keen to foster the notion that Japan was capable of becoming the 'Great Britain of the East'.8 Observers were keen to draw parallels with Europe and Japan and the relative accessibility of Japanese women to Western men played a crucial role in how relations between the Western world and Japan would develop in the future.9

During the second half of the nineteenth century, new theories regarding race emerged, in what Foucault has described as a biologising statist paradigm that was crucial in developing ideas of a heightened sense of racial purity.10 It could therefore be argued that racial segregation had become institutionalized in almost every Euro-American 'sphere of influence' with Japan being no exception. One need only to look at the forms of entertainment enjoyed by the foreign community in 1897. Comic performances formed a regular part of the community's calendar and The Kobe Chronicle of July 3rd of that year reports that a performance of 'The Laughing Nigger', in 'finished style' by a Mr. F. Crispin at the K. R. & A. C, kept the audience laughing with him.11 There was a widely held perception among foreign residents in Japan that the country was not ready for the abolition of the extraterritorial system, and many of the accounts in the English language press give us an indication that the foreign residents were perfectly happy with keeping the status quo.12 Despite widespread discomfort with the extraterritorial system among the general public in Japan, native officials gave clear instructions as to how their citizens were to treat foreigners after the handover and that no behaviour to the contrary would be tolerated. In many ways there were steps taken to ensure that foreigners actually enjoyed a certain amount of leeway because of the previous system that had existed before.13

At the dawn of the twentieth century, increasing popular unrest among countries that were for many decades under direct European control showed the vulnerability of colonial system as a viable method of government. Japan's tireless mission to have the unequal treaties abolished in the late 1800s, increased Asian migration to the Americas. Coupled with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 that accompanied it, and the Sino-Japanese conflict of 1894-5 all contributed to what Kaiser Wilhelm II famously prophesied as 'Yellow Peril' in the eyes of the West.14 In his protest against the rhetoric of Yellow Peril, Baron Kentaro argued that Japan had, far from reveling in the glory of the victor, actually paved the way for the 'open door' policy in China, and the allowance of foreign factories to be established in Chinese territory; all conditions which the Western powers had been trying to achieve for decades without success. In fact the Japanese had remained silent as the powers one-by-one continued to flex their muscles in the region after the hostilities between Japan and China had ceased.15 He argued that, if Japan had been anti-Western, then Japanese foreign policy would have taken a stronger stance against Western involvement in the region. Kentaro's sentiment in his address to the United States could not be any more conciliatory in his gratitude towards Western civilisation, nevertheless it fell on deaf ears as the Japanese were forced into a 'gentleman's agreement' to limit the number of immigrants to the United States in 1908.16 From the developments outlined above, it is clear to see that the Japanese approached modernisation with passion and trepidation in equal measures. There is very clear evidence from the Japanese English language press that the Japanese took strenuous efforts to accommodate foreigners in the years after extraterritoriality. However, racial exclusion acts in North America and the far more stringent racial segregation of the communities in the other East Asian ports, coupled with the ever present threat of Western expansion from Russia, in many cases, all contributed to the gap between the two communities becoming significantly wider.

The abolition of extraterritoriality was something that the Japanese had long strived for and justly received in 1899. That there was some apprehension among the foreign community in Kobe and the editorials of The Kobe Chronicle in the weeks preceding the official handover of the foreign settlement hints at the fact that the prospect was not welcomed by the foreign merchants as it was to end their monopoly on trade. Hearn's insight into the relationships between the two communities gives a clear picture that things were far from the 'mutual cooperation' that historians both Japanese and Western alike are so fond of commenting on.17 In Nagasaki, the former Nagasaki Club was renamed the International Club on the eve of the transition from extraterritoriality. The Nagasaki Press gave an account of the affair as being attended by twenty Europeans and Americans and over one hundred and twenty five Japanese. The new organisations express purpose was to create 'a good understanding between Japanese and foreign residents in Nagasaki', this statement perhaps being evidence that the two communities hitherto had been quite separate.18 Also worthy of note is the sheer number of Japanese in attendance, nearly five times as many as foreigners. It was at this stage that the phase for all things foreign was beginning to reach its peak. Many of the senior figures of the Meiji restoration had been almost fanatical in their belief that the future security of the country lay in adopting almost exclusively European culture often at the expense of their own culture.

The German physician Dr. T. Baelz noted that during the early Meiji era that there was an emerging trend amongst senior Japanese officials, many of whom had studied for long periods abroad, who felt a contempt for their own native achievements, and even looked on them as something to be ashamed of.19 The symbol of what Shively has described as 'absurdly overwhelming' westernisation was the Rokumeikan, an elaborate building designed by English architect Josiah Conder in 1883 at a cost of 140,000 yen.20 The structure took nearly five years to complete and was seen as the crystallization of the tumultuous transition of the Meiji era.21 Everything from Western style dress to holding lavish ballroom dances became part of the new ruling class' strategy of Europeanization. Foreign clubs and social networking were clearly deemed as part of this process in the 1880s. Spaces such as the Rokumeikan and the Tokyo Club were designed to provide an environment that would allow for a better intercourse between the foreign residents and the Japanese. Ballroom dances, such as the fuanshi bõru held at Ito Hirobumi's residence in April 20th, 1887 was attended by many distinguished guests.22 In the same year in Kobe, a large ball was held by the then Hyogo Governor, Tadakatsu Utsumi (later Baron and Minister of Home Affairs).23 The event was attended by over two hundred guests, including six members of the Imperial household, Ito Hirobumi and his wife and Viscount General Takashima.24

While such acts may seem superficial today they were clearly viewed by the highest levels of government as forming a crucial role in Japan's integration into the modern economic world system. It also highlights the central role that social networking institutions had as centres of power within the foreign community. So much so that they were replicated on many levels throughout the Meiji period and were initially viewed by the ruling Japanese classes as forming a crucial part of the 'civilising process'. Watanabe has argued that for promoters of the westernisation of Japanese society, like Inoue Kaoru, the Rokumeikan became the focal point of the political process of Japanese modernization, and a visible sign of its political maturity25. Events such as the fuanshi bõru helped to ritualise this process and by acting in a manner that was seen by many Western observers as aping Western customs.26 Improvement societies (karyoukai) began forming all over the country almost all of which were dedicated to the westernisation of some aspect of life and culture. However, a backlash of philosophers, educators and various critics of policies of the pro-Western officials such as Inoue Kaoru gradually led to contemporaries like Fukuzawa Yukichi, a one time advocate of the British style of 'civilisation and enlightenment', to distance themselves from acts that appeared frivolous and superficial from the outset.27

The importance of the Rokumeikan in Japanese political life began to diminish along with the pretext of radical westernisation, and after many years of neglect the building eventually reopened as the Kazoku Kaikan (Peers Club) in 1897. By 1899 Japan had regained fiscal autonomy over all of the treaty ports and was now, at least in practice, on equal terms with dominant powers of the day. Effectively, for the Japanese, ending extraterritoriality led to a leveling of the playing field in Asia and allowed them to take part in what Western nations had been doing for many decades in Japan and China, which was carving their own semi-autonomous extraterritorial enclaves. Relationships between foreign powers and the Chinese took on similar but drastically different roles compared to that of Japan. Firstly, the scope of foreign intervention in Chinese politics had a far longer history than with Japan and secondly, extraterritorial settlements were established and continued to operate in China practically up until the outbreak of WWII. By the time Japan had entered its war with Russia in 1904 perceptions of the Japanese among Western observers had undergone a radical shift.

