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THE POLICEMAN AND THE SOLDIER
The Japanese policeman is, first and foremost, a gentleman. He is a samurai, a man of good family, and therefore deeply respected by the mass of the people. He is often a small man for a Japanese, but though his height may run from four feet ten to five feet nothing, he is a man of much authority. When the samurai were disbanded, there were very few occupations to which they could turn. They disdained agriculture and trade, but numbers of them became servants, printers, and policemen. This seems an odd mixture of tasks, but there are sound reasons for it.
Many samurai became servants because service is an honourable profession in Japan; many became printers because the samurai were an educated class, and the only people fitted to deal with the very complicated Japanese alphabet; and many became policemen because it was a post for which their fighting instinct and their habit of authority well fitted them. Their authority over the people is absolute and unquestioning; and, again, there are sound reasons for this.
Forty years ago the Japanese people could have been divided very sharply into two classes, the ruling and the ruled. The ruling class was formed of the great Princes and the samurai, their followers, about 2,000,000 people in all. The remaining 38,000,000 of the population were the common people, the ruled. Now, in the old days when a Daimio left his castle for a journey, he was borne in a kago, a closed carriage, and was attended by a guard of his samurai. If a common person met the procession, he was expected either to retire quickly from the path or fling himself humbly on his face until the carriage had gone by; if he did not, the samurai whipped out their long swords and slew him in short order, and not a single word was said about it. This way of dealing with those who did not belong to the two-sworded class made the people very respectful to the samurai, and that respect is now transferred to the police.
THE FEAST OF FLAGS
The Japanese policeman is also to be respected for his skill in wrestling, and, small as he is, the tallest and most powerful foreigner is quite helpless in his hands. He is thoroughly trained in the art of Japanese wrestling--the jiu-jitsu of which we hear so much nowadays. In this system a trained wrestler can seize his opponent in such a manner that the other man is quite at his mercy, or with a slight impetus he can fling the other about as he pleases. One writer speaks of seeing a very small Japanese policeman arrest a huge, riotous Russian sailor, a man much more than six feet high. It seemed a contest between a giant and a child. The sailor made rush after rush at his tiny opponent, but the policeman stepped nimbly aside, waiting for the right moment to grip his man. At last it came. The sailor made a furious lunge, and the policeman seized him by the wrist. To the astonishment of the onlooker, the sailor flew right over the policeman's head, and fell all in a heap more than a dozen feet away. When he picked himself up, confused and half stunned, the policeman tied a bit of string to his belt and led him away in triumph to the station.
The policeman never has any trouble with his own people; they obey at once and without question. If a crowd gathers and becomes a nuisance to anyone, it melts as soon as one of the little men in uniform comes along and gives the order to disperse. He may sometimes be seen lecturing a coolie or rickshaw-boy for some misdeed or other. The culprit, his big hat held between his hands, ducks respectfully at every second word, and looks all humility and obedience.
Being an educated man, he has much sympathy with art and artists, and is delighted to help a foreigner who is painting scenes in Japan. Mr. Mortimer Menpes says: "Altogether I found the policeman the most delightful person in the world. When I was painting a shop, if a passer-by chanced to look in at a window, he would see at a glance exactly what I wanted; and I would find that that figure would remain there, looking in at the shop, as still as a statue, until I had finished my painting; the policeman meanwhile strutting up and down the street, delighted to be of help to an artist, looking everywhere but at my work, and directing the entire traffic down another street."
Of the Japanese soldier there is no need for us to say much here, since the world has so lately been ringing with his praises. The endurance, the obedience, the courage of the Japanese soldier and sailor have been shown in marvellous fashion during the great war with Russia, and Japan has fully proved herself to be one of the greatest of the naval and military Powers of the world.
The Japanese soldier is the result of the family life in Japan. From his infancy he is taught that he has two supreme duties: one of obedience to his parents, the other of service to his country. This unhesitating, unquestioning habit of obedience, a habit which becomes second nature to him, is of immense value to him as a soldier. He is a disciplined man before he enters the ranks, and he transfers at once to his officers the obedience which he has hitherto shown towards the elders of his family.
His second great duty of service to his country also leads him onward towards becoming the perfect soldier. He not only looks upon his life as a thing to be readily risked or given for his Emperor and for Japan, but he strives to make himself a thoroughly capable servant of his land. No detail of his duty is too small for him to overlook, for he fears lest the lack of that detail should prevent him from putting forth his full strength on the day of trial. He cleans a button as carefully as he lays a big gun, and this readiness for any duty, great or small, was a large factor in the wonderful victory of Japan over Russia.
In battle he questions no order. During the late war many Japanese regiments knew that they were being sent to certain death, in order that they might open a way for their comrades. They never flinched. Shouting their "Banzai!"--their Japanese hurrah--the dogged little men rushed forward upon batteries spouting flame and shell, or upon ramparts lined with rifles, and gave their lives freely for Dai Nippon, Great Japan, the country of their birth.