Grave Consequences, 1924



They say, that away at Washington, on the Potomac River, in the United States of America, the phrase "grave consequences" means "declaration of war," and that its use in diplomatic circles is a covert threat of one nation to the other. But, here in Japan, after toilsome study of the English language with the help of the best dictionaries published in England and America, we can get no other meaning from the phrase than "grave consequences." Consequences are "grave" when they are "weighty, deserving serious consideration" (Webster). Hence, among its many meanings, a very important one is a possible loss of a trusted friend. Loss of a friend is grave indeed, be he the weakest of mortals, as we all know in our life-experiences.

Thirty-seven years ago, during my stay in America, trying to suck in all the good things that the land could offer, one day I picked up the following beautiful lines from the pages of the Indianapolis Journal, under the title of "Thy Friend":

Thy friend will come to thee unsought,

With nothing can his love be bought,

His soul thine own will know at sight,

With him thy heart can speak out right.

Greet him nobly, love him well,

Show him where your best thoughts dwell,

Trust him greatly and for aye:

A true friend comes but once your way.

I wonder the Journal which furnished such beautiful lines to its readers, still lives. I always prized the gem, translated it into my mother-tongue, and thousands of my countrymen shared my joy and comfort. Now let the Americans read the poem of their own making, and see whether they did not commit a very grave [offense] through their government by offending "a true friend who comes but once their way." For America in all her history, has had and shall have no better friend than Japan, who for the last three-quarters of a century, looked up to her as "a friend, guide and philosopher," and never proved untrue to a pledge of loyal friendship. The consequences of the act of the American Congress, now confirmed by the President, are grave indeed, involving as it does loss of a friendly nation, a true friend, I believe, who came once in America's history. No words can express my pain and sorrow (and indignation, too,) at the grave and disastrous consequences of what I cannot but characterize as the mad and thoughtless act of the American government in its dealing with the Japanese question.

Kanzō Uchimura.

A graduate of Amherst College, of the class of 1887.

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