First Sino-Japanese War

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First Sino-Japanese War
Japanese troops in action
Japanese troops in action
date August 1, 1894 - April 17, 1895
place Korea , Manchuria
output Japanese victory
Territorial changes Korea becomes independent from China,
China cedes Taiwan , eastern Manchuria and Liaodong to Japan.
Parties to the conflict

China Empire 1890Empire of China China

Japanese EmpireJapanese Empire Japan


Li Hongzhang

Yamagata Aritomo

The First Sino  -Japanese War ( Chinese甲午戰爭 / 甲午战争, Pinyin jiǎwǔ zhànzhēng  - " Jiawu war", Japanese 日 清 戦 争 nisshin sensō ) was a war between Japan and China of the Qing Dynasty , which took place between August 1894 and April 1895 was held. This was triggered by disputes over the political status of Korea . The official declaration of war by the Japanese Empire on the Empire of China took place on August 1, 1894, after Japan had taken control of the Royal Palace in Seoul .

The well-equipped and well-trained Imperial Japanese Army defeated the Chinese in a series of battles around Seoul and Pyongyang . Much of the Chinese fleet was destroyed and Japanese troops continued to push into Manchuria . After these persistent defeats, the Chinese Empire signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki in April 1895 .

The defeat of China clearly demonstrated the weaknesses of the outdated Imperial Chinese army. As a result, the voices in China after an acceleration of the modernization process became louder. After the war ended, Taiwan became a colony of Japan , and Korea an officially independent state.


The Empire of China was the hegemonic power in East Asia for centuries and the neighboring states and Japan were shaped by a system of tribute and nominal vassalage . The Joseon Dynasty ruled Korea as a vassal of the emperor. Domestically, the empire was shaken by the Taiping Rebellion and other uprisings. From the 1850s onwards, from the First Opium War, China's inferiority to Western nations became evident. Despite being questioned by the military defeats, the Chinese imperial court stuck to the basic concept of the state and tried to pursue its foreign policy towards the Asian states in accordance with the old system.

Japan had had to abandon its policy of closure by American intervention in 1854 . In the years following the fall of the Shogunate and especially the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Japan transformed itself from a feudal society to a modern industrial state. Japan sent envoys and students to the western world so that they could learn their techniques and arts there and bring them to Japan. This was done not only to prevent Japan from falling under foreign dominance, but also to be able to compete on an equal footing with the Western powers. In addition to the revision of the Unequal Treaties , Japan strove for its own sphere of influence in East Asia in order to take on the role of the East Asian hegemonic power. Korea played a central role in this, both as a possible military stepping stone to Japan and as a possible space for the establishment of a Japanese sphere of influence for the Japanese leadership. The aim of Japan was to develop Korea with modern economic and technical methods under Japanese rule. In addition to China, Japan saw itself in competition with Russia, whose growing presence in East Asia was perceived as a possible military threat.

The Korean sovereign King Gojong, in turn, wanted to maintain the seclusion of his country and the tribute obligation to China, for which he received its protection in return. The population itself in Korea was divided into conservatives who wanted close ties with China and reformists who wanted to modernize Korea and want closer ties with Japan.

The conflict over Korea

As a young, emerging regional power, Japan turned its attention increasingly to Korea. In order to safeguard its interests and security, Japan wanted to prevent other states from annexing Korea, establishing themselves as its protective power, or even expanding Korea's independence by reforming its administration and economy. The Prussian advisor in Japan Jakob Meckel put it this way: “Korea is a dagger aimed at the heart of Japan.” So Japan's view was that the presence of military units from other states ran counter to its own national interests, and it was therefore Determined to end Chinese sovereignty over Korea for centuries . In addition, Japan also recognized the utility of Korea's coal and iron ore resources for its own industrial endeavors. Korea's agricultural products were also important to feed the rapidly growing Japanese population.

In 1875, the Chinese Qing Dynasty formally recognized Korea as an independent state. On February 27, 1876, after several incidents and conflicts between Korean isolationists and Japanese, Japan forced Korea to sign the Japanese-Korean friendship treaty , according to which Korea had to open up to trade with Japan. Korea then concluded similar agreements with other countries.

Korea had traditionally been a tributary state to Qing Dynasty China for a long time, which also led to a strong Chinese influence among the conservative government officials who rallied around the ruling family of the Joseon Dynasty . After China was defeated in the First Opium War , the Second Opium War and the Sino-French War , it had to allow political influence and land acquisition by western countries (see unequal treaties ). Japan wanted to prevent this from happening to Korea, so it was determined to replace Chinese influence in Korea with its own influence.

