SDSU Shaping of Modern Histories by Relation of Powers Discussion


With reference to primary and secondary sources explored in class, craft an essay that discusses how relations of power have shaped the modern histories of India, China, and Japan. Questions to consider might include how institutions such as class, gender, morality, law, politics, and/or other elements of culture informed the experiences of individuals within these societies; how imperial and colonial practices have transformed Asian societies; how Euro-American notions of civilization and race have been adopted, adapted, and/or rejected within Asian societies; and how Asian peoples have attempted to carve out modern identities in response to imperialism (e.g., through rebellion, propaganda, political movements, appeals to earlier Asian traditions, etc.)Your essay may focus on any one or more time periods in each of these three societies– concentrate on what interests you the most! It should cite at least six scholarly sources and three primary sources (e.g., morality books, fiction, visual arts, speeches) explored in class. It should be 6-8 pages in length (double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins). Sources should be cited in Chicago style (see general format instructions and examples of citation of different types of sources here:

12 attachmentsSlide 1 of 12attachment_1attachment_1attachment_2attachment_2attachment_3attachment_3attachment_4attachment_4attachment_5attachment_5attachment_6attachment_6attachment_7attachment_7attachment_8attachment_8attachment_9attachment_9attachment_10attachment_10attachment_11attachment_11attachment_12attachment_12

Unformatted Attachment Preview

Berghahn Books
Chapter Title: Race without Supremacy: On Racism in the Political Discourse of Late
Meiji Japan, 1890–1912
Chapter Author(s): Urs Matthias Zachmann
Book Title: Racism in the Modern World
Book Subtitle: Historical Perspectives on Cultural Transfer and Adaptation
Book Editor(s): Manfred Berg and Simon Wendt
Published by: Berghahn Books
Stable URL:
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide
range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and
facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at