Britain had by 1902 already formed an alliance with Japan as both countries had an interest in stalling Russian expansionism in the region. Having had to deal with the increasing strain of trying to maintain a solid grip on her oversized empire, Britain needed a dependable ally in the region. Japan's transition from feudal society to modern industrial nation in such a short period of time had taken most of the established powers by surprise; few countries could deny the progress that Japan had made and Western nations now queued in line to claim responsibility for Japan's epic rise to prominence on the world stage. Perhaps the most significant catalyst in this change of tone was the Russo-Japanese War. The outcome of the conflict had challenged existing views of Japan which had underestimated the scope of development, not only in standard of living but also of her military capabilities. Commenting on this change in how Japan was viewed from a Western perspective, Akira has noted that whereas previously Japan had been viewed as an exotic other, opinions now veered towards the paternalistic notion of Japan as the West's protege.28

Thus, the metaphor of teacher and pupil is often associated with literature on Japan in terms of its relationship with the West. Paternalism also played a major role in the colonial policies of European countries such as, Britain, France and Germany. In the years that followed, the excessive positivity of the British press concerning Japanese progress perhaps hid an underlying anxiety that many Western countries had harboured concerning the rise of Japanese militarism or 'Yellow Peril'.29 Japan was now seen as a 'brother in arms' in Asia for the British, whom perhaps saw something of themselves in the Japanese as both countries are, to a certain extent, island nations. Britain was keen for Japan to become the 'Great Britian' of Asia, and the Japanese had benefitted greatly from 'teachers' from Britain and other powers; it must therefore be argued that Japan grew up as a 'pupil' of Western colonialism and, later, imperialism. While there were no doubt ardent supporters of Japanese progress and modernisation in Asia, they were often a minority voice drowned out by the louder and heavier handed racist rhetoric of the majority of white society. The Anglo-Japanese Alliance was first and foremost a military alliance, and as such, always lacked any sincerity or longevity.

Club Members and Literary Output:

The Meiji Restoration that restored imperial rule to Japan in 1868 brought an economic and politically stability to the country the likes of which the Japanese had never seen. Coupled with this new era of stability was a rapid process of industrialisation and modernisation that affected all levels of the population. The Japanese government’s policy of aggressive modernization in the Meiji period was captured in the slogans Bunmei Kaika, Fukoku Kyōhei, and Shokusan Kōgyō. These slogans translate as 'Civilisation and Enlightenment', 'Enrich the Nation'; 'Strengthen the Army', and 'Encourage Industry', etc. During this period, the path to civilization, enrichment, industry, and a modern army was through extensive study, selection, borrowing, and adaptation of previously tested Western models and technologies. As Meiji leaders sought appropriate models for government, education, industry, transportation, and social structures in the West, they rallied the Japanese people behind unprecedented changes through a variety of public educational and motivational efforts.

As explained previously, this new path towards 'civilisation and enlightenment' saw increased contact with a diverse number of foreign 'experts' from Europe and the Americas. As the Japanese had remained somewhat enigmatic during the Tokugawa period, those who had the chance to work and travel in and around the country documented what they saw for posterity. As Huffman has observed, these accounts served as the primary lens through which many Western leaders developed their own particular view of Japan and highlight the lively and often contentious interactions of the foreign community.30 Often within these accounts there are what has come to be known as the 'imperial gaze', that way of looking upon a foreign reality and subordinating it to the narrow scope of one's own point of view regarding what is the correct or most civilised way of acting.31 In this regard the concept of Japan, as well as the Japanese themselves, have been subject to a colonialism of the mind in much of the English language accounts of the Meiji era. As the Japanese have never been neatly categorised within the traditional dichotomy of colonised/coloniser, the remarks made by those whom we have come to rely on for our historical image of the Japanese must be re-evaluated.32

This is perhaps most clearly summed up in an observation of Rudyard Kipling who commented that, 'the Japanese isn't a native, he isn't a sahib either'.33 Similarly, that most well-known Japanophile Basil Hall Chamberlain pithily stated that, 'the foreign employee is the creator of the new Japan'.34 More often than not, this was how the foreign community saw themselves in relation to the Japanese. I would argue that this view did not manifest itself in an ephemeral way as an opinion here or a criticism there, but was forged as an all encompassing, oft repeated rhetoric of the foreign community in that sanctuary that was the foreign club. There can be little doubt that within a relatively cliquish community such as Kobe the clubs were the cornerstone of the community; Isabella Bird even compared them to the Japanese bathhouse as it was the, 'place where public opinion is formed'.35 Similarly, Kipling concluded that it was at the ubiquitous club, meaning all clubs all over the world, that provided an insight into the heart of expatriate community life. In his 'Letters of Travel', again we see evidence of the 'imperial gaze' as he extolls the virtues of the foreign community at Yokohama's Overseas Club, stating:

Government and gunboats may open a land but it is the men of the Overseas Club that keep it open. Their reward (not alone in Japan) is the bland patronage or the scarcely-veiled contempt of those who profit by their labours.36

For Kipling, the foreigner is 'fighting the good fight' for the benefit of the Japanese, whether they like it or not. Such attitudes are further evidence that the foreign population, and perhaps white society as a whole in Japan, considered themselves to be the carriers of civilisation and progress, regardless of the fact that it was often civilisation and progress dictated on their terms. It was this self -importance or elevated status of the aspiring upper-class individuals who frequented these clubs that brought the 'scarcely-veiled' contempt of the locals upon themselves.

With the abolition of extraterritoriality in 1899, the foreigners residing in Kobe in many respects had their wings clipped. By that I mean that they never enjoyed the same level of freedom to exploit the country or carry on a lifestyle as decadent as that somewhat, darker, more exotic, sister across the sea, Shanghai. The Shanghai foreign population for one was much larger than any of the settlements in Japan. By 1905 the foreign population had swelled to twelve thousand, thirty percent of whom were Japanese. In Shanghai discrimination was not as discreet as it was in Japan, and therefore society tended to be far more segregated and stratified along race and class lines. Clubs abounded in Shanghai and new arrivals to the city were advised to quickly join one of the clubs in order to network and elevate one's status within the clannish foreign community. Nearly every nationality and most activities demanded some kind of club or association. The British offered three. Arguably the most famous of these was the Shanghai Club, a notoriously snobbish institution that seemed to thrive on its reputation of open discrimination. The open door policy in Shanghai had allowed foreigners living in the settlement so much of a free hand that even the Chinese Prime Minister had been 'blackballed' after applying for membership.37 Likewise, Japanese membership was restricted only to the Japanese consul-general, which no doubt led to the Japanese forming their own club in 1906, probably in response to the similar institutions being operated throughout the settlement. However, the difference in the standard of living between the Japanese and the British in Shanghai was also disproportionately wide, and the Japanese were probably left little choice but to form their own institution.38

Extraterritoriality in China had been allowed to run rampant in the years after the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. After the quelling of the violence, foreign settlements, with the largest being Shanghai, mushroomed along the China coast with populations often trebling compared to those of the previous century. Even though the foreign population was significantly smaller, in terms of overall traffic in the and 1920s, Kobe was a very close second to the much larger Shanghai in terms of trade output.39 While Kobe lacked the glamour of Shanghai, there were certain similarities in regards to the foreign community living in the city. The Shanghai Club purportedly boasted the longest bar in the world where Noel Coward once remarked that, 'one could see the curvature of the earth in it'40; similarly, the Kobe Club once boasted the longest bar in Japan, and also mirrored many of the social prejudices of their Shanghai-lander cousins.41 As stated earlier, the Bund was the face of foreign power in the Asian treaty port, and the Shanghai bund is perhaps the most impressive example of this style of architecture. The Shanghai Club was located at No. 3 The Bund and was one of the most prestigious addresses in the city. The grand, neo-classical building rebuilt on the original site that the club had occupied since 1861 remains one of the city's most recognisible landmarks. Likewise, the Kobe Club and the K. R. & A. C both occupied prime positions at the end of Kobe's bund literally minutes walk from Merican Hatoba (American Pier).

These clubs were more than just 'gentleman's clubs' they were unofficial centres of finance and influence and their agency in how these communities developed should not be underestimated. Furthermore, as agents of influence their role as propagators of imperialist ideology and practices is worthy of examination, particularly in regard to the unravelling of the thin veil of internationalism that they pertained to uphold. We should also bear in mind that the lifestyles of the foreign communities in East Asia contributed greatly, in a complex series of inter-connecting channels, both consciously and subconsciously, to goading East Asian populations into confrontational situations. This analysis does not intend to suggest that the native populations should be elevated towards a victim-like status, nevertheless, the social networks of the treaty ports should be analysed for their textual significance, in the Barthesian42 sense, in regards to their significance in cross-cultural relations in pre-WWII East Asia.

While researching the theme for this paper in the National Library of Australia amongst the papers of Harold S. Williams, two figures whom Williams had gathered significant material on caught my attention. As much of the information regarding the early years of the foreign community in Kobe stems from the English language press, I began my search for information regarding the social networks of foreigners in the pages of the Hiogo and Osaka News. As a primary source on the early lives of the foreign residents, the paper offers an invaluable and fascinating insight into the everyday workings of the fledgling city. While the paper is rightly well-known for having attracted the service of one of Japan's most remarkable foreign residents, Lafcadio Hearn, the newspaper's most famous editor, Robert Young made a contribution to the literature available from the period which is often compelling reading. Williams naturally took an interest in the history of Robert Young as a journalist as he dabbled in journalism himself for the now defunct Osaka Mainichi News. Williams and Young are connected by their mutual friendship with Captain David Henry James, a life-long friend of Williams and a friend of Young and regular contributer to the The Japan Chronicle while Young was in charge. All three men, like most of the male residents of Kobe, had strong links with the city's social clubs, particularly the K. R. & A. C. James' younger brother, Ernest, would later become one of Japan's wealthiest foreigners, and would go on to form an exclusive private club for foreigners, the Shioya Club, reiterating the ubiquitousness of club culture among the foreign community in Kobe.43 Unfortunately, Young's early history of the settlement was lost in a fire but his many editorials remain and are noteworthy for their frank and liberal comment. Indeed, it was reported that The Chronicle could be summed up as, whatever is Japanese is wrong; whatever American is suspicious; whatever is English is right.44 All three men are united by their journalism and literary output that spans the best part of one hundred years, and a contribution to the foreign experience in Japan that has largely been forgotten.

Young and James formed a great and lasting friendship throughout the early 1900s until Young's passing in 1922. James also contributed to various editions of The Chronicle, 'gratis of course'45 and his friendship with Young allowed him a channel by which he could document his own experiences for posterity and perform an important role in making sure The Chronicle was one of the most dynamic English language newspapers in Asia. Speaking of Young, James comments that he had, 'many virtues and minor vices in constructive and deconstructive comment on things in general and Japan in particular'46. This is perhaps reference to The Chronicle's stance on all Japanese political matters, of which, Young could be particularly vociferous. The paper was at best apprehensive before the end of extraterritoriality and subsequently cautious in its comment after its demise. The Chronicle was generally more often than not outspoken in its criticism of Japan and there is little doubt from James' comments that much of what appeared in the paper may well have been Young's own personal viewpoint.

The Kobe Chronicle was Young's own creation and emerged as a weekly newspaper in 1891 for a mere 1000 Japanese yen. It was not the first paper in the settlement. That title went to the Hiogo & Osaka News, which was first published four months after the settlement was opened on April 23rd, 1868. This journal would eventually be bought over by Young and turned into and evening newspaper in 1899.47 He then merged both the Hiogo & Osaka News and The Kobe Chronicle and changed the name to The Japan Chronicle. Young was well-known for his radical political viewpointsYoung started out his journalism career as a proof-reader for the Saturday Review, a weekly newspaper that covered politics, literature, science, and art established by A. J. B. Beresford Hope in 1855. The weekly employed fiery imperialist rhetoric often centred on racial superiority and the role of 'the English' in the civilising process. The frank style of the articles were often centered around the destruction of forces seen as a threat to the Empire and the Anglo-Saxon 'race'. A typical example of the tone read like this:

China and Japan are not our enemies on either ground. For many generations they may be left to account for each other, in the immemorial Asiatic fashion, by mutual blood-letting. Their habits of life and their climatic aptitudes make them the last rivals of Western nations. In the distant future, when they have monopolized the low-lying tropics, the ultimate survivor of other nations may have to meet them... The biological view of foreign policy is plain. First, federate our colonies and prevent geographical isolation turning the Anglo-Saxon race against itself. Second, be ready to fight Germany, as Germania est delenda; third, be ready to fight America when the time comes. Lastly, engage in no wasting wars against peoples from whom we have nothing to fear.48

The quote taken from 'A Biological View of Our Foreign Policy' from 1896 shows a surprising disregard for the status of Japan as a newly established power in East Asia. For the writer, the threat pending from Germany left very little alternative. Germany must be destroyed! This kind of propaganda journalism no doubt had a huge impact on the young proof-reader who would later set-up his own version of the Review in Kobe, namely the Kobe/Japan Chronicle, albeit with a more moderate viewpoint. In a letter to Williams, James states that his friend was a simple man with a distaste, or even hate of cant and hypocrisy,49 qualities for which Lafcadio Hearn would praise Young for when he was appointed assistant editor. Hearn enthused that:

Young is hearty and juvenile in appearance – serious pleasant face – dark beard – used to be a proof-reader for the Saturday Review, for which post some culture is necessary. Is a straight thorough English radical. We are in perfect sympathy on all questions.50

Hearn was practically given carte blanche to report on any matter that he wished, which was clearly down to Young's recognition not only of Hearn's talent, but also the two men may have shared many viewpoints on an ideological level as well as a cultural level. Hearn also repeated this sentiment to his friend Sentaro Nishida in Matsue that Young was, 'in all matters in perfect sympathy with me'.51

The Chronicle's tone in the last years of the extraterritoriality period was often haughty or superior in its criticisms of how the settlement and the Japanese Government were progressing. In the years preceding the the abolition of the Ansei Treaties the editorial gives the impression that the mercantile residents were generally not in favour of the abolition of the extraterritoriality system as it would increase competition and put an end to the honeymoon period of thirty or so years that had allowed many foreign merchants to acquire substantial fortunes. Young was himself a senior member of the Foreign Municipal Council as well as a member of the Kobe Regatta & Athletic Club. During this era the inter-connectedness of many of these institutions, such as, the foreign municipal council, gentleman's clubs, sports clubs, police, fire brigade and the press often meant that the committee for one institution generally consisted of the same people on the committee of another. In this respect, what was printed in The Chronicle was more often than not the voice of all of these institutions combined.

Young was no doubt keen to nurture debate about the future of Japan as a full blown sovereign state and was full of enthusiasm and encouragement for those around him who wished to do the same. Young was a shrewd enough businessman to recognise potential in individuals who could be useful in raising the profile of the publication. One such individual was the young David James. James had travelled extensively for someone of his age in the early 1900s and there is a possibility that life in the settlement instilled him with a taste for adventure. Born in Liverpool in 1881, David Henry James travelled with his family to Kobe in 1883. Throughout his life before the war, James took part in an extraordinary number of military campaigns and adventures. The son of a Seto Nankai ship's captain, James spent much of his adolescent years in England where he received his education. Upon returning to Japan he quickly followed in his fathers footsteps by embarking on a life at sea. At the age of 18 he volunteered for service in the U.S. Army 38th Illinois Regiment for service in the Philippines during the Spanish American War. This experience seems to have imbued the young man with a taste for the excitement for the battlefield.

As Japan's armed forces readied themselves for what would become a particularly bloody and unforgiving and hard slog for both the Russians and the Japanese, James committed himself to covering the war as a correspondent for the China Times52 and The Chronicle. James wrote many serials for the paper the first of which was entitled 'On the Way to the Front', on March 17th 1904. A few years later he was attached to the Japanese armed forces in the Russo-Japanese War as a war correspondent and the only foreigner allowed to accompany the Japanese to the front-line. The experience had a profound affect on the young James and he published his first book, 'The Siege of Port Arthur: an eye-witness account' soon after the conclusion of the conflict. James wrote many serials for the paper the first of which was entitled 'On the Way to the Front', on March 17th 1904. The proprietor of the China Times and Robert Young seem to have been journalists who were cut from the same cloth. Cowen was involved in a diplomatic dispute in 1904 for printing an article criticising the conduct of Russian troops against Japanese and Chinese civilian refugees at Newchwang.53

During his time as a war correspondent, James came into contact with many of the more 'well established' journalists. Indeed, there may have been cases of petty jealousy and professional rivalry directed against James. The outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War attracted war correspondents from all over the globe. Each no doubt keen to document a conflict that had the potential to change the political map in the region for decades to come. Many Western commentators had previously underestimated the military capability of the Japanese in the preceding years against the Chinese in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, including The Chronicle. Few predicted that Japan, a relatively small island nation that had until recently remained largely undeveloped, would defeat the larger nation so decisively and so quickly. Even though it was not the first time that a European nation had waged war on an Asian nation, it was the first time an Asian nation had secured the upper hand against a theoretically stronger and more advanced opponent. The outcomes significance lay in how much Western commentators had underestimated the Japanese and the exhaustive measures that they had employed to rapidly bring themselves up to speed with the Western Powers. Somewhat ironically, at the onset of the war The Chronicle's tone had become more cautious as to the outcome of the conflict after previously doubting the military capability of the Japanese in the previous military outing against the Chinese.54 The change in tone was no doubt due to the fact that Japan was now a formal ally of Britain and had been so since 1902 after the signing of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance.

