Casualties and losses
11,424–11,500 died of wounds
21,802–27,200 died of disease
34,000–52,623 killed or died of wounds
9,300–18,830 died of disease
1st Port Arthur
Hitachi Maru convoy
2nd Port Arthur
Japanese colonial campaigns
Liaodong Peninsula (1895)
Soviet Union (1932–39)
The Russo–Japanese War (Russian: Русско-японская
война, Russko-yaponskaya voina; Japanese: 日露戦争
Nichirosensō; 1904–05) was fought between the
Russian Empire and
Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan over rival imperial ambitions in
Korea. The major theatres of operations were the Liaodong Peninsula
Mukden in Southern
Manchuria and the seas around Korea,
the Yellow Sea.
Russia sought a warm-water port on the
Pacific Ocean for its navy and
for maritime trade.
Vladivostok was operational only during the
summer, whereas Port Arthur, a naval base in Liaodong Province leased
Russia by China, was operational all year. Since the end of the
First Sino–Japanese War in 1895,
Japan feared Russian encroachment
on its plans to create a sphere of influence in
Korea and Manchuria.
Russia had demonstrated an expansionist policy in the Siberian Far
East from the reign of
Ivan the Terrible
Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century.
Russia as a rival,
Japan offered to recognize Russian dominance
Manchuria in exchange for recognition of
Korea as being within the
Japanese sphere of influence.
Russia refused and demanded
of the 39th parallel to be a neutral buffer zone between
Japan. The Japanese government perceived a Russian threat to its plans
for expansion into Asia and chose to go to war. After negotiations
broke down in 1904, the Japanese Navy opened hostilities by attacking
the Russian Eastern Fleet at Port Arthur, China, in a surprise attack.
Russia suffered multiple defeats by Japan, but Tsar
Nicholas II was
Russia would win and chose to remain engaged in the
war; at first, to await the outcomes of certain naval battles, and
later to preserve the dignity of
Russia by averting a "humiliating
peace". The war concluded with the Treaty of Portsmouth, mediated by
US President Theodore Roosevelt. The complete victory of the Japanese
military surprised world observers. The consequences transformed the
balance of power in East Asia, resulting in a reassessment of Japan's
recent entry onto the world stage. It was the first major military
victory in the modern era of an Asian power over a European one.
Scholars continue to debate the historical significance of the war.
1 Historical background
1.1 Sino-Japanese War (1894–95)
1.2 Russian encroachment
1.3 Boxer Rebellion
1.4 Pre-war negotiations
2 Declaration of war
3 Campaign of 1904
3.1 Battle of Port Arthur
3.2 Blockade of Port Arthur
3.3 Siege of Port Arthur
3.4 Anglo–Japanese intelligence co-operation
3.5 Battle of Yalu River
3.6 Battle of the Yellow Sea
Baltic Fleet redeploys
3.8 The fate of the civilians
4 Campaign of 1905
4.1 Battle of Sandepu
4.2 Battle of Mukden
4.3 Battle of Tsushima
5 Peace and aftermath
5.1 Treaty of Portsmouth
5.3 Political consequences
5.3.1 Effects on Russia
5.3.2 Effects on Japan
5.4 Historical significance
5.5 Reception around the world
5.6 Assessment of war results
6 Military attachés and observers
8 List of battles
9 Cultural legacy
9.1 Visual arts
11 See also
14 Further reading
15 External links
An anti-Russian satirical map produced by a Japanese student at Keio
University during the Russo–Japanese War. It follows the design used
for a similar map first published in 1877.
Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Meiji government endeavored
to assimilate Western ideas, technological advances and ways of
warfare. By the late 19th century,
Japan had transformed itself into a
modernized industrial state. The Japanese wanted to be recognized as
equal with the Western powers. The
Meiji Restoration had always been
intended to make
Japan a modernized state, not a Westernized one, and
Japan was always an imperialist power, looking towards overseas
expansionism. In the years 1869–73, the
Seikanron ("Conquer Korea
Argument") had bitterly divided the Japanese elite between one faction
that wanted to conquer
Korea immediately vs. another that wanted to
Japan was more modernized before embarking on a war to
conquer Korea; significantly no-one in the Japanese elite ever
accepted the idea that the Koreans had the right to be independent,
with only the question of timing dividing the two factions. In much
the same way that Europeans used the "backwardness" of African and
Asian nations as a reason for why they had to conquer them, for the
Japanese elite the "backwardness" of China and
Korea was proof of the
inferiority of those nations, thus giving the Japanese the "right" to
conquer them. Inouye Kaoru, the Foreign Minister gave a speech in
1887 saying "What we must do is to transform our empire and our
people, make the empire like the countries of Europe and our people
like the peoples of Europe", going to say that the Chinese and Koreans
had essentially forfeited their right to be independent by not
modernizing. Much of the pressure for an aggressive foreign policy
Japan came from below, with the advocates of "people's rights"
movement calling for an elected parliament also favoring an
ultra-nationalist line that took it for granted the Japanese had the
"right" to annex Korea, as the "people's right" movement was led by
those who favored invading
Korea in the years 1869–73. As part of
the modernization process in Japan, Social Darwinian ideas about the
"survival of the fittest" were common in
Japan from the 1880s onward
and many ordinary Japanese resented the heavy taxes imposed by the
government to modernize Japan, demanding something tangible like an
overseas colony as a reward for their sacrifices. Furthermore, the
educational system of Meiji
Japan was meant to train the schoolboys to
be soldiers when they grew up, and as such, Japanese schools
indoctrinated their students into
Bushido ("the spirit of the
warriors"), the fierce code of the samurai. Having indoctrinated
the younger generations into Bushido, the Meiji elite found themselves
faced with a people who clamored for war, and regarded diplomacy as a
weakness. The British Japanologist Richard Storry wrote the biggest
Japan in the West was that the Japanese people
were the "docile" instruments of the elite, when in fact much of the
pressure for Japan's wars from 1894 to 1941 came from below, as
ordinary people demanded a "tough" foreign policy, and tended to
engage in riots and assassination when foreign policy was perceived to
be pusillanimous. Though the Meiji oligarchy refused to allow
democracy, they did seek to appropriate some of the demands of the
"people's rights" movement by allowing an elected Diet in 1890 (with
limited powers and an equally limited franchise) and by pursuing an
aggressive foreign policy towards Korea.
Japan had encouraged a coup in
Korea by a pro-Japanese
reformist faction, which led to the conservative government calling
upon China for help, leading to a clash between Chinese and Japanese
soldiers in Seoul. At the time, Tokyo did not feel ready to risk a
war with China, and the crisis was ended by the Treaty of Tintsin,
Korea more strongly in the Chinese sphere of influence,
though it did give the Japanese the right to intervene in Korea.
All through the 1880s and early 1890s, the government in Tokyo was
regularly criticized for not being aggressive enough in Korea, leading
Japanese historian Masao Maruyama to write:
Japan was subject to pressure from the Great Powers, so she
would apply pressure to still weaker countries-a clear case of the
transfer psychology. In this regard it is significant that ever since
Meiji period demands for a tough foreign policy have come from the
common people, that is, from those who are at the receiving end of
oppression at home".
Tsarist Russia, as a major imperial power, had ambitions in the East.
By the 1890s it had extended its realm across
Central Asia to
Afghanistan, absorbing local states in the process. The Russian Empire
stretched from Poland in the west to the
Kamchatka Peninsula in the
east. With its construction of the
Trans-Siberian Railway to the
port of Vladivostok,
Russia hoped to further consolidate its influence
and presence in the region. In the
Tsushima incident of 1861 Russia
had directly assaulted Japanese territory.
Sino-Japanese War (1894–95)
Main article: First Sino-Japanese War
Chinese generals in
Pyongyang surrender to the Japanese, October 1894.
Meiji Restoration and its participation in World War I,
Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan fought in two significant wars. The first war
Japan fought was the First Sino-Japanese War, fought in 1894 and 1895.
The war revolved around the issue of control and influence over Korea
under the rule of the
Joseon dynasty. From the 1880s onward, there had
been vigorous competition for influence in
Korea between China and
Japan. The Korean court was prone to factionalism, and was badly
divided by a reformist faction that was pro-Japanese and a more
conservative faction that was pro-Chinese. In 1884, a pro-Japanese
coup attempt was put down by Chinese troops, and a "residency" under
Yuan Shikai was established in Seoul. A peasant rebellion
led by the Tonghak religious movement led to a request by the Korean
government for the
Qing dynasty to send in troops to stabilize the
Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan responded by sending their own force
Korea to crush the Tonghak and installed a puppet government in
Seoul. China objected and war ensued. Hostilities proved brief, with
Japanese ground troops routing Chinese forces on the Liaodong
Peninsula and nearly destroying the Chinese
Beiyang Fleet in the
Battle of the Yalu River.
Japan and China signed the Treaty of
Shimonoseki, which ceded the
Liaodong Peninsula and the island of
Taiwan to Japan. After the peace treaty, Russia, Germany, and France
Japan to withdraw from the Liaodong Peninsula. The leaders of
Japan did not feel that they possessed the strength to resist the
combined might of Russia, Germany and France, and so gave in to the
ultimatum. At the same time, the Japanese did not abandon their
attempts to force
Korea into the Japanese sphere of influence. On 8
October 1895, Queen Min of Korea, the leader of the anti-Japanese and
pro-Chinese faction at the Korean court was murdered by Japanese
agents within the halls of the
Gyeongbokgung palace, an act that
backfired badly as it turned Korean public opinion against Japan.
In early 1896, King Gojong of
Korea fled to the Russian legation in
Seoul under the grounds that his life was in danger from Japanese
agents, and Russian influence in
Korea started to predominate. In
the aftermath of the flight of the king, a popular uprising overthrew
the pro-Japanese government and several cabinet ministers were lynched
on the streets.
Russia occupied the Liaodong Peninsula, built the Port Arthur
fortress, and based the Russian Pacific Fleet in the port. Russia's
acquisition of Port Arthur was primarily an anti-British move to
counter the British occupation of Wei-hai-Wei, but in Japan, this was
perceived as an anti-Japanese move. Germany occupied Jiaozhou Bay,
built the Tsingtao fortress, and based the German East Asia Squadron
in this port. between 1897 and 1903, the Russians built the Chinese
Eastern Railway (CER) in Manchuria. The Chinese Eastern Railroad
was owned jointly by the Russian and Chinese governments, but the
company's management was entirely Russian, the line was built to the
Russian gauge and Russian troops were stationed in
protect rail traffic on the CER from bandit attacks. The
headquarters of the CER company was located in the new Russian-built
city of Harbin, the "Moscow of the Orient". From 1897 onwards,
Manchuria—while still nominally part of the "Great Qing
Empire"—started to resemble more and more a Russian province.
