Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact


SDHF Newsletter No. 377 The Road to the Greater East Asian War Part 10, Chapter 3 The Russo-Japanese War -4-

Nakamura Akira, Dokkyo University Professor Emeritus
(English Translation: Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact)
Part 11, Chapter 3: The Russo-Japanese War-4

In August 1903 it became obvious that Russia had designs on both Manchuria and Korea. Therefore, Japan opened negotiations, which lasted for five months, until January of 1904, with Russia. The essentials of Japan’s requests of Russia were as follows.
(1) Russia must respect the independence and territorial integrity of China and Korea, and agree to equal commercial opportunity for Japan and Russia in both nations.
(2) Russia must recognize the supremacy of Japanese interests in Korea, and Japan must recognize Russian special interests relating to railways in Manchuria.
(3) Russia must recognize the fact that Japan has the exclusive right to offer advice about reforms and good government, and provide assistance (including military assistance) to Korea.
Russia had no good reason to object to those requests. Nevertheless, they responded with counterproposals, as shown below.
(1) Russia respects the territorial integrity of Korea. However, Russia will not negotiate about Manchuria, as it is not within the Japanese sphere of influence.
(2) Russia recognizes Japanese assistance to Korea only if such assistance is not military; Japan may not use Korean territory for strategic purposes.
(3) Korean territory north of the 39th parallel should be considered a neutral zone.
By refusing to negotiate about the independence and territorial integrity of Manchuria, by prohibiting Japan from sending troops to Korea, and furthermore, by creating a neutral zone in northern Korea, the Russians were assuming that they had free rein in Manchuria.
Moreover, during the negotiations, the Russians were frantically preparing for war, issuing mobilization orders to their troops in the Far East and imposing martial law in Manchuria.
On January 13, 1904, the Japanese submitted their final proposal to Russia. Even after three weeks, there was no reply from the Russians. On February 4, the Japanese notified Russians that they were breaking off diplomatic relations.
Hostilities commenced, with Japan’s winning consecutive victories both on land and sea, contrary to expectations.
(1) Battles of Liaoyang and Shahe: Japanese armies pushed the Russians northward to Mukden.
(2) Japan achieves maritime control: Japan contained Russian fleets at Port Arthur and Vladivostok.
(3) Fall of Port Arthur: The Japanese occupied the Port Arthur fortress and destroyed Russian ships.
(4) Occupation of Mukden: A decisive land battle was fought during which the Russians suffered 100,000 casualties and had 40,000 of their troops taken prisoner.
(5) Battle of Tsushima: The Japanese Navy obliterated the Baltic Fleet. Out of 38 Russian vessels, the Japanese sank 21 and damaged five others, which eventually sank; six were detained in neutral ports. Japan lost only three torpedo boats.
US President Roosevelt arranged for peace talks; the Portsmouth Treaty was signed on September 5, 1905. Terms were as follows:
(1) Russia acknowledges that Japan possesses paramount political, military, and economic interests in Korea, and has the right to take measures it deems necessary for guidance, protection, and control in that nation.
(2) Both nations shall remove their troops from Manchuria within 18 months.
(3) Russia assigns the lease of Liaodong peninsula to Japan, with the consent of the government of China.
(4) Russia transfers the South Manchuria Branch line (between Changchun and Port Arthur) of the Chinese Eastern Railway, together with pertaining coal mines, to Japan.
(5) Russia assigns the portion of Sakhalin south of the 50th degree of north latitude to Japan.

MOTEKI Hiromichi, Chairman
Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact