Japan had several leaders who made the country believe that they were the leaders of the whole Asian region. This leadership was believed to make Japan resistant. Japanese could not watch the colonization of their fellow countries by the West. Emperor Meiji, alongside with other leaders, such as ea-Chofu, Satsuma, and Tosa Samurai brought Japan to the idea of imperialism. These leaders brought several changes in Japan. They were boosted by the fact that the entire nation was civilized as a whole. During the Edo era of 1603 to 1868, Japan had already made several technological advances that were almost matching those of some western countries. It was that Japan, in fact, was the most civilized country before the Edo era. However, the slowing of its civilization development made it to be surpassed by the western countries (Halevi, n.d).
The militaristic attitude of Japan got a boost when its government felt the need for defense against the entrusted Russians, and other western countries. Since western countries, such as Russia, had more advanced military technology, Japan had fears that an invasion was beckoning. To add on this, Japan’s neighbor, China was rather weak in both the economy and defense. Japan knew that in case of an invasion on China, Japan could be at risk too. The western countries could easily extend the invasion to the Japanese nation. The father of the modern Japan, Yamagat Arimoto, had his ideas in place. He directed that Japan should not only protect sovereignty, but it should also take advantage of acquiring influence and control over its borders. The move led to Japanese control over Korea and Liaotung Peninsula, in the Southern Manchuria, after its victory in the Sinno-Japanese war. Finally, the provocations of the West towards Japan began almost immediately (Serfati, 2003).
Provocation by the West
After several theories of Darwin, philosophers, such as Herbert Spencer, contributed in the overall development of imperialism that took place in the 20th century. The both scholars agreed on theories that depicted the society as a part of the environment. They went further to make people believe that survival was only for the fittest. The rules and theories of fairness did not reign. This led to a lot of racism by the West towards the Asians. This led to a dire need of protection by the Japanese. Though Japan was more civilized than other Asian countries, it was ignored by the West; Japan got the same treatment that the fellow countries in the Asian region got. Regarding them, as being better, was not an option for the West.
The western countries provoked Japan in a series of events that finally led to the creation of the Japanese imperialism. This happened between 1850 and 1930. Japan signed several treaties that undermined their rights. The treaties signed with the Americans, Russians and the Dutchmen placed extreme restrictions on the Japanese. Among the worst of the rules was the rule of extraterritoriality. This rule protected foreigners in Japan to be under the jurisdiction of Japanese law. The treaty of Washington Conference was even worse. It unfavorably ruled a battleships ratio of 5:5:3 for Britain, American, and Japan respectively. The provocations finally felt at a maximum when the Russians tried to enter some Japanese territories. This led to the Russo-Japanese war that marked the beginning of the imperialism. This was a major element in the imperialism of Japan (Imperialism, n.d.).
The Russian encroached Japan in the late 19th century. A Russian fleet arrived at Port Arthur in 1897. After three months, the Japanese agreed to lease Port Arthur, Talienwen, and waters surrounding it to Russia. On the agreement, extension of the lease was on a mutual understanding. The Japanese anxiety grew when some of the Russian developments seemed to be suspicious. The Russian developments included the railway line to Port Arthur. The railway line ran all the way from Harbin via Mukden. Inroads to Korea also appeared to be a suspicious move by the Russians to consolidate their position on holding onto Port Arthur, and its surrounding waters. However, the Japanese did not wait. A strike took place just before the railway became operational.
The Boxer rebellion ensued. Convoys from both the Russians and the Japanese were used to solve the crisis. This led to the Japanese sending an army to the region. Their aim was to protect their railway from the troops send by the Qing emperor, and the participants of the Boxer Rebellion. The Qing’s group did not succeed in the war. The Russian army was overwhelming to them. It led to the ejection of the Qing’s troop from Manchuria. The Russian troop settled and strengthened their position. The Japanese did not believe in their strength against the Russians, and decided to continue negotiations.
