New History Textbook for Middle School Students Chapter 4 Section 3, 4
Section 3 – Constitutionalism and the wars with China and Russia
Topic 58 – The struggle to revise the unequal treaties
What strategies did Japan employ in order to renegotiate the unequal treaties signed with the Western powers during the final years of the shogunate?
The problem of the unequal treaties
The treaties that the shogunate signed with the Western powers in its final years were humiliating to the Japanese people due to the unequal terms they forced upon Japan. Firstly, any foreign national who committed a crime against a Japanese person was tried, not in a Japanese court, but in a consular court set up by the nation of the accused criminal.1 Secondly, Japan lost the right, just as many other Asian countries had, to set its own import tariffs. The Japanese people of the Meiji period yearned to end this legal discrimination imposed by the Western powers, and revision of the unequal treaties became Japan’s foremost diplomatic priority.
*1=The exclusive right held by foreign countries to try their own citizens in consular courts for crimes committed against Japanese people was referred to as the right of consular jurisdiction, which was a form of extraterritoriality.
In 1872 (Meiji 5), the Iwakura Mission attempted to discuss the revision of the unequal treaties with the United States, but was rebuffed on the grounds that Japan had not reformed its legal system, particularly its criminal law.
For this reason, Japan set aside the issue of consular jurisdiction and made recovery of its tariff autonomy the focal point of its bid to revise the unequal treaties. Though the United States agreed to this, the ensuing negotiations ultimately failed due to the opposition of Great Britain and France. However, in 1877 (Meiji 10), a group of British merchants were caught smuggling the narcotic opium into Japan and were arraigned before a consular court. The British consul ruled that their deeds were not treaty violations, as the opium was being imported for medicinal purposes. This unjust decision outraged the people of Japan and convinced the Meiji Government to switch the emphasis of the negotiations back to the abolition of consular jurisdiction.
French Food and Black Mourning Dress
When nations hold state dinners for foreign guests, it is customary worldwide that they serve their own ethnic cuisine. For instance, at state dinners held in India, Indian food is served. And yet, ever since the Meiji period, Japan has served, not Japanese food, but French food to foreign dignitaries visiting the Imperial Palace.
Furthermore, Japanese people traditionally wore white clothing to mourn a death. After the Edo period, the Imperial Family began to instead wear black clothing as was done in the West, and this trend gradually spread among the common people. Both of these customs are remnants of the remarkable lengths to which Japan was willing to go to prove that it was a civilized nation worthy of diplomatic equality in its treaty relations with the Western powers.
Rokumeikan Hall and the Normanton Incident
In 1883 (Meiji 16), the government constructed a Western-style building in Hibiya, Tokyo, called Rokumeikan Hall, which was to be the site of many lively dance parties to which foreigners were always invited. The objective was to use these parties to show the world that Japan was a civilized country like the Western powers and thus promote the cause of treaty revision. In 1886 (Meiji 19), the Normanton Incident, a case of serious criminal negligence on the part of a British sea captain, again highlighted the need for treaty revision.2 The consular court examining the case gave the captain of the Normanton a light sentence of just three months imprisonment, which further inflamed Japanese public opinion.
*2=The British steamship Normanton sank off the coast of Wakayama during a rainstorm. Though the British captain and his crew escaped on lifeboats, all twenty-five of the Japanese passengers were abandoned on board and perished at sea.
Treaty revision: The fruit of forty years of effort
Japan remained undeterred in its quest to gain equality with the Western powers in spite of their continuing rejection of treaty revision. One of the reasons that Japan promulgated the Meiji Constitution in 1889 (Meiji 22) was to further the treaty revision process.
Over time, Japan’s progress towards modernization was recognized by Great Britain, then the world’s most powerful country. With the additional motivation of countering the expansion of its rival Russia into East Asia, Britain reached out to Japan and signaled its willingness to negotiate the subject of treaty revision. Foreign Minister Mutsu Munemitsu, who was in charge of the negotiations with Great Britain, successfully concluded the landmark Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce and Navigation in 1894 (Meiji 27), just prior to the start of the First Sino-Japanese War. According to the terms of this agreement, Great Britain renounced extraterritoriality in exchange for the right of its citizens to freely live, travel, and conduct business in Japan. After Japan’s subsequent triumph in the First Sino-Japanese War, many other countries, including the United States, followed suit and also abolished consular jurisdiction. Tariff autonomy took longer to regain, coming only after Japan defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese War. In 1911 (Meiji 44), Japan struck a deal with the United States to allow Japan to set its own tariffs, finally ending the campaign to revise the unequal treaties that had been set in motion forty years earlier by the Iwakura Mission.
Topic 58 Recap Challenge! – State the two factors that motivated Great Britain to sign the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce and Navigation with Japan.
The Achievement of Mutsu Munemitsu
While serving as Resident Envoy to the United States and Mexico, Mutsu Munemitsu entered talks with the government of Mexico and negotiated a trade treaty in 1888. This was the first equal treaty Japan had signed with any nation outside of Asia. It affirmed tariff autonomy and granted consular jurisdiction to both parties. This achievement formed the basis for Japan’s later success at revising its treaties with the Western powers.
An Excerpt from Foreign Minister Mutsu Munemitsu’s Speech to the Diet on Treaty Revision (1893)
“The goal of treaty reform, or more accurately the goal of Japanese diplomacy, is to receive the rights befitting of every nation and carry out those duties to which every nation ought to commit itself. That is to say, the Empire of Japan, though located in Asia, wishes to receive special treatment from the Western powers beyond that which they have afforded to the other nations of Asia. Since that is the case, Japan must introduce domestic policies different from those of other Asian nations and the Japanese people must also demonstrate a unique spirit of enterprise beyond that of other Asian peoples.”
(Mutsu was emphasizing the implications of opening up the country and allowing foreigners to travel and work freely within Japan in exchange for the abolition of extraterritoriality.)
The Long Road to Treaty Revision
1872 The Iwakura Mission abandons negotiations due to lack of preparation.
1887 Foreign Minister Inoue Kaoru’s treaty revision efforts flounder due to popular opposition to his policies of Westernization.
1889 Foreign Minister Okuma Shigenobu’s proposal to appoint foreign judges to Japanese courts is leaked. Amidst the ensuing national uproar, Okuma is attacked with a bomb and loses his leg. The proposal is withdrawn.
1894 Foreign Minister Mutsu Munemitsu succeeds at rescinding Great Britain’s extraterritorial rights.
1911 Foreign Minister Komura Jutaro succeeds at restoring Japan’s tariff autonomy.
Topic 59 – The Freedom and People’s Rights Movement and the birth of political parties
How did the Freedom and People’s Rights Movement start and in what way was it connected to the formation of Japan’s first political parties?
The origin of the Freedom and People’s Rights Movement
The Charter Oath, which was issued in 1868 (Meiji 1), declared that one of the nation’s fundamental policies was to open an assembly that would govern the country on the basis of public opinion. In 1874 (Meiji 7), Itagaki Taisuke, who had left the Meiji Government the previous year during the Debate on Punishing Korea, submitted his Proposal to Establish a Popularly Elected Assembly to the government. Itagaki wanted the people to be able to participate in political decision-making within the framework of a national assembly.1
*1=Itagaki’s proposal took the form of a memorial (kenpakusho), which means a written address. The memorial system, which was introduced to Japan in 1869, permitted any Japanese citizen, regardless of gender or class, to present their opinions to the government. The memorial system continued for twenty years until the establishment of the National Diet in 1890, after which it was replaced by the petition system, direct petitioning to the Diet.
At the same time as he submitted his proposal, Itagaki and his supporters in Kochi Prefecture founded the Self-Help Society, a political association consisting primarily of former samurai. Itagaki denounced the Meiji Government as a “clan government” that was dominated by a clique of officials from the former provinces of Satsuma and Choshu. To counter the “clan government”, Itagaki started a campaign for free and democratic political participation. Once it had spread nationwide, it became known as the Freedom and People’s Rights Movement.
The formation of political parties
In 1878 (Meiji 11), the government organized elected prefectural assemblies to aid local administration. Supporters of the Freedom and People’s Rights Movement entered the prefectural assemblies, created regional political bodies, and improved coordination between sympathetic groups across Japan. In 1880 (Meiji 13), representatives met in Osaka and constituted the League for the Establishment of a National Assembly, which spread the movement’s message through speeches and newspapers.
Amidst the rise of the Freedom and People’s Rights Movement, officials within the Meiji Government were split over when the national assembly should be established. In 1881 (Meiji 14), State Councilor Okuma Shigenobu insisted that the government move forward with the creation of a national assembly and a party-cabinet system within two years. Ito Hirobumi judged this timetable as premature and had Okuma ousted from the government in an event known as the Political Crisis of 1881. Simultaneously, the government released the Imperial Edict on the Establishment of a National Assembly, promising the people of Japan that the national assembly would come into being in ten years time. Many political parties began forming in anticipation of the assembly’s establishment, including the Liberal Party founded by Itagaki Taisuke in 1881 and the Constitutional Reform Party founded by Okuma Shigenobu the following year.
An Excerpt from Itagaki Taisuke’s 1874 Proposal to Establish a Popularly Elected Assembly
(as recorded in Itagaki’s book The History of the Liberal Party)
“Where is the center of political power in Japan today? It lies neither with the Emperor above us nor the people below us. Rather, it lies with a handful of government officials. These men say that they revere the Emperor and cherish the people, but actually they have been releasing one ordinance after another and arbitrarily changing others… At this rate, the state is going to collapse. Our country can be saved only if the government holds true to its words and establishes a popularly elected assembly.”