Terms and Conditions of Use

Berghahn Books is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Racism
in the Modern World
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Chapter 12
Race without Supremacy:
On Racism in the Political Discourse
of Late Meiji Japan, 1890–1912
Urs Matthias Zachmann
Although racism as an ideology is hard to define, most would agree that, at
its core, racism—intentionally or not—includes some groups in the
allocation of resources and services while excluding others, and does so by
referring to a hierarchy defined by somatic differences.1 Moreover, in the
nineteenth century, this hierarchy was “scientifically” grounded on the
concept of “races” as the immutable and inherent biological differences in
mankind. Although the theory of evolution questioned the idea of fixed
and immutable species in principle, Social Darwinism retained the idea of
“race” by ranking it on an evolutionary scale.2 “Racism” as a term was not
used at the time,3 the phenomenon hidden avant la lettre in the meaning of
“race” itself. Moreover, in Germany at the turn of the nineteenth century,
Rassenphilosophie was in vogue, and also known as such in Japan, albeit
not accepted, as we shall see presently.
The discussion of racism in historical perspective often focuses on the
European endeavor both to legitimate colonialism and to respond to their
experiences with the populations they subjugated.4 However, Japan
constitutes a singularity in history in that it managed to establish “the only
non-Western imperium in modern times”5 during the late Meiji period
(1868–1912). Much of this empire-building was done by emulating the
Western powers, especially the leading power Britain. Thus, the assumption
that Japan would not only emulate the outer vestiges but also the spirit of
expansion, including racism, comes naturally and has been, in fact, quite
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Urs Matthias Zachmann
dominant in the postwar historiography of Japan. Michael Weiner
observed, for example: “Given the fact that Japan was consciously modeling its behaviour in other spheres of activity on its European and North
American contemporaries, it is hardly surprising that Japanese ‘racial’
thought drew much of its inspiration from the most advanced Western nations and developed in response to it.”6 Consequently, Weiner sees the
results of this response in an ideology:
predicated on a conflict between the white and yellow ‘races’, while
on the other it assumed distinct and immutable differences in intellectual and cultural capacities between the Yamato minzoku [race]
and those of China and Korea. This allowed Japanese ideologues to
conceive of the world’s population as comprising three ‘races’, along
the lines set out by Arthur de Gobineau and other European ‘racial’
The problem with this understanding lies in assuming too close and literal
a translation of European racialist thought into the Japanese context and
thus underestimating the different social, political, and economic
environment into which this thought migrated. For one, it is difficult to
say whether the official Japanese policy wanted to exclude Chinese and
Koreans in the “homeland” and in the colonies, as racism does not
legitimate all discriminatory practice, which makes the concept itself so
hard to define.8 Moreover, the Japanese themselves had to grapple with
European racism that sought to exclude Japan from the concert of powers.
Thus, the assumption that the Japanese accepted and internalized European
racism without protest seems less intuitive.
Thus, after a short introductory section on the reception of “scientific”
racism in Japan, this essay studies late–Meiji Japanese attitudes toward
racism in three fields of publicly regulated human interaction where racialized views traditionally play a significant role: international relations,
immigration policies, and colonial policies. Consequently, this chapter
focuses on Japanese interactions with Europeans, Chinese, and Koreans,
although a more complete discussion of attitudes toward racism would
certainly include a section on the position of the Ainu in Japanese society.9
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Race without Supremacy
The Reception of “Scientific Racism”
in Meiji Japan
The scientific notion of “race” entered Japan in the late 1870s through
Darwin’s theory of evolution. The American zoologist Edward Sylvester
Morse (1838–1925), one of the many foreign employees in the service of the
Japanese government at the time, first introduced the Japanese public to
the rules of the “Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”
(thus the alternative title of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of
Natural Selection 1859) in 1877.10 Darwin’s theories have since fascinated
the Japanese intelligentsia considerably, and as Eikoh Shimao has observed,
no “Western scientist’s works have been translated into so many Japanese
versions as Darwin’s.”11 However, the attraction was less due to the
“scientific” impact of evolutionism. Not until 1910, with the advent of
Mendelism, did the biological sciences respond more positively to
evolutionary theory,12 although eugenics, as an offspring of evolutionary
theory, for certain reasons later to be explained, did garner followers in
academic circles even earlier.13
As in Europe and the United States, the Japanese general public was
more interested in the “survival of the fittest” (Herbert Spencer) among
mankind, i.e., with the social and political application of Darwin’s theories,
than “natural selection” in animal life. Thus, Spencer has been called “the
most widely read and possibly the most influential Western social and
political thinker in Japan during the 1880s.”14 During the struggle of
oppositional groups against the oligarchic Japanese government for more
political participation at the time, both sides invoked Spencer’s ambiguous
authority, either by stressing the individualistic, dynamic aspect of his
theory and arguing for open political competition, or by stressing his organismic conception of society and thus legitimizing the status quo of social
and political inequalities.15 A similarly Janus-faced interpretation applied to
international politics, as will be shown presently.
However, whereas European societies saw “survival of the fittest” in the
framework of a racial hierarchy among the peoples of the earth, this view
was not readily accepted in Japan, as evidenced by reactions to the thesis of
Joseph Arthur Gobineau and his Essai sur l’inégalité des races humaines
(1853–55). Gobineau was much less popular and introduced to Japan much
later than Darwin and Spencer. His relative unpopularity may just mirror
a similar situation in Europe,16 or be the product of contingency. However,
the fact that Gobineau so clearly stressed the superiority of the “Aryan”
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Urs Matthias Zachmann
race in his Essai, placing the Japanese only as second-ranking, certainly did
not endear him to the Japanese readership.
Thus, when the famous writer and Surgeon-General of the Japanese
Imperial Army, Mori Ōgai (1862–1922), gave a lecture on Gobineau to an
academic audience in June 1903, he supposed his listeners knew nothing
about Gobineau and minutely described his life and arguments.17 Only then
did he add a brief comment of his own: Gobineau’s theses were clearly selfserving, unfair, and prejudiced. If Gobineau had been of a different skin color,
he would have argued differently. One should not give credence to such
“âriocentrique” theories, nor to any other -centric thinking for that matter.18
And although this kind of race philosophy seemed then in vogue in Germany,
Mori Ōgai could not see any worth in it. Moreover, he interpreted this vogue
as a sort of Götterdämmerung of European self-confidence. Thus, he
concluded his lecture with the question: “When a race starts to be delighted
in hearing that it is the only one with the power to civilize others, isn’t that
when it has already lost belief in its own uniqueness?”19
Racism in Japan’s International Relations
Japan’s international relations with the European powers for most of the latter
half of the nineteenth century revolved around the renegotiation of its
diplomatic and commercial treaties with the powers. These were concluded
in the last years of the Tokugawa reign (a few of them in the Meiji era as well)
and stipulated, among other things, consular jurisdiction for foreigners (i.e.,
the privilege of extraterritoriality), which was tallied, however, by a restriction
of foreigners’ residence and movement to Japan’s treaty ports (the largest
being Yokohama).20 Commonly called the “unequal treaties” in Japan, it
should be noted that Japan was certainly not the only non-European country
to suffer under such agreements. When compared to the treaties with China,
for example, which in effect granted free movement to foreigners, Japan
received rather more favorable treatment by the European powers than other
nations. Of course, in Japan’s case, too, it is doubtful whether the rules
confining foreigners to the ports were ever strictly enforced.21 Thus, in the hot
phase of treaty-related protests from 1889–1894, the protesters demanded
strict observation of the rules to make the Europeans feel the actual
inconvenience of the treaties and compel them to renegotiate. However, for
a long time, the European powers remained adamant, and it took more than
twenty years, starting in 1871, until the Japanese government finally
concluded its first revised treaty with Britain in 1894.
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Race without Supremacy
Popular protest, of course, attributed the reluctance of the European
powers to discrimination on the basis of race or religion (in fact, more the
latter).22 This may have well been a consideration on the part of the powers,
although, on the surface, the negotiations always revolved around the
question of whether or not Japan already met the “standard of civilization.”
As Eric Gong has demonstrated, this standard emerged in Europe
(although of universal pretence) during the latter half of the nineteenth
century—in fact, was made explicit largely due to the contact with Japan—
and contained minimum requirements such as the effective protection of
basic rights by the domestic legal system and adherence to international
law (which, of course, was another European standard).23
Whatever one may think of the European powers’ pretence to dictate
standards, the Japanese government and, in fact, a majority of the Japanese
people rapidly internalized this standard in its pursuit of equality with the
powers, one of the primary goals of Meiji foreign policy. In 1894, Britain
concluded a new treaty and thus issued, as one American observer put it,
“a certificate of civilization” to the Japanese nation.24 That same year, Japan
also fought a spectacularly successful war against China to realize its second
goal: to break the hegemony of China in East Asian waters and establish its
own predominance.
Japan’s success was against all foreign expectations, and although at first
it may not have achieved its primary goal, it certainly led to a re-evaluation
of its military capacity in the eyes of the Western powers.25 However, the
spectacular military success of a non–European nation also spread fear
among some European observers, which in turn was soon noticed in Japan,
as the following newspaper article shows, quoting the opinions of an
unidentified Hungarian general:
The Rise of the Yellow Race really frightens a part of the people in
Europe. General Chuiiru also observes: ‘Japan in twenty-five years
has made the same progress as other countries in centuries. If, on top
of that, China too awakes from its slumber, then Europe certainly
cannot sleep safely anymore. Do the European countries really have
the time to sap each other’s strength by internal fighting?’26
Graphically, the “yellow peril” found its most notorious expression in the
so-called “Knackfuss painting,” drawn by the academic painter Herman
Knackfuß (1848–1915) after the design of Kaiser Wilhelm II sometime in
the summer of 1895.27 Under the heading “Ye nations of Europe, protect
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Urs Matthias Zachmann
your most holy goods,” the allegorical painting shows the European powers
gather under the holy cross and the angelic leadership of Germany to fight
against a golden Buddha riding a yellow dragon and leaving a trail of
destruction. This painting, of which the German Kaiser distributed many
copies to Western leaders, was also known in Japan from early on. Already
in January 1903, a Japanese newspaper showed a redrawing of the painting
with a short explanation of its meaning.28
Of course, the threat of Japan alone would not have caused such
nightmares. Thus, the painting hints at a union between Japan and China.
The combination of Chinese multitudes harnessed by Western military skill
in Japanese hands constituted the ultimate embodiment of the “yellow
peril.” Other fictitious accounts played on this horror, such as the novel
“The Yellow Danger” by pulp-fiction writer M.P. Shiel.29 Shiel, who also
wrote speeches for the British foreign minister and other influential
politicians, using the a very realistic setting to develop the fantastical story
of a Chinese-Japanese villain who, after uniting China and Japan under his
leadership, almost succeeds in extirpating the “white race” before one
young British hero turns the tables and brings the story to a happy ending.
Of course, this fiction was supposed to be laughed at and about (which the
Times in London did).30 However, it can be imagined that Japanese
observers were less enthusiastic about such fantasies.
As the diplomatic historian William Langer observed, “the cult of this
[Gobineau’s] extravagant racialism and nationalism came only in the last
lustrum of the nineteenth century. In England as in Germany it was carried
to absurd heights.”31 And for Japan, being one of the main targets of this
racialism, this especially posed a problem. At the very moment that the
Japanese government had finally succeeded in overcoming the barrier of
“civilization” and reached the brink of being accepted into the concert of
powers, new barriers arose and racism raised its head to drive Japan out
again.32 Although Japanese intellectuals considered these barriers
“artificial,” the problem was that they were, in fact, supposed to be “natural”
and scientific, and therefore (the distant promises of eugenics aside)
objective and insurmountable. As a reaction to these limitations, the
Japanese public could only deny the validity of racism, insist on the
universality of civilization with greater determination, and even denounce