In December 1897, a Russian fleet appeared off Port Arthur. After
three months, in 1898, China and
Russia negotiated a convention by
which China leased (to Russia) Port Arthur,
Talienwan and the
surrounding waters. The two parties further agreed that the convention
could be extended by mutual agreement. The Russians clearly expected
such an extension, for they lost no time in occupying the territory
and in fortifying Port Arthur, their sole warm-water port on the
Pacific coast and of great strategic value. A year later, to
consolidate their position, the Russians began to build a new railway
Mukden to Port Arthur, the South Manchurian
Railroad. The development of the railway became a contributory
factor to the Boxer Rebellion, when Boxer forces burned the railway
The Russians also began to make inroads into Korea. By 1898 they had
acquired mining and forestry concessions near the Yalu and Tumen
rivers, causing the Japanese much anxiety.
Japan decided to attack
before the Russians completed the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Main article: Boxer Rebellion
Troops of the
Eight-Nation Alliance in 1900. Left to right: Britain,
United States, Austria-Hungary, India, Germany, France, Russia, Italy,
The Russians and the Japanese both contributed troops to the
eight-member international force sent in 1900 to quell the Boxer
Rebellion and to relieve the international legations under siege in
the Chinese capital, Beijing.
Russia had already sent 177,000 soldiers
to Manchuria, nominally to protect its railways under construction.
The troops of the Qing Empire and the participants of the Boxer
Rebellion could do nothing against such a massive army and were
ejected from Manchuria. After the Boxer Rebellion, 100,000 Russian
soldiers were stationed in Manchuria. The Russian troops settled
in and despite assurances they would vacate the area after the
crisis, by 1903 the Russians had not established a timetable for
withdrawal and had actually strengthened their position in
The Japanese statesman
Itō Hirobumi started to negotiate with the
Russians. He regarded
Japan as too weak to evict the Russians
militarily, so he proposed giving
Russia control over
exchange for Japanese control of northern Korea. Of the five Genrō
(elder statesmen) who made up the Meiji oligarchy,
Itō Hirobumi and
Inoue Kaoru were opposed to war against
Russia on financial
grounds while Katsura Tarō,
Komura Jutarō and Field Marshal Yamagata
Aritomo favored war. Meanwhile,
Japan and Britain had signed the
Anglo–Japanese Alliance in 1902, the British seeking to restrict
naval competition by keeping the Russian Pacific seaports of
Vladivostok and Port Arthur from their full use. The alliance with the
British meant, in part, that if any nation allied itself with Russia
during any war against Japan, then Britain would enter the war on
Russia could no longer count on receiving help from
either Germany or France without there being a danger of British
involvement in the war. With such an alliance,
Japan felt free to
commence hostilities, if necessary.
The 1890s and 1900s marked the height of the "Yellow Peril" propaganda
by the German government and the German Emperor Wilhelm II often wrote
letters to his cousin
Nicholas II of Russia, praising him as the
"savior of the white race" and urging
Russia forward in Asia.
From November 1894 onward, Wilhelm had been writing letters praising
Nicholas as Europe's defender from the "Yellow Peril", assuring the
Tsar that God Himself had "chosen"
Russia to defend Europe from the
alleged Asian threat. On 1 November 1902, Wilhelm wrote to
Nicholas that "certain symptoms in the East seem to show that
becoming a rather restless customer" and "it is evident to every
unbiased mind that
Korea must and will be Russian". Wilhelm ended
his letter with the warning that
Japan and China would soon unite
against Europe, writing: "Twenty to thirty million Chinese, supported
by a half dozen Japanese divisions, led by competent, intrepid
Japanese officers, full of hatred for Christianity—that is a vision
of the future that cannot be contemplated without concern, and it is
not impossible. On the contrary, it is the realisation of the yellow
peril, which I described a few years ago and I was ridiculed by the
majority of people for my graphic depiction of it ... Your
devoted friend and cousin, Willy, Admiral of the Atlantic".
Wilhelm aggressively encouraged Russia's ambitions in Asia as France,
Russia's ally since 1894, was less than supportive of Russian
expansionism in Asia, and it was believed in Berlin that German
Russia might break up the Franco–Russian alliance and
lead to a new German–Russian alliance. The French, who had been
Russia's closest allies since 1894, made it clear that they
disapproved of Nicholas's forward policy in Asia with the French
Maurice Rouvier publicly declaring that the Franco–Russian
alliance applied only to Europe, not Asia, and that France would
remain neutral if
Japan attacked Russia. The American president
Theodore Roosevelt, who was attempting to mediate the
Russian–Japanese dispute, complained that Wilhelm's "Yellow Peril"
propaganda, which strongly implied that Germany might go to war
Japan in support of Russia, encouraged Russian
intransigence. On 24 July 1905, in a letter to the British
diplomat Cecil Spring Rice, Roosevelt wrote that Wilhelm bore partial
responsibility for the war as "he has done all he could to bring it
about", charging that Wilhelm's constant warnings about the "Yellow
Peril" had made the Russians uninterested in compromise as Nicholas
believed that Germany would intervene if
The implicit promise of German support suggested by Wilhelm's "Yellow
Peril" speeches and letters to Nicholas led many decision-makers in
St. Petersburg to believe that Russia's military weaknesses in the Far
East like the uncompleted Trans-Siberian railroad line did not matter
as it was assumed the Reich would come to Russia's assistance of if
war should come. In fact, neither Wilhelm nor his Chancellor Prince
Bernhard von Bülow
Bernhard von Bülow had much interest in East Asia, and Wilhelm's
letters to Nicholas praising him as Europe's savior against the
"Yellow Peril" were really meant to change the balance of power in
Europe as Wilhelm believed that if
Russia was embroiled with Japan,
this would break up the Franco–Russian alliance and lead to Nicholas
signing an alliance with Germany. This was especially the case as
Germany had embarked upon the Tirpitz plan and a policy of Weltpolitik
meant to challenge Britain's position as the world's leading power,
and since Britain was allied to Japan, then if
be manipulated into going to war with each other, that this in turn
would lead to
Russia turning towards Germany. Furthermore, Wilhelm
believed if a Russian–German alliance emerged, France would be
compelled to join it and having
Russia pursue an expansionist policy
in Asia would keep
Russia out of the Balkans, thus removing the main
source of tension between
Russia and Germany's ally
Austria–Hungary. During the war, Nicholas who took at face value
Wilhelm's "Yellow Peril" speeches, placed much hope in German
intervention on his side, and more than once, Nicholas chose to
continue the war out of the belief that the Kaiser would come to his
By 8 April 1903,
Russia was supposed to have completed its withdrawal
of its forces in
Manchuria that it had dispatched to crush the Boxer
Rebellion, but that day passed with no reductions in Russian forces in
Manchuria. In Japan, university students demonstrated against both
Russia and their own government for not taking any action. On 28
July 1903, Shinichiro Kurino, the Japanese minister in St. Petersburg
was instructed to present his country's view opposing Russia's
consolidation plans in Manchuria. On 3 August, the Japanese minister
handed in the following document to serve as the basis for further
Mutual engagement to respect the independence and territorial
integrity of the Chinese and Korean empires and to maintain the
principle of equal opportunity for the commerce and industry of all
nations in those countries.
Reciprocal recognition of Japan's preponderating interests in Korea
and Russia's special interests in railway enterprises in Manchuria,
and of the right of
Japan to take in
Korea and of
Russia to take in
Manchuria such measures as may be necessary for the protection of
their respective interests as above defined, subject, however, to the
provisions of article I of this agreement.
Reciprocal undertaking on the part of
Japan not to impede
development of those industrial and commercial activities respectively
Korea and of
Russia in Manchuria, which are not
inconsistent with the stipulations of article I of this agreement.
Additional engagement on the part of
Russia not to impede the eventual
extension of the Korean railway into southern
Manchuria so as to
connect with the East China and Shan-hai-kwan-Newchwang lines.
Reciprocal engagement that in case it is found necessary to send
Japan to Korea, or by
Russia to Manchuria, for the purpose
either of protecting the interests mentioned in article II of this
agreement, or of suppressing insurrection or disorder calculated to
create international complications, the troops so sent are in no case
to exceed the actual number required and are to be forthwith recalled
as soon as their missions are accomplished.
Recognition on the part of
Russia of the exclusive right of
give advice and assistance in the interest of reform and good
government in Korea, including necessary military assistance.
This agreement to supplant all previous arrangements between
Russia respecting Korea.
On 3 October, the Russian minister to Japan, Roman Rosen, presented to
the Japanese government the Russian counterproposal as the basis of
negotiations, as follows:
Mutual engagement to respect the independence and territorial
integrity of the Korean Empire.
Russia of Japan's preponderating interests in
of the right of
Japan to give advice and assistance to
to improve the civil administration of the empire without infringing
the stipulations of article I.
Engagement on the part of
Russia not to impede the commercial and
industrial undertakings of
Japan in Korea, nor to oppose any measures
taken for the purpose of protecting them so long as such measures do
not infringe the stipulations of article I.
Recognition of the right of
Japan to send for the same purpose troops
to Korea, with the knowledge of Russia, but their number not to exceed
that actually required, and with the engagement on the part of Japan
to recall such troops as soon as their mission is accomplished.
Mutual engagement not to use any part of the territory of
strategical purposes nor to undertake on the coasts of
military works capable of menacing the freedom of navigation in the
Straits of Korea.
Mutual engagement to consider that part of the territory of Korea
lying to the north of the 39th parallel as a neutral zone into which
neither of the contracting parties shall introduce troops.
Manchuria and its littoral as in all respects
outside her sphere of interest.
This agreement to supplant all previous agreements between
Japan respecting Korea.
During the Russian–Japanese talks, the Japanese historian Hirono
Yoshihiko noted that "once negotiations commenced between
Russia scaled back its demands and claims regarding
by bit, making a series of concessions that
Japan regarded as serious
compromises on Russia's part". The war might have been avoided had
not the issues of
Manchuria become linked. The Korean
and Manchurian issues had become linked as the Prime Minister Katsura
Tarō decided if war did come, that
Japan was more likely to have the
support of the United States and Great Britain if the war could be
presented as a struggle for free trade against the highly
protectionist Russian empire, in which case, Manchuria, which was the
larger market than Korea, was more likely to engage Anglo–American
sympathies. Throughout the war, a recurring theme of Japanese
Japan was a "civilized" power that supported free trade
and would implicitly allow foreign businesses into the resource-rich
Russia the "uncivilized" power that was
protectionist and wanted to keep the riches of
Manchuria all to
Emperor Gojong of
Korea came to believe that the issue dividing Japan
Russia was Manchuria, and chose to pursue a policy of neutrality
as the best way of preserving Korean independence as the crisis
mounted. Hu Weide, the Chinese minister in
St. Petersburg in a
series of reports to Beijing looked closely at whatever a Russian or a
Japanese victory would be favorable to China, and argued that the
latter was more preferable, as he maintained a Japanese victory
presented the better chance for China to regain sovereignty over
Manchuria. In December 1903, China decided to remain neutral if
war came, because though
Japan was the only power capable of evicting
Russia from Manchuria, the extent of Japanese ambitions in Manchuria
was not clear in Beijing.
