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First Sino-Japanese War
Sino Japanese war 1894.jpg
Japanese troops during the Sino-Japanese war
First Sino-Japanese War, major battles and troop movements
First Sino-Japanese War, major battles and troop movements
Date 1 August 1894 – 17 April 1895
Location Korea, Manchuria, Taiwan, Yellow Sea
Result Japanese victory; a significant loss of prestige for the Qing Dynasty.
China loses the influence of the Korean Peninsula to the Empire of Japan.
Qing Dynasty China cedes Taiwan, Penghu, and the Liaodong Peninsula to the Empire of Japan.
Qing Dynasty Qing Empire  Empire of Japan
Qing Dynasty Guangxu Emperor
Qing Dynasty Li Hongzhang
Qing Dynasty Ding Ruchang 
Qing Dynasty Deng Shichang 
Empire of Japan Emperor Meiji
Empire of Japan Yamagata Aritomo
Empire of Japan Ito Sukeyuki
630,000 men
Beiyang Army
Beiyang Navy
240,000 men
Imperial Japanese Army
Imperial Japanese Navy
Casualties and losses
35,000 dead or wounded 16,823 dead,
3,973 wounded

The First Sino-Japanese War (simplified Chinese: traditional Chinese: pinyin: Zhōngrì Jiǎwǔ Zhànzhēng; Japanese: 日清戦争 Romaji: Nisshin Sensō) (1 August 1894 – 17 April 1895) was a war fought between Qing Dynasty China and Meiji Japan, primarily over the control of Korea. Aside from the direct political and military results of the Sino-Japanese War, it served to show how the Qing Dynasty had been weakened (both physically and in prestige) in the previous century (especially by the Opium Wars) and to demonstrate that modernization had been successful in Japan since the Meiji Restoration as compared with the Self-Strengthening Movement in China.[1] Other major results were a shift in regional dominance in East Asia from China to Japan, and a major blow to the Qing Dynasty and the Chinese classical tradition. These trends would later manifest in the 1911 Revolution.


Background and causes

After two centuries, the Japanese Sakoku seclusion policy under the shoguns of the Edo period came to an end when the country was forced open to trade by American intervention in 1854. The years following the Meiji Restoration of 1868 and the fall of the Shogunate had seen Japan transform itself from a feudal society to a modern industrial state. The Japanese had sent delegations and students around the world in order to learn and assimilate western arts and sciences; this was done not only to prevent Japan from falling under foreign domination but to enable Japan to compete equally with the Western powers.[2]


Conflict over Korea

Satirical drawing in Punch Magazine[3] (29 September 1894), showing the victory of "small" Japan over "large" China.

As a newly-emergent power Japan turned its attention toward Korea. In order to protect its own interests and security, Japan wanted to either annex Korea before it was seized by another power, or at least ensure Korea's effective independence by developing its resources and reforming its administration. As Prussian advisor Major Klemens Meckel put it to the Meiji army, Korea was "a dagger pointed at the heart of Japan". Japan felt that another power having a military presence on the Korean peninsula would have been detrimental to Japanese national security, and so Japan resolved to end the centuries-old Chinese suzerainty over Korea. Moreover, Japan realized that having access to Korea’s coal and iron ore deposits would benefit Japan's growing industrial base.

On February 27, 1876, after certain incidents and confrontations involving Korean isolationists and the Japanese, Japan imposed the Treaty of Ganghwa on Korea; forcing Korea to open itself to Japanese and foreign trade and to proclaim its independence from China in its foreign relations.

Korea had traditionally been a tributary state and continued to be so under the influence of China's Qing dynasty, which exerted large influence over the conservative Korean officials gathered around the royal family of the Joseon Dynasty. Opinion in Korea itself was split; conservatives wanted to retain the traditional subservient relationship with China, while reformists wanted to establish closer ties with Japan and western nations. After two Opium Wars against the British Empire and the Sino-French War, China had become weak and was unable to resist political intervention and territorial encroachment by western powers (see Unequal Treaties). Japan saw this as an opportunity to replace Chinese influence in Korea with its own.