racism as the new “barbarism” of the self-styled civilized European
The Japanese government pursued the same course in its diplomacy, but
in a less confrontational way. Thus, in order to facilitate Japan’s acceptance
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Race without Supremacy
into the concert of powers, it sought to dispel any fears that Japan would
form an alliance with China against the West, and to broadcast the fact that
it adhered steadfastly to the standard of civilization at every possible
opportunity. Two conspicuous examples illustrate the former strategy.
Firstly, when Germany occupied Qingdao (later turning it into a lease) in
late 1897, the President of the Japanese House of Peers, Konoe Atsumaro
(1863–1904) published an article calling for a “racial alliance” of the Asian
nations against the West (with Japan and China at its core) in the popular
magazine Taiyō in January 1898.34 Based on the assumption of a “racial
competition,” Konoe predicted a “showdown” between the white and yellow races in which Japan would not stand aside. However, the article is less
remarkable for its thesis than for the storm of protest that it elicited in
Japan, and the suspicions and insinuations produced abroad.35
Domestically, Konoe’s proposal was seen as a “stupid idea” (guron): Why
should a developed country like Japan ally itself with a country as backward
as China, which would surely pull Japan back into a quagmire of stagnancy
and corruption, and this simply for the sake of some romantic feelings of
“same race, same culture” (dōbun dōshu)? The only criterion for alliance,
his critics argued, was progress, which corresponded with the majority
opinion that Britain was Japan’s most desirable alliance partner, if anything
at all. However, Konoe’s article did more damage to Japan in Europe, where
even local newspapers reported its contents.36 The Japanese government
eventually saw no other means to contain the damage than to have its
minister to France issue a statement asserting that Konoe’s opinions by no
means represented the official position of Japan, but were rather the private
opinion of a radical hothead who had only reached his government position
of President of the House of Peers because of his high birth and family ties.
Given the fact that the Japanese emperor intended Konoe to become prime
minister in the future, this can only be seen as a desperate measure.
However, Konoe soon recanted and subsequently became an ardent
advocate of an alliance with Britain.37
Secondly, the further advance of the western powers into China
following Germany’s initiative led to a gradual rapprochement between
Japan and China that eventually resulted in a flurry of cooperation on the
semi-state and non-governmental level.38 However, the Japanese
government was intent on keeping these interactions informal and not
rousing any suspicions among the Western powers of a formal alliance
between China and Japan. Thus, when the leading statesman Yamagata
Aritomo (1838–1922) heard in May 1899 of the imminent arrival of a
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Urs Matthias Zachmann
special envoy from Beijing, he surmised that the Chinese government was
going to ask Japan for its protection and an alliance against the
encroachment of the powers.39 He cautioned his colleagues that, in this
case, the envoy should be turned away with the utmost politeness—so as
not to hurt the Chinese government—but also with firmness for the
following reasons:
If our country and China were to enter a relationship which exceeded
the degree of closeness and aroused the suspicion among the western
powers of a Sino-Japanese alliance against Europe, this would not only
eventually result in a battle of races [jinshu no arasoi], but it is difficult
to tell if this would not also have consequences which would prove
detrimental to our interests in the present Hague Peace Conference
[1899]. Moreover, even if our financial, political, and military power
were to allow it, I believe that to cooperate with China for the
independence of East Asia is a poor strategy [sessaku]. China, as I have
said before, like the Jewish race will continue as a race, but it will not
long maintain its state as a whole. This is already the fixed opinion of
the experts. Even if it can maintain it, it will not be able to maintain it
with the present territory. It will save only a small fraction, and the rest
will be divided among the powers. In East Asia, the only country which
will be able to maintain its independence is only our empire.40
Yamagata’s words reveal a certain ambiguity toward the concept of race
when it came to nations considered inferior to Japan. This will be discussed
in more detail presently. However, toward European countries, the Japanese
government clearly tried to avoid any notion of racial antagonism and, in the
following years, most notably during the Boxer expedition of 1900, tried to
broadcast its firm allegiance to the European concert with mixed success.41
Western observers were, of course, conscious of this strategy and its
aims. They fully understood that racism was limiting Japan’s upward
trajectory as an imperial power (this was racism’s function in international
politics in the first place). However, they also understood that Japan needed
to overcome racial prejudice and earn the acceptance of the Western powers
and its citizens if it wanted to expand. This applied to expansion by formal
means (as the intervention of Russia, France, and Germany against
Japanese expansion in China in 1895 had shown) as well as to “peaceful
expansion,” i.e., through emigration of Japanese laborers.42 Thus, on the
occasion of Japan’s participation in the Boxer expedition, a British
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Race without Supremacy
newspaper observed with considerable condescension:
It may be said, indeed, without exaggeration, that on the conduct of her
officers and men in the present war depends the whole future of Japan.
If the British Tommy takes to the Japanese Tommy as he takes to the
Ghurka, all will be well; but there is just the possibility that he may
conceive as rooted a dislike for him as the white labourer in British
Columbia and Seattle does for the Japanese coolie, who is, after all, about
the same status as the Japanese soldier. In that case Japan’s energies
would be for ever circumscribed within her five hundred isles.43
Thus, in all cases in international affairs where Japan wanted to rise or
expand and expected racially legitimated resistance by the Western powers,
it sought to overcome this resistance by insisting on the prevalence of the
standard of civilization.
Racism in Domestic Politics
Japan remained, in a sense, a “closed country” (sakoku) until 1899, when
the revised treaties with Western powers finally came into effect and, in
return for abolishing extraterritoriality, the restrictions were lifted on free
movement and residence for foreigners in Japan. However, for the Chinese,
significant restrictions remained in place, and the discussion of their status
in contrast to Western and Korean foreigners in Japan sheds a revealing
light on the basis for criteria the Japanese used to differentiate and deal
with the Other inside their borders.
Considering that a statistically negligible number of foreigners resided
among Japan’s approximately forty million citizens (for example, in 1894,
the Chinese as the largest foreign community numbered a little over five
thousand),44 the intensity of the debate on “mixed residence” (naichi
zakkyo) in the 1880s and 1890s seems out of proportion and irrational.
However, for most of the Japanese, mixed residence was a matter of
principle, its introduction anticipated with many fears and hopes.
Mixed Residence with Western Foreigners
To begin with the discussion of “mixed residence” with Western foreigners:
throughout the late 1880s and into the 1890s, a certain antipathy existed
against the integration process, as it required large-scale legal reforms on
the Japanese side, and the more nationalistically minded people saw it as
undue interference with domestic politics by European powers.45 Most
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Urs Matthias Zachmann
controversial was the revision of the family law and the law of succession
section in the Civil Code, so much so that conservative lawyers like Hozumi
Yatsuka (1860–1912) exclaimed that “if the Civil Code comes through,
loyalty and filial piety will perish.”46
The very prospect of living next door to Western foreigners filled many
observers with a sense of foreboding. A newspaper cartoon from 1877 illustrated their various fears, which depicted, under the title “When
foreigners live among us,”47 the evils of a poor country being held up on its
long way to progress by rich Western foreigners buying up the land,
exploiting Japanese workers, taking all their money, and luring women with
riches, etc. Thus, the cartoon graphically played on the character gai
(foreign) which as written could also be read as dame (no good).
Thus, there was a strong xenophobic current among the Japanese people
against Western mixed residence that was, however, based on specific concerns about economic inequality rather than racial fears. This does not
mean that such fears did not exist, rather that they were found more among
the intellectual elite and in a minority of the population. Moreover, those
who most prominently voiced racialized fears, such as the philosopher
Inoue Tetsujirō (1855–1944) and the above-mentioned lawyer Hozumi
Yatsuka, both pre-eminent in their respective academic fields, were
conspicuously those with the most exposure to Europe through extended
periods of study there. Thus, in their new environment, they seemed to
have internalized the notion in their host country (mostly Germany) that
their “race” was inferior to the Europeans, and they came to oppose mixed
residence with Westerners in Japan. After all, this is what some foreign
advisers did as well. None other than Herbert Spencer himself, who on
several occasions advised the Japanese government on modernization and
reform, wrote to the statesman Kaneko Kentarō (1853–1942) in 1892 that
“the Japanese should, I think, be that of keeping Americans and Europeans
as much as possible at arm’s length. In presence of the more powerful races
your position is one of chronic danger, and you should take every
precaution to give as little foothold as possible to foreigners.”48
Inoue Tetsujirō, for example, while still studying in Berlin in 1889,
published a treatise “On Mixed Residence in the Interior” in which he made
a similar argument. This treatise reacted to a previous essay written by the
renowned liberal economic journalist Taguchi Ukichi (1855–1905), who
argued in favor of “mixed residence,” pointing out that Japan in former
times, too, had profited from the importation of superior civilization from
the Chinese and Koreans, who had since become fully assimilated.
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Race without Supremacy
Moreover he claimed that Japan would only benefit from the free inflow of
foreign capital and workers. He denounced all limitations on free intercourse
as neo-feudalistic. Thus, the argument between Taguchi and Inoue went
back and forth, but the basic positions never wavered.49 However, it should
be noted that Taguchi rested his arguments on an assumption which he
made much more explicit in later years and was hardly less racialized than
Inoue’s, namely that the Japanese race was not inferior to the Europeans
because the Japanese, in fact, descended from the Aryan race. In this, Ukichi
echoed the minority theory among Western scholars about the origins of
the Japanese.50 However, in Japan, Taguchi remained the theory’s only
prolific advocate. Mori Ōgai in the above lecture touched upon Taguchi’s
theory, but certainly did not commit himself to it.51
Another minority opinion embraced “mixed residence” with Westerners
exactly because of the “racial gap,” as it would give the Japanese a better
opportunity to ameliorate their race through intermarriage. Such was the
opinion of Takahashi Yoshio, who published a treatise entitled “On the
Amelioration of the Japanese Race” in 1884.52 This early example of
eugenics in Japan, of course, attracted the harsh criticism of the above
conservative thinkers such as Inoue Tetsujirō and Katō Hiroyuki (1836–
1916), then the president of the Imperial University.
In the same vein as their arguments, Herbert Spencer, too, strictly
opposed miscegenation: “Respecting the intermarriage of foreigners and
Japanese … it should be strictly forbidden[.] … There is abundant proof,
alike furnished by the intermarriages of human races and by the
interbreeding, that when the varieties mingled diverge beyond a certain
slight degree the result is inevitably a bad one in the long run.”53
From Spencer’s point of view, miscegenation was detrimental (to the
“superior” race, that is) and thus to be opposed. From the Japanese point
of view, however, embracing eugenics offered another strategy for the
“underdog” to subvert strict biological determinism, which made it popular
among some medical scholars in Japan.54 One of the most prolific
eugenicists, Ōsawa Gakutarō (1863–1920), also married a German while
studying at the University of Freiburg, although one might hope that
eugenic theory was not his primary motive.55
Eventually, the Japanese government heeded neither Spencer’s advice nor
that of mixed residence opponents in general, and succeeded in introducing
“mixed residence” in 1899. In the meantime, Japan’s success in the SinoJapanese War (1894–95) seemed to have led to a new confidence among the
Japanese.56 The renowned journalist Tokutomi Sohō (1863–1957), for
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Urs Matthias Zachmann
example, described the effects of the war as follows: “Before we did not know
ourselves and the world did not yet know us. But now that we have tested our
strength, we know ourselves and we are known by the world.”57 This newly
gained confidence (whatever its claims of being justified) also eased the fear
of contact with foreigners. Whereas the mood before the war had been
rather against mixed residence, this changed and more favorable arguments
were heard again. Moreover, especially in the period of postwar economic
stagnation, the “introduction of foreign investment” (gaishi yu’nyū) became
particularly attracted to the notoriously undercapitalized Japanese industry,
which began to lobby heavily for the speedy introduction of mixed
residence, helping to make it possible.58 Thus, when mixed residence was
finally introduced, it could be said that both pride and necessity had won
over prejudice, and that race was hardly the issue.
Mixed Residence with Chinese
The Chinese, as previously mentioned, constituted the single largest group
of foreigners in Japan, the majority of which resided in the two largest treaty
ports, Yokohama and Kōbe.59 Although their numbers were diminutive
compared to the overall Japanese population, political relations with China
and the image projected on the Chinese made the issue of mixed residence
with Chinese the most controversial in the debate, which even continued
after the settlement of all other mixed residence issues.
Japan had concluded the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with China in
1871, and it was in fact the first fully equal treaty with a foreign country, as
it granted every privilege in reciprocity, notably the privilege of
extraterritoriality. However, in the following decades, Japan actively
challenged China’s political position in East Asia, and this competition also
further polarized the image of the Chinese in Japan. Thus, as early as the
Tokugawa period, China constituted the essential Other upon which the
Japanese projected the image of their own country, often by simple
inversion.60 This did not change in the Meiji Period, and as late as 1899,
Tokutomi Sohō wrote: “I think that there are quite a lot of things which
our Japanese people should learn from our neighbor’s people. After all,
what they lack, we have, and what we are weak in, is their strength.
However, their points of strength are not just one or two.”61
As to the ratio of what China lacked and Japan had (and vice versa),
opinions of course differed. The picture of a weak and stagnant China,
which had existed prior to the advent of the Western powers in East Asia,
was reinforced by China’s defeats at the hands of the British and French
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Race without Supremacy
and by the “orientalized” picture of China in the West.62 In daily practice,
this image resulted in discrimination against Chinese people in Japan,
especially for their “bad habits” which, of course, had all the characteristics
universally attributed to socially discriminated groups (e.g., lack of hygiene,
stinginess, lack of education and morals), but also some unique features
such as addiction to opium and a total dedication to earning money, which
suggested ruthless materialism.63 The latter resulted, in part, from jealously
of the many well-off Chinese merchants residing in Japan prior to the SinoJapanese War who monopolized trade with China.64
However, the image of the Chinese also had a positive side, although the
effect of this is open to debate as well, as it struck even more fear in the
hearts of Japanese. Thus, Tokutomi Sohō continued the above quote by
enumerating the strengths of the Chinese people as follows: absolute
reliability in commercial transactions, resilience and perseverance in the
face of adverse circumstances and hostile environments, strong bonding
power that allows them to draw on existing networks wherever they go,
and finally the ability to make coolheaded and well-calculated decisions
even in critical situations.65
This, of course, depicted the perfect merchant roving the globe.
Combined with the negative side, it very much resembled the image of Jews
in Europe, certainly a conscious rather than coincidental likening. Thus,
in concluding a passage in a chapter on what the Japanese should learn
from the Chinese, Tokutomi Sohō made the following observation which,
to a great degree, turned the positive aspects of this image of the Chinese
into a threat:
If China is being partitioned and will be effaced as the Chinese empire
from the political map, the influence of the Chinese race in the world
from that time on will increase even further. Once the Chinese, like
the Jews, will have lost their state, there is absolutely no doubt that,
like them, they will become parasites in every country of the world
and will exercise their pressure and beneficence on the country where
they temporarily reside in, at times as workers, at times as financiers,
and at times as traders.
In any case, numerically speaking, they are fifty times more than
the Jews. How much more horrendous then must be their racial
characteristics, which makes the world tremble?66
Thus, Japanese contemporaries not only made use of the “orientalized”
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Urs Matthias Zachmann
Western image of China, but also of European anti-Semitism to describe
their tense relationship with the Chinese.67 Since the Chinese (either
through Christian missionaries or Japanese literature) knew this negative
image of Jews well, the comparison must have been considerably galling.68
In his “Guide to the Implementation of the New Treaties” (1898/99),
Hara Takashi observed that the population opposed Chinese mixed
residence firstly because it feared that masses of Chinese laborers would
flood the Japanese market and, being cheap, drive out the Japanese from
their jobs.69 Secondly, they feared that the Chinese, with their shrewd
business sense, would eventually monopolize Japan’s economy, and thirdly,
that the bad customs and habits of the Chinese would debase Japanese
society.70 Thus, Hara observed that a majority still favored expelling the
Chinese altogether rather than integrating them even with limitations (a
view which Hara did not share).
Hara wrote at a time when the fate of the Chinese in Japan was still open
to debate. Thus, whereas Japan concluded new treaties in 1894, the SinoJapanese War in the same year voided the Sino-Japanese Treaty of
Friendship and Commerce, and consequently extraterritoriality of the
Chinese was rescinded, although limitations on residence and movement
remained in place according to the new Japanese law.71 As a result, the
question of whether or not Japan should grant mixed residence to every
nation but the Chinese remained in 1899. Hara argued for granting mixed
residence to the Chinese as well, and significant within the context of
Japan’s immigration and colonial policies, the main thrust of his argument
was based on “cultural assimilation”. Thus he wrote:
As a general rule in man’s world, the minority does not take the
majority for its enemy. … Therefore, if—like in some places abroad or
in our treaty ports—one segregates the Chinese completely from the
citizens and keeps them locked in, that is exactly the reason why their
customs and habits will be transmitted to their descendants as they
are. However, if not, and they are granted free residence and made to
live in the interior, then those Chinese will be influenced by our
customs, but our people will not be influenced by theirs. Even if we
look at the present state of Taiwan, although the Chinese clearly are
in the majority, even now it is not hard to discern a tendency that they
are gradually being influenced by our customs.72
Thus Hara argued for “assimilating” the Chinese and thereby elevating
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Race without Supremacy
them to a higher level of civilization. The government, although apparently
divided on the question (the Department of the Interior opposed, the
Foreign Ministry favored Chinese mixed residence),73 eventually leaned
towards Hara’s opinion and lifted the limitations on free movement and
residence for Chinese, albeit with considerable exceptions for “foreign
workers” (meaning Chinese), who had to get an official permit to stay and
work in Japan’s interior.
Mixed Residence with Koreans
The strict treatment and the rather negative image of the Chinese in Japan
contrasts starkly with the case of the Koreans. In fact, since there existed no
treaty that specifically regulated the presence of Koreans in the Japanese
interior (the Kanghwa Treaty of 1876 only regulating the Japanese presence
in Korea), Koreans could move freely in the country.74 Hara in his “Guide”
argued that the liberal treatment stemmed from Japan’s wish to “support
Korea” and lead it onto the path of civilization.75 Moreover, one is struck by
the extremely positive image which Hara reports that the Koreans have
among the Japanese population:
Fortunately, our people do not have such feelings against the Koreans
as they have against the Chinese, and there has until now arisen no
objection against them living among us. Although there are at present
only a few of them here, if more Korean workers will be employed,
there will be no need to change this situation even after the
implementation of the New Treaties. Moreover, although I don’t think
that the Koreans are faultless in their nature, they don’t have such bad
habits as the Chinese do and also not such evil customs as other
barbarian people. Especially if seen from the legal point of view, since
they are second to none when it comes to obedience to the law, there
is absolutely no objection to give them all the rights and privileges we
have given other [Western] foreigners.76
One could argue that the liberal treatment and relatively positive image resulted from the fact that so few Koreans lived in Japan compared to
Chinese. However, the situation did not change even after Korea had
become a full-fledged colony of Japan in 1910. In fact, one can safely
surmise that the positive image of Koreans in Japan related closely to
Japan’s policy toward Korea itself, as will be shown presently.
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Urs Matthias Zachmann
Racism in Japan’s Colonial Policies
Japan’s drive to territorial expansion in the nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries is generally seen as motivated by two factors.77 First, there was the
overall concern for Japan’s insular security. In the age of Social Darwinism,
it was taken for granted that empires as much as individuals followed the
principle of “the survival of the fittest”—which in Japanese was aptly
rendered by the classical phrase “the flesh of the weak is meat for the strong”
(jakuniku kyōshoku)—and would either expand like the European powers,
or fall prey to territorial division by the other powers, potentially China.
Whatever one might think of Japan’s real endangerment in hindsight,
military leaders such as Yamagata Aritomo soon developed the doctrine
that Japan must establish a cordon of sovereignty around its borders. The
annexation of Taiwan in 1895 hardly aligned with this argument, as it did not
add much—apart from about 2.5 million new subjects—to Japan’s security.
However, since Taiwan was the bounty of the Sino-Japanese War, this
decision resulted more from political expediency than strategic rationale.78
Japan saw Korea under foreign influence, on the other hand, as a dagger
pointed eternally at its throat. Thus, when Japan erected a protectorate over
Korea in 1905 and annexed it formally in 1910, the acquisition of the new
colony with about 30 million subjects marked a major step in Japan’s
security strategy, but, of course, also helped the country establish itself as a
“respectable” colonial empire in the eyes of the European powers.79
The second factor that informed the thrust of Japan’s territorial
expansion was the presence of the European powers in East Asia and their
opposition to Japan’s policies. Apart from the fact that the European powers
distrusted Japan’s motives toward China, they were considerably invested
in China themselves. Thus, the racialized opposition to a Sino-Japanese
alliance also served as a convenient cloak to hide Europe’s own interests in
expansion. Consequently, Japanese scenarios of expansion always avoided
the main body of China and either pointed northward to Korea and
Manchuria (the “northern advance” favored by the army), or southward
from Taiwan to Southern China and Southeast Asia (the “southern
advance” favored by the navy).80
The above factors also shaped Japan’s colonial policy with respect to the
issue of racism. Firstly, since Japan hoped colonies would enhance its prestige
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Race without Supremacy
in the eyes of the European powers, the colonial bureaucracy diligently studied
the successful models of European colonial rule and applied their findings to
Taiwan and Korea (in this respect, the formulation of colonial policy resembled
that of the early Meiji reforms).81 As Japan based this “scientific colonialism” on
Western theories of colonialism which, despite a considerable latitude in
content, were all predicated on “difference” reflecting the geographic diversity
of homeland and colonies, it is no surprise that the Japanese colonial
bureaucracy—although ruling geographically adjacent territories—usually
assumed a similarly detached view of their subjects, often declaring them members of a wholly different (and inferior) race.82 Thus colonial bureaucrats
favored the gradualist approach, which envisioned the development of the
colonies over many generations, but also tended to favor the status quo.
On the other hand, Japan’s move into geographically contiguous regions
also favored the early development of an expansionist ideology that stressed
cultural and genetic affinities with colonized peoples.83 Although theories of
the mixed origins of the Japanese had existed prior to the Sino-Japanese War
and even dominated academic circles, they gained wider currency in the
public soon after the annexation of Taiwan and experienced a tremendous
boost with the acquisition of Korea. These theories, although almost
limitless in their variety and fantasy, consciously opposed an isolationist
theory of the Japanese as a homogeneous, “pure blooded” nation and
explained in “scientific” terms why the Japanese, as a hybrid nation, had a
natural inclination to immerse themselves in their origins and were ideally
fit to move beyond them.84 Thus, almost all of these theories supposed that
the Japanese nation was a composite of a northern and a southern element,
the ratio of which was determined by the proponent’s inclination to favor the
“northern” or the “southern advance.”85 Conveniently, the most dominant
theory saw Japan’s origins as integrated in an empire that included South
Korea and Southern China, and ruled by the ancestors of the Japanese
emperor.86 Not surprisingly, these theories elaborated more on Japan’s
affinities with the 30 million subjects in Korea than the 2.5 million
Taiwanese. Consequently, it became generally accepted that Japanese and
Koreans shared the same ancestors (Nissen dōso ron).87 Only after Japan’s
occupation of Manchuria in 1931 and the beginning of the Sino-Japanese
War in 1937 (also a propaganda war) did a concerted effort to win over the
Chinese begin.88 Thus, differing sympathies for the Chinese and the Koreans
in domestic politics had their parallels in varying degrees of necessity to
accommodate Chinese and Japanese in colonial policies.
As in its immigration policies, the Japanese government opted for