In the Russian-Japanese negotiations then followed, although by early
January 1904, the Japanese government had realised that
Russia was not
interested in settling the Manchurian or Korean issues. Instead,
Russia's goal was buying time – via diplomacy – to further build
up militarily. In December 1903, Wilhelm wrote in a marginal note
on a diplomatic dispatch about his role in inflaming Russo–Japanese
"Since 97-Kiaochow-we have never left
Russia in any doubt that we
would cover her back in Europe, in case she decided to pursue a bigger
policy in the
Far East that might lead to military complications (with
the aim of relieving our eastern border from the fearful pressure and
threat of the massive Russian army!). Whereupon,
Russia took Port
Arthur and trusting us, took her fleet out of the Baltic, thereby
making herself vulnerable to us by sea. In Danzig 01 and Reval 02, the
same assurance was given again, with result that entire Russian
divisions from Poland and European
Russia were and are being sent to
the Far East. This would not had happened if our governments had not
been in agreement!"
A recurring theme of Wilhelm's letters to Nicholas was that "Holy
Russia" had been "chosen" by God to save the "entire white race" from
the "Yellow Peril", and that
Russia was "entitled" to annex all of
Korea, Manchuria, and northern China up to Beijing. Wilhelm went
on to assure Nicholas that once
Russia had defeated
Japan that this
would be a deadly blow to British diplomacy, and the two emperors, the
self-proclaimed "Admiral of the Atlantic" and the "Admiral of the
Pacific" would rule Eurasia together, making them able to challenge
British sea power as the resources of Eurasia would make their empires
immune to a British blockade, which would thus allow Germany and
Russia to "divide up the best" of the British colonies in Asia between
Nicholas had been prepared to compromise with Japan, but after
receiving a letter from Wilhelm attacking him as a coward for his
willingness to compromise with the Japanese (whom Wilhelm never
ceasing reminding Nicholas represented the "Yellow Peril") for the
sake of peace, become more obstinate. Wilhelm had written to
Nicholas stating that the question of Russian interests in Manchuria
Korea was beside the point, saying instead it was a matter of
"undertaking the protection and defense of the White Race, and with
it, Christian civilization, against the Yellow Race. And whatever the
Japs are determined to ensure the domination of the Yellow Race in
East Asia, to put themselves at its head and organise and lead it into
battle against the White Race. That is the kernel of the situation,
and therefore there can be very little doubt about where the
sympathies of all half-way intelligent Europeans should lie. England
betrayed Europe's interests to America in a cowardly and shameful way
over the Panama Canal question, so as to be left in 'peace' by the
Yankees. Will the 'Tsar' likewise betray the interests of the White
Race to the Yellow as to be 'left in peace' and not embarrass the
Hague tribunal too much?".
When Nicholas replied that he still wanted peace, Wilhelm wrote back
in a telegram "You innocent angel!", telling his advisors "This is the
language of an innocent angel. But not that of a White Tsar!".
Nevertheless, the belief in Tokyo was that
Russia was not serious
about seeking a peaceful solution to the dispute, on 13 January 1904,
Japan proposed a formula by which
Manchuria would be outside the
Japanese sphere of influence and, reciprocally,
Russia's. On 21 December 1903, the Tarō cabinet voted to go to war
By 4 February 1904, no formal reply had been received and on 6
February the Japanese minister to Russia, Kurino Shinichiro was
Japan severed diplomatic relations with Russia.
Potential diplomatic resolution of territorial concerns between Japan
Russia failed; historians have argued that this directly resulted
from the actions of Tsar Nicholas II. One crucial error of Nicholas
was his mismanagement of government. Although certain scholars contend
the situation arose from the determination of Tsar
Nicholas II to use
the war against
Japan to spark a revival in Russian patriotism, no
historical evidence supports this claim. The Tsar's advisors did
not support the war, foreseeing problems in transporting troops and
supplies from European
Russia to the East. Convinced that his rule
was divinely ordained and that he held responsibility to God, Nicholas
II held the ideals of preserving the autocracy and defending the
dignity, honor, and worth of Russia. This attitude by the Tsar led
to repeated delays in negotiations with the Japanese government. The
Japanese understanding of this can be seen in a telegram from Japanese
minister of foreign affairs, Komura, to the minister to Russia, in
which he stated:
"... the Japanese government have at all times during the
progress of the negotiations made it a special point to give prompt
answers to all propositions of the Russian government. The
negotiations have now been pending for no less than four months, and
they have not yet reached a stage where the final issue can with
certainty be predicted. In these circumstances the Japanese government
cannot but regard with grave concern the situation for which the
delays in negotiations are largely responsible".
Nicholas II in managing the Russian government also led to
his misinterpreting the type of situation in which
Russia was to
become involved with Japan. Some scholars have suggested that Tsar
Nicholas II dragged
Japan into war intentionally, in hopes of reviving
Russian nationalism. This notion is disputed by a comment made by
Nicholas to Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, saying there would be no war
because he "did not wish it". This does not reject the claim that
Russia played an aggressive role in the East, which it did; rather, it
Russia unwisely calculated that
Japan would not go to war
against its far larger and seemingly superior navy and army. Nicholas
held the Japanese in contempt as "yellow monkeys", and he took for
granted that the Japanese would simply yield in the face of Russia's
superior power, which thus explains his unwillingness to
compromise. Evidence of Russia's false sense of security and
Japan is seen by Russian reference to
war as a big mistake.
Declaration of war
Greater Manchuria. Russian (outer)
Manchuria is the lighter red region
to the upper right.
Japan issued a declaration of war on 8 February 1904. However, three
hours before Japan's declaration of war was received by the Russian
Japanese Imperial Navy
Japanese Imperial Navy attacked the Russian Far East
Fleet at Port Arthur. Tsar
Nicholas II was stunned by news of the
attack. He could not believe that
Japan would commit an act of war
without a formal declaration, and had been assured by his ministers
that the Japanese would not fight. When the attack came, according to
Cecil Spring Rice, first secretary at the British Embassy, it left the
Tsar "almost incredulous".
Russia declared war on
Japan eight days
later. Japan, in response, made reference to the Russian attack on
Sweden in 1809 without declaration of war, and the requirement to
declare war before commencing hostilities was not made international
law until the Second Hague Peace Conference was held in October
The Qing Empire favoured the Japanese position and even offered
military aid, but
Japan declined it. However,
Yuan Shikai sent envoys
to Japanese generals several times to deliver foodstuffs and alcoholic
drinks. Native Manchurians joined the war on both sides as hired
Campaign of 1904
Port Arthur, on the
Liaodong Peninsula in the south of Manchuria, had
been fortified into a major naval base by the Russian Imperial Army.
Since it needed to control the sea in order to fight a war on the
Asian mainland, Japan's first military objective was to neutralize the
Russian fleet at Port Arthur.
Battle of Port Arthur
Main article: Battle of Port Arthur
Japanese infantry during the occupation of Seoul, Korea, in 1904
On the night of 8 February 1904, the Japanese fleet under Admiral
Tōgō Heihachirō opened the war with a surprise torpedo boat
destroyer attack on the Russian ships at Port Arthur. The attack
heavily damaged the Tsesarevich and Retvizan, the heaviest battleships
in Russia's far Eastern theater, and the 6,600 ton cruiser
Pallada. These attacks developed into the Battle of Port Arthur
the next morning. A series of indecisive naval engagements followed,
in which Admiral Tōgō was unable to attack the Russian fleet
successfully as it was protected by the shore batteries of the
harbour, and the Russians were reluctant to leave the harbour for the
open seas, especially after the death of Admiral Stepan Osipovich
Makarov on 13 April 1904. Although the actual Battle of Port Arthur
was indecisive, the initial attacks had a devastating psychological
effect on Russia, which had been confident about the prospect of war.
The Japanese had seized the initiative while the Russians waited in
These engagements provided cover for a Japanese landing near Incheon
in Korea. From
Incheon the Japanese occupied
Seoul and then the rest
of Korea. By the end of April, the Japanese Imperial Army under Kuroki
Itei was ready to cross the
Yalu River into Russian-occupied
Blockade of Port Arthur
Battlefields in the Russo–Japanese War
The Japanese attempted to deny the Russians use of Port Arthur. During
the night of 13–14 February, the Japanese attempted to block the
entrance to Port Arthur by sinking several concrete-filled steamers in
the deep water channel to the port, but they sank too deep to be
effective. A similar attempt to block the harbour entrance during the
night of 3–4 May also failed. In March, the charismatic Vice Admiral
Makarov had taken command of the First Russian Pacific Squadron with
the intention of breaking out of the Port Arthur blockade.
On 12 April 1904, two Russian pre-dreadnought battleships, the
flagship Petropavlovsk and the Pobeda, slipped out of port but struck
Japanese mines off Port Arthur. The Petropavlovsk sank almost
immediately, while the Pobeda had to be towed back to port for
extensive repairs. Admiral Makarov, the single most effective Russian
naval strategist of the war, perished on the battleship Petropavlovsk.
On 15 April 1904, the Russian government made overtures threatening to
seize the British war correspondents who were taking the ship Haimun
into warzones to report for the London-based Times newspaper, citing
concerns about the possibility of the British giving away Russian
positions to the Japanese fleet.
The Russians quickly learned, and soon employed, the Japanese tactic
of offensive minelaying. On 15 May 1904, two Japanese battleships, the
Yashima and the Hatsuse, were lured into a recently laid Russian
minefield off Port Arthur, each striking at least two mines. The
Hatsuse sank within minutes, taking 450 sailors with her, while the
Yashima sank while under tow towards
Korea for repairs. On 23 June
1904, a breakout attempt by the Russian squadron, now under the
command of Admiral Wilgelm Vitgeft, failed. By the end of the month,
Japanese artillery were firing shells into the harbour.
Siege of Port Arthur
Main article: Siege of Port Arthur
Bombardment during the Siege of Port Arthur
Siege of Port Arthur
Siege of Port Arthur commenced in April 1904. Japanese troops
tried numerous frontal assaults on the fortified hilltops overlooking
the harbour, which were defeated with Japanese casualties in the
thousands. Eventually, though, with the aid of several batteries of
11-inch (280 mm) Krupp howitzers, the Japanese were able to
capture the key hilltop bastion in December 1904. From this vantage
point, the long-range artillery was able to shell the Russian fleet,
which was unable to retaliate effectively against the land-based
artillery and was unable or unwilling to sail out against the
blockading fleet. Four Russian battleships and two cruisers were sunk
in succession, with the fifth and last battleship being forced to
scuttle a few weeks later. Thus, all capital ships of the Russian
fleet in the Pacific were sunk. This is probably the only example in
military history when such a scale of devastation was achieved by
land-based artillery against major warships.