Efforts by the government and people to write a constitution
Outside the capital, civic-minded men began to independently form a variety of groups dedicated to conducting research with foreign books and preparing draft constitutions. These private draft constitutions all advocated forms of constitutional monarchy and are testament to the remarkable intellectualism, passion for learning, and strong patriotic feelings of ordinary Japanese citizens during the Meiji period.
Both the Meiji Government and the Freedom and People’s Rights Movement agreed that Japan needed a constitution and national assembly in order to forge a modern nation-state and renegotiate the unequal treaties. However, the Freedom and People’s Rights Movement sought immediate action, whereas the Meiji Government wanted to move forward cautiously. The Meiji Government sent Ito Hirobumi to Europe for the purpose of examining and researching the constitutions of other countries such as Prussia. Upon returning to Japan, he set about preparing the government’s draft constitution together with Inoue Kowashi and other officials. Though Ito consulted the models provided by European constitutions, the draft constitution he drew up was also clearly founded upon Japanese religious and cultural traditions. In 1885 (Meiji 18), Ito established a cabinet system and took office as Japan’s first prime minister.
Topic 59 Recap Challenge! – State three of the demands that the Japanese people of this time made towards the Meiji Government.
Reading Groups and the Draft Constitutions of the Freedom and People’s Rights Movement
During the early Meiji period, learned societies sprung up throughout Japan and many reading groups, known as kaidoku in Japanese, were convened. Japanese reading groups were public discussions of translations of foreign laws or of Western books on politics and economics, just as was undertaken in private academies and domain schools of the Edo period. During these discussions, people were encouraged, not to submit to the opinion of others, but rather to present their own criticisms and build logic-based arguments. As a result of the reading groups, Japanese people across their country were able to learn about Western ideas of constitutionalism, and they joined together to write a variety of private draft constitutions, which were called “popular constitutions”. The total number of the draft popular constitutions written throughout Japan during this period exceeded 3,000.
Some of the most important of these draft constitutions were the following:
• Draft Constitution of Japan (proposed by Naito Roichi)
• Draft Constitution of Greater Oriental Japan (proposed by Ueki Emori)
• Draft Constitution of Japan (proposed by the Self-Help Society)
• Constitution of the Empire of Japan – also called the Itsukaichi Constitution (proposed by Chiba Takusaburo)
• Iwakura Tomomi Constitution Outline (proposed by Inoue Kowashi)
All the draft constitutions contained provisions stipulating that Japan was to be a constitutional monarchy. For example, the Itsukaichi Constitution contained the following clauses.
“-The figure of the Emperor is sacred and inviolable, and bears no responsibility to any other body.”
“-The Emperor oversees the judicial, executive, and legislative branches of government.”
Topic 60 – The Meiji Constitution and the foundation of a constitutional state
What principles were enshrined within the Meiji Constitution?
The promulgation of the Meiji Constitution
On February 11, 1889 (Meiji 22), the Meiji Constitution, officially titled the Constitution of the Great Japanese Empire, was promulgated. On that day, raucous festivities took place throughout Tokyo, even though the city was still blanketed by the snowfall of the previous night. Celebratory gunfire rang out, costumed revelers went on parade, and floats snaked their way through the streets.
The Meiji Constitution affirms in its first articles that the Emperor reigns over Japan. However, the government’s actual policies were to be enacted in accordance with the advice of the Emperor’s ministers, and the Emperor himself bore no political responsibilities.1 The Meiji Constitution obligated all Japanese subjects to pay taxes and serve in the military, but guaranteed their rights to freedom of speech, assembly, association, residence, movement, and religion within the bounds of the law. Japanese subjects also had the right to vote for members of the House of Representatives in free elections. The enactment of budgets or laws required the consent of the national assembly, which was called the Diet. The Diet was composed of two houses: the popularly elected House of Representatives and the House of Peers, which included both peers and other distinguished men, such as scholars or bureaucrats, who were appointed by the Emperor.
*1=This concept is contained within Article 3 of the Meiji Constitution, stating that, “The Emperor is sacred and inviolable.” This article meant that the Emperor could not be held responsible for political decisions, but the implication of it was that the Emperor held no right to make political decisions.
A Constitution Praised Inside and Outside Japan
At the time that the Meiji Constitution was proclaimed, it garnered praise even from stridently anti-government newspapers that described it as “truly commendable” and “far better than what we expected”. Once the Meiji Constitution was translated and sent abroad, it elicited a similar response in other countries. One British newspaper wrote that, “There is something romantic about this deliberate establishment of a Parliamentary Constitution in an Eastern land. It is a tremendous experiment.” The most praiseworthy aspect of the Meiji Constitution, according to one British scholar, was the moderation upon which it was founded as demonstrated by its respect for time-honored history and traditions. Furthermore, a German legal theorist commended Japan’s leaders for their wisdom in dividing the national assembly into a popularly elected lower chamber (the House of Representatives) and an appointed upper chamber (the House of Peers) on the grounds that the lower houses of other countries were apt to favor extreme solutions and become a source of social unrest. To check the rash behavior of the lower house, he argued, it was necessary to have an upper house consisting of conscientious men who care deeply about the national interest.
The Diet and elections to the House of Representatives
In 1890 (Meiji 23), the First Imperial Diet convened following Japan’s first elections for the House of Representatives.2 With that, Japan had completed its evolution into Asia’s first full-fledged constitutional state, in an age when it was widely believed that only Western nations were capable of such a feat.
*2=Suffrage was limited to men over the age of twenty-five who paid more than fifteen yen in direct, national taxes. Other contemporary democracies, including Great Britain, France, and the United States, also restricted the right to vote on the basis of social status or income.
The Imperial Rescript on Education
In advance of the opening of the First Imperial Diet, the Imperial Rescript on Education was issued in the name of Emperor Meiji. The Imperial Rescript on Education was a set of teachings containing the guiding principles that the government expected of all Japanese citizens. It extolled the importance of public duty to the community, the pursuit of learning, filial piety towards one’s parents, and service to the nation in times of emergency. The rescript was recited in all Japanese schools until the end of World War II in 1945, and it left a deep impact on the lives of the Japanese people of the time.
Topic 60 Recap Challenge! – Explain the status of the Emperor of Japan under the Meiji Constitution.
The Imperial Rescript on Education
In 1890, Japan’s traditional moral values coexisted with new ideas that entered Japan during the Meiji period, and there was great confusion over how to define good morality. For this reason, the government issued the Imperial Rescript on Education, which was a short description of fourteen virtues bearing the authority of the Emperor. As principles of civic conduct, the rescript was ceremonially recited in class by Japanese students. It was also translated into many foreign languages and disseminated abroad. The following is an excerpt from the rescript:
“Ye, Our subjects, be filial to your parents, affectionate to your brothers and sisters; as husbands and wives be harmonious, as friends true; bear yourselves in modesty and moderation; extend your benevolence to all; pursue learning and cultivate arts, and thereby develop intellectual faculties and perfect moral powers; furthermore advance public good and promote common interests; always respect the Constitution and observe the laws; should emergency arise, offer yourselves courageously to the State; and thus guard and maintain the prosperity of Our Imperial Throne…”
The Major Articles of the Meiji Constitution
“Article 1. The Empire of Japan shall be reigned over and governed by a line of Emperors unbroken for ages eternal.”
“Article 3. The Emperor is sacred and inviolable.”
“Article 4. The Emperor is the head of the Empire, combining in Himself the rights of sovereignty, and exercises them, according to the provisions of the present Constitution.”
“Article 5. The Emperor exercises the legislative power with the consent of the Imperial Diet.”
“Article 11. The Emperor has the supreme command of the Army and Navy.”
“Article 20. Japanese subjects are amenable to service in the Army or Navy, according to the provisions of law. ”
“Article 29. Japanese subjects shall, within the limits of law, enjoy the liberty of speech, writing, publication, public meetings and associations.”
“Article 55. (1) The respective Ministers of State shall give their advice to the Emperor, and be responsible for it. (2) All Laws, Imperial Ordinances, and Imperial Rescripts of whatever kind, that relate to the affairs of the State, require the countersignature of a Minister of State.”
“Article 57. (1) The Judicature shall be exercised by the Courts of Law according to law, in the name of the Emperor.”
Fukuzawa Yukichi, Author of An Encouragement of Learning and Leaving Asia
Why did Fukuzawa Yukichi, who once argued that Japan should ally with Korea and Qing China to counter Western expansionism into Asia, later pen the essay Leaving Asia?
Independent individuals and national independence
Fukuzawa Yukichi was an enlightened thinker active in mid to late-nineteenth century Japan. In 1872 (Meiji 5), he wrote the influential work An Encouragement of Learning, which contained one of his most famous maxims, “National independence cannot be achieved without independent individuals.” What Fukuzawa meant was that Japan could never stand equal with the Western powers and be truly independent until every Japanese citizen became imbued with his own spirit of independence. An independent individual, Fukuzawa pointedly argued, would not be content to simply leave political affairs to the elites and blindly follow their dictates.
“Those who lack an independent spirit feel no shame when they should feel shame, fail to speak out when they should speak out, and meekly stoop before everyone they see. It has been said that these attitudes are acceptable amongst our fellow Japanese, but in our present era of vigorous interaction with foreign countries, they are not merely a loss to the individual, but a loss to the whole country. They are not merely a shame to the individual, but a shame to the whole country.”
