Japan Between 1868 and 1912 (The Meiji) Part III
The Miura case played the game of Russia, whose representative in Söul, a skilled diplomat, had tried in every way to hinder the work of the Japanese in the peninsula, the chaotic state of which favored the achievement of the aims of his country. Assassinated the queen, the king of Korea and the crown prince took refuge in the Russian legation and the astute diplomat thus found himself to be the de facto ruler of the country, as Yüan Shih-k’ai and Inoue had already been. Miura’s successor, Baron Komura, in spite of his ability, found himself, this time, in front of a very formidable opponent, and the enormous difficulties he encountered inevitably had to place his nation in front of Russia, whose activity in the peninsula it was closely followed by Japan. After the Japanese renunciation of the Liao-tung peninsula, Russia had (1898) obtained Port Arthur and Ta-lien-wan lease from China and, shortly before, permission to pass a branch of the Trans-Siberian through Manchuria, in addition to the freedom of transit and trade in China, customs exemption in Mongolia and the free transit of caravans between Kiakhta and T’ien-tsin, with which a large commercial outlet had opened up. With two formidably fortified naval bases such as Vladivostok and Port Arthur and all of Manchuria in his hands, the Russian occupation of Korea was virtually heralded. in addition to the freedom of transit and trade in China, the customs exemption in Mongolia and the free transit of caravans between Kiakhta and T’ien-tsin, with which a conspicuous commercial outlet had opened up. With two formidably fortified naval bases such as Vladivostok and Port Arthur and all of Manchuria in his hands, the Russian occupation of Korea was virtually heralded.
Numerous efforts had been made by Japanese diplomacy to come to an agreement with the rival nation, but this, while showing itself willing to sign conventions, later revealed, with facts, that it did not want to respect them. His provocative demeanor had long ago convinced Japan of the inevitability of a new war and it was preparing itself with meticulous care, but France, an ally of Russia, and Germany, willing to help her, were two impediments to the solution of the situation. Any difficulty, however, disappeared in 1902, when the alliance treaty between England and Japan came to give him the certainty of help. Two years of diplomatic work followed, without changes in the methods of Russia, which continued to develop its influence in Manchuria and Korea. Finally, the occupation of the port of Masanpho, just in front of the island of Tsushima came to precipitate events. On February 6, 1904, war was declared, in which Russia entered with the most blind contempt for the warlike qualities of her adversary. Although better equipped than the enemy and firmly entrenched, the Russian army lost its positions one after another and was definitively defeated at Mukden (1-10 March 1905), while shortly before, after six months of siege, it had capitulated at Port Arthur, and when, finally, the Baltic fleet, arrived after a long voyage, was annihilated in the Tsushima Strait by Admiral Tōgō’s fleet (27-28 May), Russia decided to give up the war, and on 5 September, mediator the president of the United States T. Roosevelt, signed in Portsmouth, by the two contenders,
According to RRRJEWELRY, the Russo-Japanese War stunned Europe. The victory gave Japan, which had entered the ranks of great powers since 1902, even greater political advantages: in fact, it marked the failure of the Russian policy of dominance in the Far East and placed Korea in its hands. From the outset of the hostilities, a treaty between Korea and Japan committed the former to accepting the other’s advice on internal reforms; Japan was committed to guaranteeing the internal peace, independence and territorial integrity of the peninsula. In 1905, a supplementary treaty gave Japan control of Korean foreign relations and, two years later, a convention practically invested the Japanese resident of Korea, Itō Hirobumi, the newly created prince, with the supreme legislative and executive authority. But, despite the reforms brought about by this, it was not easy to eradicate the evils of the centuries-old bad government and peace was far from assured, as insurrections and banditry infested the provinces. In 1909 Itō was assassinated in Harbin by a Korean hand. Events showed that if Japan wanted the efforts and sacrifices made in favor of Korea not to be lost, it was necessary to come to the annexation of the peninsula to the Empire. This idea, which had long since made its way into the minds of Japanese political leaders, was brought into effect in August 1910. Since then, the history of the two countries is one.
From the war with Russia to the beginning of the European one, Japan’s only external disputes are with the United States, and have their roots in Japanese immigration to California, which had assumed alarming proportions, to the point of provoking restrictive laws., sometimes unfair, such as the one that prohibited the children of Japanese who were already resident from attending state schools. Such measures, if they served to bring about an end to immigration practically, caused violent indignation in Japan and caused international difficulties. It is especially in this era (1908-0) that Japan, as a result of this condition of things, begins to think of Manchuria as an outlet for its ever-increasing population. The Japanese penetration in Manchuria, on the other hand, did not fail to arouse the attention of the United States, whose flourishing trade found strong interests in China. An attempt (1910) by Secretary of State Knox to neutralize the Manchu railways resulted in the conclusion of a convention between Japan and Russia, which had recently come closer together for the defense of their mutual interests and the maintenance of status quo. Meanwhile, on July 30, 1912, Emperor Mutsuhito died and he was succeeded by Prince Yoshihito Haruno-miya, with whom the Taishō era (great righteousness) was inaugurated.