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Urs Matthias Zachmann
assimilation (dōka) rather than segregation of its colonial subjects.89 Consequently, the existing or alleged affinities between Japan and her colonial
people, to quote Mark Peattie, “made possible the idea of a fusion of the two
and suggested that ultimately Japanese colonial territories had no separate
autonomous identities of their own, but only a destiny which was entirely
Japan.”90 However, such an idea was not uncontroversial. Apart from
introducing assimilation policies which concerned the outer vestiges of
colonial life, such as on life style and language, colonial bureaucrats tended to
oppose the idea on the principle of their gradualist beliefs, but even more so
because they wanted to preserve the status quo and avoid granting privileges
to the new citizens. Eugenicists in later stages of the Japanese empire opposed
the promiscuous identity of a mixed nation in theory and of assimilation
policies in practice, as they endangered the assumed “pure-bloodedness” of
the Japanese nation.91 By then, Japanese eugenicists had taken account of the
ascent of the Japanese empire and assumed the superiority of the Japanese
race, thereby taking the opposite stance of their predecessors in the mixednation debate. However, since insistence on homogeneity severely limited
expansion prospects, it remained the stance of a minority.
Finally, although this section focused on racism in the “discourse” of
policies, and not in actual colonial rule, it should be cautioned that, for all
the ostentatious racial egalitarianism of Japan’s colonial policies, colonial
citizens did not enjoy the same rights and privilege as their homeland
compatriots. As expected, lofty professions of affinity did not translate into
full citizenship, and severe discrimination persisted on grounds that the
colonial subjects were “not yet” ready for the full rights of a civilized citizen.
Moreover, the number of intermarriages between Koreans and Japanese in
Korea remained low for a long time and only rose significantly with official
sponsorship of intermarriage after 1937.92 This shows that despite the rhetoric of assimilation and racial equality, in practice social prejudice still
imposed severe limitations. Thus, the colonial situation in many ways
reflected the problem of foreigners at home, and vice versa.
Based on the above findings, the following conclusions can be drawn regarding Japanese attitudes toward racism in the late Meiji period. Although
“race” as a scientific notion was known well enough in Japan and even
accepted in some academic circles, by and large its implications for the
political realm were rejected. Those who did accept the Western racial
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Race without Supremacy
taxonomy belonged to a vociferous minority among Japan’s intellectual elite
(such as Katō Hiroyuki, Inoue Tetsujirō, or Hozumi Yatsuka) who had been
exposed most and directly to European civilization. As a result, they
showed strong symptoms of overcompensation or “over-assimilation” to
the European standard. Only for them does the traditional view of a literal
translation of European racism into the Japanese context hold true.93
The rejection of European racism was, of course, not a matter of beliefs
and morals, but of political expediency. As a rule of thumb, whenever
exclusion or inclusion by racialist designation threatened an important
Japanese political agenda, racism was rejected. However, whenever
inclusion or exclusion were indifferent or served a purpose, then discrimination entered political practice; in such cases drawing a line to racism, in
fact, becomes a problem of definition.
Thus, Japan in its relations with the Western powers rejected racism, as
it threatened Japan’s rise to “great power” status and peaceful expansion
through labor emigration. Instead, Japan insisted on the validity of the
standard of civilization. By the same token, Japan lifted all restrictions on
free movement and residence for citizens of European Treaty nations in
1899. All of this did not prevent the Western nations, of course, from
continuing racist practices, or practices that “felt” racist to the Japanese
public. The best-known instance of this was the rejection of Japan’s motion
for a so-called “racial equality clause” in the Covenant of the League of
Nations in 1919.94 However, U.S. immigration policies toward Japan
arguably left the deepest imprint on Japanese public memory: traumatically for the Japanese, Congress passed a selective immigration bill in 1924
which effectively voided the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907 and included
the Japanese with other Asiatics as “undesirable aliens.”95
Likewise, Japanese colonial policies toward Korea and Taiwan
downplayed the exclusive aspect of racism and insisted on the enforced
cultural assimilation of its subjects, although this did not go hand-in-hand
with an enhancement of legal status. Again, colonial high bureaucrats
steeped in the lore of Western colonial theory tended to insist on difference,
which was also racially defined. However, it could be argued that the
Japanese dogma of “common ancestors” with the Koreans, although not
exclusive, was no less “racist” in the opposite direction. Typically, racism
would result in the “exclusion” of a group, which at the same time would
privilege another in the allocation of resources and services. However, the
above dogma intended to “include” 30 million (unwilling) Koreans
theoretically, if not actually, with the 40 million “motherland” Japanese in
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Urs Matthias Zachmann
the Japanese nation, and did not concern itself with other groups. Thus, it
is open to debate whether forceful “inclusion” of a group should fall under
the definition of “racism” as well.
In contrast to Japanese attitudes toward Koreans, their attitudes toward
the Chinese —evident in political indifference toward inclusion, accommodation in international politics, and resistance to domestic opposition
groups through colonial policy—tipped the balance toward discriminatory
immigration policies. However, it is difficult to decide whether this was
also accompanied, if not driven, by “racialist” prejudice. The use of antiSemitism branding the Chinese as “constitutive outsiders”96 may point in
this direction, although this alone does not reveal how far the analogy was
intended to carry.
On the other hand, such statements as Hara Takashi’s advocacy of
“influencing” the Chinese and leading them toward civilization invoke the
same assimilationist strategy pursued in colonial policies, i.e., enforced
inclusion on the level of “civilization.” Although some may want to belittle
this as political “cant,” which it might have been in many cases of practical
application, it cannot be so facilely disowned on principle, for several reasons:
firstly, for the fact that the Japanese leaders held onto assimilation as the
official policy even against the vehement critique and resistance of the
colonial bureaucracy and against Western precedent; secondly, the general
tendency to reject the tenets of racism in political discourse in modern times;
and finally (and probably most profoundly) the premodern interactions with
China and Korea which, in the context of the Sino-centric international order,
were ideologically predicated on civilization only.97 Although path
dependence itself is not a sufficient argument, combined with the other
reasons, one is inclined to view Japanese attitudes in dealing with “other”
people based on what must be termed “culturalism” rather than racism.98
1. Robert Miles, Racism (London, 1989), 3, 77–84; on the growth of the term, see 41–
68. See also Pierre L. van den Berghe, Race and Racism: A Comparative Perspective,
2nd ed. (New York, 1978).
2. Miles, Racism, 31, 36.
3. Ibid., 42.
4. Ibid., 2, 25.
5. Mark Peattie, “The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1895–1945,” in The Cambridge History of Japan, edited by Peter Duus (Cambridge, 1988), 6: 217.
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Race without Supremacy
6. Michael Weiner, “The Invention of Identity: Race and Nation in Pre-War Japan,”
in The Construction of Racial Identities in China and Japan: Historical and
Contemporary Perspectives, edited by Frank Dikötter (London, 1997), 104.
7. Weiner, “Invention of Identity,” 110; for an alternative view, see Kazuki Sato, “‘Same
Language, Same Race’: The Dilemma of Kanbun in Modern Japan” in Construction
of Racial Identities, 118–35, and Eiji Oguma, A Genealogy of ‘Japanese’ Self-images,
trans. David Askew (Melbourne, 2002). Note that Japanese names in the main text
and for citing authors of Japanese-language publications are given in the Japanese
order, i.e., family name first. Japanese authors of English publications, however,
are given in the order as their publishers chose to do so, i.e., family name last.
8. Miles, Racism, 3.
9. See, for example, Richard Siddle, “The Ainu and the Discourse of ‘Race,’” in
Construction of Racial Identites, 136–57.
10. Eikoh Shimao, “Darwinism in Japan, 1877–1927,” Annals of Science 38, no. 1
(1981): 93; on the introduction of Darwinism to Japan, see also Hiroshi Unoura,
“Samurai Darwinism: Hiroyuki Katō and the Reception of Darwin’s Theory in
Modern Japan from the 1880s to the 1900s,” History and Anthropology 11, no. 2–3
(1999): 235–55; Watanabe Masao, Dâwin to shinka-ron (Darwin and evolutional
theory) (Tokyo, 1984), 192–210.
11. Shimao, “Darwinism in Japan,” 97; of the Origins of Species alone, Shimao counts
eleven full translations to have appeared by 1963, see 98.
12. Unoura, “Samurai Darwinism,” 239.
13. For the study of eugenics in Japan, see Sumiko Otsubo, “The Female Body and
Eugenic Thought in Meiji Japan,” in Building a Modern Nation: Science, Technology,
and Medicine in the Meiji Era and Beyond, edited by Morris Lowe (New York,
2005), 61–81; Oguma, Genealogy, 203–36.
14. Michio Nagai, “Herbert Spencer in Early Meiji Japan,” The Far Eastern Quarterly
14, no. 1 (1954): 55. Nagai counts at least thirty-two translations of Spencer’s work
between 1877 and 1900. See also Douglas Howland, “Society Reified: Herbert
Spencer and Political Theory in Early Meiji Japan,” Comparative Studies in Society
and History, 42, no. 1 (2000): 67–86; Yamashita Jun’ichi, Supensâ to Nihon kindai
(Spencer and Japan’s Modernity) (Tokyo, 1983).
15. Nagai, “Herbert Spencer,” 57.
16. John Bowle places the whole discussion of political thought in the latter half of the
nineteenth century under the caption: “The political thought of the age of Darwin.”
On Spencer’s eminent position, see his Politics and Opinion in the Nineteenth
Century (London, 1954), 224–36.
17. The lecture was later published as Jinshu tetsugaku kōgai (An outline of racial
philosophy) (Tokyo, 1903).
18. Ibid., 63–65.
19. Ibid., 67.
20. On these treaties, see Harald Kleinschmidt, Das europäische Völkerrecht und die
ungleichen Verträge um die Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts (Tokyo, 2007).
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21976 12:34:56 UTC
All use subject to
Urs Matthias Zachmann
21. For a description of the extraterritoriality system in operation, see J.E. Hoare,
Japan’s Treaty Ports and Foreign Settlements: The Uninvited Guests, 1858–1899
(Sandgate, UK, 1994), 66–105.
22. For Japanese intellectuals’ reactions to the treaty revisions, see Kenneth B. Pyle,
The New Generation in Meiji Japan: Problems of Cultural Identity, 1885–1895
(Stanford, 1969), 99–117.
23. Gerrit W. Gong, The Standard of ‘Civilization’ in International Society (Oxford,
1984), 14–21, 25–35.
24. “The Japanese Treaties,” New York Times, 12 June 1895. Of course, Britain’s
willingness to sign a new treaty was also an attempt to win Japan’s favor as a
counterweight to Russia in East Asia. This eventually resulted in the AngloJapanese Treaty of 1902.
25. For this, see S.M.C. Paine, The Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895: Perceptions, Power
and Primacy (Cambridge, 2003).
26. “Kōshoku jinshu no bokkō,” Kokumin shinbun, 8 July 1895, 3.
27. Heinz Gollwitzer, Die Gelbe Gefahr: Geschichte eines Schlagworts (Göttingen, 1962),
206–8. On the history of the keyword, see also Ute Mehnert, Deutschland, Amerika
und die „Gelbe Gefahr“: Zur Karriere eines Schlagworts in der Großen Politik 1905–
1917 (Stuttgart, 1995).
28. “Tōyō, Seiyō o osou no zu” (“A picture of the East attacking the West”), Kokumin
shinbun, 8 January 1896, 3.
29. M.P. Shiel, The Yellow Danger (London, 1998). The novel was initially serialized
under the title “The Empress of the Earth” (meaning Britain) in the all-fiction
weekly Short Stories in 1898, and went into several reprints after.
30. See the review of Shiel’s novel, “Recent Novels,” The Times, 13 September 1898,
31. William L. Langer, The Diplomacy of Imperialism, 2nd ed. (New York, 1965), 417.
32. On racism as a limitation to the historical “standard of civilization,” see Gong,
Standard of ‘Civilization’, 48–50. On racism as a persistent factor in international
politics, see R.J. Vincent, “Race in International Relations,” International Affairs
(Royal Institute of International Affairs) 58, no. 4 (1982): 658–670.
33. For such a reaction, see for example the journalist Kuga Katsunan’s (1857–1907)
commentary “Sekai bunmei no shogai” (Obstacles to universal civilization),
Nippon, 11 February 1898. It should be noted that the particular “values” which
constituted civilization were open to discussion; however, that such a standard
existed and applied universally was not controversial in Japan.
34. Konoe Atsumaro, “Dō-jinshu dōmei, tsuketari Shina mondai kenkyū no hitsuyō”
(“A racial alliance and the necessity of studying the Chinese Question”), reprinted
in Konoe Atsumaro nikki (The diary of Konoe Atsumaro), edited by Konoe
Atsumaro nikki kankō-kai (Tokyo, 1968–69), 5: 62–63.
35. For a detailed analysis of the reactions, domestic and international, see Urs
Matthias Zachmann, China’s Role in the Process of Japan’s Cultural Self276
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Race without Supremacy
Identification, 1895–1904 (Ph.D. diss., University of Heidelberg, 2006), 141–49.
36. For an example, see the letter of Nakamura Shingo to Konoe in Konoe Atsumaro
nikki 2: 47–52.
37. For a short portrait of Konoe’s person and positions, see Marius B. Jansen, “Konoe
Atsumaro,” in The Chinese and the Japanese: Essays in Political and Cultural
Interaction, edited by Akira Iriye (Princeton, 1980), 107–23.
38. On this, see Douglas R. Reynolds, China, 1898–1912: The Xingzheng Revolution
and China (Cambridge, MA, 1993); Marius B. Jansen, The Japanese and Sun Yatsen (Cambridge, MA, 1967).
39. Yamagata Aritomo, Yamagata Aritomo ikensho (The opinion papers of Yamagata