1882 Crisis

The flight of the Japanese Legation in 1882.

In 1882 the Korean peninsula experienced a severe drought which led to food shortages, causing much hardship and discord among the population. Korea was on the verge of bankruptcy; the government was not able to pay its debts, particularly to its military. There was deep resentment amongst the soldiers of the Korean army who had not been paid for months. On July 23 a military mutiny and riot broke out in Seoul; troops, assisted by the population, sacked the rice granaries there. The next morning the royal palace and barracks were attacked. The crowd then turned on the Japanese legation. The Japanese legation staff managed to escape to Chemulpo and then Nagasaki via the British survey ship Flying Fish.

In response the Japanese sent four warships and a battalion of troops to Seoul to safeguard Japanese interests and demand reparations. The Chinese also deployed 4,500 troops to counter the Japanese. Tensions subsided, however, with the Treaty of Chemulpo which was signed on the evening of August 30, 1882. The agreement specified that the conspirators involved would be punished and 50,000 yen would be paid to the families of the Japanese killed. The Japanese government would also receive 500,000 yen, a formal apology, and permission to construct barracks and station troops at their diplomatic legation in Seoul.

Gapsin Coup

In 1884 a group of pro-Japanese reformers briefly overthrew the pro-Chinese conservative Korean government in a bloody coup d'état. However, the pro-Chinese faction, with assistance from Chinese troops under General Yuan Shikai, succeeded in regaining control with an equally bloody counter-coup. This second coup resulted not only with the deaths of a number of the reformers, but also in the burning of the Japanese legation and the deaths of several legation guards and citizens in the process. This caused an incident between Japan and China, but was eventually settled by the Sino-Japanese Convention of Tientsin of 1885 in which the two sides agreed to (a) pull their expeditionary forces out of Korea simultaneously; (b) not send military instructors for the training of the Korean military; and (c) notify the other side beforehand should one decided to send troops to Korea. The Japanese, however, were frustrated by repeated Chinese attempts to undermine their influence in Korea.

Kim Ok-kyun Affair

In March 28, 1894, a pro-Japanese Korean revolutionary, Kim Ok-kyun, was assassinated in Shanghai. Kim had fled to Japan after his involvement the 1884 coup; the Japanese had turned down Korean demands that he be extradited. He was lured to Shanghai where he was killed in a Japanese inn in the international settlement. His body was then taken aboard a Chinese warship and sent back to Korea, where it was quartered and displayed as a warning to other rebels. The Japanese government took this as a direct affront, and a setback for Japan's stature and dignity.[4]

The situation became increasingly tense later in the year when the Chinese government, at the request of the Korean emperor, sent troops to aid in suppressing the Tonghak Rebellion. The Chinese government informed the Japanese government of its decision to send troops to the Korean peninsula in accordance with the Convention of Tientsin, and sent General Yuan Shikai as its plenipotentiary at the head of 2,800 troops. The Japanese countered that they considered this action to be a violation of the convention, and sent their own expeditionary force (the Oshima Composite Brigade) of 8,000 troops to Korea. The Japanese force subsequently seized the emperor, occupied the Royal Palace in Seoul by 8 June 1894, and replaced the existing government with the members from the pro-Japanese faction. Though Chinese troops were already leaving Korea, finding themselves unwanted there, the new pro-Japanese Korean government granted Japan the right to expel the Chinese troops forcefully, while Japan shipped more troops to Korea. The legitimacy of the new government was rejected by China, and the stage was thus set for conflict.

Status of combatants


Japan's reforms under the Meiji emperor gave significant priority to naval construction, and the creation of an effective modern national army and navy. Japan sent numerous military officials abroad for training, and evaluation of the relative strengths and tactics of European armies and navies.

Imperial Japanese Navy

Major Combatants Japanese Navy Ensign
Protected Cruisers
Matsushima (flagship)
Armored Corvettes
Ironclad Warship
Ito Sukeyuki was the Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet.
The French-built Matsushima, flagship of the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Sino-Japanese conflict.