Japanese assault on the entrenched Russian forces, 1904
Meanwhile, attempts to relieve the besieged city by land also failed,
and, after the
Battle of Liaoyang
Battle of Liaoyang in late August, the northern Russian
force that might have been able to relieve Port Arthur retreated to
Mukden (Shenyang). Major General Anatoly Stessel, commander of the
Port Arthur garrison, believed that the purpose of defending the city
was lost after the fleet had been destroyed. In general, the Russian
defenders were suffering disproportionate casualties each time the
Japanese attacked. In particular, several large underground mines were
exploded in late December, resulting in the costly capture of a few
more pieces of the defensive line. Stessel, therefore, decided to
surrender to the surprised Japanese generals on 2 January 1905. He
made his decision without consulting either the other military staff
present, or the Tsar and military command, who all disagreed with the
decision. Stessel was convicted by a court-martial in 1908 and
sentenced to death on account of an incompetent defense and for
disobeying orders. He was later pardoned.
Anglo–Japanese intelligence co-operation
Even before the war, British and Japanese intelligence had co-operated
Russia due to the Anglo–Japanese Alliance. During the
war, Indian Army stations in Malaya and China often intercepted and
read wireless and telegraph cable traffic relating to the war, which
was shared with the Japanese. In their turn, the Japanese shared
Russia with the British with one British official
writing of the "perfect quality" of Japanese intelligence. In
particular, British and Japanese intelligence gathered much evidence
that Germany was supporting
Russia in the war as part of a bid to
disturb the balance of power in Europe, which led to British officials
increasingly perceiving that country as a threat to the international
Battle of Yalu River
Main article: Battle of
Yalu River (1904)
In contrast to the Japanese strategy of rapidly gaining ground to
control Manchuria, Russian strategy focused on fighting delaying
actions to gain time for reinforcements to arrive via the long
Trans-Siberian Railway, which was incomplete near
Irkutsk at the time.
On 1 May 1904, the Battle of
Yalu River became the first major land
battle of the war; Japanese troops stormed a Russian position after
crossing the river. The defeat of the Russian Eastern Detachment
removed the perception that the Japanese would be an easy enemy, that
the war would be short, and that
Russia would be the overwhelming
victor. This was also the first battle in decades to be an Asian
victory over a European power and marked Russia's inability to match
Japan's military prowess. Japanese troops proceeded to land at
several points on the Manchurian coast, and in a series of
engagements, drove the Russians back towards Port Arthur. The
subsequent battles, including the
Battle of Nanshan
Battle of Nanshan on 25 May 1904,
were marked by heavy Japanese losses largely from attacking entrenched
Battle of the Yellow Sea
Main article: Battle of the Yellow Sea
With the death of Admiral
Stepan Makarov during the siege of Port
Arthur in April 1904, Admiral
Wilgelm Vitgeft was appointed commander
of the battle fleet and was ordered to make a sortie from Port Arthur
and deploy his force to Vladivostok. Flying his flag in the
French-built pre-dreadnought Tsesarevich, Vitgeft proceeded to lead
his six battleships, four cruisers, and 14 torpedo boat destroyers
Yellow Sea in the early morning of 10 August 1904. Waiting
for him was Admiral Tōgō and his fleet of four battleships, 10
cruisers, and 18 torpedo boat destroyers.
At approximately 12:15, the battleship fleets obtained visual contact
with each other, and at 13:00 with Tōgō crossing Vitgeft's T, they
commenced main battery fire at a range of about eight miles, the
longest ever conducted up to that time. For about thirty minutes
the battleships pounded one another until they had closed to less than
four miles and began to bring their secondary batteries into play. At
18:30, a hit from one of Tōgō's battleships struck Vitgeft's
flagship's bridge, killing him instantly.
With the Tsesarevich's helm jammed and their admiral killed in action,
she turned from her battle line, causing confusion among her fleet.
However, Tōgō was determined to sink the Russian flagship and
continued pounding her, and it was saved only by the gallant charge of
the American-built Russian battleship Retvizan, whose captain
successfully drew away Tōgō's heavy fire from the Russian
flagship. Knowing of the impending battle with the battleship
reinforcements arriving from
Russia (the Baltic Fleet), Tōgō chose
not to risk his battleships by pursuing his enemy as they turned about
and headed back into Port Arthur, thus ending naval history's
longest-range gunnery duel up to that time and the first modern clash
of steel battleship fleets on the high seas.
Baltic Fleet redeploys
Route of Baltic Fleet, to and back
Meanwhile, the Russians were preparing to reinforce their Far East
Fleet by sending the Baltic Fleet, under the command of Admiral Zinovy
Rozhestvensky. After a false start caused by engine problems and other
mishaps, the squadron finally departed on 15 October 1904, and sailed
halfway around the world from the
Baltic Sea to the Pacific via the
Cape Route around the
Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good Hope in the course of a seven-month
odyssey that was to attract worldwide attention. The fleet was forced
to take this longer route after the
Dogger Bank incident
Dogger Bank incident on 21 October
1904, where the Russian fleet fired on British fishing boats that they
mistook for enemy torpedo boats. This caused the British to deny them
access to the Suez Canal, thus forcing them around Africa, and nearly
sparking a war with the United Kingdom (an ally of Japan, but neutral,
The fate of the civilians
During the fighting in Manchuria, Russian troops looted and burned
some Chinese villages, raped women and often killed those who resisted
or did not understand what they wanted. The Russian justification
for all this was that Chinese civilians, being Asian, must have been
helping their fellow Asians, the Japanese, inflict defeat on the
Russians, and therefore deserved to be punished. The Russian troops
were gripped by the fear of the "Yellow Peril", and saw all Asians,
not just the Japanese, as the enemy. All of the Russian soldiers
were much feared by the Chinese population of Manchuria, but it was
the Cossacks whom they feared the most on the account of their
brutality and insatiable desire to loot. Largely because of the more
disciplined behavior of the Japanese, the Han and Manchu population of
Manchuria tended to be pro-Japanese. However Japanese were also
prone to looting, albeit in a considerably less brutal manner than the
Russians, and summarily executed any Chinese or Manchu whom they
suspected of being spies. The city of Liaoyang had the misfortune to
be sacked three times within three days: first by the Russians, then
by the Chinese police, and finally by the Japanese. The Japanese
hired Chinese bandits known variously as the Chunguses, Chunchuse or
khunhuzy to engage in guerrilla warfare by attacking Russian supply
columns. Only once did the Chunguses attack Japanese forces, and
that attack was apparently motivated by the Chunguses mistaking the
Japanese forces for a Russian one. Zhang Zuolin, a prominent
bandit leader and the future "Old Marshal" who would rule
a warlord between 1916 and 1928, worked as a Chunguse for the
Manchuria was still officially part of the Chinese Empire,
and the Chinese civil servants tried their best to be neutral as
Russian and Japanese troops marched across Manchuria. In the parts of
Manchuria occupied by the Japanese, Tokyo appointed "civil governors"
who worked to improve health, sanitation and the state of the
roads. These activities were also self-interested, as improved
roads lessened Japanese logistics problems while improved health
amongst the Chinese lessened the dangers of diseases infecting the
Japanese troops. By contrast, the Russians made no effort to improve
sanitation or health amongst the Chinese they ruled over, and
destroyed everything when they retreated. Many Chinese tended to see
the Japanese as the lesser evil.
Campaign of 1905
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Retreat of Russian soldiers after the Battle of Mukden
With the fall of Port Arthur, the Japanese 3rd Army could continue
northward to reinforce positions south of Russian-held Mukden. With
the onset of the severe Manchurian winter, there had been no major
land engagements since the
Battle of Shaho
Battle of Shaho the previous year. The two
sides camped opposite each other along 60 to 70 miles (110 km) of
front lines south of Mukden.
Battle of Sandepu
Main article: Battle of Sandepu
The Russian Second Army under General Oskar Gripenberg, between 25 and
29 January, attacked the Japanese left flank near the town of Sandepu,
almost breaking through. This caught the Japanese by surprise.
However, without support from other Russian units the attack stalled,
Gripenberg was ordered to halt by Kuropatkin and the battle was
inconclusive. The Japanese knew that they needed to destroy the
Russian army in
Manchuria before Russian reinforcements arrived via
the Trans-Siberian railroad.
Battle of Mukden
Main article: Battle of Mukden
An illustration of a Japanese assault during the Battle of Mukden
Battle of Mukden
Battle of Mukden commenced on 20 February 1905. In the following
days Japanese forces proceeded to assault the right and left flanks of
Russian forces surrounding Mukden, along a 50-mile (80 km) front.
Approximately half a million men were involved in the fighting. Both
sides were well entrenched and were backed by hundreds of artillery
pieces. After days of harsh fighting, added pressure from the flanks
forced both ends of the Russian defensive line to curve backwards.
Seeing they were about to be encircled, the Russians began a general
retreat, fighting a series of fierce rearguard actions, which soon
deteriorated in the confusion and collapse of Russian forces. On 10
March 1905, after three weeks of fighting,
General Kuropatkin decided
to withdraw to the north of Mukden. The Russians lost 90,000 men in
The retreating Russian Manchurian Army formations disbanded as
fighting units, but the Japanese failed to destroy them completely.
The Japanese themselves had suffered heavy casualties and were in no
condition to pursue. Although the
Battle of Mukden
Battle of Mukden was a major defeat
for the Russians and was the most decisive land battle ever fought by
the Japanese, the final victory still depended on the navy.
Battle of Tsushima
Main article: Battle of Tsushima
Japanese battleship Mikasa, the flagship of Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō
at the Battle of Tsushima
After a stopover of several weeks at the minor port of Nossi-Bé,
Madagascar, that had been reluctantly allowed by neutral France in
order not to jeopardize its relations with its Russian ally, the
Russian Baltic fleet proceeded to
Cam Ranh Bay
Cam Ranh Bay in French Indochina
passing on its way through the
Singapore Strait between 7 and 10 April
1905. The fleet finally reached the Sea of
Japan in May 1905. The
logistics of such an undertaking in the age of coal power was
astounding. The squadron required approximately 500,000 tons of
coal to complete the journey, yet by international law, it was not
allowed to coal at neutral ports, forcing the Russian authorities to
acquire a large fleet of colliers to supply the fleet at sea. The
weight of the ships' stores needed for such a long journey was to be
another major problem. The Russian Second Pacific Squadron (the
renamed Baltic Fleet) sailed 18,000 nautical miles (33,000 km) to
relieve Port Arthur only to hear the demoralizing news that Port
Arthur had fallen reached the fleet while it was still at Madagascar.