Saving Japan from the “wildfire”
In the same line of thought, Fukuzawa hoped that Japan’s neighbors in Asia, Korea and Qing China, would also assert their independence in order to resist Western imperialism. He believed that all three nations would have to help their people accept enlightened values, quickly modernize their societal structures, and then join forces to defeat the encroachments of the Western powers. Contrary to Fukuzawa’s high expectations, events did not transpire in the way he had desired.
From the Opium War and onwards, China was repeatedly invaded by the Western powers, including Great Britain, France, and Russia, but it hesitated to modernize its political and social structures. Under the tributary system, Korea stagnated under Chinese tutelage and proved unable to institute the reforms needed to modernize its national defenses even as Russian power bore down on the Korean Peninsula from the north. Indeed, some Chinese and Korean leaders scorned Japan’s policy of “civilization and enlightenment” as “aping the West”.
Fukuzawa refused to simply turn a blind eye to the problems of Japan’s Asian neighbors. He explained the situation as follows:
“Europe’s current advance into Asia is just like a spreading wildfire. Japan cannot save itself from the wildfire just by building its own home out of stone. As long as the other homes in the neighborhood are built of cheap wood, Japan will have no chance of escaping the spreading flames.”
Thus, because Japan, Korea, and China were all homes on the same street, Japan would only be safe once it had ensured that the other two homes were also built of stone, if necessary by applying a degree of coercion towards their owners. This was the analogy Fukuzawa chose to illustrate Japan’s urgent need to modernize not only itself, but its neighbors as well.
Korea’s failure to modernize and Leaving Asia
Within the Korean government, some politicians understood the gravity of the crisis their country was facing. One of them was Kim Ok-kyun. Fukuzawa was in contact with Kim Ok-kyun and other members of his Enlightenment Party, and he aided their efforts to have the Korean government pursue a pro-modernization agenda.
Fukuzawa also urged that all Koreans be educated to read and write in hangul, a Korean alphabetic script that was not widely used, despite having been invented by Korea’s ruling Choson dynasty in the fifteenth century.
Nonetheless, there were also many ultraconservative political figures in the Korean government who opposed the Enlightenment Party and sought to thwart their policies of modernization. In addition, China exerted military pressure on Korea to prevent it from breaking free of its tributary status and interfered with Korea’s progress towards modernization. In 1884 (Meiji 17), Kim Ok-kyun and the Enlightenment Party attempted to seize power with Japanese support in the hopes of completing the modernization of their country. This event, known as the Kapsin Coup, proved short-lived when the Chinese government declared its intention to “protect” its tributary and had its armed forces quickly crush Kim’s uprising.
The failure of the rest of East Asia to modernize did much to disillusion Fukuzawa. Immediately after the Kapsin Coup, he penned the essay Leaving Asia, which expressed his new way of thinking that, “Our country can no longer hope to resist the advance of the West by joining forces with Korea and China as they are now. From now on, we will have no choice but to work with the Western countries and play by their rules.” Regardless, Fukuzawa did not adopt an uncompromising stance right away. He continued to insist afterwards in his speeches and writings that China and Korea would experience a great awakening.
Topic 61 – The First Sino-Japanese War and the Triple Intervention
What sort of conflict was the First Sino-Japanese War?
Sino-Japanese disputes over Korea
After Korea ended its isolationist stance, Japan supported Korea’s modernization by aiding its military reform. However, in 1882 (Meiji 15), some Korean soldiers belonging to unreformed Korean military units felt slighted by their government and rebelled in an event referred to as the Imo Mutiny. As Korea’s suzerain, China leapt into action and sent several thousand soldiers to put down the mutiny. This served to weaken Japan’s influence over Korea.
In 1884 (Meiji 17), Korean reformer Kim Ok-kyun and his allies launched the Kapsin Coup with the aim of seizing control of the government and bringing about modernization in the style of the Meiji Restoration. Once again, China responded by suppressing the revolt with force of arms.
Having been defeated in two consecutive power struggles over Korea, Japan took immediate steps to bolster its armed forces in anticipation of war with China. Before long, Japan was close to reaching military parity with China.
Kim Ok-kyun and the Kapsin Coup
Kim Ok-kyun was born into a family of yangban, Korea’s elite ruling class, during the Choson dynasty. After passing the civil service examination, he became an official in the Korean government. He understood what was going on in the world outside Korea and grew keenly aware of the need for Korea to become an independent and modern nation. To this end, he gathered like-minded men together as the Enlightenment Party, also known as the Independence Party, and pressed for reforms modelled on Japan’s Meiji Restoration. His motto was, “If Japan is to be the Britain of Asia, then our country shall be the France of Asia.”
In 1884, the Enlightenment Party seized the opportunity presented by the outbreak of war between China and France to launch a coup d’état against Korea’s conservative, pro-Chinese leaders. Though the Enlightenment Party momentarily succeeded in overthrowing the government, Qing China was determined to keep Korea under its thumb and deployed an army into Korea three days later to squash the uprising. Japan was unable to save the Enlightenment Party, but it did give sanctuary to Kim Ok-kyun when he fled his own country. Ten years later, while Kim was staying in Shanghai, he was killed by an assassin sent by the Korean government.
The reasons why Japan won the First Sino-Japanese War
In 1894 (Meiji 27), peasants in southern Korea rose up against the government. This was called the Tonghak Rebellion, as most of the rebels were members of the Tonghak religious sect. At one point, their peasant army managed to overrun a large portion of the Korean Peninsula in their quest to expel foreigners and corrupt officials from Korea. Because Korea’s ruling Choson dynasty had few soldiers of its own, it called upon China to help defeat the insurrection. In accordance with a prior agreement,1 Japan also dispatched troops, who eventually clashed with the Chinese Army. This was the beginning of the First Sino-Japanese War.
*1=In 1885 (Meiji 18), Japan and China approved a treaty requiring that neither party send troops into Korea without first providing advance notification to the other party.
The fighting between Japan and China spread from Korea to southern Manchuria in northeastern China. The Japanese military emerged victorious, having overpowered the Chinese on both land and sea. Both Japanese and Chinese forces were equipped with modern weaponry, but Japan’s soldiers benefited from greater discipline, superior training, and better morale than those of China. Moreover, whereas the Chinese people felt no sense of unity with their government, the Japanese people rallied behind their government and embraced their role in winning the war. It was these non-material factors that determined the conflict’s outcome.
The Treaty of Shimonoseki and the Triple Intervention
In 1895 (Meiji 28), China and Japan concluded the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Under the terms of the treaty, China recognized Korea’s independence, paid an indemnity of over three hundred million yen, which was about three times the annual revenue of the Japanese government, and ceded two of its territories, Taiwan and the Liaodong Peninsula, to Japan. The Sino-Barbarian World Order that had prevailed in East Asia since ancient times collapsed definitively, and soon Western powers picked apart China. Nevertheless, they were reluctant to treat Japan as an equal. Russia, which had its own territorial ambitions towards East Asia, allied with Germany and France in a bid to force Japan to return the Liaodong Peninsula to China under threat of war. This was called the Triple Intervention.
Without the strength to resist the enormous military pressure brought to bear upon it, Japan had no choice but to give up Liaodong. Then, just three years later, Russia was granted leases on two key sites in the Liaodong Peninsula, Port Arthur and Dalian, and set up military bases there. Adopting the slogan of “endure hardship now for vengeance later”,2 the government and people of Japan strived in unison to make the nation strong enough to confront Russia.
*2=This slogan, pronounced gashinshotan in Japanese, literally means “sleep on brushwood and lick gall”. It refers to a Chinese story of a man who did these unpleasant acts as a daily ritual so that he would never forget his determination to avenge past humiliations.
Topic 61 Recap Challenge! – Explain the nature of the First Sino-Japanese War by summarizing its causes, progression, and outcome.
Japan’s First Party Cabinet
In 1898 (Meiji 31), several years after the end of the First Sino-Japanese War, Okuma Shigenobu’s Progressive Party and Itagaki Taisuke’s Liberal Party united as the Constitutional Party. The Constitutional Party formed the Okuma cabinet, Japan’s first cabinet to be controlled by elected party politicians rather than non-partisan officials. However, Okuma’s government collapsed in less than half a year.
Topic 62 – The Anglo-Japanese Alliance
Why did Japan favor an alliance with Great Britain to protect its national security?
The Boxer Rebellion and Russia
Near the end of the nineteenth century, Russia set its sights on Asia as part of its longstanding ambition to control an ice-free port. In 1891, it began construction on the Trans-Siberian Railway that was to cut across continental Asia and link Moscow with Vladivostok, Russia’s gateway to the east.1 At the same time, Russia also set about acquiring various interests in the Korean Peninsula, such as mines, railways, and territorial leases.
*1=Vladivostok was a port town that Russia founded near Korea’s northern border. The name means “ruler of the east” in English.
In 1900, the Boxer Rebellion broke out in China.2 The Boxers were independent self-defense groups inspired by traditional Chinese religious beliefs and violently opposed to foreigners. Several tens of thousands of Boxers rose up in Shandong Province and proceeded to slaughter missionaries and diplomats. When the Boxers laid siege to the foreign legations in Beijing, an international expedition was dispatched to quell the revolt.3 The expedition was comprised of soldiers from eight countries, including Great Britain and Russia, though it was Japan that supplied the largest contingent. The year after the defeat of the rebellion, the Boxer Protocol was signed by China and each of the foreign countries involved. At that point, the international expedition was supposed to withdraw from China, but 20,000 Russian troops, who were sent to guard the Chinese Eastern Railway that was under construction in Manchuria, stayed behind. Although Great Britain, the United States, and Japan protested, Russia refused to yield.