1882 crisis

In 1882, the Korean Peninsula suffered a severe drought that resulted in food shortages and popular discontent. Korea was on the verge of bankruptcy ; the Korean government was unable to pay the bills, especially with the military. This led to rapidly growing discontent among Korean soldiers who had not received any pay for months. On July 23, there was mutiny and rioting in Seoul, and soldiers and the population ransacked the rice camps. The next morning the ruler's palace and government facilities were attacked before the mob turned against the Japanese embassy building. The Japanese embassy managed to escape to Chemulpo and later to Nagasaki on board the British research vessel HMS Flying Fish , but in response Japan sent four warships and a battalion to Seoul to protect Japanese interests and seek redress. China then sent 4,500 soldiers to Korea to protect its interests against the Japanese. With the Chemulpo Treaty, which was finally concluded on August 30, 1882, tensions eased again. The contract stipulated that those responsible for the uprising would be punished and the families of Japanese people killed would receive 50,000 yen in compensation. The Japanese government received 500,000 yen in compensation, an official apology, and permission to station troops and build barracks on the premises of the Japanese legation.

Gapsin coup

In 1884, a group of pro-Japanese reformers took the conservative, pro-Chinese government of Korea by surprise and usurped power in a bloody coup . In an equally bloody counter-attack, however, the Korean government managed to regain control with the help of Chinese auxiliaries under General Yuan Shikai . Not only were some reformers killed in this revolt, the Japanese embassy was burned down and Japanese soldiers and civilians were killed. This led to a dispute between Japan and China, which was ultimately pacified again in the Treaty of Tientsin concluded in 1885 . In it, the two states agreed to withdraw their respective expeditionary forces from Korea, not to send military advisers to train Korean troops, and to notify the other state in advance if it was intended to send troops to Korea. The Japanese, however, became increasingly frustrated with Chinese efforts to limit Japanese influence in Korea. Nevertheless, after the conclusion of the treaty, Chinese and Japanese troops left Korea and diplomatic relations between Japan and Korea were re-established. Yuan Shikai remained in Korea as the Chinese governor, a position he would hold until the war. He attempted to encourage Chinese trade with Korea and to limit Japanese trade, but with limited success, as Japan remained Korea's largest trading partner. In the following years, Chinese telegraphs were introduced and Korea was connected to the Chinese telegraph network, as well as financial support from the Qing dynasty to Korea.

Nagasaki incident

In 1886, while the Chinese Beiyang fleet was staying in Nagasaki, Japan, there was unrest and a real street battle, triggered by undisciplined Chinese sailors who caused property damage and molested Japanese women and children, according to the Japanese. During the fighting, some Japanese police officers were also killed by the Chinese sailors. At that time, the Chinese fleet was significantly stronger than the Japanese, which is why the Qing dynasty refused an apology to Japan and relied on its superiority at sea - the Chinese flagship Dingyuan built in Germany alone (a total of four Chinese ships were in Nagasaki) was larger than any Japanese cruiser. An incident during the Gapsin coup was also fresh in Japanese memory; 2000 Qing soldiers are said to have driven out 400 Japanese soldiers there.

The Qing government accused Japan of attacking and injuring Chinese sailors when they simply brought gifts to Nagasaki. China also claimed that Japan did nothing to protect the sailors.

Soybean dispute

After another bad harvest in 1889, the governor of Hamgyong Province prohibited the export of soybeans to Japan. Japan then demanded compensation for its importers and finally received it in 1893. This incident shows Japan's growing dependence on Korean agricultural products.

Kim Ok-gyun

On March 28, 1894, the pro-Japanese Korean revolutionary Kim Ok-gyun was assassinated in Shanghai . Kim was involved in the Gapsin Putsch in 1884 and fled to Japan after its failure. Requests by the Korean government to extradite Kim were rejected by Japan. Kim Ok-gyun was eventually lured into a trap. When he arrived in Shanghai at the invitation of Li Hongzhang , he was murdered by Korean Hong Jong-u in a Japanese inn in the International District. His body was then sent to Korea on a Chinese warship, quartered and publicly displayed as a warning to other pro-Japanese rebels. The Japanese government was outraged and viewed it as a direct attack on their dignity and reputation.

Donghak uprising

The tensions between China and Japan were therefore considerable in June 1894, but the war was not yet inevitable. The Donghak uprising in Korea prompted King Gojong to call in Chinese troops on June 1, 1894 to suppress the uprising. China then sent 2,800 men under the command of Yuan Shikai, but it soon became apparent that the Chinese were not needed to put down the uprisings. According to the Japanese, the Chinese government did not inform the Japanese of this deployment of troops, thus violating the Tientsin Treaty . Because of this breach of contract, Japan reacted by sending an 8,000-strong expeditionary force to Korea. The first 400 soldiers reached Seoul on June 9, and more landed at Incheon on June 12 . However, according to Chinese sources, the Japanese encouraged the Chinese to respond to Korean requests for assistance, and Japanese officials have given assurances that Japan has no plans to intervene. The Chinese person in charge, Li Hongzhang, was led to the "false assumption that Japan would not dare to go to war, while Tokyo was in fact already fully prepared for it." In any case, Japan demanded that China should jointly reform the Korean government with Japan, but this was rejected by China. Korea demanded the withdrawal of Japanese troops, which in turn was refused by Japan. The Japanese expeditionary force finally captured the Korean king in early June, occupied the Royal Palace and formed a new Korean government made up of pro-Japanese Koreans. The new government was sworn in on July 25th. The new Korean government eventually granted Japan the right to forcibly remove the Chinese from Korea, and Japan sent more troops. Again, because China did not recognize the new Korean government, war broke out.