The Imperial Japanese Navy was modeled after the British Royal Navy, which at the time was the foremost naval power in the world. British advisors were sent to Japan to train, advise and educate the naval establishment; while students were in turn sent to the United Kingdom to study and observe the Royal Navy. Through drilling and tuition by Royal Navy instructors, Japan was able to possess a navy expertly skilled in the arts of gunnery and seamanship.[5]

At the start of hostilities, the Imperial Japanese Navy contained a fleet of 12 modern warships, (Izumi being added during the war), one frigate (Takao), 22 torpedo boats, and numerous auxiliary/armed merchant cruisers and converted liners.

Japan did not yet have the resources to acquire battleships and so planned to employ the "Jeune Ecole" ("young school") doctrine which favoured small, fast warships, especially cruisers and torpedo boats, against bigger units.

Many of Japan’s major warships were built in British and French shipyards (eight British, three French and two Japanese-built) and 16 of the torpedo boats were known to have been built in France and assembled in Japan.

Imperial Japanese Army (IJA)

The Meiji era government at first modeled the army on the French Army. French advisers had been sent to Japan with two military missions (in 1872-1880 and 1884, these were the second and third missions respectively, the first had been under the shogunate). Nationwide conscription was enforced in 1873 and a western-style conscript army was established; military schools and arsenals were also built.

In 1886 Japan turned toward the German Army, specifically the Prussian model as the basis for its army. Its doctrines, military system and organisation were studied in detail and adopted by the IJA. In 1885 Jakob Meckel, a German adviser, implemented new measures, such as the reorganization of the command structure of the army into divisions and regiments; the strengthening of army logistics, transportation, and structures (thereby increasing mobility); and the establishment of artillery and engineering regiments as independent commands.

By the 1890s Japan had at its disposal a modern, professionally-trained western-style army which was relatively well equipped and supplied. Its officers had studied abroad and were well educated in the latest tactics and strategy. By the start of the war, the Imperial Japanese Army could field a total force of 120,000 men in two armies and five divisions.

Imperial Japanese Army Composition 1894-1895
1st Japanese Army
3rd Provincial Division (Nagoya)
5th Provincial Division (Hiroshima)
2nd Japanese Army
1st Provincial Division (Tokyo)
2nd Provincial Division (Sendai)
6th Provincial Division (Kumamoto)
In Reserve
4th Provincial Division (Osaka)
Invasion of Formosa (Taiwan)
Imperial Guards Division


Although the Beiyang Force -- Beiyang Army and Beiyang Fleet -- was the best equipped and symbolized the new modern Chinese military, corruption was a serious problem. Chinese politicians systematically embezzled funds, even during the war. As a result, the Beiyang Fleet did not purchase any battleships after its establishment in 1888. The purchase of ammunition stopped in 1891, with the funding being embezzled to build the summer palace in Beijing. Logistics were a huge problem, as construction of railroads in Manchuria had been discouraged. The morale of the Chinese armies was generally very low due to lack of pay and prestige, use of opium and poor leadership which contributed to some rather ignominious withdrawals, such as the abandonment of the very well-fortified and defensible Weihaiwei.

Beiyang Army

Qing Dynasty China did not have a national army. Following the Taiping Rebellion the army had been segregated into separate Manchu, Mongol, Hui (Muslim) and Han Chinese armies, which were further divided into largely independent regional commands. During the war, most of the fighting was done by the Beiyang Army and Beiyang Fleet; pleas calling for help from other Chinese armies and navies were completely ignored due to regional rivalry. The Huai and Anhwei armies made up the larger Beiyang Army.

Beiyang Fleet

The Beiyang Fleet was one of the four modernised Chinese navies in the late Qing Dynasty. The navies were heavily sponsored by Li Hongzhang, the Viceroy of Zhili. The Beiyang Fleet was the dominant navy in East Asia before the first Sino-Japanese War. The Beiyang Fleet was said to be the "Best in Asia" and "The 8th largest in the world" during the late 1880s. However ships were not maintained properly and indiscipline was common.[6]

Dingyuan, the flagship of the Beiyang Fleet.
Beiyang Fleet Qing Dynasty Major combatants
Ironclad Battleships Dingyuan (flagship), Zhenyuan
Armoured Cruisers King Yuen, Lai Yuen
Protected Cruisers Chih Yuen, Ching Yuen
Cruisers Torpedo Cruisers - Tsi Yuen, Kuang Ping/Kwang Ping | Chaoyong, Yangwei
Coastal warship Pingyuan
Corvette Kwan Chia

13 or so Torpedo boats, numerous gunboats and chartered merchant vessels

Early stages of the war

Genesis of the war

1 June 1894 : The Tonghak Rebel Army moves toward Seoul. The Korean government requests help from the Chinese government to suppress the rebellion.

