Results of Three Years' Administration of Chosen Since Annexation

Results of Three Years' Administration of Chosen Since Annexation

Bibliographic Details

Seoul: Government General of Chosen. January, 1914

Book Review

Chosen, an ancient name of northern Korea, was officially adopted as the name of the new dependency after its annexation by Japan. Koreaonce included a large part of southern Manchuria. Korean graves are numerous there and the inhabitants of certain districts in Manchuria are still largely Korean. The peninsula derived its civilization from China, and it was largely through Korea that Chinese culture was communicated to Japan. At the beginning of the Christian era, China ruled directly all of northern Korea, while the southern portion was divided into three small states constantly warring, each with the others. In the seventh century A. D. China, having during the intervening centuries lost direct control of the country, again annexed all of the peninsula except a small state in the southeastern portion, which. however, became one of her dependencies. During the following centuries there were occasional brief periods of independence, but otherwise until 1895 Korea remained in one form or another a portion of the Chinese Empire. The envoys of the little kingdom were sent regularly every year until near the close of the nineteenth century bearing their tribute to the court at Peking.

Introduction to Results of Three Years' Administration of Chosen Since Annexation

In 1595 the Japanese invaded Korea and attempted its conquest, but were driven out. In 1876, however, Japan compelled Korea to enter into a treaty which assumed the independence of the little state, and this was followed by a treaty with the United States in 1882. In spite of these treaties, however, Korea continued to look to China as suzerain and received a Chinese Resident until after the ChinoJapanese war of 1894-5, when the independence of the kingdom was acknowledged by China. For a brief period Korea rejoiced greatly in this independence and the king, in order to assert his equality with the rulers of neighboring lands, on October 17, 1897, -proclaimed himself an emperor.

Context of Results of Three Years' Administration of Chosen Since Annexation

The independence, however, was short-lived and nominal rather than real. From being a bone of contention between China and Japan, Korea escaped only to find herself an object of strife between Japan and Russia. In 1904 Japan found it necessary to assert herself against the Russian advance in Manchuria and avenge the loss of southern Manchuria which she had been compelled by the continued pressure of Russia, France and Germany to retrocede to China in 1895. Korea lay between the Russians and the Japanese and Japan was prompt to occupy it. The Russians were forced back northward into the province of Kirin, and the development of Japanese interests in the Kuantung Peninsula and elsewhere in southern Manchuria made Japanese control of Korea more than ever essential to the welfare of the island empire.

Thesis Statement

A Japanese Resident was therefore appointed to Seoul in 1906. For two decades before this Japan had labored to promote the reform of the Korean Government, but had met with very slight success. She had a following in the Korean court, but she also had many enemies there. Corruption was widespread and nullified all efforts for improvement. Prince Ito showed himself to be a true friend of the Korean people, but his well-meant endeavors were unappreciated and resulted only in his murder at Harbin in 1909.

More about Results of Three Years' Administration of Chosen Since Annexation

The Japanese Government then decided upon annexation as the only remedy for a situation, which to them seemed intolerable. The report by Governor General Terauchi of three years administration of Chosen encourages the hope that the people of Korea may yet become reconciled to the annexation of their land by the Japanese Empire since, according to that report, it seems to be bringing to an end a regime of inefficiency and corruption and substituting therefor one that is promoting the development of the country and the education, enlightenment and prosperity of the people. “The annexation of Korea by Japan,” says Count Terauchi, “was a great epochmaking event. It has solved an impending problem confronting the Empire of Japan for centuries and is considered to have eradicated causes of disaster, consolidating thereby the foundations of the Empire and assuring lasting peace for the Far East.” The pamphlet which contains the report of the Governor General contains 161 pages, of which 66 are required for the report proper. The remainder forms an appendix containing important public documents that deal with the problems growing out of annexation.

Analysis of the Text

With the exception of the first, which is the proclamation of annexation, issued August 29, 1910, these documents are all instructions to public officers in Chosen. They cover a wide range of topics, including reorganization of the Government, monetary grants, Confucian education, cotton cultivation, sericulture, judicial reform, customs, charities, prisons, etc. The administration of a hostile country comprising an area of 84,000 square miles and containing a population of 13,000,000 called for statesmanship of the highest order. Great tact was shown in introducing changes in the government. These were made very slowly. In the first year a reduction by 1434 was made in the number of officials and the retrenchment thus effected lessened the expense of the government by 765,000 yen. Further economies in 1912 led to the dismissal of 187 -more functionaries and a saving of 478,000 yen. In 191-3 the Imperial Government was able to reduce its subsidy to Chosen by 2,350,000 yen. It is, generally speaking, in the local government that officials come into close contact with the people and it is here that friction is most likely. to occur. But the Japanese administration wisely refrained from offending local prejudices. Great care was taken to observe old usages and the reforms introduced were modified so as to adjust them to varying local conditions.