*2=The “Boxers” received their name from the martial art that they practiced, which they called the “Fists of Righteous Harmony”.
*3=When foreign diplomats were holed up in Beijing, the remarkable courage and discipline of the Japanese troops led by Aizu-born officer Shiba Goro was reported around the world. This good press played a significant role in bringing Japan and Great Britain closer together in the years prior to the conclusion of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance.
The advent of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance
Japan felt a looming sense of crisis in the face of Russia’s on-going southward advance. Ito Hirobumi and Inoue Kaoru asserted that Japan could never win a war against Russia, and instead advocated negotiating a compromise called the “Manchuria-Korea Trade-Off”. Japan would give Russia a free hand in Manchuria in exchange for Russia recognizing the Korean Peninsula as Japan’s sphere of influence. On the other hand, Yamagata Aritomo, Katsura Taro, Kato Takaaki, and Komura Jutaro argued that Japan should fight Russia after forging an alliance with Great Britain, which had been drawing increasingly close to Japan in recent years.
What finally settled the debate was an opinion paper presented by diplomat Komura Jutaro. His paper discussed whether Japan’s national interests would best be served by an alliance with Russia or Great Britain, and concluded that Japan ought to side with Britain. Komura’s opinion paper was adopted as the official policy of the government and became the basis for the negotiations that ultimately led to the signing of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in 1902 (Meiji 35). For the twenty years it remained in force, the Anglo-Japanese Alliance greatly contributed to Japan’s security and prosperity.
On the eve of war with Russia
Boasting a national budget and military strength ten times greater than Japan’s, Russia reinforced its garrisons in Manchuria and commenced construction of a military base at Ryongampo near the mouth of the Yalu River. It was clear that if Japan stood by idly, Russia would continue to augment its forces in East Asia and soon gain an insurmountable military advantage over Japan.4 The Japanese government decided to initiate hostilities with Russia before it was too late.
*4=The Triple Intervention had damaged Japan’s clout in Asia and led to considerable turmoil in Korea. Russia used this opportunity to station troops in Korea. The King of Korea, who feared for his safety amid this political chaos, sought refuge in the Russian legation. Only a year later did the King return to his palace, but from then on Russia frequently meddled in the Korean government.
Topic 62 Recap Challenge! – State three or more reasons why Japan struck an alliance with Great Britain instead of Russia.
The Disadvantages of a Russo-Japanese Treaty
(according to Komura Jutaro’s opinion paper)
(1.) Even though a treaty may be able to temporarily sustain the peace in East Asia, it cannot possibly satisfy Russia’s rapacious expansionism, and thus will provide us with no long-term guarantees.
(2.) Although things may be different in the future, for now access to Siberia would provide us with little economic benefit.
(3.) Recently, both the people and government of China have adopted friendly attitudes towards Japan, but an alliance with Russia would destroy this goodwill and would harm Japan’s interests in China.
(4.) We would have to confront the naval might of Great Britain.
The Advantages of an Anglo-Japanese Alliance
(according to Komura Jutaro’s opinion paper)
(1.) Great Britain’s objective in Asia is not territorial expansion, but rather commercial profit and maintenance of the status quo. An alliance with Great Britain would restrain Russia’s ambitions and would preserve the peace in East Asia for a relatively longer period of time.
(2.) Consequently, a treaty between Great Britain and Japan would be of a peaceful and defensive character and would therefore be supported by international public opinion.
(3.) If we align ourselves with Great Britain, Chinese trust in Japan will increase, as will Japan’s profits in China.
(4.) To resolve the Korean problem, we must join forces with another strong country so that Russia will be compelled to accept our terms. Great Britain is the most suitable nation with which to form such an alliance.
(5.) An alliance with Great Britain will heighten international confidence in the Japanese economy. Moreover, the British people will share common interests with us through our alliance and so are likely to provide financial and economic assistance to Japan.
(6.) There is no comparison between the British Empire and Siberia, as far as the value of commerce to Japan is concerned.
(7.) The Russian Navy is much weaker than the British Navy, and thus a less formidable opponent.
Topic 63 – The Russo-Japanese War: Japan’s riskiest gambit
How was the Russo-Japanese War fought and what impact did Japan’s victory have on the world?
The Battles of Mukden and Tsushima
In February 1904 (Meiji 37), Japan cut diplomatic relations with Russia and attacked. Korea and Manchuria were the battlefields of the ensuing Russo-Japanese War.
Army units led by Nogi Maresuke captured Port Arthur and, after a tough fight, destroyed Russia’s Pacific Fleet that was bottled up in the harbor. After these victories, the Japanese Army advanced northward, encountering the Russian main force in March 1905, and defeating it during the Battle of Mukden. However, Japan’s losses were so heavy that it was unable to pursue the fleeing Russian soldiers.
In October 1904, the Russian Baltic Fleet left the Baltic Sea bound for Asia, and though it had a long voyage ahead of it around the coastline of Africa, it was unable to acquire needed supplies of coal fuel along the way. Britain’s colonies turned away Russian ships due to its alliance with Japan, as did neutral countries, preventing the Baltic Fleet from resupplying with the high-quality coal they had stored in port or to dock for repairs. In May 1905, the Japanese Combined Fleet led by Admiral Togo Heihachiro intercepted the Baltic Fleet in Tsushima Strait and, through a brilliant application of naval strategy, completely annihilated it. This incredible clash of naval arms, the Battle of Tsushima, remains one of the most decisive sea battles in world history.
The Treaty of Portsmouth
By the time it had defeated Russia at the Battle of Tsushima, Japan was already financially exhausted. The sum of Japan’s war expenditures amounted to eight times its annual budget, a tremendous expense that was covered through the sale of bonds and acquisition of foreign loans. It was obvious that, if the war dragged on, the Russians would gradually mobilize the full strength of their massive nation, send overwhelming reinforcements into Asia, and turn the tides of the war against Japan. Meanwhile, Russia had its own reasons for desiring an end to the war. Its constant military defeats were strengthening the hand of the domestic reform movement that was critical of Russia’s autocratic government. US President Theodore Roosevelt understood the situation facing Russia and Japan and offered to mediate a peace deal between the two sides. Following a peace conference conducted at America’s Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Russia and Japan signed the Treaty of Portsmouth in September, 1905 (Meiji 38).
Under the terms of the treaty, Russia recognized Japan’s dominance over Korea, which since 1897 was calling itself the Greater Korean Empire, and gave Japan its lease on the southern Liaodong Peninsula of China, which Japan later renamed Kwantung. Russia also handed over the railways it had constructed in southern Manchuria and ceded South Sakhalin to Japan.
However, Japan received no reparations from Russia. Unaware of how close to the breaking point the war had left their country, some Japanese citizens were so angered by this that they started a riot in the vicinity of Tokyo’s Hibiya Park, attacking police boxes and the residence of the Interior Minister. The government declared martial law and put down the disturbance, which was referred to as the Hibiya Park Riot.
How Japan’s victory changed the world
Japan had staked its very survival as a nation on the outcome of the Russo-Japanese War, and by winning had consolidated its once shaky national security. Japan’s victory, after having only recently emerged as a modern nation-state, raised the hopes of peoples under Western colonial rule, who yearned for independence. It also helped embolden the defensive efforts of the people of other nations threatened by Russian expansionism, such as Turkey, Finland, and Poland.1 On the other hand, it led a growing number of people in the West to fear the supposed threat that Asian peoples were increasingly posing to white people, referred to as the Yellow Peril.2
*1=To celebrate Japan’s victory, two streets in Istanbul, Turkey, were designated Togo Street and Nogi Street in honor of two of the war’s greatest Japanese military commanders. Finland constructed a building called “The Admiral” that displayed a portrait of Togo Heihachiro.
*2=Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and a number of other figures first began scare-mongering on the “yellow peril” from the time of the First Sino-Japanese War.
Topic 63 Recap Challenge! – Give two or more reasons why Japan was able to defeat its more powerful rival Russia.
I WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT…
The Japanese People who Fought the Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War put at stake the fate of the whole Japanese nation. It was not only Japan’s leaders and naval personnel who determined the outcome of the war’s final, decisive engagement, the Battle of Tsushima.
The Five Heroes of Hisamatsu
In May 1905 (Meiji 38), Russia’s Baltic Fleet exited the Indian Ocean via the Strait of Malacca and steamed into East Asia. Japan’s Combined Fleet hoped to intercept them, but was uncertain where the Russian warships were and what route they intended to take.
The first Japanese people to spot the Baltic Fleet were a group of young fishermen of Miyako Island, Okinawa Prefecture. They wanted to report their discovery to the Imperial General Headquarters in Tokyo as soon as possible, but unfortunately they had no way of contacting it from Miyako Island. Village elders brought the matter to the local government office, and it was decided that they would have to send messengers to Ishigaki Island, one of the Yaeyama Islands, which had communication facilities. Five young men from the village of Hisamatsu volunteered to go. Though they were already fatigued from having just returned from fishing, they understood that their country needed them to accept this urgent mission.