Comparison of forces


Japan's reforms in the wake of the Meiji Restoration gave high priority to building a fleet, and also to setting up an efficient modern army. Japan had therefore sent numerous military personnel to Europe so that they could study the strengths and tactics of the European armies and fleets there.

Imperial Japanese Navy

The Imperial Japanese Navy was modeled on the British Royal Navy , which at the time was the most powerful fleet in the world. British advisors were sent to Japan to train and educate the Japanese fleet command; Japanese students, in turn, were sent to Great Britain to study and observe the Royal Navy. Through this training and lessons Japan was able to set up a fleet that was professionally trained in seamanship and artillery.

At the beginning of the war, Japan had 12 modern warships (the cruiser Izumi was added during the war), a frigate , 22 torpedo boats and numerous auxiliary cruisers . Japan did not yet have battleships and therefore based itself on the Jeune École doctrine, which preferred fast, small warships such as cruisers and torpedo boats, with sufficient armament to be able to destroy larger ships. Many of the Japanese ships had been built in British and French yards (8 in British, 3 in French, and 2 in Japanese); 16 of the torpedo boats were produced in France and assembled in Japan. However, these included milestones in modern ship development. The torpedo boat Kotaka built in Great Britain applies e.g. B. as the prototype of the later destroyer classes. The cruiser Yoshino , also built in Great Britain, was the fastest cruiser in the world when it entered service in 1892.

Imperial Japanese Navy Main ships
Protected cruisers Izumi , Naniwa , Chiyoda , Matsushima , Akitsushima , Yoshino ,
Unprotected cruisers Takao , Yaeyama , Tsukushi , Tatsuta (was arrested by the neutral British in Aden in 1894 and was only allowed to return to Japan after the end of the war)
Torpedo boat Kotaka
Gunboats Banjō , Maya , Ōshima , Helen

Imperial Japanese Army

In 1893, the army of the Meij State consisted of 6,000 officers, 12,000 non-commissioned officers and 60,000 active conscripts. The military strength of the army was increased by 270,000 reservists. The armed forces under construction based on the Western model used locally produced modern rifles, but were often dependent on imports of inferior quality for artillery and technical equipment because Japan lacked the necessary industrial production capacity. During the war, the army mobilized more than 220,000 reservists and brought the total strength of the seven regular divisions to 125,000 men. Around 100,000 soldiers were deployed as reserves and in logistics on the main islands of Japan during the war. The Japanese Expeditionary Army recruited around 153,000 Korean workers who dressed in civilian clothes to support the armed forces with logistics.

Imperial Japanese Army Composition 1894–1895
1st Army
3rd Division ( Nagoya )
5th Division ( Hiroshima )
2nd Army
1st Division ( Tokyo )
2nd Division ( Sendai )
6th Division ( Kumamoto )
In reserve
4th Division ( Osaka )
Invasion of Formosa (Taiwan)
Imperial Guard


Although the Beiyang Armed Forces ( Beiyang Army and Beiyang Fleet ) were the best-equipped and most modern units in China, corruption was a serious problem. Military leaders and officials even embezzled arms money during the war. As a result, the Beiyang fleet was unable to acquire battleships after it was established in 1888. The purchase of ammunition ended in 1891 because funds were diverted to build the Summer Palace in Beijing . The logistics were also a big problem, as the construction of railways in Manchuria had not been carried out. Morale in the Chinese armies was generally very low due to low pay, low prestige, opium consumption and poor leadership, which also led to disgraceful withdrawals such as the abandonment of the well-fortified and defensible Weihaiwei .

Beiyang Army

Qing Dynasty China did not have a unified national army. As a result of the Taiping uprising , the army was divided into units made up of Manchu , Mongol , Hui (Muslims) and Han , which in turn were divided into largely independent regional commandos. During the war, the fighting was almost entirely carried out by the Beiyang Army and the Beiyang Fleet; Calls for help were often simply ignored by other Chinese armies due to regional rivalries. At the same time, Chinese armed forces were also engaged in the Dungan revolt in Qinghai , which killed thousands.