Admiral Rozhestvensky's only hope now was to reach the port of
Vladivostok. There were three routes to Vladivostok, with the shortest
and most direct passing through
Tsushima Strait between
Japan. However, this was also the most dangerous route as it passed
between the Japanese home islands and the Japanese naval bases in
Admiral Togo was aware of Russian progress and understood that, with
the fall of Port Arthur, the Second and Third Pacific squadrons would
try to reach the only other Russian port in the Far East, Vladivostok.
Battle plans were laid down and ships were repaired and refitted to
intercept the Russian fleet.
The Japanese Combined Fleet, which had originally consisted of six
battleships, was now down to four (two had been lost to mines), but
still retained its cruisers, destroyers, and torpedo boats. The
Russian Second Pacific Squadron contained eight battleships, including
four new battleships of the Borodino class, as well as cruisers,
destroyers and other auxiliaries for a total of 38 ships.
By the end of May, the Second Pacific Squadron was on the last leg of
its journey to Vladivostok, taking the shorter, riskier route between
Korea and Japan, and travelling at night to avoid discovery.
Unfortunately for the Russians, while in compliance with the rules of
war, the two trailing hospital ships had continued to burn their
lights, which were spotted by the Japanese armed merchant cruiser
Shinano Maru. Wireless communication was used to inform Togo's
headquarters, where the
Combined Fleet was immediately ordered to
sortie. Still receiving naval intelligence from scouting forces, the
Japanese were able to position their fleet so that they would "cross
the T" of the Russian fleet. The Japanese engaged the Russians in
the Tsushima Straits on 27–28 May 1905. The Russian fleet was
virtually annihilated, losing eight battleships, numerous smaller
vessels, and more than 5,000 men, while the Japanese lost three
torpedo boats and 116 men. Only three Russian vessels escaped to
Vladivostok. After the Battle of Tsushima, a combined Japanese Army
and Navy operation occupied
Sakhalin Island to force the Russians into
suing for peace.
Peace and aftermath
Treaty of Portsmouth
Main article: Treaty of Portsmouth
Treaty of Portsmouth
Treaty of Portsmouth (1905). From left to right: the
Russians at far side of table are Korostovetz, Nabokov, Witte, Rosen,
Plancon; and the Japanese at near side of table are Adachi, Ochiai,
Komura, Takahira, Sato. The large conference table is today preserved
at the Museum
Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture, Japan.
The defeats of the Russian Army and Navy shook up Russian confidence.
Throughout 1905, the Imperial Russian government was rocked by
revolution. The population was against escalation of the war. The
empire was certainly capable of sending more troops but this would
make little difference in the outcome due to the poor state of the
economy, the embarrassing defeats of the Russian Army and Navy by the
Japanese, and the relative unimportance to
Russia of the disputed land
made the war extremely unpopular. Tsar
Nicholas II elected to
negotiate peace so he could concentrate on internal matters after the
disaster of Bloody Sunday on 9 January 1905.
Russia Treaty of Peace, 5 September 1905
Both sides accepted the offer of Theodore Roosevelt, the President of
the United States, to mediate; meetings were held in Portsmouth, New
Sergei Witte leading the Russian delegation and Baron
Komura, a graduate of Harvard, leading the Japanese delegation. The
Treaty of Portsmouth
Treaty of Portsmouth was signed on 5 September 1905 at the Portsmouth
Naval Shipyard on Seavey's Island, Kittery, Maine, while the delegates
stayed in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Witte became Russian
Prime Minister the same year.
After courting the Japanese, Roosevelt decided to support the Tsar's
refusal to pay indemnities, a move that policymakers in Tokyo
interpreted as signifying that the United States had more than a
passing interest in Asian affairs.
Korea as part of
the Japanese sphere of influence and agreed to evacuate Manchuria.
Japan would annex
Korea in 1910 (Japan–
Korea Treaty of 1910), with
scant protest from other powers.
Russia also signed over its 25-year leasehold rights to Port Arthur,
including the naval base and the peninsula around it, and ceded the
southern half of
Sakhalin Island to Japan. Both would be taken back by
Soviet Union following the defeat of the Japanese in World War
Roosevelt earned the
Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize for his effort. George E. Mowry
concludes that Roosevelt handled the arbitration well, doing an
"excellent job of balancing Russian and Japanese power in the Orient,
where the supremacy of either constituted a threat to growing
Japan had won every battle on land and sea and as the
Japanese people did not understand that the costs of the war had
pushed their nation to the verge of bankruptcy, the Japanese public
was enraged by the
Treaty of Portsmouth
Treaty of Portsmouth as many Japanese had expected
the war to end with
Russia ceding the Russian
Far East to
Russia to pay an indemnity. The United States was widely
Japan for the
Treaty of Portsmouth
Treaty of Portsmouth with Roosevelt having
Japan out of its rightful claims at the peace
conference. On 5 September 1905 the
Hibiya incendiary incident
Hibiya incendiary incident as the
anti-American riots were euphemistically described erupted in Tokyo,
and lasted for three days, forcing the government to declare martial
Japanese propaganda woodcut print showing Tsar
Nicholas II waking from
a nightmare of the battered and wounded Russian forces returning from
battle. Artist Kobayashi Kiyochika, 1904 or 1905.
Sources do not agree on a precise number of deaths from the war
because of a lack of body counts for confirmation. The number of
Japanese Army dead in combat or died of wounds is put at around 59,000
with around 27,000 additional casualties from disease, and between
6,000 and 12,000 wounded. Estimates of Russian Army dead range from
around 34,000 to around 53,000 men with a further 9,000 - 19,000 died
of disease and around 75,000 captured. The total number of dead for
both sides is generally stated as around 130,000 to 170,000. China
suffered 20,000 civilian deaths, and financially the loss amounted to
over 69 million taels' worth of silver.
During many of the battles at sea, several thousand soldiers being
transported drowned after their ships went down. There was no
consensus about what to do with transported soldiers at sea, and as a
result, many of the ships failed or refused to rescue soldiers that
were left shipwrecked. This led to the creation of the second Geneva
Convention in 1906, which gave protection and care for shipwrecked
soldiers in armed conflict.
Punch cartoon, 1905; A cartoon in the British press of the times
illustrating the Russian Empire's loss of prestige after the nation's
defeat. The hour-glass represents Russia's prestige running out.
This was the first major military victory in the modern era of an
Asian power over a European nation. Russia's defeat was met with shock
in the West and across the Far East. Japan's prestige rose greatly as
it came to be seen as a modern nation. Concurrently,
virtually its entire Pacific and Baltic fleets, and also much
international esteem. This was particularly true in the eyes of
Austria-Hungary before World War I.
Russia was France's
and Serbia's ally, and that loss of prestige had a significant effect
on Germany's future when planning for war with France, and in
supporting Austria-Hungary's war with Serbia.
In the absence of Russian competition, and with the distraction of
European nations during World War I, combined with the Great
Depression that followed, the Japanese military began efforts to
dominate China and the rest of Asia, which eventually led to the
Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War and the
Pacific War theatres of World War II.
Effects on Russia
Though there had been popular support for the war among the Russian
public following the Japanese attack at Port Arthur in 1904, that
popular support soon turned to discontent after suffering multiple
defeats at the hands of the Japanese forces. For many Russians, the
immediate shock of unexpected humiliation at the hands of
the conflict to be viewed as a metaphor for the shortcomings of the
Romanov autocracy. Popular discontent in
Russia after the war
added more fuel to the already simmering
Russian Revolution of 1905,
Nicholas II had hoped to avoid entirely by taking
intransigent negotiating stances prior to coming to the table. Twelve
years later, that discontent boiled over into the February Revolution
of 1917. In Poland, which
Russia partitioned in the late 18th century,
and where Russian rule already caused two major uprisings, the
population was so restless that an army of 250,000–300,000—larger
than the one facing the Japanese—had to be stationed to put down the
unrest. Some political leaders of the Polish insurrection movement
(in particular, Józef Piłsudski) sent emissaries to
collaborate on sabotage and intelligence gathering within the Russian
Empire and even plan a Japanese-aided uprising.
In Russia, the defeat of 1905 led in the short term to a reform of the
Russian military that allowed it to face Germany in World War I.
However, the revolts at home following the war planted seeds that
Russian Revolution of 1917. This was because Tsar
Nicholas II issued the October Manifesto, which included only limited
reforms such as the Duma and failed to address the societal problems
Russia at the time.
Effects on Japan
Japan had become the rising Asian power and had proven that its
military could combat the major powers in Europe with success. Most
Western powers were stunned that the Japanese not only prevailed but
decisively defeated Russia. In the Russo–Japanese War,
also portrayed a sense of readiness in taking a more active and
leading role in Asian affairs, which in turn had led to widespread
nationalism throughout the region.
Although the war had ended in a victory for Japan, Japanese public
opinion was shocked by the very restrained peace terms which were
negotiated at the war's end. Widespread discontent spread through
the populace upon the announcement of the treaty terms. Riots erupted
in major cities in Japan. Two specific requirements, expected after
such a costly victory, were especially lacking: territorial gains and
monetary reparations to Japan. The peace accord led to feelings of
distrust, as the Japanese had intended to retain all of Sakhalin
Island, but were forced to settle for half of it after being pressured
by the United States, with President Roosevelt opting to support
Nicholas II's stance on not ceding territory or paying reparations.
The Japanese had wanted reparations to help families recover from lost
fathers and sons as well as heavy taxation from the
government.[clarification needed] Without them, they were at a
The U.S held strength in the Asian region from aggravating European
imperialist encroachment. To Japan, this represented a developing
threat to the autonomy of the region. U.S.-Japanese relations would
recover a bit in the early 20th century, but by the early 1920s, few
Japan believed that the United States meant anything positive for
the future of Asia. By the 1930s, the U.S. presence in Asian
affairs, along with the instability in China and the collapse of the
Western economic order,
Japan would act aggressively with respect to
China, setting the precedent that would ultimately culminate in the
Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Some scholars suggest that
Japan's road to
World War II
World War II had begun not upon winning the
Russo–Japanese War, but when it lost the peace.[clarification
After the Battle of Liaoyang: Transport of wounded Russians by the Red
Cross (Angelo Agostini)
The effects and impact of the Russo–Japanese War introduced a number
of characteristics that came to define 20th century politics and
warfare. Many of the technological innovations brought on by the
Industrial Revolution first became present on the battlefield in the
Russo–Japanese War. Weapons and armaments were more technological
than ever before. Technological developments of modern armaments, such
as rapid-firing artillery and machine guns, as well as more accurate
carbine rifles, were first used on a mass scale in the
Russo–Japanese War. The improved capability of naval forces was also
demonstrated. Military operations on both sea and land demonstrated
that warfare in a new age of technology had undergone a considerable
change since the
Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71. Most army
commanders had previously envisioned using these weapon systems to
dominate the battlefield on an operational and tactical level but, as
events played out, these technological advancements forever altered
the capacity in which mankind would wage war. For East Asia it was
the first confrontation after thirty years involving two modern armed
The advanced weaponry led to massive casualty counts. Neither Japan
Russia had prepared for the number of deaths that would occur in
this new kind of warfare, or had the resources to compensate for these
losses. This also left its impression on society at large, with the
emergence of transnational and nongovernmental organizations, like the
Red Cross, becoming prominent after the war. The emergence of such
organizations can be regarded as the beginning of a meshing together
of civilizations through the identification of common problems and
challenges, a slow process dominating much of the 20th century.