6 June 1894: The Chinese government informs the Japanese government under the obligation of the Convention of Tientsin of its military operation. About 2,465 Chinese soldiers were transported to Korea within days.

8 June 1894: First of around 4,000 Japanese soldiers and 500 marines land at Jemulpo (Incheon) despite Korean and Chinese protests.

11 June 1894: End of Tonghak Rebellion.

13 June 1894: The Japanese government telegraphs the commander of the Japanese forces in Korea, Otori Keisuke, to remain in Korea for as long as possible despite the end of the rebellion.

16 June 1894: Japanese Foreign Minister Mutsu Munemitsu meets with Wang Fengzao, Chinese ambassador to Japan, to discuss the future status of Korea. Wang states that Chinese government intends to pull out of Korea after the rebellion has been suppressed and expects Japan to do the same. However, China also appoints a resident to look after Chinese interests in Korea and to re-assert Korea’s traditional subservient status to China.

22 June 1894: Additional Japanese troops arrive in Korea.

3 July 1894: Otori proposes reforms of the Korean political system, which is rejected by the conservative and pro-Chinese Korean government.

7 July 1894: Mediation between China and Japan arranged by the British ambassador to China fails.

19 July 1894: Establishment of Japanese Joint Fleet, consisting of almost all vessels in the Imperial Japanese Navy, in preparation for upcoming war.

23 July 1894: Japanese troops enter Seoul, seize the Korean emperor and establish a new pro-Japanese government, which terminates all Sino-Korean treaties and grants the Imperial Japanese Army the right to expel the Chinese Beiyang Army troops from Korea.

Events during the war

Naval battle.ogg
Footage of a naval battle during the First Sino-Japanese War (1894).

Opening moves

By July 1894 Chinese forces in Korea numbered 3000-3500 and could only be supplied by sea through the Bay of Asan. The Japanese objective was first to blockade the Chinese at Asan and then encircle them with their land forces.

Sinking of the Kow-shing

On 25 July 1894, the cruisers Yoshino, Naniwa and Akitsushima of the Japanese flying squadron, which had been patrolling off Asan, encountered the Chinese cruiser Tsi-yuan and gunboat Kwang-yi. These vessels had steamed out of Asan in order to meet another Chinese gunboat, the Tsao-kiang, which was escorting a transport toward Asan. After a brief, hour-long engagement, the Tsi-yuan escaped while the Kwang-yi became stranded on rocks, where its powder-magazine exploded.

The Kow-shing was a 2,134-ton British merchant vessel owned by the Indochina Steam Navigation Company of London, commanded by Captain T. R. Galsworthy and crewed by 64 men. The ship was chartered by the Qing government to ferry troops to Korea; the Kow-shing was on her way to Asan to reinforce Chinese forces there, 1200 troops plus supplies and equipment were onboard the vessel. A German artillery officer, Major von Hanneken, acting as an advisor to the Chinese was also aboard. The ship was due to arrive on 25 July.