With the onset of the Russo-Japanese War fast approaching, many correspondents flooded to Japan in order to seek permission to accompany the Japanese troops to the front. At the time Western public opinion was still divided before the conflict. This was to be Japan's first foray against a European power, and while many observers applauded her victory over China, the majority of opinion still viewed Japan as an exotic other.55 The conflict has often been seen as a precursor to the mass slaughter of the Great War as it was the first time in history that troops were to come under sustained attack from automatic weapons. 28-centimetre Howitzer's were introduced into the theatre of war firing a 500lb high explosive shell which ensured that the casualties on both sides were high and often. By 1902 James, after a brief and unsuccessful spell as a gold prospector in the Alaskan Yukon, again left Kobe in seek of a new challenge. His travels took him to Korea and then to China where he secured a position with the Imperial Chinese Maritime Customs for a year or so, before joining the Chinese Engineering & Mining Company as an accountant for the Tongshan Coal Mines.

Unlike many expatriates living in Asia, James became proficient in Japanese and Chinese by the time he was 23. His early absorption of Japanese no doubt giving him a head start in Chinese. During this era few members of the foreign population in the Asia took the time to familiarise themselves with the languages of those countries above anything more than a rudimentary level.56 His assignment in Tongshan would also have been far from the comforts of the foreign concessions of Shanghai, Harbin and Tsing Tao. Conditions for the native workers were often poor and disease spread quickly through the workforce. In 1908 a few years after James' departure, bubonic plague ravaged the population of Tongshan killing over 1000 giving a clear indication that sanitary levels in the area must have still been bordering on the medieval.57

Thus, by the time of the outbreak of the war between Russia and Japan, James was better equipped than most foreign correspondents to cover the events that unfolded, gaining an almost unprecedented level of access to the Japanese front line. Commenting on his first major assignment he stated that:

My Chinese and my Japanese were very useful as 'talking points' to balance my literary deficiency as 'War Correspondent' of The China Times, Kobe Chronicle and London Daily Telegraph! I was lucky. In Tokyo, I obtained an Imperial Household Permit to visit Japanese troops in Korea, during the period when all foreign correspondents and military attaches were banned by the Army, from moving North of Seoul. Hence I was the only one in Pinyang (Pyongyang): alas my reports (in The China Times & Chronicle) inflamed the real 'War Correspondents'.58

The 'real' war correspondents James was referring to, were more than likely to have been the more high profile correspondents such as Jack London and Richard Harding Davis Jnr. Unlike James, neither of these men could speak a word of Japanese. Harding Davis gives an impression of the Japanese as graceful hosts eager to pamper visiting journalists with dinner parties and pony rides in the country all the while being kept at arms length by those who Harding Davis refers to as the 'wonderful little people'. While stationed at Yokohama at the Grand Hotel, Harding Davis encountered fellow correspondent Jack London who was 'very bitter' towards the Japanese for keeping them from the front. In a letter dated May 22nd, 1904, Harding Davis also mentions one of the first accounts from the front that was brought back to Kobe. This could well be one of James's reports which irked the professionals so much.59

James's self deprecating comments concerning his journalistic ability may also hint towards the typical class distinctions that prevailed during the turn of the century. For many of the correspondents James would have been somewhat of an oddity. It had only been 50 years since Japan had once again opened its doors to the West and a mere 36 since the opening of Hyogo and the development of the city of Kobe. James fell into an entirely new category of expatriate. Although born and had spent several years at school in Britain, James and his family had lived a large part of their lives in Japan. Other expatriate families, such as those who could be found in British overseas territories, began to fall into a class of their own. In British India a new class of Anglo-Indian society emerged with it's own myriad of social networks and institutions.60 Likewise, in Japan a new society made up largely of European families had by 1900 established themselves as second generation expatriates. Just as there were Anglo-Indians, there were now Anglo-Japanese, Franco-Japanese, German-Japanese etc. whose sons and daughters were born and raised in Japan and brought up, not in accordance with Japanese society, but rather they existed within Japanese society following their own societal rules and cultural traditions.

Although James had been born in Britain and moved to Japan at an early age, his brothers were born in Japan and would have been classed as BIJ's (Born in Japan). The term BIJ was a derogatory one that refereed to the rough and ready nature of inhabitants of the treaty ports in the early Meiji era. The stigma attached to the reputation of the ports as refuges for the less desirable elements of society from the Chinese ports was something that many of Kobe's inhabitants tried to distance themselves from and many chose to adopt an upper-class English accent in order to emphasize the differentiation.61 There may also have been some snobbery towards James as a correspondent for a fairly small newspaper serving an equally small population of foreign residents. James's ability to communicate in Japanese and Chinese also meant that he was something of a rarity as it was not uncommon for many expatriates to never learn the language or anything about the country that they had chosen to live and work in for that matter.62 In this respect, those correspondents who were well-educated and brought up in the white societies of Europe and America may have been unfazed by his ability and rather chose to dwell on his upbringing and current social standing.

James managed to gain unprecedented access to the front due largely to his fluency in Japanese and the fact that he was a Kobe resident whose family was well-known and well-respected as one of the most high profile in business and diplomatic connections. As stated earlier, his father was a master mariner from a fairly humble Welsh background. However, his father's position as a pilot in the Meiji era would have been well-paid, earning himself a salary probably far beyond any comparable position in his native land. The family also ran a boarding house for foreigners in the city's Yamamoto-dori, 2 chome, which had become a popular port of call for newly arrived clerks for the various foreign trading companies based in the city. David was the eldest of the eleven strong James family who resided in Kobe and probably due too the standard of international schooling that existed in the settlement at that time, he was sent to England to receive an education, returning to Kobe in 1899.63 Another possibility may have been that it was often quite common for families to concentrate their funds towards the education of their eldest son, as David seems to have been the only one of the family to be sent abroad to be educated. His younger brother Ernest, was schooled at the Kobe Mission School and left school at the comparatively early age of fourteen. Ernest would in later years become the acting Swedish Consul in Kobe further elevating the status of the James family in the city.

The fact that James's connections had secured him a Daihon-ei Menjo from the Imperial Household, a rarity that differed greatly from the usual permit given to the other war correspondents, shows that he was a skilled communicator and illustrates the prestige of his employers, The China Times, The Japan Chronicle and the London Daily Telegraph in the eyes of the authorities. There may also have been a political motive behind the Imperial Household's decision to grant James such a sought after permit. The Anglo-Japanese Alliance was in full swing and James was a British citizen. He was also being commissioned by the London Daily Telegraph, which was a paper that had vociferously campaigned for an alliance to be formed with Japan many years earlier.64 Japanese government officials probably recognised the fact that James was more likely to show Japan in a favorable light compared to that of the other correspondents. By allowing James unrivaled access to the front, long before any of the other correspondents even got the chance to leave Tokyo, would also help the Japanese to score a propaganda victory.