Beiyang fleet

The Chinese Navy did not have a national high command. It was divided into four fleets ( Beiyang, Nanyang, Fujian, Guandong ). In 1894 these four units comprised 65 larger warships and 43 torpedo boats. The Beiyang fleet was the strongest of the four units and was roughly equivalent to the strength of the entire Japanese naval force. The fleet was considered to be the strongest in East Asia. The authority and administrative responsibility for the fleets lay with the regional centers of power. The viceroy of Zhili Li Hongzhang was responsible for the Beiyang fleet .

The Beiyang fleet was one of four modernized fleets of the late Qing dynasty, and the ships received substantial financial support, mainly from Li Hongzhang. However, the ships were not adequately maintained and the discipline was also poor. Guards, for example, passed their time by gambling, doors between watertight bulkheads were left open, rubbish was disposed of in gun barrels, and black powder was sold underhand and replaced with cocoa. Admiral Ting's gun on a battleship on the Yalu River was even pawned.

Beiyang fleet Main ships
Armored battleships Dingyuan (flagship), Zhenyuan
Armored cruiser King Yuen , Lai Yuen
Protected cruisers Chih Yuen , Ching Yuen
cruiser Torpedo cruisers - Tsi Yuen , Kuang Ping , Chaoyong , Yangwei
Coastal ship Pingyuan
corvette Kwan Chia

Foreign opinions about Chinese and Japanese armed forces

The prevailing belief in the west was that the modernized Chinese army and fleet would defeat the Japanese armed forces. Units such as the Anhui Army, which is part of the Beiyang Army, and the Beiyang Fleet have been praised by Western observers. China was seen as militarily superior and the German General Staff was of the opinion that Japan would lose. British military advisor to the Chinese Army, William Lang, was interviewed by Reuters . He praised the Chinese armed forces, the training, the modern ships, guns and equipment. He stated that "in the end there is no doubt that Japan will collapse completely" and that Japan's defeat is predetermined.

Early history

Overview of troop movements during the First Sino-Japanese War
Color woodcut by Mizuno Toshikata depicting the Battle of Pyongyang on September 15, 1894
  • June 1, 1894: During the Donghak Rebellion , rebel units move towards Seoul. The Korean ruler seeks support from China to put down the rebellion.
  • June 6, 1894: Approximately 2,800 Chinese soldiers are transported to Korea to quell the rebellion. Japan says it was not informed beforehand and that China has violated the Tientsin Treaty . China, in turn, assures that Japan has been informed.
  • June 8, 1894: Japanese soldiers intervened on the side of the reformers in the Donghak uprising .
  • June 11, 1894: The Donghak rebellion is over.
  • June 13, 1894: The Japanese government telegraphed Ōtori Keisuke, the Japanese commander-in-chief of the troops in Korea, to stay in Korea as long as possible despite the end of the rebellion.
  • June 16, 1894: Japanese Foreign Minister Mutsu Munemitsu meets with Chinese Ambassador to Japan Wang Fengzao to discuss the future status of Korea. Wang explains that the Chinese want to withdraw from Korea after the end of the rebellion and expects the same from the Japanese. China also wants to reappoint a Chinese governor in Korea in order to maintain China's traditional sovereignty over Korea.
  • June 22, 1894: More Japanese troops arrive in Korea. Japanese Foreign Minister Mutsu instructs Ōtori to put pressure on Korea over the Japanese demands.
  • June 26, 1894: Ōtori proposes a few reforms to the Korean king Gojong , which he rejects. He also insists on the withdrawal of the Japanese.
  • July 7, 1894: A mediation between China and Japan arranged by the British ambassador to China fails.
  • July 19, 1894: The Japanese set up a combined fleet, consisting of almost all ships of the Imperial Japanese Fleet, and prepare for war. Mutsu telegraphed Ōtori to take whatever steps he thought necessary to force the Korean government to adopt the Japanese reform proposals.
  • July 23, 1894: Japanese forces invade Seoul and capture the Korean king and establish a pro-Japanese government which in turn invalidates all Sino-Korean treaties and grants the Japanese army the right to take Chinese troops out of Korea to evict.
  • July 25: The hostile countries' fighting began with a naval battle when four Japanese cruisers met three Chinese warships from Busan . Both sides later claim that the enemy attacked first. The winners of the dispute were the Japanese ships; of the Chinese ships, only one cruiser reached the base in Weihaiwei .

While the Japanese ships were chasing this, they encountered an originally British merchant ship carrying Chinese troops. (For details see section: Battle of Pungdo)

  • The declaration of war between China and Japan came about a week later, on August 1, 1894.

Events during the war

China initially sent troops to Korea at a Korean request. In return, Japan initially sent almost 4,000 soldiers and then continuously reinforced them. In July 1894, China had 3,000 to 3,500 soldiers on site, who faced a clear superiority of the Japanese. The Chinese were supplied from the sea and the city of Asan . The first goal of the Japanese was therefore to block Asans in order to then encircle the Chinese in the country.

