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 CAUSES of the WAR

Causes of the War

Causes, Part Two: Control of China

The immediate cause of the 1904 conflict originated in 1894 when Japan defeated China in a war over the control of Korea. Japan was to control the Liaotung peninsula in Manchuria and strategic Port Arthur while China recognized the independence of Korea, but under the "protectorate" of Japan. Russia, France and Germany, however, interfered in the peace negotiations with Japan. The European nations were carving up China for themselves, and they, especially Russia, "suggested" that Japan not take Port Arthur in the peace settlement. The so-called Triple Intervention was not forgotten by the Japanese, especially in 1896 when Russia concluded an alliance with China against Japan and, in the process, won rights to extend the Trans-Siberian Railroad across Chinese-held Manchuria to the Russian seaport of Vladivostok, thus gaining control of an important strip of Manchurian territory. Russia then obtained a 25-year lease on the Liaotung peninsula, essentially acquiring the same territory that Japan believed should have been theirs as result of the war with China.

French cartoon
This French cartoon shows the Russian bear forcing the Japanese samurai to accept concessions in China. C.B. Doleac collection.View larger image.
Chinese Cake
"The Chinese Cake." A French postcard depicts Russia and Japan beginning to cut up Korea and Manchuria as Italy, France, the United States, and England watch. Roosevelt wanted an open door police in China. Portsmouth Athenaeum collection. View larger image.
China Western Influence Map
The European nations, which established spheres of influence in China, sought to prevent Japan from doing the same. View larger image.

The Boxer Rebellion

The Boxer Rebellion of 1900 gave Russia the opportunity to solidify its position in Manchuria. Japan watched as Russia, France, Germany, and England established ports and spheres of influence in China. Japan, in no position to challenge Russia, then considered the strongest nation in Europe, saw Russia as a contender for control of Korea.

Neutral china
The European nations, which established spheres of influence in China sought to prevent Japan from doing the same. C.B. Doleac collection. View larger image.
Korea in a tight place, had no control
Korea had no control over its independence as Russia and Japan struggled for territory. Harper's Weekly. View larger image.

Causes, Part 3 »