IB World History Year 1
Mr. Hinze 2
The Russo-Japanese War (1904-5)
By: Didi Elgindi, Felicity Clark, and Kyler Morgan

The Russo Japanese war was the climax of the growing tensions between Russia and Japan caused by the desire for economic resources and political dominance by way of imperialistic advancements in northeastern China and North Korea. The War, fought from 1904 to 1905, was a turning point in political rank for the two contending nations. Japanese victory established the once subordinate nation as a super-power, while an enraged Russian population evoked the Revolution of 1905 in protest of the war.

The Causes of the War
The causes of the war are deeply rooted in the rivalry between Japan and Russia for control of Manchuria in Northeastern China beginning in the years after the Sino-Japanese War. Both Nations had strong interests in the area for different reasons. Russia’s desire for control of the Manchuria region, focused on Port Arthur and Dalian, originated from its need of a warm water port. Japan, on the other hand, sought economic control of the region as a sphere of influence in order to further increase its empire and join European nations as an imperialistic power (1).

Russia’s lack of a warm water port was a strong devastation to the economy. During winter, Russian trade and access to the rest of the world was jeopardized, as its ports were often frozen, thereby compromising Russian business. Due to the deficiency in Russian controlled warm water ports, the Russian navy was incapable of competing with large naval powers such as Great Britain and France (2).

Russia also sought interest in the area as a pathway for the Trans-Siberian Railway being built to further its expansion into Asia and the Pacific. An agreement was made between Russia and China that granted Russia permission to secure a railway route through Manchuria, becoming the Chinese Eastern Railway (3).

Japan also displayed great interest in the region, mainly due to its increasing potential as a future Japanese sphere of influence. Most importantly, Japan sought the expansion of its increasing empire, in order to become a strong opposition to the thriving imperialistic European nations (4).

Japan’s quest for the ownership of Manchuria lies at the heart of imperialism. Imperialism, however, has many definitions. According to J.A. Hobson, the root of imperialism stems from the search for successful investment with the existence of excess capital at home. According to this theory, Japan would have sought out interest in Manchuria as a colony to provide income, whether from trade or resource. However, in the period after 1904, Japan’s colonies provided less than 2% of Japan’s capital, making the colonies a poor source of income (5).

Another theory presents imperialism as the aim for a higher profit margin than available in the domestic market by means of investing surplus capital in a foreign market. This theory, developed by Lenin, when applied to Japanese imperialism, would prove to be invalid due to the lack of domestic surplus capital and economic contributions of the colonies. Since the colonies fiscally contributed very little, continued investment for economic reasons would be unreasonable (6).

Yet another theory is present in explanation of Japanese Imperialism developed by Schumpeter. Schumpeter’s theory proposes that Imperialism seeks the preservation of culture within a capitalist society, and has no economic interests. This theory is somewhat more valid than the others. Japan, until the reforms of the Meiji government, had always been a militaristic nation. Even with the Meiji Restoration, many politicians held on to their militaristic policies, and sought imperialistic gains for the purpose of strengthening the Japanese Empire (7).

Characteristics of the War
The main characteristic of the Russo-Japanese War was its implementation of limited warfare between Japan and Russia. The war was fought by trained military men from both nations. Most of the battles were naval, along with some trench warfare on the Chinese mainland. The militaries of both nations implemented many tactics, especially the use of surprise attacks, such as in the Battle of Port Arthur. The battle, which indicated the start of the war, began when the Japanese held a surprise attack on the Russian fleet without a formal declaration of war (8).

The war does not have any significant evidence of technological advancements in warfare. It did, however, bring about advancements in media. Photography became a major influence of Japanese culture. They were favored to other forms of art because they provided the reality of war. Photographs, often of battlefields, were used as propaganda to influence public opinions of the war (9).

A greater increase than that of photography occurred in other forms of media, mainly motion pictures such as the Cinematograph, the Kinetoscope, and the Vitascope became extremely popular during the war because they provided audiences with a view of it. The popularity of the media advancements continued to increase for years after the war (10).

End of the War
By the second half of 1905, warfare had exhausted the resources of both Japan and Russia. Russia was now dealing with the Revolution, which drained its power as well as its resources. Japan had suffered a great financial loss, and the availability of trained military was withering. Both nations suffered a high casualty cost. With both nations unable to continue warfare, an end became essential. In 1905, the Japanese asked United States president Theodore Roosevelt to mediate a peace settlement between the two nations (11).

Terms of the Treaty of Portsmouth
In September of 1905, representatives from both nations congregated in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to negotiate a peace treaty. The negotiations were focused on dividing up the ports and territories in Manchuria as well as Korea, and the payment of reparations (12).

Japanese aims were focused on gaining control of South Manchuria and Korea as well as control of the Sakhalin Island. The Japanese also wanted compensation for war costs. The Russians sought preservation of their control over the Sakhalin Island and their fleet in the pacific. Russian representatives refused paying an indemnity to the Japanese, which became one of the main focuses of the negotiations (13).