Debate with respect to the Russo–Japanese War preluding World War II
is a topic of interest to scholars today. Arguments that are favorable
toward this perspective consider characteristics specific to the
Russo–Japanese War to the qualities definitive of "total war".
Numerous aspects of total war characterize the Russo–Japanese War.
Encompassed on both ends was the mass mobilization of troops into
battle. For both
Russia and Japan, the war required extensive economic
support in the form of production of equipment, armaments, and
supplies at such a scale that both domestic support and foreign aid
were required. The conclusion of the Russo–Japanese War also
demonstrated the need for world leaders to regard domestic response to
foreign policy, which is argued by some scholars as setting in motion
the dissolution of the Romanov dynasty by demonstrating the
inefficiencies of tsarist Russia's government.
Reception around the world
To the Western powers, Japan's victory demonstrated the emergence of a
new Asian regional power. With the Russian defeat, some scholars have
argued that the war had set in motion a change in the global world
order with the emergence of
Japan as not only a regional power, but
rather, the main Asian power. Rather more than the possibilities
of diplomatic partnership were emerging, however. The US and
Australian reaction to the changed balance of power brought by the war
was mixed with fears of a
Yellow Peril eventually shifting from China
to Japan. American figures such as
W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois and Lothrop
Stoddard saw the victory as a challenge to western supremacy. This
was reflected in Austria, where Baron Christian von Ehrenfels
interpreted the challenge in racial as well as cultural terms, arguing
that "the absolute necessity of a radical sexual reform for the
continued existence of the western races of men has ... been
raised from the level of discussion to the level of a scientifically
proven fact". To stop the Japanese "Yellow Peril" would require
drastic changes to society and sexuality in the West.
Certainly the Japanese success increased self-confidence among
anti-colonial nationalists in colonised Asian countries –
Vietnamese, Indonesians, Indians and Filipinos – and to those in
declining countries like the
Ottoman Empire and Persia in immediate
danger of being absorbed by the Western powers. It also
encouraged the Chinese who, despite having been at war with the
Japanese only a decade before, still considered Westerners the greater
"We regarded that Russian defeat by
Japan as the defeat of the West by
the East. We regarded the Japanese victory as our own victory"
— Sun Yat-sen's speech on Pan-Asianism
Even in far-off
Tibet the war was a subject of conversation when Sven
Hedin visited the
Panchen Lama in February 1907. While for
Jawaharlal Nehru, then only an aspiring politician in British India,
"Japan's victory lessened the feeling of inferiority from which most
of us suffered. A great European power had been defeated, thus Asia
could still defeat Europe as it had done in the past." And in the
Ottoman Empire too, the
Committee of Union and Progress
Committee of Union and Progress embraced Japan
as a role model.
In Europe, subject populations were similarly encouraged. James
Joyce's novel Ulysses, set in Dublin in 1904, contains hopeful Irish
allusions as to the outcome of the war. And in partitioned Poland
Józef Mehoffer chose 1905 to paint his "Europa Jubilans"
(Europe rejoicing), which portrays an aproned maid taking her ease on
a sofa against a background of Eastern artefacts. Painted following
demonstrations against the war and Russian cultural suppression, and
in the year of Russia's defeat, its subtly coded message looks forward
to a time when the Tsarist masters will be defeated in Europe as they
had been in Asia.
The significance of the war for oppressed classes as well as subject
populations was clear too to Socialist thinkers.
"The Russo–Japanese War now gives to all an awareness that even war
and peace in Europe – its destiny – is not decided between the
four walls of the European concert, but outside it, in the gigantic
maelstrom of world and colonial politics.
And it's in this that the real meaning of the current war resides for
social-democracy, even if we set aside its immediate effect: the
collapse of Russian absolutism. This war brings the gaze of the
international proletariat back to the great political and economic
connectedness of the world, and violently dissipates in our ranks the
particularism, the pettiness of ideas that form in any period of
— Rosa Luxemburg, In the Storm, Le Socialiste, May 1–8, 1904
(translator: Mitch Abidor)
It was this realisation of the universal significance of the war that
underlines the historical importance of the conflict and its outcome.
Assessment of war results
Russia had lost two of its three fleets. Only its Black Sea Fleet
remained, and this was the result of an earlier treaty that had
prevented the fleet from leaving the Black Sea.
Japan became the
sixth-most powerful naval force by combined tonnage, while the Russian
Navy declined to one barely stronger than that of
Austria–Hungary. The actual costs of the war were large enough
to affect the Russian economy and, despite grain exports, the nation
developed an external balance of payments deficit. The cost of
military re-equipment and re-expansion after 1905 pushed the economy
further into deficit, although the size of the deficit was
The Japanese were on the offensive for most of the war and used massed
infantry assaults against defensive positions, which would later
become the standard of all European armies during World War I. The
battles of the Russo–Japanese War, in which machine guns and
artillery took a heavy toll on Russian and Japanese troops, were a
precursor to the trench warfare of World War I. A German military
advisor sent to Japan, Jakob Meckel, had a tremendous impact on the
development of the Japanese military training, tactics, strategy, and
organization. His reforms were credited with Japan's overwhelming
victory over China in the
First Sino-Japanese War
First Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895.
However, his over-reliance on infantry in offensive campaigns also led
to a large number of Japanese casualties.
Military and economic exhaustion affected both countries. Japanese
historians regard this war as a turning point for Japan, and a key to
understanding the reasons why
Japan may have failed militarily and
politically later. After the war, acrimony was felt at every level of
Japanese society and it became the consensus within
Japan that their
nation had been treated as the defeated power during the peace
conference. As time went on, this feeling, coupled with the sense
of "arrogance" at becoming a Great Power, grew and added to growing
Japanese hostility towards the West, and fueled Japan's military and
imperial ambitions. Furthermore, Japan's substantiated interests in
Korea and Liaodong led to the creation of a Kwantung Army, which
became an autonomous and increasingly powerful regional force. Only
five years after the war,
Japan de jure annexed
Korea as part of its
colonial empire. Two decades after that, the Kwantung Army staged an
incident that led to the invasion of
Manchuria in the
the Kwantung Army eventually came to be heavily involved in the
state's politics and administration, leading to a series of localized
conflicts with Chinese regional warlords that finally extended into
total war between China and
Japan in 1937. As a result, most Chinese
historians consider the Russo–Japanese War as a key development in
Japan's spiral into militarism in the 1920s–30s.
Following the victory of the Battle of Tsushima, Japan's erstwhile
British ally presented a lock of Admiral Nelson's hair to the Imperial
Japanese Navy, judging its performance then as on a par with Britain's
victory at Trafalgar in 1805. It is still on display at Kyouiku
Sankoukan, a public museum maintained by the
Japan Self-Defense Force.
Nevertheless, there was a consequent change in British strategic
thinking, resulting in enlargement of its naval docks at Auckland, New
Zealand; Bombay, British India;
Fremantle and Sydney, Australia;
Simon's Town, Cape Colony; Singapore and British Hong Kong. The naval
war confirmed the direction of the British Admiralty's thinking in
tactical terms even as it undermined its strategic grasp of a changing
world. Tactical orthodoxy, for example, assumed that a naval battle
would imitate the conditions of stationary combat and that ships would
engage in one long line sailing on parallel courses; but more flexible
tactical thinking would now be required as a firing ship and its
target maneuvered independently.
Military attachés and observers
Main article: Military attachés and observers in the Russo-Japanese
Japanese general, Kuroki, and his staff, including foreign officers
and war correspondents after the
Battle of Shaho
Battle of Shaho (1904)
Military and civilian observers from every major power closely
followed the course of the war. Most were able to report on events
from the perspective of embedded positions within the land and naval
forces of both
Russia and Japan. These military attachés and other
observers prepared first-hand accounts of the war and analytical
papers. In-depth observer narratives of the war and more narrowly
focused professional journal articles were written soon after the war;
and these post-war reports conclusively illustrated the battlefield
destructiveness of this conflict. This was the first time the tactics
of entrenched positions for infantry defended with machine guns and
artillery became vitally important. Both would become dominant factors
in World War I. Even though entrenched positions had already been a
significant part of both the
Franco-Prussian War and the American
Civil War, it is now apparent that the high casualty counts, and the
tactical lessons readily available to observer nations, were
completely disregarded in preparations for war in Europe, and during
much of the course of World War I.
Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton
Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton was the military
attaché of the
British Indian Army
British Indian Army serving with the Imperial Japanese
Army in Manchuria. As one of the several military attachés from
Western countries, he was the first to arrive in
Japan after the start
of the war. He therefore would be recognized as the dean of
multi-national attachés and observers in this conflict, although
out-ranked by British field marshal, William Gustavus Nicholson, 1st
Baron Nicholson, who was later to become chief of the Imperial General
Despite its gold reserves of 106.3 million pounds, Russia's pre-war
financial situation was not enviable. The country had large budget
deficits year after year, and was largely dependent on borrowed
Russia's war effort was funded primarily by France, in a series of
loans totalling 800 million francs (30.4 million pounds); another loan
in the amount of 600 million francs was agreed upon, but later
cancelled. These loans were extended within a climate of mass bribing
of the French press (made necessary by Russia's precarious economic
and social situation and poor military performance). Although
initially reluctant to participate in the war, the French government
and major banks were co-operative since it became clear that Russian
and French economic interests were tied. In addition to French money,
Russia secured a loan in the amount of 500 million marks (24.5 million
pounds) from Germany, who also financed Japan's war effort.
Conversely, Japan's pre-war gold reserves were a modest 11.7 million
pounds; a major portion of the total cost of the war was covered by
money borrowed from the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United
During his canvassing expedition in London, the Japanese vice-governor
of the Bank of
Japan met Jacob Schiff, an American banker and head of
Kuhn, Loeb & Co. Schiff, in response to Russia's anti-Jewish
pogroms and sympathetic to Japan's cause, extended a critical series
of loans to the Empire of Japan, in the amount of 200 million US
dollars (41.2 million pounds).