Battle of Pungdo

On July 25, 1894, the Japanese cruisers Yoshino , Naniwa and Akitsushima placed the Chinese cruiser Tsi-yuan and the gunboat Kwang-yi on a patrol in front of Asan . The Chinese ships had left Asan to meet another Chinese gunboat, the Tsao-kiang , which was escorting a transport to Asan. After about an hour of fighting, the Tsi-yuan escaped , while the Kwang-yi stranded on rocks and then her powder magazine exploded.

The Kow-shing was a British merchant ship with 2,134 GRT of the Indochina Steam Navigation Company in London, commanded by Captain TR Galsworthy and had a crew of 64. The ship was hired by the Qing government to ship troops to Korea. The Kow-shing was on its way to Asan to strengthen the Chinese troops there: 1,200 soldiers with equipment and supplies were on board, as well as a German artillery officer, Major von Hanneken, who worked as a military advisor for the Chinese. The ship was supposed to dock on July 25, 1894.

The Japanese cruiser Naniwa (under the command of Captain Tōgō Heihachirō ) intercepted the two ships. The gunboat was hijacked. Then the Japanese ordered the Kow-shing to follow the Naniwa and demanded that all Europeans on board be transferred to the Naniwa . However, the 1,200 Chinese soldiers aboard the Kow-shing threatened to kill Captain Galsworthy and the other Europeans. After four hours of unsuccessful negotiations, Captain Tōgō finally opened fire on the Kow-shing . A first torpedo fired by the Naniwa missed the Kow-shing ; then the Naniwa fired a broadside at the ship. This distracted the Chinese guards aboard the Kow-shing long enough for a few Europeans to jump overboard. The Japanese rescued three men (the captain, the first officer and the quartermaster) as well as a German passenger and brought them to Japan, the rest died in the sinking. The sinking of the Kow-shing almost sparked a conflict between Japan and Great Britain, but the Japanese approach followed international practice for dealing with mutineers. Only three ships saved Chinese troops. The German gunboat Iltis saved 150 Chinese, the French gunboat Le Lion saved 43 and the British cruiser HMS Porpoise an unknown number. However, no Japanese ship rescued Chinese from the water and it is therefore estimated that around 900 men were killed.

Conflict in Korea

Authorized by the pro-Japanese Korean government to drive Chinese troops out of Korea, a 4,000-strong Japanese force led by Ōshima Yoshimasa quickly marched from Seoul to Asan to bring the 3,500 Chinese there. On June 28, 1894, they finally met just outside Asan. A battle developed that lasted until 7:30 a.m. the following day. The Chinese lost the battle and eventually fled to Pyongyang. The Chinese lost 500 dead and wounded compared to 82 Japanese losses.

On August 1st, war between Japan and China was officially declared. On August 4, the remaining Chinese armed forces gathered in Pyongyang, where they were reinforced to 13,000 to 15,000 men by troops freshly sent from China. The Chinese soldiers then repaired and built defenses to stop the Japanese advance.

On September 15, 1894, the Imperial Japanese Army finally approached Pyongyang from several sides. The Japanese eventually defeated the Chinese by attacking them in the back and took the city. Protected from heavy rain and the nightly darkness, the remaining Chinese troops fled Pyongyang and marched along the coast to Uiju . The Chinese lost around 2,000 dead and 4,000 wounded, while the Japanese recorded 102 dead, 433 wounded and 33 missing. On September 16, 1894, all of Pyongyang was finally taken by the Japanese army.

Defeat of the Beiyang fleet

On September 17, 1894, the sea ​​battle at Yalu broke out when Japanese cruisers brought the larger Chinese Beiyang fleet near the mouth of the Yalu River. The Japanese sink eight of the twelve Chinese warships and thus secure naval control in the Yellow Sea . However, the Chinese manage to land 4,500 soldiers at the Yalu estuary. The sea battle at Yalu was the greatest sea battle of the war and a great propaganda victory for the Japanese.

Invasion of Manchuria

After the defeat at Pyongyang, the Chinese left Korea and took up defensive positions on the Chinese side of the Yalu river near Jiuliangcheng . After receiving reinforcements on October 10, the Japanese advanced quickly north towards Manchuria. On the night of October 24th, the Japanese crossed the Yalu undetected by means of a pontoon bridge and in the afternoon of the following day they took the Hushan outpost east of Jiuliangcheng. After less than three hours of fighting, the Chinese defenders fled Jiuliangcheng, leaving behind large quantities of supplies and equipment. With the capture of Jiuliangcheng, the Japanese had now captured a base on Chinese territory from which they could advance further.

