New Japan


0. General Information

Dear readers,

'The Evolution Of New Japan' by Joseph H. Longford was published in 1913

This book has been digitalized and made available on The scanning process resulted in many strange characters, spelling errors, poor quality pictures, and other problems in the file. I have tried to correct as many errors as I could find, but you may still find other issues occasionally. I hope you'll accept the imperfections but still find value in reading this story.

The images on this website are taken from

K. C. Lee
Mobile Story Enthusiast

The Emperor Mutsu Hito


This little book has at least one original feature. It is, to the best of the author's knowledge, the first book on Japan which has ever been issued at the price of one shilling. Surely, this will commend it to readers and bookbuyers, even if it exposes no more than the skeleton of the modem history of a people who are both our allies and our good customers (as well as our rivals) in trade, and who can now give us valuable lessons of patriotic courage, sacrifice, and perseverance in return for all we have taught them.

J. H. L.

August, 1913.

The author is indebted to the courtesy of His Excellency the Japanese Ambassador for the illustrations of the Emperor Eomei and of Marqais Inouye.


In the 7th century of the Christian era, Japan, as one incident in the general assimilation of Chinese civilisation which then took place, adopted the Chinese calendar, in which years are counted in chronological periods of irregular length, distinguished from each other by specific names - nengo or year names. In 1872, subsequent to the abandonment of the Chinese in favour of the European system as the foundation of the national civilisation, the old calendar was replaced by the Gregorian, though not in its entirety. A formal recognition of the Christian era would have been inconsistent with the reverence that was due to the Emperor as the acknowledged descendant of the Gods of Heaven, and to the national religion of which he was the head, and it was therefore decided that while days and months should henceforth be reckoned on the Western model, the old system of year-counting by nengo should be retained. Under it a name, usually one of good omen, such as " Great Honour," " Heavenly Virtue," " Tranquil Peace," " Great Prosperity," was chosen at the beginning of each period and the successive years were described as the first, second, etc. years of that period until the time came when it was arbitrarily terminated and a new one adopted. There was not even a remote approximation to uniformity in the length of the periods. Many only continued for one year, while three exceeded 20 and one 30 years.

In the year following the accession of the late Emperor the occurrence of his birthday was signalised by the inauguration of a new period to which the name of Meiji - Enlightened Grovernment - was given. It was, at the same time, decreed that in future there should be only one chronological period in each reign and that it should coincide with the length of the reign, with the exception that, as a new period has, through all ages, always been reckoned from the first day of the year of its adoption, each should in future begin on the 1st of January preceding the sovereign's accession and close on the 31st of December preceding his death. The period of Meiji - the longest in history - dates from January 25th, 1868, that being New Year's Day under the old (Chinese) calendar, till December 31st, 1911, and is almost synchronous with the late Emperor's reign. In this volume we propose to tell the story of the evolution of Japan from an unknown and impotent Asiatic state into one of the acknowledged Powers of the world, which took place during the period of Meiji, in the reign of the Emperor Mutsu Hito. It is the story of one of the most eventful reigns of any period or of any nation in the world's history, a story which is full of the most pregnant lessons of what can be achieved by an intelligent and courageous people, working with whole-hearted patriotism, under the leadership of a liberal and enlightened sovereign.