Prince Ōkuma Shigenobu was a Japanese politician and the Prime Minister of Japan. He was an advocate of Western science and culture in Japan. His father was an artillery officer in Saga. Shigenobu went to a Dutch school, where he learned the English language and was instituted about the American Declaration of Independence. In this reading, he was biased towards unifying Japan by establishing a fair constitution that protects the Japanese people: “The voice of the people can make itself heard in the management of public affairs…This principle of appealing to a public opinion illuminated and guided by knowledge sought throughout the world, has rendered possible the granting of a wise and just constitution and Body of Laws, and Representative Government co-existent with a large measure of local autonomy, the execution of Juridical Reform, the abolition of vexatious restrictions on commerce and free development of every for of national life.” On the other hand, Shigenobu was anti-Russia and believed that they had a corrupted government. He said, “Russia is trying to swim against the stream of human enlightenment; she cannot well escape from the punishment that inevitably follows upon such a line of action.”
The point of the reading was to advocate for Japan to show the Western countries how powerful and educated Japan was. For example, the reading said, “the government of Japan has devoted a very large amount of energy to the question of education…and the best training was given to the students of political, social and military affairs.” In addition, the reading mentioned the free trade policy and advocated for the talented people of Japan: “The Japanese people is not merely a nation of fighters…you will find the national wealth has increased six or seven fold during the last thirty years.” Furthermore, the reading discussed the issue of religion and immigration in Japan. For example, the reading discussed that the issue of adapting Christianity as a religion in Japan since even “in history of Europe, we find that the introduction of a new religion has rarely, if ever, taken place without a collision accompanied by bloodshed, between the old faith and the new.” Furthermore, I think the purpose of the reading was also to explain to the people of Japan and the West why Japan was in a war with Russia. The reading said, “the present war is not one of race against race or religion against religion, but that the victory of Japan means the fusion into one harmonious whole of the civilization of East and West.” Overall, I was not fully convinced by this paper. I think it showed some Japanese propaganda, such the picture of Shigenobu in the middle of the newspaper. First, the main purpose of the reading was to give a good and strong impression of Japan and its people. Then, the reading criticized the Russian Empire. After that, the reading tried to explain why Japan was in war with Russia. In terms of credibility, as a leader and the Prime minister of Japan, Shigenobu had a lot of power to control the press in Japan. I thought Chief John Ross’s letter was a lot more powerful since it was directed to the US Congress. However, this newspaper seemed to be directed to the people of Japan rather than to the foreign countries.