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IN an article which appeared in the New York Times, under date of February 14, 1919, we read: "A charge that the Japanese Government secretly fosters the morphia traffic in China and other countries in the Far East is made by a correspondent in the North China Herald in its issue of December 21st last. The correspondent asserts that the traffic has the financial support of the Bank of Japan, and that the Japanese postal service in China aids, although 'Japan is a signatory to the agreement which forbids the import into China of morphia or of any appliances used in its manufacture or application.'

"Morphia no longer can be purchased in Europe, the correspondent writes. The seat of industry has been transferred to Japan, and morphia is now manufactured by the Japanese themselves. Literally, tens of millions of yen are transferred annually from China to Japan for the payment of Japanese morphia. . . .

"In South China, morphia is sold by Chinese peddlers, each of whom carries a passport certifying that he is a native of Formosa, and therefore entitled to Japanese protection. Japanese drug stores throughout China carry large stocks of morphia. Japanese medicine vendors look to morphia for their largest profits. Wherever Japanese are predominant, there the trade flourishes. Through Dairen, morphia circulates throughout Manchuria and the province adjoining; through Tsingtao, morphia is distributed over Shantung province, Anhui, and Kiangsu, while from Formosa morphia is carried with opium and other contraband by motor-driven fishing boats to some point on the mainland, from which it is distributed throughout the province of Fukien and the north of Kuangtung. Everywhere it is sold by Japanese under extra-territorial protection."

The article is rather long, and proves beyond doubt the existence of a well-organized and tremendous smuggling business, by means of which China is being deluged with morphia. In the body of the article we find this paragraph:

"While the morphia traffic is large, there is every reason to believe that the opium traffic upon which Japan is embarking with enthusiasm, is likely to prove even more lucrative. In the Calcutta opium sales, Japan has become one of the considerable purchasers of Indian opium. . . . Sold by the Government of India, this opium is exported under permits applied for by the Japanese Government, is shipped to Kobe, and from Kobe is transshipped to Tsingtao. Large profits are made in this trade, in which are interested some of the leading firms of Japan."

This article appears to be largely anti-Japanese. In fact, more anti-Japanese than anti-opium. Anti Japanese sentiment in America is played upon by showing up the Japanese as smugglers of opium. The part the British Government plays in this traffic is not emphasized. "In the Calcutta opium sales, Japan has become one of the considerable purchasers of Indian opium . . . sold by the Government of India." We are asked to condemn the Japanese, who purchase their stocks of opium as individuals, and who distribute it in the capacity of smugglers. We are not asked to censure the British Government which produces, manufactures and sells this opium as a State monopoly. We are asked to denounce the Japanese and their nefarious smuggling and shameful traffic, but the source of supply, which depends upon these smugglers as customers at the monthly auctions, is above reproach. A delicate ethical distinction.

However, there is no doubt that the Japanese are ardent smugglers. In an article in the March, 1919, number of "Asia" by Putnam Weale, we find the following bit: * "At all ports where Japanese commissioners of Maritime Customs (in China) hold office, it is undeniable that centres of contraband trade have been established, opium and its derivatives being so openly smuggled that the annual net import of Japanese morphia (although this trade is forbidden by International Convention) is now said to be something like 20 tons a year-sufficient to poison a whole nation."

* " A Fair Chance for Asia," by Putnam Weale, page 227.

Mr. Weale is an Englishman, therefore more anti-Japanese than anti-opium. We do not recall any of his writings in which he protests against the opium trade as conducted by his Government, nor the part his Government plays in fostering and encouraging it.

However, there are other Englishmen who see the situation in a more impartial light, and who are equally critical of both Great Britain and Japan. In his book, Trade Politics and Christianity in Africa and the East," by A. J. Macdonald, M. A., formerly of Trinity College, Cambridge, we find the facts presented with more balance. Thus, on page 229: ". . . In the north of China another evil is springing up. The eradication of the opium habit is being followed by the development of the morphia traffic. . . . The morphia habit in northern China, especially Manchuria, is already widespread. The Chinese Government is alert to the evil, but their efforts to repress it are hampered by the action of traders, mainly Japanese, who elude the restrictions imposed by the Chinese and Japanese Governments. . . . China is being drenched with morphia. It is incredible that anything approaching the amount could possibly be devoted to legitimate purposes. It is said that in certain areas coolies are to be seen covered all over with needle punctures.' An injection of the drug can be obtained for three or four cents. In Newchang 2,000 Victims of the morphia habit died in the winter of 1914-15. Morphia carries off its victims far more rapidly than opium. . . . Morphia is not yet manufactured in any appreciable quantities in the East, and certainly even Japan cannot yet manufacture the hypodermic injectors by means of which the drug is received. The bulk of the manufacture takes place in England, Germany and Austria. . . . In this traffic, two firms in Edinburgh and one in London are engaged. The trade is carried on through Japanese agents. The Board of Trade returns show that the export of morphia from Great Britain to the East has risen enormously during the last few years.

1911 - 5.5 tons

1912 - 7.5 tons

1913 - 11.25

1914 -- 14

The freedom which allows three British firms to supply China with morphia for illicit purposes is a condemnation of English Christianity.

This book of Mr. Macdonald's was published in 1916. Mr. Weale's article was published in 1919, in which he speaks of an importation of about twenty tons of morphia. Apparently the three British firms which manufacture morphia, two in Edinburgh and one in London are still going strong. Japan, however, appears to be growing impatient with all this opprobrium cast upon her as the distributor of drugs, especially since much of the outcry against this comes from America. Our own country seems to be assisting in this traffic in a most extensive manner. The Japan Society Bulletin No. 60 calls attention to this:


The morphia traffic in China has taken a new turn, according to the Japan Advertiser. It quotes Putnam Weale to the effect that whilst in recent years the main distributors have been Japanese, the main manufacturers have been British. The morphia has been exported in large quantities from Edinburgh to Japan, but as the result of licensing the exports of this drug from Great Britain, the shipments to Japan dropped from 6oo,229 ounces in 1917 to one-fourth that amount in 1918. The Japan Chronicle, speaking from "absolutely authentic information," states that 113,000 ounces of morphia arrived in Kobe from the United States in the first five months of 1919. These figures are not given as the total shipments received in Kobe, but merely as the quantity of which The Chronicle has actual knowledge. It states further that this morphia is being transhipped in Kobe harbor to vessels bound for China. Dr. Paul S. Reinsch, who has resigned his post as Minister to China, has stated that he will use every resource in his power to stop the shipment from America of morphia intended for distribution in China, in defiance of the international convention which prohibits the sale of the drug in that country.

If sufficient publicity is cast upon the distributors, Japanese, English and American, public sentiment may in time take cognizance of the source of all this mischief, namely, the producer.

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