Aritomo), edited by Ōyama Azusa (Tokyo, 1966), 251–53.
40. Ibid., 252–53.
41. See Robert B. Valliant, “The Selling of Japan: Japanese Manipulation of Western
Opinion, 1900–1905,” Monumenta Nipponica 29, no. 4 (1974): 415–38.
42. On the discourse on Japanese “peaceful expansion,” see Akira Iriye, Pacific
Estrangement: Japanese and American Expansion, 1897–1911 (Cambridge, MA,
43. “Japan (From our Correspondent),” The North-China Herald, 25 July 1900,
reprinted in Gaikoku shinbun ni miru Nihon (Japan as seen through foreign
newspapers), edited by Kokusai nyūsu jiten shuppan iinkai (Tokyo, 1989–1993), 3:
44. As of 1894, see Iwakabe Yoshimitsu, “Nisshin senji hōka no zainichi Chūgoku-jin
mondai” (The legal problem of Chinese residing in Japan during the first SinoJapanese War), in Nisshin sensō to Higashi-Ajia sekai no hen’yō (The first
Sino-Japanese war and the transformation of East-Asia), edited by Higashi-Ajia
kindai-shi gakkai (Tokyo, 1997), 2: 207.
45. See, for example, Kuga Katsunan, “Naichi kanshō-ron” (On intervention in
domestic politics), Nippon, 22 August to 5 September 1889, reprinted in Kuga
Katsunan zenshū (The Collected Works of Kuga Katsunan), edited by Nishida
Taketoshi et al. (Tokyo, 1968–1985), 2: 197–221. It should be cautioned that the
protest against intervention was often wielded as a weapon against the “oligarchic
politicians” by playing the national card, and thus was motivated by purely political
concerns. However, the case of Tane Tateki (Kanjō, 1837–1911), who left the
cabinet in protest against its treaty policies, shows that there was also genuine
concern (Kuga Katsunan, in consequence, became a supporter of Tani, and vice
46. “Minpō idete chūkō horobu”: this is the title of Hazumi’s well-known diatribe
against the French draft of the family and inheritance law section of the Code. See
Oguma, Genealogy, 35.
47. “Gaijin zakkyo-chū,” Yubin hōchi shinbun, 4 November 1877, reprinted in Maeda
Ai and Shimizu Mikio, Jiyū minken-ki no manga (Tokyo, 1985), 14.
48. David Duncan, Life and Letters of Herbert Spencer (London, 1908), 321 (emphasis
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Urs Matthias Zachmann
in the original).
49. For the arguments on “mixed residence” between Inoue and Taguchi before the
Sino-Japanese War, see Oguma, Genealogy, 16–30.
50. For this theory and Taguchi’s advocacy, see Oguma, Genealogy, 143–55. For another
specimen, see Morris Low, “The Japanese Nation and Evolution: W.E. Griffis,
“Hybridity and the Whiteness of the Japanese Race,” History and Anthropology 11, no.
2–3 (1999): 203–34.
51. Mori, Jinshu tetsugaku, 65.
52. “Nihon jinshu kairyō ron” (Tokyo, 1884). On Takahashi, see Otsubo, “The Female
Body and Eugenic Thought,” 63–64; Oguma, Genealogy, 143.
53. (Herbert Spencer quote): Letter to Kaneko Kentarō, August 1892, in Duncan, Life
and Letters, 322.
54. For this argument, see Otsubo, “The Female Body and Eugenic Thought,” 70.
55. Otsubo, “The Female Body and Eugenic Thought,” 65.
56. See Donald Keene, “The Sino-Japanese War of 1894–95 and Its Cultural Effects in
Japan,” in Tradition and Modernization in Japanese Culture, edited by Donald
Shively (Princeton, 1971), 121–75.
57. Tokutomi Sohō cited by James L. Huffman, Creating a Public: People and Press in
Meiji Japan (Honolulu, 1997), 212.
58. Thus, Hara Takashi’s guide to mixed residence for example, devoted only five
chapters (15–19) to the question of foreign enterprises in Japan and the
introduction of foreign investment. See his Shin-jōyaku jisshi junbi (Preparing for
the implementation of the New Treaties), 2nd ed. (Osaka, 1899).
59. See Iwakabe Yoshimitsu, “Nisshin senji hōka,” 207. For exact numbers, see Noriko
Kamachi, “The Chinese in Meiji Japan: Their Interactions with the Japanese before
the Sino-Japanese War,” in The Chinese and the Japanese, 60–61.
60. See Harry D. Harootunian, “The Functions of China in Tokugawa Thought,” in
The Chinese and the Japanese, 9–36.
61. Tokutomi Sohō, Shakai to jinbutsu (Society and people) (Tokyo, 1899), 81.
62. See Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi, “Opium, Expulsion, Sovereignty. China’s Lessons for
Bakumatsu Japan,” Monumenta Nipponica 47, no. 1 (1992): 1–25; on the impact of
the Sino-French War 1884–85, see Sushila Narsimhan, Japanese Perceptions of
China in the Nineteenth Century: Influence of Fukuzawa Yukichi (New Delhi, 1999),
106–16. On Japan’s internalization of the Western China-image, see Zachmann,
China’s Role, 49–52.
63. On the discrimination of Chinese, see Kamachi, “The Chinese in Meiji Japan,” 62–
63, 66; Keene, “The Sino-Japanese War of 1894–95 and Its Cultural Effects in
Japan,” 138. For an example of denouncing the Chinese as opium smokers, see
Hara, Shin-jōyaku jisshi junbi, 60.
64. See Kamachi, “The Chinese in Meiji Japan,” 66.
65. Tokutomi, Shakai to jinbutsu, 81–84.
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Race without Supremacy
66. Tokutomi, Shakai to jinbutsu, 85. For other explicit comparisons of Chinese with
Jews, see Yamagata Aritomo’s opinion paper as quoted above or the chapter
“Yūdaijin” (Jews) in the essay collection Sanshi suimei (The Glory of Nature),
edited by Kuga Katsunan (Tokyo, 1897), 186–193, esp. 192. Judging by the style,
this text was written by Miyake Setsurei (1860–1945).
67. For the role of anti-Semitism in Japan in general, see David G. Goodman, “AntiSemitism in Japan: Its History and Current Implications,” in The Construction of
Racial Identities, 177–98.
68. See Zhou Xun, “Youtai: The Myth of the ‘Jew’ in Modern China,” in The
Construction of Racial Identities, 53–74. As Xun mentions, Liang Qichao, for
example, lived for many years in Japan and was a major force in introducing
Japanese knowledge to China.
69. Hara, Shin-jōyaku jisshi junbi, 57–58. See also Matsuoka Bunpei, “Reimei-ki rōdō
kumiai undō no tokushitsu: ‘Rōdō sekai’ to Chūgoku zakkyo mondai” (“The
characteristics of the early labor movement: the magazine ‘Rōdō sekai’ [The working
world] and the Chinese mixed residence problem”), Shisen 48 (1974): 15–32.
70. Hara, Shin-jōyaku jisshi junbi, 59–61. See also “Shinajin no naichi zakkyo” (Mixed
residence of Chinese), Jiji shinpō, 27 February 1894, 2.
71. For details, see Matsuoka, “Reimei-ki rōdō kumiai,” 18; Hara, Shin-jōyaku jisshi
junbi, 52–55.
72. Hara, Shin-jōyaku jisshi junbi, 60–61.
73. Matsuoka, “Reimei-ki rōdō kumiai,” 22.
74. Hara, Shin-jōyaku jisshi junbi, 62.
75. Ibid., 63.
76. Ibid., 63.
77. Peattie, “The Japanese Colonial Empire,” 218–23.
78. Edward I-te Chen, “Japan’s Decision to Annex Taiwan: A Study of Mutō-Itō
Diplomacy,” Journal of Asian Studies 37, no. 1 (1977): 62.
79. On this process, see Peter Duus, The Abacus and the Sword: The Japanese
Penetration of Korea, 1895–1910 (Berkeley, 1995), 201–41.
80. On the debate between hokushin and nanshin advocates, see Hata Ikuhiko,
“Continental Expansion, 1905–1941,” in Cambridge History of Japan, 6: 271–76.
81. For the “European impress,” see Mark Peattie, “Japanese Attitudes Toward
Colonialialism, 1895–1945,” in The Japanese Colonial Empire, 1895–1945, edited by
Ramon H. Myers and Mark R. Peattie (Princeton, 1984), 82–96.
82. Peattie, “Japanese Attitudes Toward Colonialism, 1895–1945,” 95–96.
83. This is the central argument of Oguma, Genealogy, 321.
84. For a detailed description of the theories in the Meiji period, see Oguma,
Genealogy, 3–92.
85. However, in times when the “northern advance” was the politically predominant
opinion, favoring the “southern” theory could also mean taking a proto-pacifistic,
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
Urs Matthias Zachmann
isolationist stance, as in the case of the famous ethnographer Yanagita Kunio
(1875–1962), see Oguma, Genealogy, 175–202.
Ibid., 73–75.
Ibid., 64–80.
See Akira Iriye, China and Japan in the Global Setting (Cambridge, MA, 1992), 74–88.
For a discussion of assimilation policies, see Peattie, “Japanese Attitudes Toward
Colonialism, 1895–1945,” 96–103.
Ibid., 96.
On the position of eugenicists toward colonial policies, see Oguma, Genealogy,
According to Oguma, as late as 1925 the annual rate of marriages was only 404; by
1937, the number had risen to above 1,200 couples. See his Genealogy, 206.
See Weiner, “Invention of Identity,” 102.
See Ōnuma Yasuaki, “Haruka naru jinshu byōdō no risō: Kokusai renmeikiyaku e
no jinshu byōdō jōki teian ti Nihon no kokusaihō-kan” (The remote ideal of racial
equality: the proposition of a racial equality clause to the Covenant of the League
of Nations and Japan’s view on international law), in Kokusaihō, Kokusai Rengō to
Nihon (International Law, the League of Nations, and Japan), edited by Ōnuma
Yasuaki (Tokyo, 1987), 427–80; Naoko Shimazu, Japan, Race and Equality: The
Race Equality Proposal of 1919 (London, 1998).
Ian Nish, Japanese Foreign Policy: Kasumigaseki to Miyakezaka (London, 1977), 144;
on the San Francisco School debate of 1906, which eventually led to the Second
Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907, see Mehnert, Deutschland, Amerika und die “Gelbe
Gefahr,” 82–87. See also Roger Daniels, The Politics of Prejudice: The Anti-Japanese
Movement in California and the Struggle for Japanese Exclusion (Berkeley, 1962).
See Xun, “Youtai,” 54.
On culture as the ideological foundation of relations in the Sino-centric world
order, see John K. Fairbank and S.Y. Teng, “On the Ch’ing Tributary System,”
Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 6, no. 2 (1941): 137–39. Japan may have excluded
itself from the political order, but certainly not from its cultural foundations, see
Marius B. Jansen, China in the Tokugawa World (Cambridge, Mass., 1992) and
Ronald P. Toby, State and Diplomacy in Early Modern Japan: Asia in the
Development of the Tokugawa Bakufu (Stanford, 1984).
For a similar assessment of Japanese attitudes, see Sato Kazuki, “‘Same Language,
Same Race’: The Dilemma of Kanbun in Modern Japan,” in Construction of Racial
Identities in China and Japan, 135.
This content downloaded from on Wed, 27 Oct 2021 16:47:21 UTC
All use subject to
The Historical Journal, ,  (), pp. – © Cambridge University Press 
P. E. C A Q U E T
Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge
This article explores whether the British decision-makers and public were conscious of
the habit-forming nature of opium at the time of the Chinese war of –, the First Opium War.
While most political historians have assumed that the British authorities understood the nature of the
drug, social historians argue that notions of addiction only arose, in Britain, at the end of the nineteenth century. Examining the abundant press, pamphlet, and parliamentary literature generated by
the war debate, this article examines in what terms opium use was characterized. It considers the
groups that intervened on both sides of the debate and draws lessons from the arguments they deployed
for and against the war. Situating the source literature within the context of early Victorian values
and mores, finally, it argues that the British leaders and political nation were aware of the drug’s
habit-forming properties. Not only was it widely recognized that it was something dangerous that
was being introduced, at the point of a gun, into China, but there can be said to have existed, in
Britain, a layman’s notion of drug addiction.
The term ‘Opium War’ was popularized by opposition newspapers such as the
Tory Morning Herald and the Chartist Northern Star, and it was meant in an unambiguously pejorative sense, a war begun by ‘opium smugglers’ and ‘pestiferous smuggling rascals’. Hotly contested in the parliamentary debate that soon
followed, it became a tool for denouncing the hypocrisy and the callousness
of Britain’s intended attack on China. That it has become the established
label for the Anglo-Chinese war of – is proof, indeed, both of the vitality
of the original controversy around the war and the endurance of the case made
by its opponents.
In , British naval forces opened informal hostilities on Chinese military
units in what would erupt in the following year into a full-scale conflict between
Britain and the Chinese empire, a conflict that lasted until the signature of the
Gonville & Caius College, Trinity Street, Cambridge, CB TA pc
* I am grateful to Michael Ledger-Lomas for his suggestions, encouragement, and comments on drafts of this article. I presented this paper at Jilin University, Changchun, and at
Cambridge in , and I would like to thank the attendees and organizers for their
support and input.
Treaty of Nanjing in . British and Parsee merchants were selling increasing
quantities of opium at Canton and on the South China coast, or rather smuggling in this opium against Chinese law. The opium, originating in Britishruled India and the principalities, was produced or bought wholesale under
monopoly, a practice which earned the East India Company significant
revenue. The clash itself was triggered by the confiscation under threat of a
large inventory of opium by a high-level Chinese official, commissioner Lin
Zexu, at Canton. The war was the first step in the partial colonization of
China, leading to the establishment of Hong Kong, and it remains a landmark
in Chinese history, ushering in, in the national historiography, China’s modern
era. Alongside its importance in international history, however, the episode
raises fundamental questions as to the status of opium in Britain itself.
Political historians have typically assumed that the British authorities understood the nature of the drug they were peddling. In accounts such as Brian
Inglis’s The Opium War, Peter Ward Fay’s book of the same name, Jack
Beeching’s The Chinese Opium Wars, or Glenn Melancon’s Britain’s China policy
and the opium crisis, for example, opium is effectively treated as a drug in the
twentieth-century sense of the term. An exception is Julia Lovell, in the
more recent The Opium War, who writes that there was prevailing ambiguity as
to opium’s properties and effects. Social historians, meanwhile, argue that
notions of drug addiction only arose, in Britain or Europe, towards the end
of the nineteenth century. In this view and in what has become known as the
‘disease theory of addiction’, it was the medical body that coined the modern
concept of addiction, having begun to classify habitual drug use as an illness,
a biological phenomenon beyond the patient’s control. Under this theory,
the concept also paved the way for institutionalization, at first voluntary
under the Habitual Drunkards Act of  but at last compulsory. In a creeping
process and in the context of rising societal pressures for control, this would
have led to penalization in the early twentieth century. Before that, opium
use was ‘regarded at worst as a minor vice’, and the opium user had a ‘romantically intriguing and picaresque persona’, to quote the words of Geoffrey