The cruiser Naniwa (under the command of Captain Togo Heihachiro) intercepted the two ships. The gunboat was eventually captured. The Japanese then ordered the Kow-shing to follow the Naniwa and requested that the Europeans onboard be transferred to the Naniwa. However the 1,200 Chinese on board desired to return to Taku, and threatened to kill the English captain, Galsworthy and his crew. After four hours of negotiations, Captain Togo gave the order to fire upon the vessel. A torpedo fired from the Naniwa missed the Kow Shing which then fired a broadside which hit the Kow shing; this was enough to distract their Chinese guards and allowed some of the Europeans to jump overboard only to be fired upon by the Chinese. The Japanese rescued three of the 43 crew (the captain, first officer and quartmaster) and a German passenger, and took them to Japan; the rest died in the sinking. The sinking of the Kow-shing almost caused a diplomatic incident between Japan and Great Britain, but the action was ruled in conformity with international law regarding the treatment of mutineers. Only three ships rescued any Chinese troops. The German gunboat Iltis rescued 150 Chinese soldiers. The French Gunboat Le Lion rescued 43 Chinese soldiers. The Royal Navy Torpedo Cruiser Porpoise also rescued an unknown number of troops. No Japanese ships rescued Chinese troops in the water and it is estimated over 900 died in the sinking.[7]

Conflict in Korea

Japanese soldiers of the Sino-Japanese War, Japan, 1895.

Commissioned by the new pro-Japanese Korean government to expel the Chinese forces from Korean territory by force, Major-General Oshima Yoshimasa led mixed Japanese brigades numbering about 4,000 on a rapid forced march from Seoul south toward Asan Bay to face 3,500 Chinese troops garrisoned at Seonghwan Station east of Asan and Kongju.

On 28 July 1894, the two forces met just outside Asan in an engagement that lasted till 0730 hours the next morning. The Chinese gradually lost ground to the superior Japanese numbers, and finally broke and fled towards Pyongyang. Chinese casualties amounted to 500 killed and wounded, compared to 82 Japanese casualties.

War between China and Japan was officially declared on 1 August 1894.

The remaining Chinese forces in Korea, by August 4, retreated to the northern city of Pyongyang, where they eventually joined troops sent from China. The 13,000-15,000 defenders made extensive repairs and preparations to the city, hoping to check the Japanese advance.

The Imperial Japanese Army converged on Pyongyang from several directions on 15 September 1894. The Japanese assaulted the city and eventually defeated the Chinese by an attack from the rear; the defenders surrendered. By taking advantage of heavy rainfall and using the cover of darkness, the remaining troops marched out of Pyongyang and headed northeast toward the coast and the city of Uiju. Casualties were 2,000 killed and around 4,000 wounded for the Chinese, while the Japanese lost 102 men killed, 433 wounded and 33 missing. The entire Japanese army entered the city of Pyongyang on the early morning of 16 September 1894.

The battle of the Yalu river

Defeat of the Beiyang fleet

The Imperial Japanese Navy destroyed 8 out of ten warships of the Chinese Beiyang Fleet off the mouth of the Yalu River on 17 September 1894. Japan's command of the sea was assured. The Chinese were able to land 4,500 troops near the Yalu River.

Invasion of Manchuria

With the defeat at Pyongyang, the Chinese abandoned northern Korea and instead took up defensive positions in fortifications along their side of the Yalu River near Jiuliangcheng. After receiving reinforcements by the 10 October, the Japanese quickly pushed north toward Manchuria.

On the night of 24 October 1894, the Japanese successfully crossed the Yalu River, undetected, by erecting a pontoon bridge. The following afternoon of 25 October at 5:00 pm, they assaulted the outpost of Hushan, east of Jiuliangcheng. At 10:30 pm the defenders deserted their positions and by the next day they were in full retreat from Jiuliangcheng. With the capture of Jiuliangcheng, General Yamagata's 1st Army Corps occupied the nearby city of Dandong; while to the north, elements of the retreating Beiyang Army set fire to the city of Fengcheng. The Japanese had established a firm foothold on Chinese territory with the loss of only four killed and 140 wounded.

The Japanese 1st Army Corps then split into two groups with General Nozu Michitsura's 5th Provincial Division advancing toward the city of Mukden and Lieutenant General Katsura Taro's 3rd Provincial Division pursuing fleeing Chinese forces west along toward the Liaodong Peninsula.

By December the 3rd Provincial Division had captured the towns of Ta-tung-kau, Ta-ku-shan, Xiuyan, Tomu-cheng, Hai-cheng and Kang-wa-seh. The 5th Provincial Division marched during a severe Manchurian winter towards Mukden.