The five men boarded a traditional canoe called a sabani and furiously paddled through rough waters in the dead of night. They covered the entire distance of 170 kilometers in fifteen hours, then disembarked on the east coast of Ishigaki Island and ran thirty kilometers up a mountain trail. At around 4:00 AM on May 27, they burst into Yaeyama Communication Station to deliver their message. A telegram stating, “The enemy fleet has been sighted!” was quickly transmitted to the Imperial General Headquarters by way of Naha. These five men, who drove their bodies to the limits of human endurance in order to fulfill their duty to their country, went down in history as the “Five Heroes of Hisamatsu”, and their feat is still praised in Japan to this day. (See photo on cover of Chapter 4.)
A historically decisive naval battle
Just prior to the Battle of Tsushima, Admiral of the Combined Fleet Togo Heihachiro sent out a telegram that read, “Having been notified that enemy ships have been sighted, the Combined Fleet will immediately set out to attack and destroy them. The weather is clear today, but the waves are high.” The text of this historic telegram, drafted by Commander Akiyama Saneyuki of his Operations Staff, was engraved in the memories of the Japanese people at the time and remains widely quoted to this day.
The Russian Fleet consisted of thirty-eight ships sailing north through the Tsushima Strait. At 2:05 PM, when the Russians were just 8,000 meters away from the Japanese, the Japanese Fleet rotated hard left to align themselves parallel with the Russians. Then, the Japanese Fleet increased its speed and blocked their path. Whereas the Russians opened fire right away, the Japanese Fleet waited until the Russians were 6,000 meters away before letting loose their cannons. The Japanese strategy was an unqualified success. By that evening, the Japanese Fleet dominated the seas, having sunk four of Russia’s five state-of-the-art battleships over the course of three engagements.
The fighting continued until the next morning. By the time it was all over, twenty-one of Russia’s thirty-eight warships had been sunk, six had surrendered, six had fled to neutral ports and been disarmed, two had turned back and returned to the Baltic, and just three had made it to their destination of Vladivostok. Japan lost three torpedo boats, but no battleships. The Battle of Tsushima stands out as one of the most momentous and lop-sided victories ever recorded in the annals of world military history.
The bushido spirit of kindness towards the vanquished
After returning to Sasebo Naval Base, Admiral Togo paid a courtesy visit to Vice Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky, the defeated commander of the Baltic Fleet who had been seriously injured in the Battle of Tsushima and sent to a Japanese naval hospital.
On the side of the Japanese Army, when General Nogi Maresuke, commander of the 3rd Army, met with the defeated Russian commander Lieutenant General Anatoly Stessel at Shuishiying following the fall of Port Arthur, he gave him the special honor of allowing him to wear his bayonet when surrendering. After the end of the war, Nogi also did everything in his power to have Russia spare the life of his former adversary. Following the traditional Japanese philosophy of bushido, “the way of the warrior”, the soldiers of the Meiji period thus transcended wartime animosities and acted magnanimously even to vanquished foes.
In the heart of England, there is a small town called Barrow-in-Furness. When the citizens of the town learned that the Mikasa, the flagship of the Japanese Combined Fleet that won the historic Battle of Tsushima, was constructed there at the Vickers Shipyard, they were so delighted that they renamed the road running down the shore opposite to where the Mikasa was launched as Mikasa Street. The name of the street was not changed even when Britain and Japan were later at war with one another, and over one hundred years later it has still never been altered.
Topic 64 – Japan takes its place among the great powers
What were the consequences of Japan having joined the ranks of the great powers?
The new challenges facing Japan
After achieving victory in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 (Meiji 38), Japan and the United States reached the Taft-Katsura Agreement, through which Japan confirmed the Philippines’ status as an American colony and the United States reciprocated by acknowledging Korea as being within Japan’s sphere of influence.
In 1907 (Meiji 40), the First Russo-Japanese Agreement mutually recognized Japan’s special interests in Korea and southern Manchuria as well as Russia’s spheres of influence over northern Manchuria and Mongolia. Although Japan had finally joined the ranks of the great world powers,1 their attitude towards this newcomer was one of deep suspicion.
*1=Japan’s full recovery of its tariff autonomy in 1911, the year after the annexation of Korea, is generally regarded as the final stage of Japan’s emergence as a modern nation-state.
The annexation of Korea
The Japanese government deemed Korea’s stability absolutely necessary to guarantee the protection of Japan’s national security and its interests in Manchuria. Shortly after the conclusion of the Russo-Japanese War, Japan declared Korea to be its protectorate and set up the Korean Residency-General to ensure Korea’s ongoing modernization. The Emperor of Korea, who opposed Japan’s policies, sent secret emissaries to the Hague to complain about his country’s treatment.2 However, the Western powers recognized Korea as Japan’s protectorate in exchange for Japan consenting to British, American, and Russian colonial control of, respectively, India, the Philippines, and northern Manchuria and Mongolia.
*2=In June 1907 (Meiji 40), the Emperor of Korea dispatched secret emissaries to the Second Peace Conference in the Hague, Netherlands. The secret emissaries attempted to protest the loss of their country’s independence due to Japanese pressure. Nevertheless, because Korea no longer possessed the right to conduct its own diplomacy, the other participating nations refused to recognize the emissaries and denied them access to the conference.
In 1910 (Meiji 43), backed with military force, Japan pushed aside Korean opposition and forced through the annexation of Korea. Many Koreans fiercely resisted the loss of their country’s independence.
After the annexation, Japan ruled Korea through the Government-General. As part of its colonial policies, Japan undertook land surveys and instituted development projects in Korea, including the construction of railways and irrigation facilities. Japan also opened schools that taught both in the Japanese language and with the Korean hangul script.3
*3=Because Japan’s modernizing reforms forced many Korean farmers off their lands and promoted various assimilationist policies that ignored Korean traditions, they served to increase anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea.
America’s Gunboat Diplomacy Towards Japan
In October 1908 (Meiji 41), sixteen battleships of the US Atlantic Fleet stopped over in Japan while on a mission to circumnavigate the world. For Japan, which then had only nine battleships in its entire navy, this was an incredible show of force. US President Theodore Roosevelt’s intention was to show off the power of the naval arms that the US had amassed to the entire world, and especially to Japan, which became America’s newest rival in the Pacific Ocean. Because the battleships were painted white, they were called the Great White Fleet, but Japanese society apprehensively referred to them as the “white ships” in reference to Perry’s “black ships” that had stormed into Japan half a century earlier.
Although the Japanese government understood that the arrival of the Great White Fleet was an intimidation tactic, it decided that the best course of action was to shrug off the implied threat and have the Japanese people give the Americans a warm reception. In order to preserve the Great White Fleet’s outwardly friendly intentions, Roosevelt was mindful of public relations and ordered that no ill-mannered sailors be allowed to go ashore in Japan. On the day that the Great White Fleet docked at Yokohama, it was greeted by huge crowds of Japanese civilians cheering and waving miniature flags of both countries. The American naval personnel who went ashore were feted at many parties, and when their train reached Shimbashi Station, a choir of one thousand Japanese elementary school students sang the US national anthem for them. Both the government and people of Japan went to great lengths to prove their friendship with the United States, but the arrival of the Great White Fleet was a symbol of the new tension that had arisen in the Pacific region as a result of Japan having pushed back Russia in the Russo-Japanese War.
The birth of the Republic of China
The prestige of China’s ruling Qing dynasty was shattered by its defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War and the encroachments of the great powers after the Boxer Rebellion. Many Chinese people living or studying abroad began plotting to overthrow the Qing, who were Manchus, and revive ethnic Chinese rule. The main base of their movement was Japan. Some of the over 20,000 Chinese students studying in Japan constituted a revolutionary group who had learned Western ideas by adopting Japanese loan translations4 and aimed to replace the Qing Empire with a republican system of government. In 1905 (Meiji 38), Sun Yat-sen organized the Chinese United League in Tokyo and began soliciting widely for funding for the republican cause. Some of his supporters were Japanese citizens.
*4=Over the course of Japan’s modernization during the Meiji Restoration, the Japanese translated many Western concepts into their language using Sino-Japanese characters. Words that Chinese students subsequently borrowed from the Japanese language during this period included tetsugaku (philosophy), shiso (thought), riron (theory), shakaikagaku (social science), jinmin (citizens), kyowakoku (republic), gikai (assembly), senkyo (election), senden (propaganda), jinken (human rights), kaikyu (class), toso (struggle), kaiho (liberation), shakaishugi (socialism), and kyosanshugi (communism).
The Chinese revolutionaries made numerous attempts to start armed insurrections against the Qing, but all ended in failure. And yet, when a spontaneous revolt broke out in the southern city of Wuchang on October 10, 1911 (Meiji 44), it rapidly spread across the country. Sun Yat-sen returned from exile in the United States and, on January 1, 1912 (Meiji 45), he proclaimed the establishment of the Republic of China in the city of Nanking. On February 12, the last Emperor of China, Puyi, abdicated, and the Qing dynasty came to an end. This series of events is known as the Xinhai Revolution.
Still, the revolutionaries were only a collection of returning exiles, and they had no means of their own to exert power within China. Therefore, Sun offered Yuan Shikai, a powerful vassal of the Qing dynasty, the presidency of the new Republic in exchange for his help in removing Puyi.
Topic 64 Recap Challenge! – Explain what kinds of social policies Japan implemented in Korea following the annexation.
Ito Hirobumi, Political Workhorse of the Meiji Government
From the overthrow of the shogunate to the end of the Meiji period, Ito Hirobumi, a man possessing extraordinary powers of insight, dedicated his life to transforming Japan into a strong and independent nation. Though small in stature, Ito played a huge role in leading the Meiji Government.
