Introduction of Japan as a World Power (Russo-Japanese War)
The Russo-Japanese War is also known as “the first great war of the 20th century”, which grew out of the rival imperial ambitions of the Russian and Japanese Empires over Manchuria and Korea; where the Japanese military were unexpectedly victorious over the Russian forces, transforming the balance of power in East Asia and resulting in Japan’s entry as a world power.
In 1868, Japan underwent the Meiji Restoration, in which the Meiji government began to embrace Western ideas, technological advances and customs, putting an end to the shogunate system in Japan and in less than half a century, Japan emerged from isolation and transformed into a modern state, hoping to preserve their power and be recognized as an equal to the Western Powers.
Following the Meiji Restoration, Japan fought in the Sino-Japanese War from 1894-1895, over the issue of control and influence over Korea under the Joseon Dynasty. After a peasant rebellion, the Korean government requested for Qing Dynasty troops to be sent in and stabilize the country; Japan responded to this by sending their own forces to Korea and installing a “puppet” government in Seoul. This angered the Chinese and led to the Japanese troops attacking Chinese troops on the Liaodong Peninsula and nearly destroying the Chinese navy in the Battle of the Yalu River; this lead to the Treaty of Shimonoseki between Japan and China, who ceded the Liaodong Peninsula and Taiwan to Japan. After the treaty was signed, Russia, Germany and France forced Japan to withdraw the Liaodong Peninsula, where the Russians would take their place and build the Port Arthur fortress and base their Pacific fleet in the port, while the Germans occupied Jiaozhou Bay, built the Tsingtao fortress and based the German East Asia Squad there.
By the 1890s, Russia was already a major imperial power and had ambitions in the East, after spreading its power from Central Asia to Afghanistan, the Russian Empire stretched from Poland to the Kamchatka peninsula. With the Trans-Siberian Railway to the port of Vladivostok, Russia hoped to further spread its influence and presence in the region, which was what Japan feared as the country saw Korea as a protective buffer area. After the Chinese leased Port Arthur, Talienwan and the surrounding waters to Russia and agreed their convention could be extended if there was a mutual agreement, Russia fortified Port Author and began to build the railway from Harbin through Mukden to Port Arthur and in roads into Korea. By 1898, when the Russians obtained mining and forest concessions near the Talu and Tumen rivers, the Japanese anxiety increased and they decided to attack the Russians before they finished the Trans-Siberian Railway.
During the Boxer Rebellion in the Chinese capitol, both Russia and Japan were part of the international force sent in to help relieve the international legations. Russia sent troops to Beijing and Manchuria to...