After that, the Japanese divided their army into two groups. The 5th Division under General Nozu Michitsura pushed further north towards the Manchurian capital Mukden , the 3rd Division under Lt. General Katsura Taro pursued the fleeing Chinese west towards the Liaodong peninsula.

Also on October 24, 1894, the Japanese 2nd Army landed under Ōyama Iwao on the Liaodong Peninsula and took Talienwan until November 7 , before they began the siege of Lüshunkou (Port Arthur).

Capture of Lüshunkou, Weihaiwei and the Pescadors

By November 21, 1894, the Japanese finally took Lüshunkou (Port Arthur) . The result was a massacre by the Japanese of the Chinese, which claimed thousands of lives (the exact number of victims is still controversial to this day).

The rest of the Chinese Beiyang fleet had in turn withdrawn to the heavily fortified port of Weihaiwei . The Japanese blocked the port with their fleet and landed the 2nd Division under Lt. General Sakuma Samata and the 6th Division under General Kuroki Tamemoto to conquer the city from the land. After about nine hours of fighting, the Chinese defenders gave up, although almost all defenses were still intact. The Chinese fleet, deprived of its base, was partially sunk by the Japanese or surrendered by February 12, 1895. The Chinese fleet commander in chief, Admiral Ting, committed suicide.

With the conquests of Lüshunkou (Port Arthur) and Weihaiwei, the Japanese controlled the Gulf of Bohai , making the sea route to Beijing open to them. To 5 March 1895, the Japanese won even in Yingkou in the Battle of Yingkou and moved by land from Manchuria toward Beijing before.

From March 23 to March 26, the Japanese landed on the Pescadores Islands west of Taiwan and conquered them in a coup d'état with minimal losses. As a result, the Chinese units in Taiwan were cut off from supplies from the mainland, which in turn enabled the Japanese to enforce the surrender of Taiwan in the Shimonoseki Peace Treaty . Taiwan declared itself an independent Republic of Formosa , but was conquered by the Japanese by October 1895 .

End of war

The Shimonoseki Peace Treaty of April 17, 1895 stipulated the following:

  • Japan received the Pescadores Islands near Taiwan, which was then called Formosa, Taiwan itself and the Liaodong Peninsula .
  • China recognized Korea as independent and had to pay an exorbitantly high sum of money of 200,000,000 silver taels as compensation to Japan. This sum should be paid in gold, which China had to buy dearly from the world market. It exceeded twice the annual tax revenue of the Chinese Empire. In addition, the Chinese trading ports were obliged to open up to Japanese trading ships. In the following years, for example, the trade in rice was much more lucrative for Japan, since customs duties were no longer applicable when the ports were opened.

According to Chinese professor Jin Xide , the Qing government effectively paid Japan 34 million taels (13,600 tons of silver), which at the time was 510 million yen or 6.4 times the Japanese budget.


The satirical drawing of the magazine Punch from September 29, 1894 shows the victory of "small" Japan over "big" China

The winner of the eight-month war was Japan, the Chinese troops were defeated in many places and China capitulated. The Japanese success was the result of the modernization and industrialization that had begun more than twenty years earlier. The war demonstrated the superiority of the Japanese army, trained and tactically instructed according to the Western model. The Imperial Japanese Army and Fleet inflicted a series of defeats on the Chinese through better reconnaissance, organization, perseverance, and strategy. As a result, Japan's reputation grew in the western world and the victory established Japan as the dominant power in East Asia. The Japanese military promoted this awareness among the Western public. While there were numerous murders, mutilations of prisoners of war and civilians perceived as disloyal by the Chinese side, the Japanese army put an end to such attacks by its own forces. The good treatment of Chinese prisoners of war was emphasized by their high-profile care in Japan by the Japanese army. While the Chinese media often carried false reports about the military process, the Japanese army allowed Western journalists to visit its units.

For China, this defeat revealed the inefficiency of its government and politics as well as the corruption of the Qing administration. This defeat was more humiliating for China than any defeat before, including that of the First Opium War . Japan had previously been viewed as a subordinate part of the Chinese cultural sphere of influence and was even subject to tribute under the Chinese Ming dynasty . Now the "self-strengthening" China was defeated by Japan, which was going through a similar development at the time. In the medium term, this was one of the decisive triggers for the collapse of the Chinese Empire. Furthermore, the defeat increased the xenophobic mood and agitation, which culminated in the Boxer Rebellion five years later .

Although Japan had achieved all of its war goals , it subsequently suffered a setback: Russia , France and Germany , threatened by war, forced Japan to return the Liaondong Peninsula to China in exchange for an additional compensation of 30 million silver taels in the intervention of Shimonoseki . Russia itself leased Port Arthur (Lüshunkou) for 25 years as a naval base from China in 1898, Great Britain for 25 years Weihaiwei and 99 years Kowloon . Germany leased Kiautschou with the capital Tsingtao , France Guangzhouwan both for 99 years.

