Chargé Wilson to the Secretary of State.
Tokyo, January 3, 1906.
Sir: I have the honor to bring to your notice the education of Chinese in Japan, which is now on so large a scale as to promise to have some effect upon the relations of these two peoples, and also upon Chinese administration, now that the ancient official examinations have been abolished in China and men of modern education are beginning to be found in office.
During the past year Chinese students have come to this country in continually increasing numbers. Last summer the number was estimated at 5,000., of whom 2,000 had been sent at the expense of the Chinese Government. In November the number is said to have reached 8,000. In addition to the supervision of the Chinese legation the students are looked after by eight superintendents sent to reside here by their Government.
Until recently the Japanese authorities seem to have done nothing in this matter, but the magnitude of the number of Chinese students finally made a certain degree of supervision on their part seem wise. Accordingly, regulations for controlling schools open to the Chinese were promulgated by the minister for education on November 2, to go into effect from the 1st instant.
These regulations require each student to present with his application for admission to a school a letter of recommendation from the Chinese minister, consul, or other representative. The public and private schools which Chinese may attend are limited to those selected by the Japanese Government after an investigation of the teaching staff, curriculum, text-books, and buildings of each school. The regulations are not applicable to elementary (childrens’) schools.
From among these schools allowed to admit Chinese, the Government will especially select certain ones and will report them to the Chinese Government as most suitable. The students of these chosen institutions will be required to live in lodging houses approved by the authorities; a careful detailed record of each student will be kept; students expelled from one school will not be allowed to become scholars at another; and an official of the ministry of education may be present at and supervise the examinations of the Chinese students.
The publication of these regulations was greeted by a storm of protest. Bodies of Chinese students passed indignant resolutions, saying that their liberty was being assailed and seemed to find in the new rules an indignity to their nationality. The restriction in choosing schools and lodgings and the need of a letter of recommendation annoyed them most. The agitation was so great that over a thousand students returned to China; and no more have been coming since the trouble.
In the middle of December an official explanation from the department of education was given currency through the schools and published in the newspapers. The statement points out that the object of the regulations is merely to protect the students themselves against attending inferior schools, and to insure their living in respectable surroundings.[Page 1073]
In view of the fact that the Chinese students in Japan are generally young men of a very good class, it is surprising that this misunderstanding went so far as it did. Apparently the trouble was stirred up by a small group of agitators. As a phenomenon, it is interesting as a minor manifestation of the new spirit that is now observable among the Chinese people.
Since the governmental explanation, the trouble has to all appearances ceased, and the education of Chinese in Japanese schools will doubtless continue on an important scale. Some prominent educators interested in the Chinese are now proposing to form an association of Chinese and Japanese students, with the object of bringing about better understanding.
I have the honor to inclose a translation of the regulations in question.
I have, etc.,