The Japanese 2nd Army Corps under Oyama Iwao landed on the south coast of Liaodong Peninsula on 24 October and quicky moved to capture Kin-chow and Talienwan on 6-7 November. The Japanese laid siege to the strategic port of Lushunkou.

First Sino-Japanese War, major battles and troop movements.

Fall of Lushunkou

By 21 November 1894, the Japanese had taken the city of Lüshunkou (Port Arthur). The Japanese army massacred thousands of the city's civilian Chinese inhabitants in an event that came to be called the Port Arthur Massacre (note that the scale and nature of the killing continues to be debated). By 10 December 1894, Kaipeng (modern-day Gaixian) fell to the Japanese 1st Army Corps.

Fall of Weihaiwei and Aftermath

The Chinese fleet subsequently retreated behind the Weihaiwei fortifications. However, they were then surprised by Japanese ground forces, who outflanked the harbor's defenses. The battle of Weihaiwei would be a 23-day siege with the major land and naval components taking place between 20 January and 12 February 1895.

After Weihaiwei's fall on 12 February 1895, and an easing of harsh winter conditions, Japanese troops pressed further into southern Manchuria and northern China. By March 1895 the Japanese had fortified posts that commanded the sea approaches to Beijing. This would be the last major battle to be fought; numerous skirmishes would follow. The Battle of Yinkou was fought outside the port town of Yingkou, Manchuria, on 5 March 1895.

Occupation of Pescadores Islands (Penghu Islands)

On 23 March 1895, Japanese forces attacked the Pescadores Islands, off the west coast of Taiwan. In a brief and almost bloodless campaign the Japanese defeated the islands' Qing garrison and occupied the main town of Makung. This operation effectively prevented Chinese forces in Taiwan from being reinforced, and allowed the Japanese to press their demand for the cession of Taiwan in the negotiations leading to the conclusion of the Treaty of Shimonoseki in April 1895.

End of the war

Chinese delegation, led by Admiral Ding Ruchang and their foreign advisors, boarded the Japanese vessel to negotiate the surrender with Admiral Itoh Sukeyuki after the Battle of Weihaiwei.

The Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed on 17 April 1895. China recognized the total independence of Korea and ceded the Liaodong Peninsula (in the south of the present day Liaoning Province), Taiwan and the Penghu Islands to Japan "in perpetuity". Additionally, China was to pay Japan 200 million Kuping taels as reparation. China also signed a commercial treaty permitting Japanese ships to operate on the Yangtze River, to operate manufacturing factories in treaty ports and to open four more ports to foreign trade. The Triple Intervention, however, forced Japan to give up the Liaodong Peninsula in exchange for another 30 million Kuping taels (450 million yen).

Japanese invasion of Taiwan

Several Qing officials in Taiwan resolved to resist the cession of Taiwan to Japan under the Treaty of Shimonoseki, and on 23 May declared the island to be an independent republic. On 29 May Japanese forces under Admiral Motonori Kabayama landed in northern Taiwan, and in a five-month campaign defeated the Republican forces and occupied the island's main towns. The campaign effectively ended on 21 October 1895, with the flight of Liu Yung-fu, the second Republican president, and the surrender of the Republican capital Tainan.

War Reparations

After the war, according to the Chinese scholar, Jin Xide, the Qing government paid a total of 340,000,000 taels of silver to Japan for both the reparations of war and war trophies. This was equivalent to (then) 510,000,000 Japanese yen, about 6.4 times the Japanese government revenue. Similarly, the Japanese scholar, Ryoko Iechika, calculated that the Qing government paid a total of $21,000,000 (about one-third of the revenue of the Qing government) in war reparations to Japan, or about 320,000,000 Japanese yen, equivalent to two-and-half years of Japanese government revenue.[citation needed]


The Japanese success during the war was the result of the modernisation and industrialisation embarked upon two decades earlier. The war demonstrated the superiority of Japanese tactics and training as a result of the adoption of a western-style military. The IJA and navy were able to inflict a string of defeats on the Chinese through foresight, endurance, strategy and power of organization. Japanese prestige rose in the eyes of the world. The victory established Japan as a regional power (if not a great power) on equal terms with the west and as the dominant power in Asia.[8]

The war for China revealed the ineffectiveness of its government, its policies, the corruption of the administration system and the decaying state of the Qing dynasty (something that had been recognized for decades). Anti-foreign sentiment and agitation grew, and would later culminate in the form of the Boxer Rebellion five years later. Throughout the 19th century the Qing dynasty was unable to prevent foreign encroachment. This, together with calls for reform and the Boxer Rebellion, would be the key factors that would lead to the 1911 revolution and the downfall of the Qing dynasty in 1912.