James's permit to the front even surprised the officials at his point of departure at Ujina in Hiroshima Prefecture where he was arrested by military police who were astounded by his credentials and released him the next day. One senior officer recommended that he move on to the front immediately and he left for Moji, where he was again arrested by incredulous authorities only to be allowed to set sail for the Korean peninsula on a Chinese tug boat arriving at Chemulpo on March 26th 1904.65 James wrote a series of articles entitled On the Way to the Front the first of which was concerned with the troops readying themselves for departure at Ujina. Other reports soon followed as James traveled with the Japanese 3rd Division onwards to Moji, Chemulpo, Seoul and Pyongyang.66 In fact, James was allowed so much journalistic freedom by the Japanese forces in his dispatches that Robert Young chose to omit some of the information as it would have caused a possible security breach for the Japanese forces.67

The 3rd Army was popularly romanticised by the Japanese media after the war largely due to the methods of the general in command, Count Nogi Maresuke. General Nogi came to epitomise the samurai fighting spirit of the Japanese largely due to the poignancy of his experience in the Russo-Japanese War.68 Many of the war correspondents recognised Nogi as one of the 'heroes' of the conflict and most accounts of the war devote considerable pages to the prolific general.69 Few, if any of those present at the siege of Port Arthur had anywhere near the level of fluency in Japanese as D. H. James. James was therefore not only able to document what he saw but he was also able to converse with the troops and gain a level of closeness with General Nogi that must have been the envy of every correspondent present at the front. Commenting on Nogi in an article for The Japan Chronicle soon after the news of the general and his wife's seppuku, he states that Nogi could be, 'intensely human one minute and decidedly callous the next – the man and then the soldier'.70 The two men even became friends and were in regular contact after the war.71 It is clear from the style of James's prose that he was firmly behind the cause of the Japanese and held General Nogi in high regard. Speaking of an earlier encounter with Nogi at the front, James wrote in 1951:

I met him frequently; during the siege of Port Arthur and in Tokyo in later years. In my opinion he was all that the writers on Bushido could have desired – he was a living example of the way 'fighting nobles should observe their daily lives'.72

James was himself a military man having served with the United States Military in the Philippines several years before the Russo-Japanese conflict in 1899. In later years he would write a glowing eulogy for Nogi in The Chronicle after the general and his wife committed seppuku in 1912. For James, Nogi embodied everything he respected about the Japanese and lamented that those same codes that Nogi had strived to protect had been long forgotten in the debacle of Japanese militarism that brought the Japanese into WWII.73 In a letter to the editor of the Asahi Evening News in 1957 he contrasted the Bushido of General Nogi with the Kodo of General Araki, hinting at his bitter experience during his time as a POW under the Japanese from 1942-1945.74 His account of the Russo-Japanese War, The Siege of Port Arthur: records of an eye-witness, was published in1905 and received favorable reviews.75 James's contribution to the literature of the conflict still remains relevant to this day. Often as the sole correspondent on the battlefield, his account is not only of value from a strategic and informative standpoint but contains much comment on the human and psychological elements of the war. The number of casualties inflicted by both sides in such a relatively short space of time would also become a benchmark for what would become one of the most bloody centuries in humanity's history.

The significance of the conflict and it's wider political ramifications has even led scholars to give the struggle the monicker 'World War 0'.76 In the text James describes the devastation in the aftermath of the battle for the 203 metre hill:

I was young – and I was impressed by it all. I must have been for when I made my visit to the 203 metre hill on December 5th, there were 2000 corpses of the belligerents on the hillside; they were mostly denuded of their clothing, scorched, deformed and defaced beyond recognition, and in the trenches there was a pulp of mutilated humanity. The sight of those trenches heaped up with arms and legs and dismembered bodies all mixed together and then frozen into compact masses, the expressions on the faces of the scattered heads of decapitated bodies, the stupendous magnitude of the concentrated horror, impressed itself indelibly into the utmost recesses of my unaccustomed brain – there to remain and ever re mirror itself into my eyes, and shame me for my very callousness that I ever did look upon it.77

The above extract is a clear example that despite not having any 'professional' credentials as a journalist, his experiences enabled him to be, at times, as eloquent as any of his contemporaries. Indeed, James may have rose to the challenge of being the first correspondent on the scene. Before any of the correspondents were allowed to attend the front, a group of them, including D. H. James, Jack London, and Richard Harding Davis, compiled a journal of short stories in order to raise money for Japanese families who had been affected by the conflict. 78 A clear statement of recognition of James's talent and the start of what would become a long line of philanthropic acts that he would engage in throughout his life in Japan. While his book may not be as high profile as other authors who documented the conflict, James's account still remains one of the most authoritative of the war.

James's journalistic efforts for The Chronicle significantly raised the profile of the paper internationally and no doubt strengthened his friendship with Robert Young. The younger man was only 23 when he witnessed the horrors of the Russo-Japanese conflict, yet his young life had already been filled with a variety of life-threatening endeavors which earned him the nickname of 'tough James'.79 It is apparent from the tone of Young's articles referring to James that the older man was something of a mentor to the young James.80 It is most likely that the two men became affiliated through membership of the K. R. & A. C as they were both members. Young was himself a senior member of the club and was a close friend of the clubs founder A. C. Sim. Sim himself was famous among the foreign members of the community for his various roles in the settlement and humanitarian acts of selflessness. Sim was a larger-than-life member of the foreign community who performed many roles in the city until his untimely death in 1900. In the early 1870s he and a friend went to assess typhoon damage in Osaka and were so shocked by the scale of the damage that the two men gave away all of the money that they had to those affected. Upon his return to Kobe, he organised a relief committee and collected donations from local residents, such as money, food and clothes, and distributed them himself.81 Sim was an active public servant throughout the years of extraterritoriality and it appears that community service was one of the founding principles upon which the club was based. He again played a crucial role in 1891 after an earthquake devastated a community in Nagano Prefecture. Sim and eight other foreigners from Kobe organised a relief fund, gathering $5000 dollars for those affected. Among the various fund raising events was a play performed by members and staged at the Gym, in the clubs premises. Again, Sim made regular trips to the area to distribute aid personally and his efforts eventually earned him the recognition of the Emperor who personally presented him with a sake-zuki.82

If we are to glean anything from Young's glowing obituary for Sim it is that the two men had held a great bond of friendship, and that Young greatly admired Sim.83 Young himself was one of the founding members of the International Committee of Kansai, a group of individuals who formed a committee similar in function to the Municipal Council that had existed during extraterritoriality that acted as a liaison body between the foreign community and the local government. It proved to be one of his passions and he worked on it tirelessly until his death in 1922.84 Sim's humanitarianism was also echoed by the acts of D. H. James in the 1920s when he organised a relief committee to help stricken White Russians fleeing the revolution in 1920; he also provided support for the foreign residents of a devastated Yokohama after the earthquake of 1923.85 All of this suggests that there was certainly a history of attempted mutual cooperation between the foreign community, or perhaps more specifically, the K. R. & A. C., and the Japanese authorities. However, James hints that Young's continued 'carping criticisms' of the Japanese in the years before his death had contributed to a wedge being drawn between the two communities.86 Nowhere is this more evident than Young's contribution to Present Day Impressions of Japan in 1919. The comprehensive two volume edition was intended to give potential British businessmen a clear and unbiased view of Japan's economic future. Most of the contributions give worthy praise to the progress of Japanese industry and the development of the major cities as centres of industry. Only Young, however, chose to give a 'gloves off' account of the situation as he saw it. Young's article, entitled The Foreigner in Japan exhibits some of the no holds barred criticism that he had become well-known for, stating:

What is so remarkable (in Japan) is that despite the assistance rendered by the foreigners in the great work of reconstruction, the general attitude toward the resident foreigner is neither just nor generous... Considerable jealousy is shown regarding his efforts both in the matter of trade and industries. The attitude taken by the bulk of the Japanese is that any profit made by a foreigner in Japan is so much taken from the pockets of the Japanese. It was of course, the foreign merchant who instituted and developed Japanese overseas trade... nevertheless, the view of the Japanese is that the foreign merchant is an interloper and that he should go on his way.87

Young's sentiment is remarkably similar to Hearn's A Glimpse of Tendencies88 of 1898 in its rather foreboding depiction of relations between the two communities at the turn of the century, and clear evidence of the characteristics that so endeared him to Hearn. As Young appears to be speaking on behalf of the merchant community in Kobe, the familiar mantra of mutual cooperation seems to take on the guise of an official government proclamation. While some may disagree with Young's analysis of the situation in 1920s Japan between the foreigner and the native, it nevertheless offers an alternative to the often rose-tinted view of a harmonious pre-war relationship.