Born a poor samurai
Among the many leaders in the early Meiji Government, the three men who are now acclaimed as “The Three Great Heroes of the Restoration” were Saigo Takamori, Okubo Toshimichi, and Kido Takayoshi. However, all three of them passed away around the year 1877 (Meiji 10). The man who succeeded them was the Choshu-born Ito Hirobumi, who remained one of Japan’s most important leaders right up to the final years of the Meiji period. Along with Yamagata Aritomo, who was also from Choshu, and other Meiji leaders, Ito was heavily involved in writing the Meiji Constitution, establishing the Diet, revising the unequal treaties, and leading Japan to victory in the First Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese Wars.
Ito Hirobumi was born in Choshu in the late-Edo period to a family occupying the bottom rung of the samurai class. He studied at Yoshida Shoin’s Shokason-juku, a private academy that accepted students of all social classes. At Shokason-juku, Ito forged close ties with friends and classmates, including Takasugi Shinsaku and Kido Takayoshi, and gradually became a prominent figure.
The celebrated “Rising Sun Speech”
Amidst the maelstrom of the anti-shogunate movement, Ito travelled to Great Britain along with Inoue Kaoru. His observations of British society convinced him that it was not feasible to “expel the barbarians”, as many of his compatriots continued to demand. As the new government was forming at the start of the Meiji Restoration, powerful statesman Okubo Toshimichi recognized Ito’s talent and awarded him the posts of State Councilor and Industry Minister when he was just thirty-two years of age.
In 1871 (Meiji 4), when the Iwakura Mission was sent to tour the countries of the West, Ito accompanied it as deputy ambassador. Their first stop was San Francisco, where Ito delivered a speech in English on behalf of his delegation. When speaking of the abolition of the domains, which he had been personally involved in implementing half a year earlier, he proudly informed his audience that, “A feudal system, firmly established many centuries ago, has been completely abolished, without firing a gun or shedding a drop of blood… What country in the middle ages broke down its feudal system without a war?” He closed his address by pointing to the Japanese flag and declaring that, “The red disk in the centre of our national flag shall… henceforth be in fact what it is designed to be, the noble emblem of the rising sun, moving onward and upward amid the enlightened nations of the world.” Ito’s dramatic “Rising Sun Speech” received a thunderous applause.
Drafting the Meiji Constutiton
Ito’s greatest accomplishments were the enactment of the Meiji Constitution and the establishment of the Diet. In 1882 (Meiji 15), Ito left for Europe where he spent over a year studying and listening to the lectures of German constitutional scholars. After returning to Japan, he was appointed Japan’s first prime minister in 1885 (Meiji 18) at the age of forty-five, and committed his greatest attention to writing up a draft constitution with the assistance of Inoue Kowashi, Ito Miyoji, and Kaneko Kentaro. When the draft was reviewed by the Privy Council, one minister found fault with the phrase “rights of subjects” and asked that it be changed to “status of subjects”, but Ito carefully explained to the minister that, “Concerning rights under the constitution, Chapter I limits the rights of the monarch, and Chapter II protects the rights of the subjects.” Another man attending the meeting wanted more emphasis on the supremacy of the Emperor who, he argued, must have the right to vote on legislation and discuss budgets. In response, Ito said, “Any structure that appears to make the Emperor responsible for issues of parliamentary politics cannot be called a constitutional system of government.”
Ito deftly overcame his many critics and successfully preserved the powers of the Diet under the Meiji Constitution, including the requirement that all budgetary decisions and legislation receive Diet approval. In this regard, the Meiji Constitution was even more progressive than the German Constitution on which it was modeled. This is how Japan became the only country in Asia practicing parliamentary politics under a written constitution.
Protecting the Japanese state during the First Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese Wars
Korea, which had long been a Chinese tributary state, fell into a state of decline over the course of the late-Edo and Meiji periods. Japan clashed with China on multiple occasions over Korea out of Japan’s fear that Korea might be conquered by another powerful nation and threaten Japan’s national security. This power struggle ultimately led to the First Sino-Japanese War.
Ito always gave first consideration to Japan’s long-term national interests. He distanced himself from hardliners and preferred pragmatic solutions. For instance, as Japan was winning victory after victory against China during the First Sino-Japanese War, some Japanese officials wanted to march on the Chinese capital of Beijing. However, it was Ito who stayed their hand and warned them of the danger of becoming overconfident and overstepping Japan’s limits, leading soon after to the Treaty of Shimonoseki, ending the war. Likewise, Ito was worried by Russia’s strength in the run-up to the Russo-Japanese War and backed a cautious diplomatic stance, causing some pro-war figures to even accuse him of “Russia anxiety disease”. On the other hand, Ito was also seen as the face of Japanese imperialism in Korea after he became the first Resident General of Korea.
In 1909 (Meiji 42), Ito was on his way to talks with the Russians concerning settlement of East Asian affairs after the Russo-Japanese War, but when he arrived at Harbin Station, he was shot dead by Korean independence activist An Chung-gun. It was a tragic end to one of Japan’s most colorful personalities. For Ito, all that he did was motivated by his patriotic heart full of love for his country, Japan.
Section 4 – The evolution of modern industry and shaping of modern culture
Topic 65 – The development of modern industry and its consequences
How did Japan’s industrial revolution unfold?
Japan’s Industrial Revolution
The Meiji Government was already going to great lengths to “increase production and promote industry” within a year of being founded, and soon state-run enterprises were serving as models of Western industry to private companies. In the 1880s, once the government created the Bank of Japan and put in place a financial system, it sold off its government-owned factories and entrusted the development of the Japanese economy to the private sector. Cotton thread, cotton fabric, and raw silk, mass-produced with factory machinery, became Japan’s key exports, the profits from which enabled the importation of steel, machinery, warships, and raw materials such as unprocessed cotton.
The indemnity that Japan received through the Treaty of Shimonoseki was invested in heavy industry. In 1901 (Meiji 34), the state-run Yahata Steel Works opened, facilitating Japan’s first domestic steel production. At the same time, the shipbuilding industry also surged and, by the end of the Russo-Japanese War, Japan was capable of manufacturing vessels weighing over 10,000 tons.
These changes can collectively be referred to as Japan’s Industrial Revolution. One of the major reasons why Japan made such rapid progress toward modern industrialism during the Meiji period was that the Japanese people already enjoyed a high level of education and strong work ethic since the time of the Edo period. Another reason was the Meiji policy of “equality of all citizens”, which fostered the notion that anyone could succeed through his own effort and ingenuity. As a result, the Japanese economy benefited from a proliferation of talented entrepreneurs such as Shibusawa Eiichi.
Model Government Factories Sold to Private Citizens
The Meiji Government created the government factories during the late-1860s and 1870s with the purpose of training technicians and spearheading the modernization of mining and industry. Afterwards, it disposed of its factories and strived to develop domestic industries through private initiative.
Name of enterprise Prefecture Date of sale Buyer
Takashima Coal Mine Nagasaki 1874 Goto Shojiro
Hiroshima Spinning Mill Hiroshima 1882 Hiroshima Cotton Spinning Company
Fukagawa Cement Plant Tokyo 1884 Asano Soichiro
Innai Silver Mine Akita 1884 Furukawa Ichibei
Ani Copper Mine Akita 1885 Furukawa Ichibei
Sapporo Beer Brewery Hokkaido 1886 Okura Kihachiro
Aichi Spinning Mill Aichi 1886 Shinoda Naokata
Shinmachi Spinning Mill Gunma 1887 Mitsui Conglomerate
Nagasaki Shipyard Nagasaki 1887 Mitsubishi Conglomerate
Hyogo Shipyard Hyogo 1887 Kawasaki Shozo
Miike Coal Mine Fukuoka 1888 Sasaki Hachiro
Tomioka Silk Mill Gunma 1893 Mitsui Conglomerate
Sado Silver Mine Niigata 1896 Mitsubishi Conglomerate
Ikuno Silver Mine Hyogo 1896 Mitsubishi Conglomerate
Changes in rural and urban life
What sustained the advancement of Japanese industry was the expansion of the modern transportation system. The Tokaido Line between Shimbashi and Kobe went into full operation in 1889 (Meiji 22), and before long a nationwide railway network took shape. Roads were also improved to accommodate the transit of vehicles such as horse carriages. As railways extended even to rural villages and towns, they finally supplanted the old highways of the Edo period. Areas around train stations experienced strong rates of growth.
These improvements to transportation and modernization of industry gave people greater choices of work and occupation than were previously available. Farmers, for instance, experimented with a variety of side jobs. Some sent their daughters away from home to earn extra income in spinning mills, and many left the farm entirely to become factory laborers in cities. As living standards rose, rice consumption spread and Japan’s population steadily increased.
Once clock towers were installed on street corners in cities, people became accustomed to knowing the correct time and planning out their day accordingly. Likewise, factory labor was run by the hour.1
*1=In large cities such as Tokyo, glass came into widespread use. The streets were lined with glass display windows, and even private homes began to install glass sliding doors.
The emergence of social problems
As modern industrialization progressed, objections were raised about the long working hours and low wages of factory laborers. Following the First Sino-Japanese War, labor unions were organized. During the mid-1880s, the Ashio Copper Mine started to dump enormous quantities of toxins into the surrounding environment, a problem that shot to national attention in 1901 (Meiji 34) when Tanaka Shozo appealed for the Emperor’s help. Around that time, Katayama Sen, Kotoku Shusui, and Abe Isoo founded the Society for the Study of Socialism to promote socialist ideas and the rights of laborers. In 1910 (Meiji 43), Kotoku Shusui and others were arrested for plotting to assassinate the Emperor. Due to this scandal, the High Treason Incident, the Japanese government increasingly clamped down on the activities of socialist organizations.
