§ 4.0 P.M.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I beg to move, "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty to convey to His Majesty the expression of the deep regret with which this House has learned the news of the death of His Majesty's ally and friend the Emperor of Japan, and to pray His Majesty that he will be graciously pleased to express to His Majesty, the present Emperor, the profound sympathy of this House with the Imperial Family and with the Government and people of Japan."
The death of the Emperor of Japan marks the close of the most memorable reign in modern history. The representative of the most ancient dynasty of the world, whose annals go back 2,000 years, experienced during the years which passed since he succeeded his father a series of changes for which it would be difficult to find a parellel both in the status of a Sovereign and the development of a people. The Emperor was to his subjects, when he ascended the Throne, the sacred embodiment of a secular tradition, which dominated, as it continues to do to-day, the imagination, and commanded the reverence of Japan, and which had for centuries ceased to have any effective relation with the actual government of the country. He witnessed in less than fifty years his own transformation from a semi-divine, carefully sequestered figure, the background of a national life, into a constitutional monarch, who, without losing any of the attributes of his ancestral position, became the mainspring, the central force, the pioneer and the leader of a transformation as vital and as complete in every department of activity, political, social, industrial, intellectual and moral, of his inherited dominion. Under his rule—how far 2086 from his own direct and personal initiative, how far from his sagacious and intuitive selection of wise and prescient counsellors, history may some day pronounce—Japan has emerged from a seclusion, which seemed inaccessible and beyond the reach of chance or change, into the forefront of the family of nations. It has become a great naval and military Power, with a splendid record of stubborn and disciplined heroism, and is to-day, in all its other aspects and relations, in close and vital touch with the currents and movements of our modern life.
I cannot recall the name of any ruler in history within the limits of whose single reign progress so vast and so much needed both to his own subjects and to mankind has been attained. But, Sir, while we join in the general tribute of the whole civilised word to this supreme and perhaps unexampled achievement, we may be permitted to add a special acknowledgement of our own. Ten years ago Japan became bound to us by a Treaty of Alliance. Twice since then that alliance has been renewed and extended, and, after a testing experience, it rests to-day upon a firm, and, as I hope and believe, upon an enduring foundation. It is an alliance not for aggression or provocation, but for defence of common interests, for the development of humane ideals, and, above all, for the safeguarding and preservation of peace. Sir, we, in this House of Commons, tender to our Allies and friends in the Far East, an assurance of our profound sympathy with them in their bereavement, find beg them to believe that we honour with them the imperishable memory of the great Ruler whom they have lost.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I rise to second the Motion which has just been proposed by the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman has referred in striking and eloquent language to the great changes in the position of Japan which have occurred during the lifetime and under the inspiration of the late Emperor. Those changes—changes emphasised by victories in peace, scarce less renowned than those in war—have been deep and great, but in one respect, in the devotion of the Japanese people to the person of their Sovereign, there has been no change. In the case of the predecessors of the late Emperor that devotion, as the Prime Minister has indicated, was in the nature of a religion, and it was nourished in mystery, for they lived their lives behind 2087 a veil which for centuries was never broken. The late Emperor tore down the barriers which separated him from the life of his countrymen, and the Japanese people to-day are mourning the loss, not only of the representative of the oldest dynasty in the world, but of a man who has devoted his life to the service of his country. As the ally of Japan, under an alliance formed by one Government and carried further by another, an alliance which in troublous times has done much to secure the peace of the East, we share in the loss, and we sympathise with the grief of the Japanese people.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolved, nemine contradicente, "That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty to convey to His Majesty the expression of the deep regret with which this House has learned the news of the death of His Majesty's ally and friend the Emperor of Japan, and to pray His Majesty that he will be graciously pleased to express to His Majesty, the present Emperor, the profound sympathy of this House with the Imperial Family and with the Government and people of Japan."—[The Prime Minister.]
§ To be presented by Privy Councillors and Members of His Majesty's Household.