At a time when native papers were having their radical views increasingly censored by the government89, Young was becoming ever more vocal in his criticisms of Japanese policy. There was even what appears to have been a government plot to buy the paper in an effort to silence the Young brothers Robert and Morgan. One year before Young's death in 1921, the then governer of Hyogo, Ariyoshi Chuichi, received government instructions to buy The Chronicle in the hope that the Kokusai Tsushinsha, which had superseded Reuters in Japan, would be able to promote propaganda concerning the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. The Chronicle had been vehemently anti-renewal, and Chuichi began to search for instruments which could be clandestinely manouvered into unwittingly helping the process along. Chuichi sought the help of a Mr. Itani of Yamashita & Co. and co-erced him into posing as an independent philanthropist and hardline critic of Japanese politics. Itani approached James with the intention of using him as the broker of the deal, and the plot may well have been a success had it not been for the fact that the Alliance was not renewed, therefore making the plan worthless.90 The above account shows the precarious consequences of taking an affirmative stance against the ever-increasing drive towards military rule in Japan during the 1920s. Young and James' independent lifestyles and social mobility had deemed them a significant enough threat by the government to be quietly silenced. By continually banging the drum to the tune of 'them and us', Young was increasingly estranging himself from the Japanese, and with hindsight, such a tactic can only have contributed to driving the communities apart.

As Young passed away in 1922 he would never see the Japanese nation spiral towards the disaster of militarism. However, at the age of 60, D. H. James found himself once again documenting the Japanese military from a unique and somewhat ironic perspective. After his capture at the Battle of Singapore, James spent two years in the notorious Omori POW camp in Tokyo in 1943/45. Having suffered two years of torture, malnutrition and a heart attack brought on by an acute case of beriberi, he was finally freed. Having escaped with his life, he compiled his experiences of life in Japan and as a prisoner of the Japanese in his last publication, The Rise and Fall of the Japanese Empire in 1951. Unlike Young, James appears to have been a genuine supporter of the Japanese in his early years as a journalist with The Chronicle. Unfortunately, his bitter experiences at the hands of his Japanese jailers appears to have irreparably damaged his opinion of that country. Commenting on the rise of militarism, he wrote:

Their true nature bubbled to the surface as they threw off the mask of pseudo-civilisation; they were the huns who lost no time in inflicting death, torture and humiliation on their foreign captives. But it was but the waving of their 'school certificate' for they had matriculated in sadism the guiding principle of the imperial rescript on education scrambled into Kodo by the Gumbatsu... My opinion, based on bitter experience, is that the Japanese as a race are deficient in moral courage and proficient in killing in cold blood... No doubt there are so-called progressive Japanese, and even sympathetic foreigners who have lived for years in Japan, who may consider my remarks as sweeping generalizations of Japan's moral code.'91

The publication received mixed reviews regarding the value of the text as a historical source for Japanese history, however, nearly all of the reviews commended the narrative style of his wartime experiences. However, nearly every reviewer condemned what they felt were the stereotypical views of an 'Old Japan hand'.92 Clearly, however, James had experienced plenty and had reached an age where he cared little of what others had to say.


The one thing that continually springs to mind while researching Kobe's foreign community is, where did it all go wrong? After such a promising beginning, the reintroduction of Japan onto the world stage, the lightening-like speed of modernisation, and the economic transformation from feudal agricultural society to industrial powerhouse. The partnership between Japan and the West should have been one of history's greatest success stories. Instead, the only conclusion I can come to was that there was a chance for real internationalism in Japan on a scale that had never been seen before, a real chance for mutual cooperation that could have been replicated to developing communities all over the globe. Ultimately, it was a chance lost. Instead, what appears to have taken place is that the rate of modernisation was too rapid, and therefore, the Japanese had become dependent on foreign trade. This dependence brought them into repeated conflict with not only the West, but the nations around her as a result of her attempts to gain national security in a world of competing economies. This situation is perhaps best summed up in the words of the North American anthropologist, John F. Embree, who wrote that, 'Japan was a newly industrialised independent nation in the midst of an area dominated by occidental colonial and economic interests – a situation that was bound, sooner or later, to lead to a war of survival'.93

Foreigners, like James and Young, who had lived most of their adult lives in Japan, found themselves in a complex situation. Denied the role of the coloniser yet belonging to the premier colonial power, ardent critics such as Young could ultimately achieved nothing except to ire the Japanese authorities. While his intentions may have been noble, the method in which he chose to transmit them reveal a heavy-handedness that evidently fell on the deaf ears of an ever increasingly intolerant Japanese population. Signs that Young was becoming ever increasingly radical in his criticism of Japanese governmental policy was reflected in his correspondences and friendship with British philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russel. The two men struck up a brief friendship in the years before Young's death. Russell met with Young during his visit to lecture at Keio University in the summer of 1921. At he time the Japanese government was ostensibly opposed to and repressive towards Japanese socialist movements, and Young's socialist sympathies were becoming increasingly articulated in the Chronicle.94 One has to wonder whether these men were in many ways betwixt and between cultures. The foreign trader or entrepreneur in Japan could only be an authority in the country he often held in contempt. In their own countries, perhaps they would have achieved less, and as a result would have been nobody. Their very existence depended on the dichotomous niche that they had chiseled out for themselves in relation to the Japanese.

Just as the Kiplings, Hall-Chamberlains, Youngs and James' of Japan all lined up to take the credit for her economic success; all of them failed to realise it was the Japanese who had made them what they were. It was this fundamental blindness to see the simplicity of the situation by both parties that led to the disastrous conflict of the Pacific War for all of those concerned. The extraterritoriality system had consolidated a foreign community whose status had changed in 1899 after its abolition, yet their was evidently a continuation of the extraterritorial mindset, well after the system itself had been abolished. This ultimately brought the foreign community into a head-on collision course with the Japanese and may well have even facilitated the rise of Japanese militarism as the Japanese employed increasingly extreme measures to safeguard their own security from a perceived Western threat.

A recent book has been published by Keiko Tamura95 regarding the lives of several prominent expatriate residents in the city of Kobe, Forever Foreign: expatriate lives in historical Kobe, is based largely on material gathered from the Harold S. Williams Collection housed in the National Library of Australia, as well as a number of interviews with Kobe residents in order to form a study on the foreign experience in Japan. However, while the book is a fascinating insight into the lives of four individual expatriates, there is room for an analysis of how expatriate residents interacted, not just with each other, but with the wider Japanese community. The book leaves several un-answered questions. Namely, in what way was the expatriate community in Kobe different to expatriate communities that existed in other countries with a strong European influence? Secondly, Williams as an author and as a resident of Japan, maintained an estranged relationship with Japan and the Japanese. While Tamura's book highlights Williams' life and personal exploits, the question of how he perceived the Japanese is never really adequately addressed, perhaps for obvious reasons. As Tamura's book was commissioned by the Australian National Library, the merits of the research lie in the fact that foreigners are portrayed from a Japanese perspective, and therefore, there is perhaps a tendency to focus on the positive aspects of this relationship. While there is no harm in doing so, there is also room for an approach that focuses on the, for want of a better terminology, darker aspects of the often fraught relationships between foreigners and Japanese that existed during this period. One of the most interesting expatriate lives in the book is that of Kobe businessman, Ernest James.

In her conclusion, Tamura stipulates that the Kobe foreign community could be seen as the last phase of the colonial settlements that flourished in many parts of the British Empire. Her afterthought on the lives of the residents highlights the reasons these expatriates chose to stay in Japan and how they interacted, not only with each other, but with the wider Japanese society around them. The author also highlights that there is nothing unique about the formation of expatriate societies, however, one aspect that is not covered is the power relationships that exist between these societies is often quite different. One cannot argue, for example, that the power relationship that exists between the expatriate Chinese communities in North America were formed on an equal set of relationships similar to those that existed between Asian countries and Western expatriate societies.