Japan also suffered a setback in Korea. It had managed to end the Chinese influence on Korea, but Russia in particular benefited from it. Korea first carried out the reforms demanded by Japan from 1894 to 1896 , which prohibited slavery, abolished kin, established equality before the law, prohibited child marriage, raised the age of marriage, and the Yangban class lost their privileges. In addition, the Korean script was prescribed for all official documents, Korean history lessons were introduced in schools, the Chinese calendar was replaced by the Western calendar , and school books were reformed. But in 1895 the Russians tried to kidnap the Korean emperor to the Russian embassy, ​​which worked on the second attempt and so the Korean emperor ruled from the Russian embassy in Seoul for about a year. As a result, the concession granted to the Japanese in 1894 to build a railway from Seoul to Incheon was withdrawn and granted to the Russians. Even after the Korean ruler was allowed to leave the Russian embassy, ​​he was still escorted by Russian guards.

The tensions between Russia and Japan therefore increased steadily in the years after the First Sino-Japanese War. During the Boxer Rebellion , an alliance of eight countries sent troops to China to put down the rebellion. As part of this alliance, Russia sent troops to Manchuria in 1900 with the promise of withdrawing them after the uprising was over. Instead, Russia reinforced these troops in Manchuria in 1903. Repeated attempts to negotiate (1901–1904) between Japan and Russia to establish mutual spheres of influence (Russia in Manchuria, Japan in Korea) were deliberately stopped by Russia. Russia felt strong and powerful enough not to have to compromise with the Japanese and was confident that Japan would not dare war with a major European power.

Japan, for its part, concluded the Anglo-Japanese Alliance with Great Britain in 1902 , which implied that if Japan waged war in the Far East and a third state came to the aid of Japan's opponents, Great Britain in turn would help the Japanese. Japan wanted to prevent a repetition of Shimonoseki's intervention when France and Germany sided with Russia and forced the Japanese to give up Port Arthur. For their part, the British wanted to limit Russian expansion into the Pacific and gain an ally with a strong navy in the Pacific so that they could concentrate better on other areas. This finally led to the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 .


  • Max von Brandt : Three Years of East Asian Politics, 1894-1897. Contributions to the history of the Sino-Japanese war and its consequences . Strecker & Moser, Stuttgart, 1897. (Digitized: [2] )
  • Jukichi Inouye: A Concise History of the War between Japan and China . Tokyo and Osaka 1895. (Digitized: [3] )
  • Ernst von Kunowski and Fretzdorff: The Japanese-Chinese War . Zuckschwerdt & Möschke, Leipzig 1895. 2 volumes. (Digital copies: Volume 1 , Volume 2 )
  • Naval Staff Physician Dr. Matthiolius: Medical report on the sea war between Japan and China 1894/95 , in: Marine-Rundschau , 13th year 1902, pp. 195–207.
  • Sakuyé Takahashi: Cases on International Law during the Chino-Japanese War . Cambridge 1899.
  • Sakuyé Takahashi (ed.): Statements about events from the Sino-Japanese naval war that are significant under international law and the related work "Cases on International Law during the Chino-Japanese War" . Ernst Reinhardt, Munich 1900.
  • Zenone Volpicelli: The China-Japan War. Compiled from Japanese, Chinese, and Foreign Sources . Sampson Low, Marston and Company, London 1896 (reprinted by Franklin Hudson Bublishing Co., Kansas 1905). (Digitized: [4] )
  • Trumbell White: The War in the East. Japan, China, and Corea . Philadelphia 1895. (Digitized: [5] )
  • Maxime Joseph Marie Sauvage: La guerre Sino-Japonaise 1894-1895 . L. Baudoin, Paris 1897 (Reprint 2010: ISBN 978-1-148-27678-6 ).

