"Yes, that's the popular game to-day, cussing the militarists," cut in Kent. "Still, you know, I can see their point of view even if, God knows, I condemn their methods. Look here, there's no use denying that just one thing made Japan great, her army and navy. Take them away, and the other Powers would put her in the class of, say, Spain. Now we have decreed that hereafter we will measure nations by industrial[Pg 281] and commercial greatness, and the Japanese see that they're being left way behind. The militarists see that Japan can remain great only in the same way as she became great, by the sword. Now, it's probably sure enough that they have given up the old idea of an offensive outside of Asia; but what I think they are working up to is establishing a line of defense to the eastward, and once that's complete, they will be ready to do as they please in Asia; probably they feel that we won't easily be led into war against them, anyway.
It was a busy period for Kent. News was breaking constantly, here and there, in unexpected quarters. It was intensely interesting at first, sending story upon story over the wire, each one conveying the tingling feeling of anticipation that each day was bringing nearer some great event, some cataclysm, indefinite but gradually assuming certainty, something overwhelming, big news. But events were happening too quickly,[Pg 268]â€”the staccato hammering of situation after situation, the Manchurian affair, army bill, rice scandal, Diet fights, police charges, rumors and revelations, farmer revolts and riots in the cities, all became a conglomerate chaos of excitement, a whirl of incidents flickering by with dizzily shifting changes, making concentration on any one of them almost impossible. Like the nation in general, Kent found himself unable to maintain the high key of excited absorption; one became overwhelmed as if by a succession of great waves, one following so closely after the other that the mind, battered and bewildered, failing to register complete, clear impression of each one, became in reaction dulled, exhausted, almost apathetic. After all, this ubiquitous clamor, this constantly flickering and flashing of new heterogeneous pictures, produced finally but an impression of a stupendous blur; one became exhausted by the repetition of explosions of excitement, causing one to hold one's breath, nervously, in expectancy of some prodigious dÃ©nouement, a political deluge, that constantly impended but which always seemed to fall just short, to evaporate harmlessly as each happening became overshadowed by the occurrence of some new and astounding development.
But a mumble of voices could be heard among the pillars behind them. A group passed, unseen, chattering, below. Hurried footsteps rang along the tiles. He roused himself. "Sylviaâ€”â€”"
"Oh, hell, don't spring that worn-out theory of Japan's overflowing," interrupted Templeton. "As Japan industrializes, she'll take care of her population; and there's still room in Japan for lots of additional people. Premier Hara himself told me once that there was room for millions in Hokkaido alone."