There is, however, an undercurrent of bitterness towards the Japanese that is reflected in the kind of material that Williams compiled and the style and content of much of his writing is similar in style to classic authors on the foreign experience in Japan, like Pat Barr96 and W. G. Beasley.97 Unfortunately, Williams' publications have not enjoyed the longevity of the above authors, and perhaps for the reason explained previously, his work is becoming increasingly difficult to find. Authors such as Cortazzi98, however, regularly use his material, and his status as a leading authority on the foreign experience in Japan cannot be disputed. One other love of Williams' life were the foreign clubs. He was one of the longest serving members of both the Kobe Regatta & Athletic Club, the Kobe Club, as well as being a high-ranking Freemason. It is largely thanks to the scholarly work of Williams that a study based on the social networks and perceptions of the foreign community can be attempted. From my own research into Williams and the conversations that I have had with many residents who knew him, Williams' true feelings about Japan and the Japanese remain elusive. One elderly resident I interviewed stated quite casually that, 'Williams hated the Japanese. He could never forgive them for the war'.99 Bearing this comment in mind when I visited Canberra to study the Williams archive, I came across a letter that Williams had intended to send to an Australian newspaper that had covered the story of a Japanese mother who had gone to Australia to visit the scene of her son's death during a failed raid on Sydney Harbour. Williams had intended to criticise the Australian government for the lavish reception that she had received upon her arrival. In the letter he states, 'Quite obviously I could never be happy in Australia anymore. 'I could never love the Japanese as much as the Australians do, all for the sake of trade'100. Interestingly, the letter was never sent, however, it reveals that Williams was a conflicted individual never really able to find his place in either Australian or Japanese society. Others have described him as a difficult man who was fiercely protective of his role as Kobe's resident historian and chronicler of the foreign community. In this respect, I believe that Williams was in love, not with Japan, but Kobe. He was in love with the Japanese Lafcadio Hearn-esque era that had disappeared never to return. Ultimately, Williams' decision to bequeath his collection to Canberra is never really fully answered by Tamura. While Williams was correctly concerned with the prospect of frequent natural disasters in Japan, the decision appears to have been one based upon bitter feelings and deep mistrust towards the Japanese.

Tamura briefly explores the notion of what is commonly referred to as a 'bubble' community, whereby, the community remains essentially cut off from the host society as it carries on its own traditions and develops its own distinct culture and values associated with it. I would argue that the foreign community essentially created a bubble economy for themselves during the period of extraterritoriality and, after its subsequent abolition by the Japanese Government in 1899, the foreign community continued to evolve by harboring a set of cultural values that were formulated during this unique period in the city's history. The primary contention of this article is that central to this bubble community were the social clubs. By catering to only the elite members of foreign society, the clubs acted as one more hidden layer within the community, effectively forming a bubble within a bubble as it was only accessible to the elite members of the community. While there were no doubt many who did their best to foster internationalism in the community, the pre-WWII expatriate community remained essentially aloof from the Japanese largely due to the existing economic and social factors of the day.

[1] Barr, P. 1989. Deer Cry Pavilion: a story of Westerners in Japan 1868-1905, London. pp. 236.

[2] The Shioya Club, Harold S. Williams Collection, National Library of Australia. MS6681/1/60.

[3] Janet Browne, E. 2002. Charles Darwin: The Power of Place, London. pp. 329.

[4] Leupp, G. P. 2003. Interracial Intimacy in Japan: western men and Japanese women, 1543-1900, London. pp. 69

[5] Burks has described the yatoi as a necessary evil, regarded as only a little less undesirable than foreign loans. The employment of foreign experts was, however, a double-edged sword as the Japanese lacked the technical know-how to train their own workforce. Burks, A. 1998. Foreign Employees, in Huffman, J. L. (eds) Modern Japan: an encyclopedia of history, culture, and nationalism, New York. pp. 60.

[6] (ibid). pp. 70.

[7] Marx, K. (1867) 1976. Capital: volume I, Fowkes, B (tr), London. pp. 479.

[8] Morton-Cameron, W. H. (eds) (1919) 2008. Present Day Impressions of Japan: the history, people, commerce, industries and resources of Japan and Japan's colonial empire, Kwantung, Chosen, Taiwan, Karafuto. Tokyo. pp. 43.

[9] For a more in-depth analysis of how these relationships formed a crucial role in shaping perceptions concerning Japanese society see, Leupp, G. P. 2003. Interracial Intimacy in Japan: western men and Japanese women, 1543-1900, London.

[10] Foucault, M. 1978. The History of Sexuality: volume I, an introduction, London. pp. 149-50.

[11] The Kobe Chronicle, July 3rd, 1897.

[12] See The Kobe Chronicle and the Nagasaki Press, Dec 1898 and Jan-March 1899.

[13] Earns, L. 1997. Local Implications for the End of Extraterritoriality: the closing of the foreign settlement at Nagasaki, in Kern, L. A. (eds) New Directions in the Study of Meiji Era Japan, London. pp. 311-320.

[14] For a more in-depth analysis of the term and it's historicity see, Lyman, M, S. 2000. The 'Yellow Peril' Mystique: origins and vicissitudes of a racist discourse, in International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society, vol. 13, no. 4, Summer. pp. 683-747.

[15] Kaneko, K. 1904. The Yellow Peril Is The Goldon Opportunity for Japan, in The North American Review, vol. 179, no. 576 (Nov). pp. 645.

[16] Morton-Cameron, W. H. (eds) (1919) 2008. pp. 42.

[17] Hearn's 'A Glimpse of Tendencies' deals with the simmering resentment of the extraterritorial system amongst the Japanese at the tend of the century. Hearn, L. 1896. Kokoro: hints and echoes of Japanese inner life, London. pp. 120-55.

[18] Nagasaki Press, March 8th, 1899.

[19] Baelz, T. (eds) 1932. Awakening Japan: the diary of a German doctor, E & C. Paul (tr), London. pp. 72.

[20] Shively, D. 1971. The Japanization of the Middle Meiji, in Shively, D (eds) Tradition and Modernization in Japanese Culture, London. pp. 122-177.

[21] Watanabe, T. 1996. Josiah Conder's Rokumeikan: architecture and national representation in Meiji Japan, in Art Journal, vol. 55, no. 3, Japan 1868-1945: Art, Architecture, and National Identity. pp. 21-27.

[22] Shively, D. 1971, pp. 95.

[23] Williams, H. S. 1972. Things Japanese or Kobe's Grandest Ball, in The Journal of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, (Feb) pp. 36-38.

[24] Williams, H. S. (Ibid)

[25] Watanabe, T. 1996. pp. 25.

[26] Cortazzi, H. 1991. The Japan Society: a hundred year history, in Cortazzi, H. (eds) Britain and Japan: themes and personalities, London. pp. 1-54.

[27] Shively, D. 1971, pp. 95-110.

[28] Akira, I. 2006. Japan Under Paternalism: The Changing Image of Japan During the Russo-Japanese War, Chapman, J. et al (eds)in Rethinking the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-5, v. 2, Nichinan Papers, London. pp. 257.

[29] (Ibid) pp. 258.

[30] Huffman, J. 1987. Edward Howard House: in the service of Meji Japan, in Pacific Historical Review, vol. 56, no. 2, May. pp. 232.

[31] Said, E. 2003. Blind Imperial Arrogance: vile stereotyping of Arabs by the U.S. Ensures years of turmoil, in Los Angeles Times, July 20th.

[32] See Elliott, A. 2008. Ito and Isabella in the Contact Zone: interpretation, mimicry and Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, in Electronic Journal of Japanese Studies, Article 9, Dec 22nd. Minear, R.H. 1980. Orientalism and the Study of Japan, Journal of Asian Studies 39, 507-517.

[33] Kipling, R. 1988. Kipling's Japan: collected writings, edited by Cortazzi, H. & Webb, G, London. pp. 54.

[34] Chamberlain, B. H. 1971. Japanese Things, Being Notes on Various Subjects Connected with Japan, London. pp. 22.

[35] Bird, I. 2006. Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, London. pp. 363.

[36] Kipling, R. 1920. Letters of Travel: 1892-1923, London. pp. 45-53.

[37] Sergeant, H. 1999. Shanghai: collision point of cultures, 1918-39, London. pp. 98. Blackballing was the term applied to the voting system for members of a private club. Members voted anonymously with billiard balls and a single black ball was enough to reject an application. The term is also synonymous with Freemasonry.

[38] Goto-Shibabta, H. 1995. Japan and Britain in Shanghai, 1925-37, London. pp. 5.

[39] Anon. 1933. Kobe-the Premier Port of Japan, illustrated: issued in commemoration of the first port festival, November 1933. Kobe & Osaka Press.

[40] Another Round: Shanghai reopens 110ft bar fabled for colonial decadence, The Telegraph, Thursday 6th January, 2010.

[41] The Shanghai Club long bar was sectioned according to 'rank' in the community. Taipans or senior traders occupied the windowed end of the bar, whereas younger trading clerks or griffins, occupied the darker end of the room. According to Williams, this practice was also in play in the Kobe Club when he arrived in the 1920s and was firmly upheld by all members. Williams, H. S. 1972. The Kobe Club, Kobe Club.