£– million a year net, according to Warren more than one tenth of total Company
revenue in India: Brian Inglis, The Opium War (London, ), p. ; Samuel Warren, The
opium question (London, ), pp. –. This does not include what the merchants themselves
were making, nor the duties collected on Chinese tea imports.

Inglis, The Opium War; Peter Ward Fay, The Opium War, – (Chapel Hill, NC,
); Jack Beeching, The Chinese Opium Wars (London, ); and Glenn Melancon,
Britain’s China policy and the opium crisis (Aldershot, ). Fay touches on contemporary contexts on pp. –.

Julia Lovell, The Opium War (London, ), pp. –. Lovell seems to take her cue from
the social historians, especially Berridge.

The Habitual Drunkards Act and successor Inebriates Act targeted alcoholism but also
covered drugs taken in liquid form, and their scope was extended in the ensuing decades.
Penalization was a multi-step process, but a landmark was the  Defence of the Realm
Act B.
Harding in Opiate addiction, morality, and medicine and Louise Foxcroft in The
making of addiction. As Virginia Berridge moreover notes in her magisterial
chronological survey, Opium and the people, the drug was legal, in the British
Isles, at the time of the Opium War. Aspirin having yet to be invented, it was
the only painkiller available. Eaten in pill form or mixed with wine to make laudanum, not smoked as in China, it was sold widely and retailed not just by doctors
and pharmacists but in grocery stores, and its distribution was neither regulated
nor subject to supervision.
Addiction itself remains a slippery term, a culturally bounded concept mixing
social and biological factors. As Berridge writes, nevertheless: ‘Addiction to
opiates may best be pictured as both a psychological and biological condition,
characterized by a desire to continue taking the drug in high dosage, a salience
of this drug-seeking drive over other life considerations, and a tendency to
relapse.’ To continue to paraphrase, habit is born both of the intensely pleasurable experience of opiate consumption and the repeated experience of the
pain of withdrawal. Beyond strictly medical definitions, addiction thus is and
was susceptible to a layman’s understanding in its basic characteristics.
This article explores whether and how far the British decision-makers and
public were conscious of the habit-forming nature of opium at the time of
the Chinese war. The disconnect between political and social narratives is
partly a question of focus: political historians have concentrated on events,
and social historians on the longer time frame, with emphasis on medical
sources. The First Opium War generated an abundant literature that has typically fallen outside the purview of historians of addiction: press, pamphlet, and
parliamentary materials, in particular, and archival correspondence and
memoirs. In the few years that the war lasted – or rather from  to ,
when a final motion to end the trade failed in parliament – opium was
written about far more than had been customary, and by a larger slice than
usual of the writing public. This article begins by examining how and in what
terms opium use was described, and whether this betrayed an understanding
of its habit-forming properties. Much of the Opium War literature was meanwhile tangled up with domestic politics and therefore slanted. While this asks
for careful treatment, it also enables a useful parsing for allegiance, especially
since the cabinet majority changed in the middle of the war. This article thus
considers, next, the people who made the case for and against the war,

Geoffrey Harding, Opiate addiction, morality, and medicine (Basingstoke, ), p. ; Louise
Foxcroft, The making of addiction (Aldershot, ), p. . See also Mike Jay, Emperors of dream:
drugs in the nineteenth century (Sawtry, ), pp. –; and Howard Padwa, Social poison
(Baltimore, MD, ), pp. –.

Virginia Berridge, Opium and the people (rd edn, London, ), pp. xxix and –.

In a third historiographical strand, literary criticism, addiction had been a known quantity
since the seventeenth century: Alethea Hayter, Opium and the Romantic imagination (London,
), pp. –.

Berridge, Opium and the people, p. .
seeking to draw lessons both from the arguments deployed and the composition
of the groups who made them. Finally, it situates the source literature within the
context of early Victorian values and mores. Wider ideas on morality, temperance, and regulation were bound to condition British notions on opium, and
these notions both drew from and offered clues as to broader contemporary
attitudes to substance abuse.
The words ‘addicted’ and ‘addiction’ themselves were occasionally used, it is
worth noting, in the contemporary literature on opium. The pamphleteer
A. S. Thelwall, the missionary and geographer Charles Gutzlaff, and the chronicler Lewis Shuck, for example, all used the term ‘addicted’, and so did the
Canton-based Chinese Repository, edited by the Protestant mission, multiple
times. A geography by George Tradescant Lay spoke of ‘addiction’, and
the Foreign Quarterly Review wrote that ‘the use of opium is so much more dangerous, because a person who is once addicted to it can never leave it off’. The
word, in use at least since the sixteenth century, nevertheless seems to have
had a more general meaning than it has now, akin to the position of being dedicated or devoted to a thing or an activity, even if some echo perhaps remained of
the word’s Latin root, addictio, a legal term describing a debtor’s remittance into
the custody of his creditor and implying a loss of control.
The numerous terms used to describe opium, however, on both sides of the
fence in the Opium War debate, are instructive. Even the numerically few apologists of the opium traffic tended to use mildly negative locutions to describe the
drug. At best it was called a luxury, often a ‘vicious luxury’. Partisans sometimes
argued opium-smoking was no worse than regular gin-drinking, using the comparison to make the opium traffic acceptable, if not necessarily respectable, in
the Chinese context. Yet the salient feature of the war debate is that the language associated with opium was overwhelmingly derogatory.
Opium was possibly most often called a ‘poison’, a negative term that did not
necessarily imply addictive properties, only that it was bad for health, whether
due to the risks of overdose or its effects on longevity. The risks of overdose,
indeed, as social historians have pointed out, were becoming a serious
concern at the time, and a long-running s debate on poisons would eventually help usher in the Pharmacy Act of , under which opium became