Although Japan had achieved what it had set out to accomplish, namely to end Chinese influence over Korea, Japan reluctantly had been forced to relinquish the Liaodong Peninsula, (Port Arthur), in exchange for an increased financial indemnity. The European powers (Russia especially), while having no objection to the other clauses of the treaty, did feel that Japan should not gain Port Arthur, for they had their own ambitions in that part of the world. Russia persuaded Germany and France to join her in applying diplomatic pressure on the Japanese, resulting in the Triple Intervention of 23 April 1895.

In 1898 Russia signed a 25-year lease on the Liaodong Peninsula and proceeded to set up a naval station at Port Arthur. Although this infuriated the Japanese, they were more concerned with Russian encroachment toward Korea than in Manchuria. Other powers, such as France, Germany and Great Britain, took advantage of the situation in China and gained port and trade concessions at the expense of the decaying Qing Empire. Tsingtao and Kiaochow was acquired by Germany, Kwang-Chou-Wan by France and Weihaiwei by Great Britain.

Tensions between Russia and Japan would increase in the years after the First Sino-Japanese war. During the Boxer Rebellion an eight member international force was sent to suppress and quell the uprising; Russia sent troops into Manchuria as part of this force. After the suppression of the Boxers the Russian government agreed to vacate the area. However, by 1903 it had actually increased the size of its forces in Manchuria. Negotiations between the two nations (1901–1904) to establish mutual recognition of respective spheres of influence (Russia over Manchuria and Japan over Korea) were repeatedly and intentionally stalled by the Russians. They felt that they were strong and confident enough not to accept any compromise and believed Japan would not dare go to war against a European power. Russia also had intentions to use Manchuria as a springboard for further expansion of its interests in the Far East.

In 1902 Japan formed an alliance with Britain, the terms of which stated that if Japan went to war in the Far East and that a third power entered the fight against Japan, then Britain would come to the aid of the Japanese. This was a check to prevent either Germany or France from intervening militarily in any future war with Russia. British reasons for joining the alliance were also to check the spread of Russian expansion into the Pacific arena, which would have threatened British interests.

Increasing tensions between Japan and Russia as a result of Russia's unwillingness to enter into a compromise and the prospect of Korea falling under Russia's domination, therefore coming into conflict with and undermining Japan's interests, compelled Japan to take action. This would be the deciding factor and catalyst that would lead to the Russo-Japanese war of 1904–05.

See also

Additional source


  • Jansen, Marius B. (2002). The Making of Modern Japan. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-00991-6. 
  • Chamberlin, William Henry. Japan Over Asia, 1937, Little, Brown, and Company, Boston.
  • Colliers (Ed.), The Russo-Japanese War, 1904, P.F. Collier & Son, New York.
  • Kodansha Japan An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1993, Kodansha Press, Tokyo ISBN 4-06-205938-X
  • Lone, Stewart. Japan's First Modern War: Army and Society in the Conflict with China, 1894-1895, 1994, St. Martin's Press, New York.
  • Paine, S.C.M. The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895: Perception, Power, and Primacy, 2003, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, MA, 412 pp.
  • Sedwick, F.R. (R.F.A.). The Russo-Japanese War, 1909, The Macmillan Company, NY, 192 pp.
  • Theiss, Frank. The Voyage of Forgotten Men, 1937, Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1st Ed., Indianapolis & New York.
  • Warner, Dennis and Peggy. The Tide At Sunrise, 1974, Charterhouse, New York.
  • Urdang, Laurence/Flexner, Stuart, Berg. The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, College Edition. Random House, New York, (1969).
  • Military Heritage did an editorial on the Sino-Japanese War of 1894 (Brooke C. Stoddard, Military Heritage, December 2001, Volume 3, No. 3).