Japan's total war expenditure was 2,150 million yen, of which 38%, or
820 million yen, was raised overseas.
List of battles
See also: Battles of the Russo-Japanese War
1904 Battle of Port Arthur, 8 February: naval battle inconclusive
1904 Battle of Chemulpo Bay, 9 February: naval battle Japanese victory
1904 Battle of Yalu River, 30 April to 1 May: Japanese victory
1904 Battle of Nanshan, 25 to 26 May, Japanese victory
1904 Battle of Te-li-Ssu, 14 to 15 June, Japanese victory
1904 Battle of Motien Pass, 17 July, Japanese victory
1904 Battle of Tashihchiao, 24 July, Japanese victory
1904 Battle of Hsimucheng, 31 July, Japanese victory
1904 Battle of the Yellow Sea, 10 August: naval battle Japanese
victory strategically, tactically inconclusive
1904 Battle off Ulsan, 14 August: naval battle Japanese victory
1904–1905 Siege of Port Arthur, 19 August to 2 January: Japanese
1904 Battle of Liaoyang, 25 August to 3 September: Japanese victory
1904 Battle of Shaho, 5 to 17 October: inconclusive
1905 Battle of Sandepu, 26 to 27 January: inconclusive
1905 Battle of Mukden, 21 February to 10 March: Japanese victory
1905 Battle of Tsushima, 27 to 28 May naval battle: Japanese victory
Getsuzō's woodblock print of "The Battle of Liaoyang", 1904
The Russo–Japanese War was covered by dozens of foreign journalists
who sent back sketches that were turned into lithographs and other
reproducible forms. Propaganda images were circulated by both sides,
often in the form of postcards and based on insulting racial
stereotypes. These were produced not only by the combatants but
by those from European countries who supported one or the other side
or had a commercial or colonial stake in the area. War photographs
were also popular, appearing in both the press and in book form.
In Russia, the war was covered by anonymous satirical graphic luboks
for sale in markets, recording the war for the domestic audience.
Around 300 were made before their creation was banned by the Russian
government. Their Japanese equivalents were woodblock prints. These
had been common during the Sino-Japanese war a decade earlier and
celebrations of the new conflict tended to repeat the same imagery and
situations. But by this time in
Japan postcards had become the most
common form of communication and they soon replaced prints as a medium
for topographical imagery and war reportage. In some ways, however,
they were still dependent on the print for their pictorial
conventions, not least in issuing the cards in series that assembled
into a composite scene or design, either as diptychs, triptychs or
even more ambitious formats. However, captioning swiftly moved from
the calligraphic side inscription to a printed title below, and not
just in Japanese but in English and other European languages. There
was a lively sense that these images served not only as mementoes but
also as propaganda statements.
War artists were to be found on the Russian side and even figured
among the casualties.
Vasily Vereshchagin went down with the
Petropavlovsk, Admiral Makarov's flagship, when it was sunk by mines.
However, his last work, a picture of a council of war presided over by
the admiral, was recovered almost undamaged. Another artist,
Mykola Samokysh, first came to notice for his reports during the war
and the paintings worked up from his diary sketch-books. Other
depictions appeared after the event. The two by the Georgian naïve
Niko Pirosmani from 1906 must have been dependent on
newspaper reports since he was not present. Then, in 1914 at the
outset of World War I, Yury Repin made an episode during the Battle of
Yalu River the subject of a broad heroic canvas.
On either side, there were lyrics lamenting the necessity of fighting
in a foreign land, far from home. One of the earliest of several
Russian songs still performed today was the waltz "Amur's Waves"
(Amurskie volny), which evokes the melancholy of standing watch on the
motherland far east frontier.
Two others grew out of incidents during the war. "On the Hills of
Manchuria" (Na sopkah Manchzhurii) (1906) is another waltz
composed by Ilya Shatrov, a decorated military musician whose regiment
suffered badly in the Battle of Mukden. Originally only the music was
published, and the words by Stepan Petrov were added later. The second
song, Variag, commemorates the
Battle of Chemulpo Bay
Battle of Chemulpo Bay in which that
cruiser and the gunboat Korietz steamed out to confront an encircling
Japanese squadron rather than surrender. That act of heroism was first
celebrated in a German song by Rudolf Greintz in 1907, which was
quickly translated into Russian and sung to a martial
accompaniment. These lyrics mourned the fallen lying in their
graves and threatened revenge.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov also reacted to the war by composing the
satirical opera The Golden Cockerel, completed in 1907. Although it
was ostensibly based on a verse fairy tale by Alexander Pushkin
written in 1834, the authorities quickly realised its true target and
immediately banned it from performance. The opera was premiered in
1909, after Rimsky-Korsakov's death, and even then with modifications
required by the censors.
Some Japanese poetry dealing with the war still has a high profile.
General Nogi Maresuke's "Outside the Goldland fortress" was learned by
generations of schoolchildren and valued for its bleak stoicism.
The army surgeon
Mori Ōgai kept a verse diary which tackled such
themes as racism, strategic mistakes and the ambiguities of victory
which can now be appreciated in historical hindsight. Nowadays
too there is growing appreciation of Yosano Akiko's parting poem to
her brother as he left for the war, which includes the critical lines.
Never let them kill you, brother!
His Imperial Majesty would not come out to fight ...
How could He possibly make them believe
that it is honourable to die?
Emperor Meiji himself entered the poetic lists, writing in
answer to all the lamentations about death in a foreign land that the
patriotic soul returns to the homeland.
European treatments were similarly varied. Jane H. Oakley attempted an
epic treatment of the conflict in 86 cantos. The French poet
Blaise Cendrars was later to represent himself as on a Russian train
on its way to
Manchuria at the time in his La prose du Transsibérien
et de la Petite Jehanne de France (1913) and energetically evoked the
results of the war along the way:
I saw the silent trains the black trains returning from the Far East
and passing like phantoms ...
At Talga 100,000 wounded were dying for lack of care
I visited the hospitals of Krasnoyarsk
And at Khilok we encountered a long convoy of soldiers who had lost
In the pesthouses I saw gaping gashes wounds bleeding full blast
And amputated limbs danced about or soared through the raucous
Much later, the Scottish poet
Douglas Dunn devoted an epistolary poem
in verse to the naval war in The Donkey's Ears: Politovsky's Letters
Home (2000). This follows the voyage of the Russian Imperial Navy
flagship Kniaz to its sinking at the Battle of Tsushima.
Fictional coverage of the war in English began even before it was
over. An early example was Allen Upward's The International Spy. Set
Russia and Japan, it ends with the Dogger Bank incident
involving the Baltic Fleet. The political thinking displayed
there is typical of the time. There is great admiration for the
Japanese, who were British allies.
Russia is in turmoil, but the main
impetus towards war is not imperialism as such but commercial forces.
"Every student of modern history has remarked the fact that all recent
wars have been promoted by great combinations of capitalists. The
causes which formerly led to war between nation and nation have ceased
to operate" (p. 40). The true villain plotting in the background,
however, is the German Emperor, seeking to destabilise the European
balance of power in his country's favour. Towards the end of the
novel, the narrator steals a German submarine and successfully foils a
plot to involve the British in the war. The submarine motif reappeared
in George Griffith's science fiction novel, The Stolen Submarine
(1904), although in this case it is a French super-submarine which its
developer sells to the Russians for use against the Japanese in
another tale of international intrigue.
Though most English-language fiction of the period took the Japanese
side, the Rev. W. W. Walker's Canadian novella, Alter Ego, is an
exception. It features a Canadian volunteer in the Russian army who,
on his return, agrees to talk about his experiences to an isolated
upcountry community and relates his part in the Battle of Mukden.
Though this incident only occupies two of the book's six chapters, it
is used to illustrate the main message there, that war is
"anti-Christian and barbarous, except in a defensive sense" (Ch.3).
Painting of Admiral
Heihachirō Tōgō on the bridge of the Japanese
battleship Mikasa, before the
Battle of Tsushima
Battle of Tsushima in 1905
Various aspects of the war were also common in contemporary children's
fiction. Categorised as
Boys' Own adventure stories, they offer few
insights into the conflict, being generally based on news articles and
sharing unreflectingly in the contemporary culture of
imperialism. Among these,
Herbert Strang was responsible for two
novels: Kobo told from the Japanese side, and Brown of Moukden
viewed from the Russian side. Three more were written by the
prolific American author, Edward Stratemeyer: Under the Mikado's
Flag, At the Fall of Port Arthur, and Under Togo for Japan,
or Three Young Americans on Land and Sea (1906). Two other
English-language stories begin with the action at Port Arthur and
follow the events thereafter: A Soldier of Japan: a tale of the
Russo–Japanese War by Captain Frederick Sadleir Brereton, and The
North Pacific by Willis Boyd Allen (1855–1938). Two more also
involve young men fighting in the Japanese navy: Americans in For the
Mikado by Kirk Munroe, and a temporarily disgraced English
officer in Under the Ensign of the Rising Sun by Harry
Collingwood, the pen-name of William Joseph Cosens Lancaster
(1851–1922), whose speciality was naval fiction.
Another literary genre affected by the outcome of the war was invasion
literature, either fuelled by racialist fears or generated by the
international power struggle. Shunrō Oshikawa’s novel The Submarine
Battleship (Kaitei Gunkan) was published in 1900 before the actual
fighting began but shared the imperial tensions that produced it. It
is the story of an armoured ram-armed submarine involved in a
Russo-Japanese conflict. Three other novels appeared in 1908 and
are thought of as significant now because of their prophetic
dimension. American author Arthur Wellesley Kipling (1885-1947)
prefaced his The New Dominion – A Tale of Tomorrow’s Wars with a
note counselling future vigilance. The scenario there is an attack by
German and Japanese allies which the US and British navies
victoriously fend off. In Germany itself an air attack on the
American fleet is described by Ferdinand Heinrich Grautoff
(1871-1935), writing under the name Parabellum, in his novel Banzai!.
Published in Berlin in 1908, it was translated into English the
following year. An Australian author using the pseudonym Charles
H. Kirmess first serialised his The Commonwealth Crisis and then
revised it for book publication as The Australian Crisis in 1909. It
is set in 1912 and told from the standpoint of 1922, following a
military invasion of Australia’s Northern Territory and colonisation
by Japanese settlers.
Most Russian fictional accounts of the war had a documentary element.