See also

Web links

Commons : First Sino-Japanese War  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b S.CM Paine: The Japanese Empire - Grand Strategy from the Meiji Restoration to the Pacific War. Cambridge, 2017, pp. 15-18, pp. 22-24. Reference error: Invalid <ref>tag. The name "Paine201715182224" was defined several times with different content.
  2. ^ Marius B. Jansen, Harvard University Press 2002, The Making of Modern Japan p. 335, ISBN 0-6740-0334-9
  3. Der Tagesspiegel: “Japan beats the Middle Kingdom; Both countries had fallen behind their competitors from the west, but Japan learned faster: In the war of 1894, the island power defeated huge China. The rivalry continues to this day ”, author: Björn Rosen, issue 22116, p. 7, published on July 27, 2014
  4. ^ Richard Storry: A history of modern Japan . Penguin, Harmondsworth, 9th ed. 1972, p. 110.
  5. Duus, P. (1976). The rise of modern Japan (p. 125). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  6. Jansen 2002 p431
  7. James McClain, "Japan a Modern History," 297
  8. a b c d Michael J Seth: A History of Korea: From Antiquity to the Present . Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010, ISBN 978-0742567160 , p. 225.
  9. ^ John King Fairbank, Kwang-Ching Liu (Ed.): The Cambridge History of China , Vol. 11, Part 2: Late Ch'ing, 1800-1911 . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1980, p. 105.
  10. ^ "The skills of the Japanese officers and men was (sic!) Astronomically higher those of their Chinese counterparts." [1]
  11. ^ Christopher Howe, The University of Chicago Press, The Origins of Japanese Trade Supremacy: Development and Technology in Asia from 1540 to the Pacific War , ISBN 0-226-35485-7
  12. David Evans / Mark Peattie 1997 Strategy, tactics, and technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1887-1941 ISBN 0-87021-192-7
  13. ^ Edward J. Drea: Japan's Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall 1853-1945 . Lawrence, 2009, p. 72-75, 81, 87 .
  14. ^ Benjamin A. Elmans: Naval Warfare and the Refraction of China's Self-Strengthening Reforms into Scientific and Technological Failure, 1865-1895. Modern Asian Studies 38, 2 (2004), pp. 283-326. 2004 Cambridge University Press doi: 10.1017 / S0026749X04001088 p. 318f
  15. SCM Paine: The Sino Japanese War of 1894 - 1895 - Perceptions, Power and Primacy. Cambridge, 2003, p. 360
  16. ^ Naval Warfare, 1815-1914 pp. 169-170, Lawrence Sondhaus, Routledge 2001, ISBN 0-41521-477-7 .
  17. ^ Geoffrey Regan, Naval Blunders, p. 28.
  18. John King Fairbank, Kwang-Ching Liu, Denis Crispin Twitchett (Eds.): Late Ch'ing, 1800-1911 , illustrated. Edition, Volume 11, Part 2 of The Cambridge History of China Series, Cambridge University Press, 1980, ISBN 0-521-22029-7 , p. 268 (Retrieved January 18, 2012): “On the eve of the Sino -Japanese War, China appeared, to undiscerning observers, to possess respectable military and naval forces. Praise for Li Hung-chang's Anhwei Army and other Chinese forces was not uncommon, and the Peiyang Navy elicited considerable favorable comment.179 When war between China and Japan appeared likely, most Westerners thought China had the advantage. Her army was vast, and her navy both out- "
  19. John King Fairbank, Kwang-Ching Liu, Denis Crispin Twitchett (Eds.): Late Ch'ing, 1800-1911 , illustrated. Edition, Volume 11, Part 2 of The Cambridge History of China Series, Cambridge University Press, 1980, ISBN 0-521-22029-7 , p. 269 (accessed January 18, 2012): “numbered and outweight Japan's. The German general staff considered a Japanese victory improbable. In an interview with Reuters, William Lang predicted defeat for Japan. Lang thought that the Chinese navy was well-drilled, the ships were fit, the artillery was at least adequate, and the coastal forts were strong. Weihaiwei, he said, was impregnable. Although Lang emphasized that everything depended on how China's forces were led, he had faith that 'in the end, there is no doubt that Japan must be utterly crushed'.180 “
  20. Evans / Peattie 1997, p = 41
  21. Chronicle of events and figures according to various articles in The Times , issues August 2, 1894 to October 25, 1894.
  22. ^ SCM Paine : The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895: Perception, Power, and Primacy . Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-521-61745-6 , pp. 179-189.
  23. ^ Richard Storry: A history of modern Japan . Penguin, Harmondsworth, 9th ed. 1972, p. 126.
  24. ^ Paul F. Langer: Japan between the wars ; in Propylaea World History , Volume IX, Ullstein Verlag, Frankfurt a. M., 1964, p. 34
  25. a b Zhaojin Ji: A History of Modern Shanghai Banking , 2002, p. 69 .
  26. ^ Konrad Seitz : China - A world power returns , Berliner Taschenbuchverlag 2002, ISBN 3-442-76076-3 , p. 99.
  27. ^ Charles J. Schencking, Stanford University Press 2005, Making Waves: Politics, Propaganda, And The Emergence Of The Imperial Japanese Navy, 1868-1922 ISBN 0-8047-4977-9
  28. ^ Paine, The Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895: Perception, Power, and Primacy.
  29. "A new balance of power had emerged. China's millennia-long regional dominance had abruptly ended. Japan had become the dominant power of Asia, a position it would retain throughout the twentieth century". Paine, The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895: Perception, Power, and Primacy.
  30. SCM Paine: The Sino Japanese War of 1894 - 1895 - Perceptions, Power and Primacy. Cambridge, 2003, pp. 168-173