A. S. Thelwall, The iniquities of the opium trade with China (London, ), pp. –; Charles
Gutzlaff, China opened ( vols., London, ), I, pp. –; Jehu Lewis Shuck, Portfolio Chinensis
(Macao, ), p. ; and Chinese Repository (Jan. ), pp. –.
George Tradescant Lay, The Chinese as they are (London, ), p. ; ‘On the preparation of opium for the Chinese market’, Foreign Quarterly Review (Oct. ), pp. –.
?redirectedFrom=addiction#eid (accessed  Aug.
This article addresses the comparison and its implications for addiction further down.
labelled a poison and its sale restricted to the professional sphere. Yet pamphlet, press, and other writers also made use of a more revealing vocabulary.
Typical and widely used labels were the terms of ‘a pernicious drug’, ‘infatuating’, ‘demoralising’, ‘enervating’, and the cause of ‘mania’. All these terms –
with their evocations of insidiousness, seduction, folly, and loss of moral
compass – implied that opium’s effects were in some respect underhand, and
that in a greater or lesser degree the drug had the power to subvert or circumvent the user’s will.
The Opium War literature also quoted numerous original Chinese documents in translation, such as imperial memoranda, as did a parliamentary
Blue Book containing a selection of Foreign Office correspondence that was
itself further excerpted in the press. It is worth noting that while these documents invariably referred to opium as ‘vile’, ‘evil’, ‘filth’, etc., this Chinese terminology was never or almost never challenged, even by partisans of the war. As
wrote a Chinese memorial quoted in a book by John Francis Davis, a one-time
British and Company representative at Canton:
Those who smoke opium, and eventually become its victims, have a periodical
longing for it, which can only be assuaged by the application of the drug at the
regular time…Thus opium becomes, to opium-smokers, their very life; and, when
they are seized and brought before magistrates, they will sooner suffer a severe chastisement than inform against those who sell it.
(Lovell, who consulted these sources in the original, sometimes implies that the
Chinese only had a vague understanding of the drug’s properties. Dikötter,
Laamann, and Xun go further and challenge the very view that opiumsmoking had any widespread, damaging incidence at the time. The sinologist
David Anthony Bello writes that, on the contrary, ‘Qing opium prohibition
was a response to the uncontrollable power of opium as an addictive consumable’, and that Mandarin administrators had developed a vocabulary for
‘craving’ or ‘addiction’ (yin) and for describing the perils of withdrawal. It is
Among opponents of the traffic, references to poison are innumerable. Pro-war writers
who labelled opium a poison included John Elliot Bingham, Narrative of the expedition to
China ( vols., London, ), I, pp. –; and Robert Viscount Jocelyn, Six months with the
Chinese expedition (London, ), pp. –. On concerns about opium poisoning and the
Pharmacy Act, see Foxcroft, The making of addiction, pp. –; and Berridge, Opium and the
people, pp. – and –.
As a sample of such uses: ‘The Canton Register’, British and Foreign Review (Apr. ),
p. ; Walter Henry Medhurst, China, its state and prospects (London, ), p. ; ‘The iniquities of the opium trade with China’, Eclectic Review (Oct. ), pp. –; Horatio Montagu, A
voice for China (London, ), p. ; and C. A. Bruce, Report on the tea plantations of Assam
(Calcutta, ), p. .
Correspondence relating to China (London, ); Times,  Sept. , p. ; ‘China’,
Saturday Magazine ( Apr. ), pp. –; and House of Commons, Hansard’s parliamentary
debates, Third Series, vol. ,  Apr. , c. .
From a memorial to the emperor quoted in John Francis Davis, The Chinese ( vols.,
London, ), II, p. .
also worth noting, in this context, the early opium prohibitions by various Far
Eastern countries ranging from fourteenth-century Thailand to Edo-period
Japan noted by James Windle and suggesting there remains room for much
valuable scholarship in the area.)
Perhaps the qualifier ‘vicious’ was meanwhile elucidated as follows:
Again it must be admitted without reserve that what is called opium-smoking in moderation is rank nonsense. The slaves to this habit must wind up the system at particular
times, or be wretched; they must increase the dose from ‘moderation’ (!) to excess in
order to continue its power over them, and which, like all vicious indulgences, it
requires daily an addition in quantity to maintain.
As this example hints, moreover, the opium traffic was repeatedly compared to
the slave trade. This had, of course, a rhetorical element to it, aiming to rouse
the British public, with its considerable philanthropic clout, against opium as it
had been roused against the slave trade and slavery itself. Yet the implication,
from the language of such comparisons, was also that opium enslaved the
user, rendering him or her powerless to escape its clutch. For the editors of
the Morning Herald, the opium trade was ‘this demoralising traffic – a traffic
as pernicious in its nature, and destructive of the human race, as the slave
trade itself’. As a Times reader saw it: ‘It cannot be questioned, but that the
peaceful industrious Chinese suffers greater degradation and wretchedness in
passing from his condition of life to that of a paralytic idiot, than the African
in passing from his native horde under the dominion of a West India
planter.’ Lord Ashley, the social activist, proclaimed in a parliamentary
motion to end the opium trade in April :
That terrible system of slavery does not necessarily destroy the physical and moral
qualities of its victims. It tortures and degrades the man, but it leaves him susceptible
of regeneration. But the opium trade destroys the man, both body and soul, and
carries a hideous ruin over millions which can never be repaired.
Such parallels with the slave trade are indeed all the more troubling for their
potential implications for free will and moral choice. The prevailing historical
model on drug dependence remains that moral blame prevented notions of
Lovell, in her chapter on the subject, tends to treat Chinese and British notions as synonymous. Lovell, The Opium War, pp. – and –; Frank Dikötter, Lasrs Laamann, and
Zhou Xun, Narcotic culture: a history of drugs in China (London, ), pp. – and –;
David Anthony Bello, Opium and the limits of empire (Cambridge, MA, ), pp. –. I am
indebted to David Luesink for this reference. See also James Windle, ‘How the East influenced
drug prohibition’, International History Review,  (), pp. –.
‘Abuse of opium’, Chinese Repository (Feb. ), p. .
The many such parallels include for example William Groser, What can be done to suppress
the opium trade (London, ), p. ; and Leeds Mercury,  Nov. , p. .
Morning Herald,  Nov. , p. .
Times,  Dec. , p. .
Commons Debate, Hansard’s parliamentary debates, Third Series, vol. ,  Apr. ,
c. .
addiction from emerging until the ‘rise of science’. And according to this
model, moral blame in turn rested on belief in free will: the conceptualization
of drug dependence as disease, either involving a suspension of the human will
or undermining belief in free will itself, was what would have helped addiction
arise as a modern concept. The term ‘inebriety’ thus formalized in medical
language, in the s, the idea that the habitual drug user had durably surrendered his or her self-control. Yet slavery was classically seen to preclude or
impair the capacity for moral choice. Indeed, this had been a major reason
for evangelical campaigning against it. If, therefore, habitual opium use was
akin to slavery, it involved a suspension of, or a threat to, the user’s free will.
‘It plucks the beautiful consciousness of moral responsibility out of the soul’,
wrote the Illustrated London News of opium in its reporting on the Ashley
motion. The ‘moral’ implications of the slavery parallel are that opium use
led to dependence.
Incidentally, historians of addiction have also taken De Quincey’s Confessions
of an English opium-eater as the model for a Romantic, early nineteenth-century
British view of the drug. Yet Opium War commentators seem to have been
aware that this was a poetical text and, on either side in the debate, the
Confessions tended to be taken as unreliable and/or as darker and less forgiving
than historians have allowed. De Quincey himself, who had already flaunted
his strong aversion to the Chinese civilization in the Confessions, published in
Blackwood’s Magazine what were perhaps the most rabid opinion pieces of the
war, calling the Chinese ‘bestial’, ‘savage’, and so on, and advocating their submission and colonization – and yet even these failed to defend opium. In a
strange twist, his second son later fell a rare casualty on the British expeditionary
force and died near Canton in .
A number of contemporary documents, finally, described the mechanisms of
opium addiction in detail, including the craving for larger doses and withdrawal
symptoms. Perhaps the most explicit was Thelwall’s, a pamphlet which, having
been published in timely fashion in , enjoyed wide publicity through part
See for example Foxcroft, The making of addiction, pp. –.
Ibid., pp. –; Berridge, Opium and the people, pp. –.
‘The opium plague’, Illustrated London News ( Apr. ), p. .
They also focus on the  not the  edition, whose introductory pages are far more
explicit: Thomas de Quincey, Confessions of an opium-eater (nd edn, London, ), pp. –.
Warren, The opium question, pp. –; T. H. Bullock, The Chinese vindicated (London,
), pp. –; John Fisher Murray, The Chinese and the Ministry (London, ), p. ;
‘Canton Register, July to December ’, Foreign Quarterly Review (Apr. ), p. ;
Canton Press ( May ), p. ; and ‘Confessions of an opium-eater’, Chinese Repository
(Nov. ), pp. –.
Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English opium-eater (London, ), pp. –;
Thomas De Quincey, ‘The opium and the China question’, Blackwood’s Magazine (June
), pp. –; and ‘Canton expedition and convention’, Blackwood’s Magazine (Nov.
), pp. –.
Grevel Lindop, The opium-eater (London, ), p. .
serialization in the press and other channels. Dwelling on the opium-smoking
experience as well as citing the testimonies of travellers and doctors, this wrote:
The first indulgence prepares the way for the second; the second for a third; and so
on till it becomes habitual. There is something peculiarly ensnaring in the use of
opium; not only on account of the high excitement of the imagination which is
the immediate result of the stimulus, but more especially because that high excitement is soon followed by a correspondent lassitude and intolerable depression,
which scarcely anything but a repetition of the dose can relieve. Thus the habit
grows upon the wretched victim, till he becomes entirely enslaved to it; and so
strong is the necessity of having recourse to the stimulus at the regular hour, that
it has even been affirmed, that fatal consequences might result from sudden and
total abstinence.
Opium use thus involved a need for repeated doses and withdrawal pains. One
also notes the word ‘victim’, another term implying that the user was somehow
rendered helpless by the drug. In the words of the travel narrative of the missionary Walter Medhurst:
When the habit is once formed it grows till it becomes inveterate; discontinuance is
more and more difficult, until at length the sudden deprivation of the accustomed
indulgence produces death. In proportion as the wretched victim comes under the
power of the infatuating drug, so is his ability to resist temptation less strong.
For the anonymous author of China as it was and as it is, otherwise a supporter of
the war: ‘The pain they suffer when deprived of the drug, after long habit, no
language can explain; and it is only when to a certain degree under its
influence that their faculties are alive.’
The need for increasing dosage was likewise duly observed. According to …

Purchase answer to see full

Explanation & Answer:
8 Pages



selfemployed people

User generated content is uploaded by users for the purposes of learning and should be used following Studypool’s honor code & terms of service.

Reviews, comments, and love from our customers and community:

This page is having a slideshow that uses Javascript. Your browser either doesn't support Javascript or you have it turned off. To see this page as it is meant to appear please use a Javascript enabled browser.

Peter M.
Peter M.
So far so good! It's safe and legit. My paper was finished on time...very excited!
Sean O.N.
Sean O.N.
Experience was easy, prompt and timely. Awesome first experience with a site like this. Worked out well.Thank you.
Angela M.J.
Angela M.J.
Good easy. I like the bidding because you can choose the writer and read reviews from other students
Lee Y.
Lee Y.
My writer had to change some ideas that she misunderstood. She was really nice and kind.
Kelvin J.
Kelvin J.
I have used other writing websites and this by far as been way better thus far! =)
Antony B.
Antony B.
I received an, "A". Definitely will reach out to her again and I highly recommend her. Thank you very much.
Khadija P.
Khadija P.
I have been searching for a custom book report help services for a while, and finally, I found the best of the best.
Regina Smith
Regina Smith
So amazed at how quickly they did my work!! very happy♥.