Topic 65 Recap Challenge! – State three or more changes to city and village life that resulted from the rise of modern industrialism.
Shibusawa Eiichi, The Man Who Made Japanese Business What It Is Today
Business is not mere profit-making, but rather it is about “the Analects and the abacus”. Those were the words of Shibusawa Eiichi, who formulated a set of ideal principles for the Japanese businessman to live by.
A moral upbringing
Shibusawa Eiichi was one of Japan’s greatest businessmen. He was at the forefront of Japan’s economic community during both the Meiji and Taisho periods.
He was born in 1840 (Tempo 11) to a farming family of the village of Chiaraijima in Hanzawa District, Musashino Province (modern-day Fukaya, Saitama Prefecture). At the age of six, his well-educated father taught him classical Chinese literature by having him speak passages from Chinese texts aloud. Within little more than a year, the clever boy was reading the great works of Chinese Confucian literature, including The Classic of Filial Piety, Lesser Learning, Great Learning, Doctrine of the Mean, and Analects.
By the age of eight, he received instruction from a classical scholar and studied many works about the words and deeds of great sages and wise men. The foundation of Shibusawa Eiichi’s education and his high-minded moral ideas lay in his childhood upbringing.
Shibusawa’s discovery of the joint-stock company
In 1864 (Genji 1), Shibusawa obtained samurai status and was enlisted into the service of Tokugawa Yoshinobu, who would later become the fifteenth Tokugawa shogun. In 1867 (Keio 3), Shibusawa visited Europe as part of the shogunate’s delegation to the International Exposition in Paris. The delegation spent over a year touring France, the Netherlands, and Great Britain.
Out of everything that he experienced in his travels, what surprised Shibusawa the most was seeing European bankers converse with army officers as equals. In Japan, the equivalent of bankers was the merchants, who were of a lower social class than Japan’s equivalent of army officers, the samurai. Because many of the high-status samurai saw money-making as an impure activity, they often abhorred to even sit next to a merchant. Shibusawa became convinced that, in the future Japan, merchants ought to be able to conduct their business with pride.
Another thing that Shibusawa discovered in Europe was the joint-stock company. A joint-stock company is a business that solicits funding from many private individuals as capital to build the enterprise. Even if some individuals contribute only small sums of money, they can add up to an impressive pool of capital. In Europe, joint-stock companies had both invigorated national industries and enriched the lives of the ordinary people. Shibusawa dreamed of one day creating his own joint-stock company in Japan.
Founding five hundred companies
Once a proud member of the samurai class, Shibusawa began to change his attitude after experiencing Western civilization firsthand. Shibusawa had portraits taken of himself in both Western and traditional samurai clothing to symbolize his determination to reinvent himself as a modern businessman.
According to Shibusawa, “If we want Japan to be able to interact with the Western countries from a position of equality, we need to make Japan a rich nation. To make Japan a rich nation, we must modernize our economy and create joint-stock companies, and the men running these companies must have a strong sense of morality and pride in their work as businessmen.”
In 1873 (Meiji 6), Shibusawa took part in the establishment of First National Bank and, demonstrating remarkable talent there, he soon went on to assist in the foundation and management of about five hundred joint-stock companies, including Tokyo Gas, Imperial Hotel, and Kirin Brewery.
“The Analects and the abacus”
To Shibusawa, the work of a businessman was not simple profit-making. Rather, he insisted that businessmen obey the will of Heaven that guides the universe and hold true to the moral principles of personal good faith and fair dealings. He wasted no opportunity to preach Confucian ethics contained within the Analects. The businessman who followed these principles, he believed, would not only make himself and his family prosperous, but would also do a service to the public by making the whole nation of Japan prosperous.
Shibusawa’s worldview, summed up in his phrase “the Analects and the abacus”, established the tradition of the Japanese businessman who is expected to harmonize morality (Analects) with economics (abacus), to safeguard the trust of others, and to honor his duty to the community.
Shibusawa also believed that businessmen should return a portion of their accumulated wealth to society. He donated generously to charities, hospitals, and private schools, and he founded Tokyo Poorhouse, Japan’s first public welfare house, to provide relief to the socially disadvantaged. Over the course of his life, he was involved in creating over six hundred social and educational institutions.
Topic 66 – The formation of a modern culture
How did Japan’s acceptance of Western influence affect traditional Japanese culture?
The establishment of universities and foreign teachers
After the Meiji Restoration, Japan realized that it could never compete with the Western powers unless it Westernized itself quickly. The Meiji Government endeavored to modernize Japan by vigorously embracing Western culture and scholarship.
In 1877 (Meiji 10), the Meiji Government founded Tokyo University, which, nine years later, was designated as the first of Japan’s “Imperial Universities”.1 Foreign teachers were hired to give lectures in English. In order to adapt Western concepts and theories into their own language, Japanese translators devised a huge array of loan translations with Sino-Japanese characters (kanji).2
*1=Other institutions of higher learning were incorporated privately, including Keio University, Doshisha University, and Tokyo Vocational School (now called Waseda University).
*2=The Japanese words for “citizen” (kokumin), “society” (shakai), “economy” (keizai), “he” (kare), “she” (kanojo), “love” (renai), “modern” (kindai), “individual” (kojin), “art” (bijutsu), “nature” (shizen), “existence” (sonzai), “rights” (kenri), and “liberty” (jiyu) were all coined during this period. Many of these loan translations, crafted painstakingly by Japanese translators, were later borrowed by China and Korea, and they are now used in common by all languages written using Sino-Japanese characters(kanji).
Japan’s young intellectuals were quick to absorb Western learning, and many went on to become leading scholars. By the 1890s, world-class research was already produced in the natural sciences by Japanese citizens, including Kitasato Shibasaburo and Noguchi Hideyo, who earned international renown for their groundbreaking work in the field of bacteriology.
Japanese Scientists of the Meiji Period
Year Scientist Scientific accomplishment
1890 (Meiji 23) Kitasato Shibasaburo Invented a serum therapy for tetanus.
1894 (Meiji 27) Takamine Jokichi Discovered takadiastase.
1897 (Meiji 30) Shiga Kiyoshi Discovered the dysentery bacillus.
1898 (Meiji 31) Omori Fusakichi Invented a seismograph.
1902 (Meiji 35) Kimura Hisashi Researched latitude variation
1903 (Meiji 36) Nagaoka Hantaro Researched the atomic model.
1910 (Meiji 43) Suzuki Umetaro Discovered vitamin B1.
1918 (Taisho 7) Noguchi Hideyo Researched the pathogen of yellow fever.
Vernacular Japanese and modern literature
During the Meiji period, the classical style that had been traditionally used to write the Japanese language gradually gave way to the new vernacular style that expressed ideas and emotions using the words of everyday, conversational Japanese. This movement, known as the unification of the spoken and written language, laid the groundwork for modern Japanese literature. The vernacular style, which is how the Japanese language is written today, was popularized thanks to the efforts of writers like Futabatei Shimei and Ozaki Koyo.
Starting around the 1890s, the literary movement of Romanticism, which extolled the liberation of human nature, entered Japan, inspiring such authors as Mori Ogai and Higuchi Ichiyo. On the other hand, it was French naturalist literature near the turn of the twentieth century that influenced Shimazaki Toson to write the novel The Broken Commandment, which presented an unvarnished look at the underside of Japanese society. There was also Natsume Soseki, who depicted the trials of modern men struggling to reconcile Japanese ethics with Western egoism.
In addition, Masaoka Shiki shook up the stale conventions of Edo-period haiku and produced some of Japan’s first modern haiku. Yosano Akiko’s Tangled Hair and Ishikawa Takuboku’s A Handful of Sand broadened the diversity of tanka poetry through the use of plain language.
Western aesthetics and Japanese traditions
In the field of painting, Japanese traditions were increasingly ignored in favor of Westernization. And yet, in the midst of this trend, the American Ernest Fenollosa was captivated by the beauty of Japanese art. Together with Okakura Tenshin, Fenollosa went to great lengths to preserve and restore traditional Japanese artwork, and to this end they founded the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (now Tokyo University of the Arts).
Meanwhile, Yokoyama Taikan and Kano Hogai were inspired by Western techniques to invent the “hazy style”, which has no defined lines, and utilized it to create Japanese-themed paintings. Kuroda Seiki and Fujishima Takeji, who studied in France, breathed new life into the art world by replicating the sensation of natural light.
In addition, the sculptor Takamura Koun made realistic wood carvings employing Western techniques.
In music as well, Western melodies were incorporated into Japan’s most widely beloved school songs. Taki Rentaro, who studied in Germany, composed many musical pieces, including The Moon over the Ruined Castle and Flower, which conveyed Japanese sentiments through Western musical styles.
Topic 66 Recap Challenge! – Choose one person from the table entitled “Japanese Scientists of the Meiji Period” and write a 100-word mini-biography of him.
JAPAN AS SEEN THROUGH FOREIGN EYES
How the World Saw the Russo-Japanese War
The colored peoples of Asia gained new hope in achieving independence from the Western powers.
The reactions of European people
Japan’s victory over Russia in the Russo-Japanese War rocked the Western-dominated world order based upon a system of racial discrimination. For the first time in history, a colored people of a small Asian nation defeated a strong, white Western nation.