In September 5, 1905, negotiations on the treaty concluded, and the treaty was signed. Under the terms of the Treaty of Portsmouth, all of Manchuria, except for the Liaotung Peninsula, was to be evacuated of Russian and Japanese troops. The treaty recognized Japanese control as supreme in Korea, and, under the terms of Article II, prevented Russian influence in the area. Article V of the treaty transfers the control of Port Arthur and Port Dalian, as well as the southern end of the Island of Sakhalin, from Russian control to Japanese control. Although the territory was placed under Japanese control, the treaty maintained that all Russian citizens now in Japanese territory shall be treated in the same respects as Japanese citizens, and their residency is not to be interrupted. The treaty did not require the payment of any reparations from either nation (14).

Protests of the Russo Japanese War
The Russian population was not in favor of the war, as evident by the vast number of protests held. The Russian population was disappointed at the losses Russia was suffering and the grim outlook of the results of the war. On January 9, 1905, a group of industrial workers, led by priest Gregory Gapon, held a peaceful demonstration in order to present a petition to Emperor Nicholas II. This was one example of many strikes held by the Assembly of Russian Workingmen in January of 1905. Because the Emperor was not in the city, the Grand Duke Vladimir was put in charge of controlling the situation. Vladimir ordered his troops to fire at the protestors, killing 100. This event became known as Bloody Sunday (15).

There were many riots held in protest of the terms of the Treaty of Portsmouth in Japan. Although Japan received much territory from the treaty settlement, the Japanese public was not satisfied. The victory instilled some pride in the country, and the citizen’s viewed the gains from the treaty as an insufficient reward for their victory. The Japanese people felt that they were entitled to more territory and an indemnity from Russia. In September 5, 1905, the day of the signing of the treaty, a riot broke out in Hibiya Park, Tokyo to protest of the terms the treaty (16).

The riot at Hibiya Park was not solely in protest of the terms of the Treaty of Portsmouth. It was greatly influenced by the belief that the Japanese public was being treated unfairly. The Japanese public was infuriated at the lack of information available to them regarding the war. The public was also frustrated at the increase in taxation to finance the war and felt that it was entitled to a greater voice than it was given (17).

Effects of the War
The Russo-Japanese War, although brief compared to other major wars, had remarkable ramifications for the nations involved. It significantly affected the prestige, power, and economy of the nations, as well as their relations with other uninvolved nations.

Russia, which at one time was a major participant in world politics, was depleted both financially and in power. The loss of territory, as well as the financial burden of war, made Russia incapable of competition with the growing Western Empires. The humiliating defeats Russia suffered greatly lowered nationalism and distrust in the government flourished, two very significant causes of the Revolution of 1905 (18).

Japan, on the other hand, became increasingly nationalistic and a model for other Asian countries. The country, which had been virtually powerless until the 19th century, became an instant world power. The fact that an Asian country defeated a World Power, something that had not been done before, instantly expanded Japan’s influence in world politics. Japan’s victory influenced the nationalist, as well as reform movements, in Asian nations including China and India (19).

Works Cited
(1) "Russo-Japanese War." The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. © 1994, 2000-2006, on Infoplease. © 2000–2007 Pearson Education, publishing as Infoplease. 01 Oct. 2009 <http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/history/A0842745.html>.

(2) "The Russian Quest for Warm Water Ports." Golbal Security. Global Security, 6 Aug. 2009. Web. 21 Sept. 2009. <http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/warm-water-port.htm>.

(3) "Trans-Siberian Railroad"
Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 01 Oct. 2009 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/602319/Trans-Siberian-Railroad>.

(4) "Russo-Japanese War"

(5) Gordon, Bill. "Explanations of Japan’s Imperialistic Expansion, 1894-1910." Explanations of Japan’s Imperialistic Expansion, 1894-1910. N.p., Dec. 2003. Web. 1 Oct. 2009. <http://wgordon.web.wesleyan.edu/papers/imperialism.htm>.

(6) ibid

(7) ibid

(8) "The Russo-Japanese War in Political Cartoons." Japan in America. The Trustees of Indiana University, 2 Oct. 2009. Web. 25 Sept. 2009. <http://www.indiana.edu/~jia1915/war.html>.

(9) "The Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905: A Turning Point in Japanese History, World History, and How War is Conveyed to the Public." About Japan A Teacher's Resource. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2009. <http://aboutjapan.japansociety.org/content.cfm/the_russo-japanese_war>.

(10) ibid

(11) "The Treaty of Portsmouth & the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905." U.S. Department of State. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2009. <http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/time/ip/87725.htm>.

(12) ibid

(13) ibid

(14) Tyler, Sydney. The Japan-Russia War. Harrisburg: The Minter Company, 1905. Print.

(15) "Bloody Sunday." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 30 Sep. 2009 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/69966/Bloody-Sunday>.

(16) Minichiello, Sharon A. Japan's Competing Modernities: Issues in Culture and Democracy, 1900-1930. N.p.: University of Hawaii Press, 1998. Questia Online Library. Web. 23 Sept. 2009. <http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&docId=43090363#>.

(17) ibid

(18) "The historical significance of the Russo-Japanese War 1904-5. ." The Corner. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2009. <http://www.thecorner.org/hist/essays/japan/russo-jap-war2.htm>.

(19) ibid