[42] Barthes, R. 1970. S/Z: An Essay, Hill & Wang, London.

[43] A detailed account of E. W. James' life can be found in Tamura, K. 2008 cited in this article.

[44] Chronicle Boasts Brilliant History, The Japan Times, March 22nd, 1962.

[45] James's first major publication, The Siege of Port Arthur: an eye witness account, was given an extensive and fairly objective critical review by the Chronicle on Jan 18th, 1906. The tone of the review suggests that Young acted in many ways as James's mentor. James published a number of articles for the paper seemingly both as a friend and a committed foreign correspondent.

[46] Correspondence between H. S. Williams and D. H. James, 17th Feb. 1962. Harold S. Williams Collection, National Library of Australia. MS6681/1/64.

[47] Chronicle Boasts a Brilliant History, The Japan Times, March 22, 1962.

[48] For more information on the Saturday Review see, 'A Biological View of Our Foreign Policy', Feb. 1st, 1896. p. 15. Available online via the Wilson Library, University of Minnesota.

[49] Correspondence between H. S. Williams and D. H. James, 17th Feb. 1962. Williams Collection.

[50] Hearn, L. Letter to B. H. Chamberlain, 23rd October, 1894. Williams Collection.

[51] Hearn, L. Letter to Sentaro Nishida. 23rd Oct. 1894. Williams Collection.

[52] I am as of yet unaware of how James became acquainted with John Cowen, proprietor of the China Times. He may have come into contact with Cowen during his time as an officer in the Imperial Chinese Maritime Customs. However, the two men may have become acquainted through Cowen's association with the Japan Chronicle. From 1902 to 1904, James was stationed at Shanghai, Hankow and Ichang before he travelled to Northern China in 1903 where he joined the the Chinese Engineering and Mining Company as an accountant at the Tongshan coalmine. Williams Collection.

[53] Editorial Troubles: The China Times and the Russians, The Straits Times, 8 March 1904. See also, Hui-Min, L. (eds) 1976. The Correspondence of G. E. Morrison: 1895-1912. pp. 292-3.

[54] See, The Kobe Chronicle, 1894-1895.

[55] For a more in-depth view of Western paternalism directed toward Japan see, Akira, I. 'Japan Under Paternalism: the Changing Image of Japan during the Russo-Japanese War', in Chapman, J, & Chiharu, I (eds) Rethinking the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-5. British Library.

[56] An excellent account of how the foreigners conducted themselves in pre-war Shanghai can be found in Sergeant, H. 1990. Shanghai: Collision point of cultures 1918/1939, New York. See pp. 95-166 for her fieldwork concerning the make-up of Shanghai's British elite.

[57] North Manchuria Plague Prevention Service: Reports (1911-1913) pp. 98

[58] Correspondence between D. H. James and H. S. Williams, 1st of April, 1964. Williams Collection.

[59] Davis, C, B. 2008. Adventures and Letters of Richard Harding Davis, Project Gutenberg.

[60] See Sinha, M. 2001. Britishness,clubbability, and the colonial public sphere: The genealogy of an imperial institution in colonial India, in Journal of British Studies, xl, for a broader discussion on the nature of the Anglo-Indian community.

[61] Williams, H.S. 1958. Tales of the Foreign Settlements in Japan, Tokyo, pp. 34.

[62] Sergeant, H. (Ibid)

[63] Shioya. Harold S. Williams Collection. The National Library of Australia. MS6681/1/114.

[64] Nish, I. H. Alliance in Decline: A Study in Anglo-Japanese Relations 1908-23, London.

[65] Correspondence between D. H. James and H. S. Williams, 12th March, 1963. Harold S. Williams Collection. The National Library of Australia. MS6681/1/64.

[66] (Ibid)

[67] (Ibid)

[68] Isao, C. 2007. Shifting Contours of Memory and History, 1904-1980, in Wolff, D et al (eds) The Russo-Japanese War in Global Perspective: World War Zero, Volume 2, Boston.

[69] Nearly all the accounts of the war give some account of Nogi's character, Ashmead-Bartlett, E. 1905. Port Arthur: The Siege and Capitulation, Edinburgh, and Barry, R. H. 1905. Port Arthur: A Monster Heroism, New York, are but two examples that devote chapters to Nogi and the conduct of the Japanese troops.

[70] James, D. H. Nogi at Port Arthur: Reminiscences of the Siege, The Japan Chronicle, September 1912.

[71] (Ibid)

[72] James, D. H. 1951. The Rise and Fall of the Japanese Empire, London. pp. 106

[73] James's eulogy for Nogi appeared in a September 18th edition of the The Japan Weekly Chronicle, entitled, Nogi at Port Arthur: Reminisces of the Siege. Another article appeared in the Asahi Evening News on July 19th, entitled, The Tenderness of a Warrior.

[74] Letters to the Editor, Meiji Tenno to Nichiro Daisenso, July 11th 1957.

[75] The Japan Weekly Chronicle, Jan 10th 1906.

[76] See Wolff, D (et al). 2007. The Russo-Japanese War in Global Perspective, Boston.

[77] James, D. H. 1951. The Rise and Fall of the Japanese Empire, London. pp. 137, The Siege of Port Arthur: records of an eye-witness, 1905, pp. 194.

[78] Reference is made to this short volume in, Captain David James, of who has had a lifetime of adventure, in The Japan Advertiser, 1926. A copy of this report with no date is available from the H. S. Williams Collection.

[79] (Ibid)

[80] Review of Siege of Port Arthur in, The Japan Weekly Chronicle, January 18th 1906.

[81] Takagi, M. 1996. This is the Man: Haikara Kobe wo Soutta Otoko. A.C Sim no Shimin Seikatsu, Supotsu, Boranteia Katsudou, Kobe. pp. 72.

[82] (Ibid)

[83] Young, R. 1918. 'History of Kobe', in The Japan Chronicle, Jubilee Number 1868-1918. Sim died November 20th, 1900, however his obituary was reprinted as a special feature in the jubilee edition, further fueling the enigma of A. C. Sim as one of Kobe's most influential foreigners.

[84] International Committee. Harold S. Williams Collection. National Library of Australia. MS6681/1/60.

[85] D. H. James. Harold S. Williams Collection. The National Library of Australia. MS6681/1/64.

[86] (Ibid)

[87] Young, R. 1919. The Foreigner in Japan, in Morton-Cameron, W. H. (eds) Present-Day Impressions of Japan, London. pp. 411-412.

[88] Hear, L. 1898. Kokoro, London. pp. 120-155.

[89] Huffman, J. L. 1999. Changing World of the Mid-Meiji Press, in Kern, A. L. & Hardcare, H. (eds) New Directions in Meiji Studies, London. pp. 562-581.

[90] Kobe Chronicle. Harold S. Williams Collection. The National Library of Australia. MS6681/1/80.

[91] James, D. H. 1951. pp. 123, 175.

[92] Brainteaser, R. J. D. 1953. Review, in The Far Eastern Quarterly, vol 12, no. 3. pp. 372-373. Ika, N. 1951. Review, in Pacific Historical Review, vol 20, no. 4. pp. 405-406. Kent-Hughes, W. S. 1952. Review, Pacific Affairs, vol. 25, no. 1. pp. 92-93.

[93] Embree, J. F. 1945. The Japanese Nation, New York. pp. 46, 9, 258.

[94] Russell was clearly impressed by Young and commented that the paper was, 'the best that I had ever known'. Russell, B. Autobiography, vol. 2, London. pp. 36

[95] Tamura, K. 2008. Forever Foreign: expatriate lives in historical Kobe, National Library of Australia.

[96] Barr, P. 1968. The Deer Cry Pavilion, London.

[97] Beasley, W. G. 1968. The Modern History of Japan, London.

[98] Cortazzi, H. 1987. Victorians in Japan: in and around the treaty ports, London.

[99] While researching this paper I spoke to several informants who knew Williams personally. All of them seemed to think that Williams had a love hate relationship with his adopted country.

[100] Williams, H. S. 1968. Midget Submarine Raid on Sydney Harbour 1942: Visit to Australia of Mother of Crew Member 1968, Harold S. Williams Collection, National Library of Australia, MS/6681/2/34/2112.

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