Ito Hirobumi, a Japanese spokesperson, was sent to continue further negotiations. His move was simple. He proposed letting the Russians take control over Manchuria in exchange of control over the northern side of Korea. It is notable that, before this, Japan had entered an agreement with Britain, called the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. Within the agreement, it was stated that in case of any nation joined Russia to fight against Japan, the British would step into the war on the Japanese side. The agreement meant to profit Britain by their full acquisition of the Russian Pacific seaport and Port Arthur. Since the Russians could not count on Germany and France, Japanese self-assurance grew on this fact. They had someone who could help them. This led to their hostility against the Russian on the same issue.
Japan issued a document that contained several suggestions that could form a part of the future agreement. However, the suggestions were not in their favor, and Russia could agree on everything demanded by the Japanese. Upon Russian response on refusal to take head Japanese baselines of negotiations, further formulas proposed by the Japanese could not succeed. On the 8th day of February in 1904, Japan declared war on Russia.
The war had begun even before the declaration news reached the Russian government. The Russians did not expect this. They could not believe that the Japanese could decide to take such a stand. This led to five major battles.
The battle of Port Arthur was fought the same day that the war commenced. The Japanese attacked Russian ships badly. The engagements were so intense that the Japanese were ready to cross the Yalu River in an attempt to take over Manchuria just three months later. This prompted the second battle called the Battle of River Yalu. The strategy of the Japanese was to gain ground on the control of Manchuria. However, the Russians had a quite different approach. Their strategy was to delay the war actions. This was a move that would ensure the Russians had enough time to meet their reinforcement, which was travelling via Siberian railway. The delay came because of the incomplete railway line in Irkutsk. Two months later, the Japanese crossed the Yalu River, and the war intensified. This led to the blockade of the Port Arthur. This attempt aimed at denying the Russians the use of Port Arthur. As the war intensified, the Anglo-Japanese alliance came into assistance. The British offered intelligence support to the Japanese. Within no time, Port Arthur was under siege by the Japanese. After this siege, the Japanese took a central stage in the war. They harbored at the hilltops that overlooked the harbor. This enabled them to sink two Russian ships in succession. However, the Russian deployed their army, and more battles were fought.
The Russians began the battle of Sandepu by a surprise attack on the Japanese near the town of Sandepu. This caught the Japanese at unawares, and the Russians almost broke into the Japanese territory. The battle of Mukden and the battle of Tsushima followed after. By the beginning of 1905, the Russians were defeated. Signing of a treaty was the only thing to follow. This was another mark of imperialism.
Treaty of Portsmouth
It was at this time that the treaty of Portsmouth saw its signing. The delegates, Sergei Witte for Russia and Takahira Kogoro of Japan took part in the signing. In the treaty, Japan and Russia agreed to evacuate Manchuria leaving it to be within the sovereignty of the Chinese people. Port Arthur and the Russian railways were released to strategic resources. Sakhalin Island was shared equally between Russia and Japan, though the Japanese expected full control of the island.
In conclusion, the victory of Japan over Russia caused numerous political consequences. The war was the first victory of the Asian country over the European country; everyone in the world got a new belief. The prestige and overview of Japan rose greatly. It became a part of modern nations. However, the citizens of Japan still felt they had less than what they expected. Failure to acquire the whole island of Sakhalin, and the Japanese monetary indemnity led to the Hibiya riots. The riots finally led to the collapse of the Katsura Taros cabinet on the 7th day of January 1906.
Russia got its effects too. A revolution was to begin. Citizens of Russia had no belief in their government. In 1917, there was unrest in the country from people who were against the government of Tsar Nicholas II. It all stated as chaotic affairs and military unrest. Vladimir Ulyano, also known as Lenin, took advantage of the riots. He returned Russia into the chaos. On the arrest of Tsar, Lenin negotiated his return from his home in Switzerland. His return met a lot of support, and drove him towards his ambitions of leading the Russians. On October of the same year, Lenin steered his political party and rose to stable popularity. He immediately planned a coup d’état after getting the support of 10 out of 12 party leaders. On October 26, Lenin took power from Tsar with barely a shot fired.