The Russo-Japanese War was fought between the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan over rival imperial ambitions in Manchuria and Korea. The major theatres of operations were the Liaodong Peninsula and Mukden in Southern Manchuria and the seas around Korea, Japan, Russia sought a warm-water port on the Pacific Ocean for their navy and for maritime trade. Vladivostok was operational only during the summer, whereas Port Arthur, since the end of the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, Japan feared Russian encroachment on its sphere of influence. Russia had demonstrated an expansionist policy in the Siberian Far East from the reign of Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century, through threat of Russian expansion, Japan offered to recognize Russian dominance in Manchuria in exchange for recognition of Korea as being within the Japanese sphere of influence. Russia refused and demanded Korea north of the 39th parallel to be a buffer zone between Russia and Japan. The Japanese government perceived a Russian threat to its strategic interests, after negotiations broke down in 1904, the Japanese Navy opened hostilities by attacking the Russian Eastern Fleet at Port Arthur, China, in a surprise attack. The war concluded with the Treaty of Portsmouth, mediated by US President Theodore Roosevelt, the complete victory of the Japanese military surprised world observers. The consequences transformed the balance of power in East Asia, resulting in a reassessment of Japans recent entry onto the world stage and it was the first major military victory in the modern era of an Asian power over a European one. Scholars continue to debate the historical significance of the war, after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Meiji government endeavored to assimilate Western ideas, technological advances and ways of warfare. By the late 19th century, Japan had transformed itself into an industrial state. The Japanese wanted to be recognized as equal with the Western powers, the Meiji restoration had always been intended to make Japan a modernized state, not a Westernized one, and Japan was always an imperialist power, looking towards overseas expansionism. By the 1890s it had extended its realm across Central Asia to Afghanistan, the Russian Empire stretched from Poland in the west to the Kamchatka Peninsula in the east. With its construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway to the port of Vladivostok, in the Tsushima incident of 1861 Russia had directly assaulted Japanese territory. Between the Meiji Restoration and its participation in World War I, the first war Japan fought was the First Sino-Japanese War, fought in 1894 and 1895. The war revolved around the issue of control and influence over Korea under the rule of the Joseon dynasty, from the 1880s onward, there had been vigorous competition for influence in Korea between China and Japan. The Korean court was prone to factionalism, and was divided by a reformist faction that was pro-Japanese. In 1884, a coup attempt was put down by Chinese troops. A peasant rebellion led by the Tonghak religious movement led to a request by the Korean government for the Qing dynasty to send in troops to stabilize the country
Image: RUSSOJAPANESEWARIMAG E
Chinese generals in Pyongyang surrender to the Japanese, October 1894.
Troops of the eight-nation alliance in 1900. Left to right: Britain, United States, Austria-Hungary, India, Germany, France, Russia, Italy, Japan.