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Memoirs of Robert Dollar
Vol. 1 - Chapter Nine. American Commissioners Entertained by Japanese

On the 24th of September, 1908, a party representing various chambers of commerce, went to Japan. We sailed from San Francisco on the steamer "Tenyo Maru." The party was composed of twenty-eight men and twenty ladies from Spokane, Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego. On our arrival at Honolulu we were met by a large delegation from the Chamber of Commerce of that port, and were taken in automobiles to Pearl Harbor where we had lunch served under the trees. There was some speech making, and we had a very enjoyable tune.

We were then shown around the harbor and an explanation was given by the admiral in charge as to what the Government proposed to do in the way of developing a naval base on the Hawaiian Islands at this place.

A tug was in readiness and the party was taken around the lochs so we could see what a fine harbor it was. Any who desired to go outside on the tug to see the entrance to the harbor took this opportunity. I was especially interested to see how the harbor could be protected and what the entrance was like. It was still in quite a natural state and somewhat crooked although very well protected. A ship entering would be immediately hidden from view from the ocean. In the afternoon and evening the party was driven around the city and its suburbs in automobiles.

After leaving Honolulu our time was variously taken up with meetings. Following is an address I made to the members of the Honorary Commissioners of the Chambers of Commerce to Japan on board the steamer "Tenyo Maru":


This Commission is styled Honorary. I wish to lay particular emphasis on this word, showing the great responsibility that is placed on every member to do his best to make it honorable in every sense of the word. The invitation reads that the object in inviting us was to promote friendship and good will. You all know it is necessary to be on friendly terms with those with whom you do business, otherwise it would not continue; so in our dealings with foreign nations it is of far greater importance that we should have perfect harmony and a good understanding, as I would say, that just as sure as the center of activity moved from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, so sure will that center be transferred to this Pacific Ocean.

This I believe will come during the lifetime of you young men, and the three nations having the frontage on this ocean, namely, the United States, Japan and China, will be the beneficiaries provided that they prepare for it. The nation that has the best and most steamers will be the one that will reap the greatest benefit. Japan is doing her duty in this respect, as evidenced by this fine new modern steamer we are now traveling on, and the two new sister ships not yet completed, and by owning a large fleet of tramp steamers to do the freight earning.

What is the United States doing to keep up with Japan? I answer, "Nothing." Our merchant marine is disappearing from the ocean as fast as it can go. No new steamer to engage in the foreign trade has been built in the past five years, and there is not an American tramp steamer afloat engaged in the foreign trade. We are now reduced on this ocean to six mail steamers, which is about half as many as we had a year ago, so I would urge on you when you return home to assist in every way possible to get laws passed to permit us to rebuild our merchant marine, so that we may take our proper place amongst nations.

Lett Hand Figure in a Group of Three, Temple of Alendoet

We have the richest country in the world, our natural resources are unlimited, and up to the present time we have been taken up with internal developments. Now the time has arrived for us to reach out for the foreign markets of the world, and in my estimation there is no country offering us such inducements as the Orient.

The mastery of the Pacific is a subject that the great nations are discussing. If we get a merchant marine, the commerce will be divided between our country and Japan, but if we decline to take advantage of our opportunity, then the trade will be divided between Great Britain and Japan and our great nation will have to take third place. The Yellow Peril scare was started by Emperor William at the time he gobbled up Tsingtau, when Germany was fortunate enough to get two priests murdered which served as an excuse to seize that part of the Shan Tung Peninsula. Now there is in China a White Peril which is ably described by a Chinese author.

It came about in this way: About three days after the treaty of peace, was signed by China and Japan in Shimonoseki, France, Germany and Russia demanded that the Lia Tung Peninsula, including Port Arthur, must be ceded back to China. Japan having taken it by conquest. The Great Powers stated they could not allow a foreign nation to occupy that part of China. Japan was weakened by the war and could not resist so was forced to give in, but from that day she began preparations to recover what was hers by right of conquest. What was the result? Russia immediately took possession of this part of China. Germany for her share got Tsingtau and France got another slice of Tonquin, while Great Britain, to her everlasting disgrace be it said, stood with folded hands and saw this injustice perpetrated, when she was the only nation that could have prevented it. Vengeance belongs to the Lord. Russia got her deserts. Next it will be Germany and France. Germany has taken the hint, as she has withdrawn her troops from two hundred mrles of railroad and concentrated them ail in Tsingtau.

The Japanese have the name of being tricky. In my brief experience with them, I have done business of over a million dollars, and can conscientiously say I have never been wronged out of one cent. On the other hand, let us see what is the reputation of the American in the Orient. In trying to start new business relations, whenever a Japanese or Chinese learns that you are an American, he is immediately on his guard, and we have to prove to him that we are honest before confidence is established.

When we got possession of the Philippines a great number of camp followers and adventurers went to Manila, and when Judge Wilfey was Attorney-General he started to clean up the town of Manila of disreputable characters. They nearly all found their way to Canton and Shanghai, where they were welcomed by our representatives. American morality got so bad that the other nations appealed to President Roosevelt. He got Congress to establish an American court in China, and Judge Wilfey was sent to clean up the towns, which he did in such an efficient manner that the bad element had to move again.*

For details of his work I would refer you to the article published ;n the September number of the "Cosmopolitan" for 1916, entitled, "The Worst Hated Man in China."

