1904-05: Russo-Japanese War


Russia sought a warm-water port on the Pacific Ocean both for its navy and for maritime trade and saw Port Arthur as a prime location. However, since the end of the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, Japan feared that Russia would restrict its plans to create a sphere of influence in Korea and Manchuria. Therefore, Japan tried to make a compromise with Russia, offered to accept Russia’s claims to Manchuria if Russia accepted Japan’s control over Korea. However, Russia rejected the compromise and chose to invade Korea instead.

Events of the War:

Japan launched a surprise attack and were able to defeat the Russia’s naval fleet stationed at Port Arthur. They captured Port Arthur and took Mukden (modern-day Shenyang) after a siege which lasted three months. 

As a result, Russia sent it’s Baltic fleet to Japan, however it took a long time due to… 

1. A misfire incident with British fishing vessels caused Britain to close the Suez Canal 

2. Russian ships had to carry coal to fuel their ships.

By the time they arrived, they were quickly defeated.

Impact of the Anglo-Japanese alliance on the outcome of the war:

France and Russia had formed an alliance on 16 March 1902. However, France was unable to join the War to support Russia as it would mean war with Britain (as Britain had to support Japan in the event that Japan was fighting more than one power) and France was unwilling to risk that.

The Treaty of Portsmouth:

US President Theodore Roosevelt offered to mediate discussions between Russia and Japan after Tsar Nicholas II elected to negotiate peace. Therefore, meetings were held in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

The treaty was signed on 5 September 1905 at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Important terms:

Did it lead to Japan being recognised as a world power?

Overall, I believe that by this point in time, Japan was being recognised as a world power. This is because Japan was given rights to Korea (meaning that they became an imperial power), while Russia was unable to pursue its claims to Manchuria. Furthermore, Japan had successfully beaten Russia, who was a world power at the time.