Becoming an Honorary Civilized Nation: Remaking Japan's Military Image during the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905

By Kowner, Rotem | The Historian, Fall 2001 | Go to article overview

Becoming an Honorary Civilized Nation: Remaking Japan's Military Image during the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905


Kowner, Rotem, The Historian


The image of the Japanese military in the eyes of Western public opinion has changed dramatically since the forced opening of Japan by American Commodore Matthew Perry in 1854. At first, the West ridiculed Japan's cultural backwardness, perceiving its people in general and soldiers in particular as weak, childish, and feminine. Yet, under the Meiji government, which succeeded the feudal regime of the shogunate in 1868, Japan embarked on a rapid campaign to transform itself into a modern industrial state. Studying abroad and assisted by foreign experts at home, the Japanese emulated Western technology, political institutions, and military science, and within a few decades reorganized their civil administration along Western lines and created a modern, efficient army and navy.

Western nations saw clearly the results of Japan's efforts to modernize during the first Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, in which Japan easily defeated China. Even earlier, some experts praised the training methods and battle performance of the Japanese artillery and the navy, but the war proved Japan's advances. Still, although German Kaiser Wilhelm II saw in the victory a rising "yellow peril," most experts believed the war with China to be a mere military promenade and that Japan would never be recognized until it "crossed swords with an European power." (1)

Under the Treaty of Shimonoseki that ended the war, Japan gained control of Taiwan and the Liaodong Peninsula in Manchuria, between China and Korea, thus enabling Japan to control the gateway to north China and build a preliminary naval network in the Pacific (see map). Alarmed at Japan's rapidly expanding influence, Russia, France, and Germany took steps to contain Japanese expansion. Within a week of the treaty's signing, this so-called "Triple Intervention" forced Japan to cede control of Liaodong Peninsula to China. A year later Russia leased the peninsula and built up the fort at Port Arthur. Thereafter, Russia's growing involvement in Korea was a catalyst for anti-Japanese strife, and the subsequent escape of the Korean king to the Russian legation in Seoul brought Russian influence in the area to a new zenith.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Nine years after the Triple Intervention, Japan was ready for a showdown against tsarist Russia. In broad perspective, the Russo-Japanese War of 1904 can be viewed as an inevitable clash between two expanding nations in a zone where their prospective territories overlapped. Russian tsars had a long history of expansionism, but the costly construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway, begun in 1891, was the ultimate demonstration of their earnest intentions in the region. Japan, on the other hand, expanded partly as a reaction to external threats and partly as a quest for recognition and status. As Japan moved toward its closest neighbor, Korea, Russia aimed at the same territory.

On the morning of 8 February 1904, Japan made a surprise attack on Port Arthur, where the Russian fleet was stationed. The Japanese acted without a prior declaration of war, which earned them further disapproval of Western nations. In the days following the attack, Japanese forces landed in Korea and attacked Russian positions in neighboring Manchuria in an effort to protect Japan's interests from Russian encroachment. The ensuing Russo-Japanese War, in which the little island nation trounced the Russian Empire, was fought for a year and a half with total personnel close to two million. (2)

The image of the Japanese, especially in the eyes of the tsar, Nicholas II, played an important role in the Russo-Japanese War. Influenced by what he had seen during his visit to Japan in 1891 and the prevailing stereotypes, Nicholas perceived the Japanese as feminine, weak, and racially inferior, a view that led him to underestimate the Japanese national character and military capability. As the war unfolded, this cognitive bias led him to erroneous strategic decisions that partly accounted for the Russian fiasco. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Becoming an Honorary Civilized Nation: Remaking Japan's Military Image during the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.