  1. ^ "Japan Anxious for a Fight; The Chinese Are Slow and Not in Good Shape to Go to War," New York Times. July 30, 1894.
  2. ^ Jansen, p.335
  3. ^
  4. ^ Jansen, p.431
  5. ^ "The skills of the Japanese officers and men was [sic] astronomically higher those of their Chinese counterparts." [1]
  6. ^ Naval Warfare, 1815-1914, Lawrence Sondhaus, p.168/170
  7. ^ Sequence of events, and numbers of rescued and dead taken from several articles from The Times of London from 2 August 1894-25 October 1894
  8. ^ "A new balance of power had emerged. China's millennia-long regional dominance had abruptly ended. Japan had become the dominant power of Asia, a position it would retain throughout the twentieth century". Paine, The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895: Perception, Power, and Primacy.

External links

Simple English

The First Sino-Japanese War (Chinese: 中日甲午戰爭 Japanese: 日清戦争 1 August 189417 April 1895) was a war between the Qing Dynasty and the Empire of Japan. Finally, the Empire of Japan won the war. They signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895 AD.


Comparison of the Military Power

Commanders of the Qing Dynasty

  • Li Hongzhang
  • Ding Ruchang


  • 630,000 men = the Beiyang Fleet

Major Battleships
King Yuen
Lai Yuen
Chih Yuen
Ching Yuen
Tsi Yuen
Kuang Ping
Kwan Chia

Commanders of the Empire of Japan

  • Yamagata Aritomo
  • Itoh Sukeyuki


  • 240,000 men = the Imperial Japanese Navy

Major Battleships

Status of Chinese Fleets

[[File:|right|thumb|280px|Zhenyuan, the strongest battleship in the Beiyang Fleet]]

There were totally 65 warships in China before the outbreak of the First Sino-Japanese War. They were divided into four fleets (Beiyang Fleet, the Nanyang Fleet, the Guangdong Fleet and the Fujian Fleet). However, the Beiyang Fleet was the only fleet participated in the war. In order to save their ships, the other fleets' commanders were opposed to join the war.

In the Beiyang Fleet, there were 25 warships. Dingyuan and Zhenyuan were the most powerful warships in the fleet. Dingyuan had 6,000 horsepower and displaced 7,670 tons loaded. Nevertheless, as Empress Dowager Cixi wanted to build a grand garden she embezzled the money originally allocated for expanding the Beiyang Fleet, the commanders did not have enough money to buy the latest weapons for the fleet. Most of the warships in the fleet were not well equipped before joining the war.

Status of Japanese Fleets

There were totally 240,616 soldiers could be mobilized in Japan before the outbreak of the war. Also, there were 32 battleships and 24 torpedo boats in the Imperial Japanese Navy. All of them were well equipped with the latest weapons.

Main Battles During the War

File:First Chinese Japanese war map of
First Sino-Japanese War, major battles and troop movements

1. Battle of the Yalu River

In 17 September 1894, the Beiyang Fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy fought at the Yalu River, the border between China and Korea. In this battle, the commander of the Beiyang Fleet was Ding Ruchang, originally a cavalryman, and Sukeyuki Ito was the commander of Japanese fleet. The battle last for 5 hours. Finally, 4 battleships of the Beiyang Fleet was destroyed and 1,000 soldiers were killed. 1 battleship was lost only in the Imperial Japanese Navy. The commander of the Beiyang Fleet retreated to the port of Lushun.

2. Battle of Lushunkou

In 17 September 1894, the Japanese armies occupied the fortresses equipped with powerful cannons and cities in Lushun and Dalian. The Japanese troops entered the cities and killed 20,000 Chinese civilians within 4 days. This incident was historically called Port Arthur massacre.

3. Battle of Weihaiwei

In January 1895, the Japanese armies invaded Weihaiwei. The Beiyang Fleet was fairly defeated. 11 battleships of the team was sezied.

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