You will hear the missionaries abused. If you trace those accusations down you will find they emanate from the vicious classesódishonest and disreputable Americans. I have been told by both Japanese and Chinese gentlemen, "if those (meaning the ones described) are a sample of Christianity we want none of it." They all admit, however, that most of the merchants and missionaries are good men. Now, in closing, I have something to say of the men who stir up class hatred at home, and especially those who do their best to stir animosity between our nation and the Orientals. They are vipers, and like rattlesnakes, should be extenuated. A great source of irritation has been engendered by our immigration officials. Their acts brought on the boycott of American goods, which starting in Canton, spread over nearly all China, paralyzed our trade, and we have never been able to fully recover it. At that time our flour trade to Southern China went to Australia, and has been retained there ever since.

This was brought on by the tyranny and brutality with which our immigration laws were enforced. At that time all the officials below the Secretary of Commerce and Labor were recruited from the labor unions. When the matter was fully explained to our President, a circular was sent to all the officials notifying them that if any one ill-treated or abused an Oriental he would be instantly dismissed. On this being made known to the merchants in China the boycott was declared off. The law is the same, only the unjust administration of it was changed.

Chinese merchants and gentlemen of high class were ignominously thrown into detention sheds amongst the lowest classes of their countrymen. Trachoma is another favorite method for refusing to allow those to land who are otherwise entitled to land. The officials declare the eyes of the immigrant are affected and this decision is final, no matter how many experts or specialists declare the eyes are not affected. Take this matter home to yourselves. How would you like on your arrival in Japan to be thrown into a filthy detention pen because some ignorant, designing immigration officer declared you had trachoma, when, if you were allowed, you could easily prove you had no disease. I mention these matters so that on your return home you will see to it that no foreigner will receive injustice at our hands.

Another matter, and I am done. I have learned by long intercourse and dealings with men of all nations that because a man has a yellow skin he is not, as many of our countrymen suppose, a man you cannot trust, dishonest or disreputable. Some of the finest and best gentlemen I have ever met are Japanese and Chinese. I am also pleased to be able to say the same for a great many Americans, but if you wanted some of the worst men imaginable you need not leave your own country to find them. So, to sum the matter up. there is good and bad in every nation under the sun and I would ask of you to judge all men fairly and let every one of us do his utmost to establish friendly relations with the Japanese nation, and as a result, trade will surely follow.

On October 12, 1908, we arrived in Yokohama, where we were given a reception on the hatoba (landing). We were received by a deputation from the principal Chambers of Commerce of Japan and also by the Governor of Kanagawa and the Mayor of Yokohama. They presented us with an aluminated address and each of our party received a gold chrysanthemum pin.

At this time the relations between the two nations were very much strained on account of the school question in San Francisco, and it was considered very uncertain what kind of a reception we would receive on this account. Our Ambassador, Mr. O'Brien, was extremely anxious that we should be most discreet in what we said. He sent for me immediately on my arrival and requested me to come to Tokio. He fully explained the condition of affairs and I assured him we would be extremely careful, and also told him that on the way over addresses had been preparer! and a censor committee appointed, of which I was chairman, and that no addresses would be delivered without first being passed on by the committee.

The crucial point was reached next day when we were given a great reception in the Stock Exchange, where were assembled the business men, not only of Yokohama, but of the adjoining cities. Addresses were made by officials of the exchange and other dignitaries, and it fell to my lot to make the reply on which would depend very largely the kind of reception we would get.

It so happened that what I said was very favorably received and was immediately published in all the Japanese papers, the effect being that the Japanese decided that we had come on a peaceable errand and there was no doubt but that our nation was extremely friendly. By exercising great care in subsequent addresses this opinion was confirmed.

That evening we were entertained by the Chitose Club and given a real Japanese banquet followed by a theatrical performance.

The Central Figure in a Group of Three, Temple of Jtendoet, Java This Colossal Statue was Carved in 750 Anno Domini

The city was magnificently decorated, and surpassed anything we had ever seen in our own country. There were scores of arches built across the streets, each beautifully decorated with flags, flowers and lights. Thousands and thousands of flags decorated the arches, and many were given to us. Each member of the party was presented by the Minister of Railroads with a case containing a silk pass, good on all the railroads in Japan.


We then proceeded to Tokio. Every city on the way was gorgeously decorated. Tokio was ablaze with color. The great Mitsukoshi department store was closed to the public when our party visited it. No goods were sold, but it was beautifully decorated and several bands were in attendance. To show to what extreme they went to entertain us, near the store a covered pavilion was erected where a number of potters made plates and bowls of pottery and asked us to place our monograms on them. Later they baked these and sent them to us at our hotel.

The climax was probably reached here at a luncheon given by Baron Komura, Minister of Foreign Affairs, which was by far the most magnificent function we ever attended.

When the party proceeded to the banquet hall Baron Komura took Mrs. Dollar in and the rest followed, each lady escorted by a Japanese gentleman. The banquet room was in the garden where a pavilion had been erected for the occasion. In the center of the garden was a large growing tree wonderfully decorated with artificial cherry blossoms which gave the appearance of a cherry tree in spring. The room was lit with electric lights of different colors representing the many brilliant flowers of Japan. The whole effect was so unique that it is impossible to describe it, suffice it to say that it was the most wonderful thing of the kind any of us had ever seen. It was said to have cost $2,500.00 to light it, and all this great expense was gone to just for this one entertainment.

The proceedings of the luncheon were quite formal. Baron Komura offered a toast to the American nation and the President, when all the guests rose and stood while the band played the "Star Spangled Banner." Mr. O'Brien then offered a toast to His Majesty, the Emperor, and we remained standing while the band played the Japanese national anthem.

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