Sun Yat-sen, the Father of the Chinese Revolution, was in Europe at the time and observed how Europeans reacted to the dramatic events occurring in East Asia:
“One day news came that Admiral Togo had defeated the Russian navy, annihilating in the Japan Sea the fleet newly dispatched from Europe to Vladivostock. The population of the whole continent was taken aback. Britain was Japan’s Ally, yet most of the British people were painfully surprised, for in their eyes Japan’s victory over Russia was certainly not a blessing for the White peoples. Blood, after all, is thicker than water.”
The reactions of Asian people
Sun Yat-sen also observed how Asians reacted to Japan’s defeat of Russia:
“Later on I sailed for Asia. When the steamer passed the Suez Canal a number of natives came to see me. All of them wore smiling faces, and asked me whether I was a Japanese. I replied that I was a Chinese and inquired what was in their minds, and why they were so happy. They said they had just heard the news that Japan had completely destroyed the Russian fleet recently dispatched from Europe… In former days, the colored races in Asia, suffering from the oppression of the Western peoples, thought that emancipation was impossible. 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… Therefore, Japan’s defeat of Russia gave rise to a great hope for the independence of Asia.”
Stoking the fires of independence
Independence leaders from around the world personally attested to what Sun Yat-sen had described. Indian independence leader, and later prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru wrote, “If Japan could make good against one of the most powerful European countries, why not India?”
The Egyptian nationalist activist Mustafa Kamil said, “The Japanese are the only Asian people to have put the Europeans in their place.”
Iranian poet Hoseyn Ali Tajer Shirazi examined the reasons for Japan’s success, arguing that, “Japan became a great power by adopting a constitutional system, which is why it was able to vanquish such a strong foe.”
CHAPTER 4 SUMMARY:
SUMMING UP THE MODERN PERIOD (PART 1)
Fumiko asks her sister about the periodization of modern history…
The following is a dialogue between Fumiko, a Japanese middle school student, and her elder sister.
Fumiko: The modern period started when Commodore Perry came, right?
Fumiko’s sister: In 2008, when the National Middle School Curriculum was revised, it was decided that the modern period would be the span of almost one hundred years between the arrival of Commodore Perry’s black ships in 1853 and the end of World War II in 1945. Because that’s a lot to learn, this textbook splits the period into two parts, one going up to about the end of the Meiji period in 1912 and one covering the remainder.
Fumiko: Just the first part alone was really long!
Fumiko’s sister: Well, this was the period when Japan collided with Western civilization in the last years of the Tokugawa shogunate, struggled to forge a modern state, and finally achieved its goal.
Fumiko: It’s a good thing that the Japanese people managed to come together as one against Perry’s black ships.
Fumiko’s sister: The samurai saw what was happening in the world and realized that the Western powers had colonized many other countries by exploiting their internal divisions. That’s why the Meiji Government wanted to unify the people under a modern state with Western laws and institutions. I think that Japan was lucky back then to have had the Emperor as a figure for all the people to rally around.
Fumiko: But Japan barely got started as a modern country before we had to fight China and then Russia.
Fumiko’s sister: I think it was a truly incredible accomplishment for the people of the Meiji period to have made such strenuous efforts to preserve Japan’s independence even in the face of tremendous pressure from the great powers.
Problems of periodization
The start of the Meiji Restoration was 1853, when Perry’s ships came to Japan. In that case, in what year did the Meiji Restoration end? Consider the merits of each of the following four arguments.
(1.) The Meiji Restoration lasted fifteen years until the establishment of the Meiji Government in 1868 (Meiji 1).
(2.) The Meiji Restoration lasted eighteen years until the abolition of the domains in 1871 (Meiji 4).
(3.) The Meiji Restoration lasted thirty-six years until the promulgation of the Meiji Constitution in 1889 (Meiji 22).
(4.) The Meiji Restoration lasted fifty-eight years until the last unequal treaty was renegotiated in 1911 (Meiji 44).
Comparing historical periods
Compare each set of the following topics and jot down the key differences.
(1.) The domains of the Edo period versus the prefectures of the Meiji period.
(2.) “Expelling the barbarians” versus “opening the country”
(3.) The food, clothing, and homes of Japanese people during the Edo period versus the Meiji period.
Comparing historical figures
Saigo Takamori and Okubo Toshimichi were childhood friends from Satsuma, but they came into conflict over their policies towards foreign diplomacy and nation-building. On which issues and for what reasons did their views differ?
Group discussion work
What do you think that Fukuzawa Yukichi’s essay Leaving Asia tells us about the relationship between Japan and other Asian countries? Let everyone share their own ideas.
CHAPTER 4 SUMMARY:
MINI HISTORICAL DICTIONARY
(explanation of key terms in less than 100 words)
Arrival of Commodore Perry 1853 The arrival in Japan of an American fleet led by Commodore Matthew C. Perry. His four massive warships, known as “black ships” in Japan, appeared near Uraga at the entrance of Edo Bay. Perry came to deliver an official letter from the President of the United States requesting that Japan open its ports and trade with the United States. The shogunate was forced to accept the letter and, the following year, it ended the country’s policy of isolationism.
Treaty of Peace and Amity (Treaty of Kanagawa) 1854 A treaty between Japan and the United States that ended Japan’s policy of isolationism. Matthew C. Perry returned to Kanagawa in order to negotiate and sign the treaty. As a result of the deal, Japan opened the ports of Shimoda and Hakodate and agreed to set up a US consulate in Shimoda. Townsend Harris was appointed the first US consul general.
Treaty of Amity and Commerce 1858 The treaty proposed by Townsend Harris to open Japan to trade with the United States. The shogunate signed the treaty for fear of the consequences of refusal. Afterwards, Japan signed similar treaties with other foreign countries. These were the “unequal treaties” that removed Japan’s rights to set its own tariffs and to try foreign citizens who had committed crimes on Japanese soil in its own courts.
Ansei Purge 1858 – 1859 A massive crackdown on the sonno joi movement. The sonno joi movement arose out of anger over the shogunate’s signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce without the approval of the Imperial Court, and its aims were to rally behind the Emperor and expel foreigners in order to protect Japan’s independence. Most of the movement’s leaders were punished by the shogunate during the purge.
Charter Oath 1868 The five guiding principles promulgated by Emperor Meiji as a framework for reforming Japan. By encouraging free speech, the opening of deliberative assemblies, and the formation of state policy on the basis of public opinion, the Charter Oath opened a path for Japan to assimilate Western civilization and grow as a modern, constitutional state.
Abolition of the domains 1871 The dissolution of Japan’s self-governing domains, which were replaced by prefectures under the control of the central government. The Meiji Government ran the prefectures through prefectural governors and usurped all their military and taxation powers, including the right to set and collect the land tax. When the domains were abolished, many samurai were thrown out of work.
School System Law 1872 The law of the Meiji Government establishing a new system of public education. Education was extolled as essential, more so for the development of the individual than the state. Elementary education became mandatory and temple schools were converted into elementary schools to meet demand. The school attendance rate rose from under fifty percent at the start of the Meiji period to nearly one hundred percent by the end of the Meiji period.
Conscription Ordinance 1873 The ordinance that introduced a system of conscription forming the basis of Japan’s new national army. Together with reforms to the education and taxation systems, this is regarded as one of the three great institutional reforms promoted by the Meiji Government. All men were required to serve in the military upon reaching the age of twenty, regardless of whether they were commoners or the descendents of samurai.
Land Tax Reform 1873 A system under which a land tax fixed at three percent of the land’s value was payable to the government in currency. The former land tax of the Edo period was collected by the government in the form of rice, depending on the yield, and thus tax rates varied wildly within each domain. After the land tax reform, it became possible to levy taxes on all the country’s land in a uniform manner, which guaranteed the Meiji Government a stable source of revenue.
Meiji Constitution 1889 The constitution promulgated by the Meiji Government that made Japan Asia’s first constitutional state. According to its provisions, the Emperor reigned over Japan, but enacted policies only on the basis of the advice of his ministers. A national assembly composed of the House of Representatives and the House of Peers was created, and the people were guaranteed a variety of fundamental rights.
First Sino-Japanese War 1894 – 1895 A war between Qing China and Japan. Because Korea was militarily weak, it requested that China dispatch troops to defeat a rebellion in southern Korea. Japan also sent troops, citing the terms of an agreement signed earlier with China, but the two armies clashed. Japan won an overwhelming victory over Chinese forces.
Triple Intervention 1895 A demand that Japan return the Liaodong Peninsula to China issued by a Russian-led alliance of three countries. After Japan was given control of Taiwan and the Liaodong Peninsula under the terms of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, Russia sought to facilitate its ambitions in East Asia by joining with France and Germany to pressure Japan. Japan backed down and focused on building its national strength under the slogan of “endure hardship now for vengeance later”.
Anglo-Japanese Alliance 1902 A security alliance ratified between Great Britain and Japan. After the Triple Intervention, Japan’s leaders weighed the merits of an alliance with either Britain or Russia, but ultimately the pro-British view of diplomat Komura Jutaro was adopted as the official policy of the government.
Russo-Japanese War 1904 – 1905 A war between Russia and Japan. When Russia, a nation with a national budget and military strength ten times larger than Japan’s, reinforced its army in Manchuria, Japan was faced with a threat it could not ignore. Japan triumphed in the war and resolved its national security dilemma.
Annexation of Korea 1910 Japan’s annexation of Korea after the Russo-Japanese War was undertaken in the belief that it was a necessary measure to protect Japan’s national security and its interests in Manchuria. Many Koreans resisted the loss of their country’s independence.