Alexey Novikov-Priboy had served in the
Baltic Fleet and wrote about
the conflict on his return, but his early work was suppressed. It was
not until the changed political climate under Soviet rule that he
began writing his historical epic Tsushima, based on his own
experiences on board the battleship Orel as well as on testimonies of
fellow sailors and government archives. The first part was published
in 1932, the second in 1935, and the whole novel was later awarded the
Stalin Prize. It describes the heroism of Russian sailors and certain
officers whose defeat, in accordance with the new Soviet thinking, was
due to the criminal negligence of the Imperial Naval command. A German
novel by Frank Thiess, originally published as Tsushima in 1936 (and
later translated as The Voyage of Forgotten Men), covered the same
journey round the world to defeat.
Later there appeared a first-hand account of the siege of Port Arthur
by Alexander Stepanov (1892–1965). He had been present there as the
12-year-old son of a battery commander and his novel, Port Arthur: a
historical narrative (1944), is based on his own diaries and his
father's notes. The work is considered one of the best historical
novels of the Soviet period. A later novel in which the war
appears is Valentin Pikul's The Three Ages of Okini-San (1981).
Centred on the life of Vladimir Kokovtsov, who rose through the ranks
to admiral of the Russian fleet, it covers the period from the
Russo–Japanese War through to the February and October Revolutions.
A much later Russian genre novel uses the period of the war as
background. This is Boris Akunin's
The Diamond Chariot (2003), in the
first part of which the detective
Erast Fandorin is charged with
Trans-Siberian Railway from Japanese sabotage.
The main historical novel dealing with the war from the Japanese side
is Shiba Ryōtarō's Clouds Above the Hill, published serially in
several volumes between 1968 and 1972, and translated in English in
2013. The closely researched story spans the decade from the
Sino-Japanese War to the Russo–Japanese War and went on to become
the nation's favourite book.
See also film list about the Russo–Japanese War
Port Arthur (1936)
Kreiser Varyag (1946)
Nichiro sensō shōri no hishi: Tekichū ōdan sanbyaku-ri (1957)
Meiji tennô to nichiro daisenso (1958)
The Battle of the
Japan Sea (1969, 佐藤 勝: 日本海大海戦,
Nihonkai-Daikaisen) depicts the naval battles of the war, the attacks
on the Port Arthur highlands, and the subterfuge and diplomacy of
Japanese agents in Sweden. Admiral Togo is portrayed by Toshiro
Battle of Tsushima
Battle of Tsushima (1975) documentary, depiction of the naval
Battle of Tsushima
Battle of Port Arthur
Battle of Port Arthur (1980, sometimes referred as 203
Kochi), depiction of the Siege of Port Arthur
Nihonkai daikaisen: Umi yukaba (1983)
Reilly, Ace of Spies (1983). Russian-born British spy Sidney Reilly's
role in providing intelligence that allowed the Japanese surprise
attack that started the
Siege of Port Arthur
Siege of Port Arthur is dramatised in the
second episode of this TV series.
Saka no Ue no Kumo (2009)
Foreign policy of the Russian Empire
Manchuria under Qing rule
Western imperialism in Asia
List of wars
List of warships sunk during the Russo–Japanese War
Imperialism in Asia and the Russo–Japanese War
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^ Steinberg 2008, p. 3.
^ Schimmelpenninck van der Oye 2005, p. 83.
^ Lyman, Stanford M. (Summer 2000). "The "Yellow Peril" Mystique:
Origins and Vicissitudes of a Racist Discourse". International Journal
of Politics, Culture, and Society. Springer Publishing. 13 (4): 699.
JSTOR 20020056. (Subscription required (help)).
^ Heale, M.J. (April 2009). "Anatomy of a Scare:
Yellow Peril Politics
in America, 1980–1993". Journal of American Studies. Cambridge
University Press. 43 (1): 21. JSTOR 40464347. (Subscription
^ Dickinson, Edward Ross (May 2002). "Sex, Masculinity, and the
'Yellow Peril': Christian von Ehrenfels' Program for a Revision of the
European Sexual Order, 1902–1910". German Studies Review. 25 (2):
263. JSTOR 1432992. (Subscription required (help)).
^ Deutschmann, Moritz (2015). Iran and Russian Imperialism: The Ideal
Anarchists, 1800–1914. Routledge. p. 158.
^ Banani, Amin (1961). The Modernization of Iran, 1921–1941.
Stanford University Press. p. 9.
^ Sven Hedin, Trans-Himalaya, Asian Educational Services reprint, New
Delhi 1999, p.320
^ Wells & Wilson 1999, p. 24(Google Books)
^ Worringer, Renée (2014). Ottomans Imagining Japan. London:
Palgrave. pp. 53–4. ISBN 978-113738460-7.
^ Ito, Eishiro (December 2007). "United States of Asia, James Joyce
and Japan". In Brown, Richard. A Companion to James Joyce. Blackwell.
pp. 195–6. ISBN 978-140511044-0.
^ Crowley, David (January 2008). "Seeing Japan, Imagining Poland:
Polish art and the Russo-Japanese war". The Russian Review. 67 (1):
50–69. See also Faktografia 4 July 2012
^ Sondhaus, Lawrence (2001). Naval Warfare, 1815–1914. Routledge.
p. 192. ISBN 978-041521478-0.
^ Strachan 2003, p. 844.
^ Keegan 1999, pp. 179, 229, 230.
^ Strachan 2003, p. 384, 386, 388.
^ Sisemore, James D. (1991). The Russo-Japanese War, Lessons Not
Learned (Thesis). Fort Leavenworth, KS: U.S. Army Command and General
Staff College. p. iii.
^ Chapman, John (April 2004). "British Naval Estimation of
Russia, 1894-1905" (PDF). On the Periphery of the Russo-Japanese War
Part 1 - Discussion paper n. IS/2004/475. The Suntory Centre - Suntory
and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines
London School of Economics
London School of Economics and Political Science: 53 n42.
^ a b Sherman, A.J. (January 1983). "German-Jewish Bankers in World
Politics, The Financing of the Russo-Japanese War". Leo Baeck
Institute Yearbook. 28 (1): 59–73.
^ a b Hunter, Jane (1993). "The Limits of Financial Power: Japanese
Foreign Borrowing and the Russo-Japanese War". In Hamish Ion, A.;
Errington, E.J. Great Powers and Little Wars: The Limits of Power.
Westport, CT: Praeger. pp. 146, 151–2.
ISBN 978-0-275-93965-6. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
^ "British Assistance to the Japanese Navy during the Russo-Japanese
War of 1904–5". The Great Circle. Australian Association for
Maritime History. 2 (1): 44. April 1980. JSTOR 41562319.
(Registration required (help)).
^ "Schiff, Jacob Henry". Dictionary of American Biography. New York:
Charles Scribner's Sons. 1928–1936. pp. 430–432.
^ Steinberg 2008, p. 5.
^ Dower, John W. (2010). "Asia Rising". MIT Visualizing
^ a b Dower, John W. (2008). "Yellow Promise / Yellow Peril". MIT
^ "State Historical Museum Opens 'The Year 1812 in the Paintings by
Vasily Vereshchagin'". artdaily. 11 March 2010.
^ "War Lasted 18 Months; Biggest Battle Known... Russian
Miscalculation". New York Times. 30 August 1905.
^ See reproductions from WikiArt: 1 and 2.
^ Chuliengcheng. In a glorious death eternal life, oil on canvas by
^ Amur's Waves performed by the Red Army Choir under the direction of
Gennady Sachenyuk (in Russian with English subtext).
^ "Ilya Shatrov: On the Hills of Manchuria, Waltz". Editions
^ German text in "Rudolf Greins. 'Auf Deck, Kameraden, All Auf Deck!'"
[Rudolf Greintz. 'On Deck, Comrades, All On Deck!'].
РУКОНТ. See also a multimedia enactment of the song on
YouTube (in Russian).
^ See some translations at Mudcat Café, and On The Hills of Manchuria
performed by Maxim Troshin (in Russian).
^ "General Maresuke Nogi (1849 – 1912)". War Poets
^ Collected works in Wells & Wilson 1999, reviewed by Tim Wright
in Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context n.
4 September 2000.
^ See Janine Beichman (11 December 2006). "Thou Shalt Not Die: Yosano
Akiko and the Russo-Japanese War". Asiatic Society of Japan.
^ Takashi Fujitani (1996). Splendid Monarchy: Power and Pageantry in
Modern Japan. University of California Press. p. 126.
^ Jane H. Oakley (1905). A Russo–Japanese War Poem. Brighton: The
^ Walter Albert, ed. (1966). Selected Writings of Blaise Cendrars. New
Directions. p. 93. ISBN 978-081121888-7.
^ See the account by David Wheatley (21 June 2001). "Dialect with Army
and Navy". The London Review of Books. 23 (12): 40–1.
^ Upward, Allen (1904). The International Spy - Being the secret
history of the Russo–Japanese War. M.A. Donohue & Co.
^ E.F. and R. Bleiler, Science Fiction: The Early Years, Kent State
University 1990, p.308
^ Walker, W.W. (1907). Alter Ego: a Tale. Toronto: William
Russo-Japanese War and Boys Own Adventure Stories". The
Russo-Japanese War Research Society.
^ Strang, Herbert (1905). Kobo. G.P. Putnam's Sons.
^ Strang, Herbert (1906). Brown of Moukden. G.P. Putnam's Sons.
^ Stratemeyer, Edward (1904). Under the Mikado's Flag, or Young
Soldiers of Fortune. Boston: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co.
^ Stratemeyer, Edward (1905). At the Fall of Port Arthur, or a young
American in the Japanese navy. Boston: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard
^ Allen, Willis B. (1905). The North Pacific - A Story of the
Russo-Japanese War. New York City: E.P. Dutton & Co.
^ Munroe, Kirk (1905). For the Mikado or a Japanese Middy in Action.
Harper & brothers.
^ Collingwood, Harry (1916). Under the Ensign of the Rising Sun - A
Story of the Russo-Japanese War. New York City: Silver Scroll.
^ Derek Linney, Invasion-Literature, 1871-1914, p.95
^ Archived online
^ Text online
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Translated by J. Fineberg. Foreign Languages Publishing House.
^ Hiroaki Sato. "Multiple perspectives in novel on the Russo-Japanese
Japan Times. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
Russo-Japanese War on IMDb
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da Silva, Joaquín (29 April 2016). "Chronology of Japanese Cinema:
RussoJapaneseWar.com, Russo–Japanese War research society.
BFcollection.net, Database of Russian Army Jewish soldiers injured,
killed, or missing in action from the war.
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Flot.com, Russian Navy history of war.
Frontiers.loc.gov, Russo–Japanese Relations in the Far East. Meeting
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"Russo-Japanese War, The". The New Student's Reference Work.
Montenigrina.net, Montenegrins in the Russo–Japanese War
Stanford.edu, Lyrics, translation and melody of the song "On the hills
of Manchuria" (Na sopkah Manchzhurii).
Google Map with battles of Russo–Japanese War and other important
See more Russo–Japanese War Maps at the Persuasive Cartography, The
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