Other Aspects

The improvement in police administration and the success of the Japanese in their efforts to restore good order are indicated by the figures given by Count Terauchi. Whereas in one year, 1908-9, the police had 780 encounters with brigands who numbered 34,400, in the year ended August, 1912, there was but 13 such encounters with some 70 outlaws. Previous to the annexation the finances of Korea were in a very bad condition. A Japanese financial adviser was appointed in 1904, but it was not until a Japanese Resident General was appointed in 1906 that it was possible to introduce system and bring order out of confusion.

More on this Book Review

For some years following, the Japanese Government was compelled to make considerable loans to Korea, amounting at the time of annexation to a total of 14,200,000 yen. But the Japanese Government also supported a Resident General and financed the new judiciary, so that the total expenditure by the Imperial Japanese Government averaged about 26,000,000 yen per annum for the four years preceding annexation.

More Aspects of the Book

After that event the revenues of Chosen proved still to be insufficient to meet the expenditures and the deficit had to be met from the Japanese treasury. The appropriation for this purpose in 1911 was 12,350,000 yen. A similar appropriation was made in 1912 but in 1913 it was reduced to 10,000,000 yen. The total expenditure in 1913 amounted to 51,781,000 yen, an increase of more than ten million yen above the cost of government under the native rulers in 1909. The increase, however, was occasioned by extraordinary expenditures for railway construction, harbor improvements and other works requiring immediate alteration.


The revenues of Chosen in 1913 were eight million yen larger than in 1909 and this improvement, which was effected without increase of taxation, was made possible by the more efficient administration introduced. Monetary reform, initiated by a Japanese adviser, began prior to annexation but was bastened by that event. The foreign trade of Korea has been very steady in its growth since annexation. Whereas in 1909 it amounted to 52,890,000 yen, in 1913 it had grown to 102,450,000 yen. Railways have increased in mileage from 640 miles prior to annexation to 935 miles in 1913. Very much has been done for education too. This reform began under Japanese advice as early as 1906. But at the time of annexation there were but 100 common public schools in the whole country attended by 15,000 children.

Last Remarks

Now there are 366 schools with 50,000 pupils. Attention is given chiefly to elementary and industrial education. Besides these public schools there are some 1,300 private schools of which about 500 are mission schools. These have been compelled to adjust their courses of study so as to comply with the Imperial curriculum. It is interesting to note the attitude taken by the Japanese Covernment towards the three principal religions of Korea; Confucianism, Christianity and Buddhism.

Previous to annexation an institute for the study of the Chinese classics existed in Seoul where religious festivals were held in honor of the Chinese sages, and, although it was not a part of the new educational system, the Japanese Government retained it because of the intimate connection between Confucianism and morality; 250,000 yen were appropriated to it in 1911 as a foundation fund. By this lectures on ethics are supported and certain officials are enabled to hold religious services. It is pointed out by the Governor General that Christianity has gained great influence in Korea and is winning popularity and confidence. The Roman Catholics he credits with 80,000 adherents and the Protestants with 360,000. He compliments the Catholic missionaries by saying that their method of propagating the faith is practical and unostentatious. He says of the Protestant Christians that not a few people formerly embraced their faith with political and other mundane purposes though he admits that sincere and zealous converts are found. There are some 40,000 pupils attending mission schools and the Governor General says: On account of their being affiliated with the Christian Churches it is but natural that the Bible should be, as it is, used as the foundation of moral teaching, and religious principles of the churches be inculcated in the pupils.

In consequence there can not but be something desirable left untouched in the education undertaken in these schools as viewed from the point of the national education. He points out that the best private schools are the mission schools and that it is inadvisable to close them, however desirable it may be to separate religion and education, because their suppression would leave a gap which the government at present could not fill. He adds, For this reason for the time being the authorities concerned pay attention only to the prevention of evil that may occur on account of the presence of these schools, intending later to enforce the principle of education standing aloof from religion.

He refers to the disabilities under which the Buddhists were placed during the late regime. Annexation improved their condition and an ordinance was adopted in 1911 for reviving Buddhism and its propagation. Thanks to this, more than 20,000 monks and nuns living in 1400 monasteries and convents were enabled to engage in their work, being given due protection and raised to the same position as other religious workers.

A great deal has been done by the Government General for the improvement of agriculture and other industries. Agricultural stations and schools were established where improved methods of rice-culture, sericulture and cotton growing were taught and stock-breeding was encouraged. Export duties on agricultural products were removed. The production of rice and other cereals as well as of other agricultural products has been considerably increased since annexation. The acreage devoted to cotton has been increased more than six times and the output of silk has been multiplied threefold.

Book Review Details

This legal book review was published in:

The American Journal of International Law,Vol. 8, No. 3 (Jul., 1914), pp. 676-681Published

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