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From sakoku to empire. Japanese Foreign Policy 1855-1905 Notes from Barnhart and Duus. Meiji restoration 1868-1912. Japan opens up. Treaty of Kanagawa opens up two ports to Western powers This was followed by a series of unequal treaties

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From sakoku to empire

From sakoku to empire

Japanese Foreign Policy 1855-1905Notes from Barnhart and Duus

Japan opens up
Japan opens up

  • Treaty of Kanagawa opens up two ports to Western powers

  • This was followed by a series of unequal treaties

  • 1858 treaty of Edo was a blow to the power of the Shogun and led to the eventual downfall of the Shogunate

  • 1864 Confrontations between the British and Choshu clan and the Shogun is forced to intercede

  • 1868 downfall of the Shogun, the Meiji Restoration

Meiji restoration 1868
Meiji restoration 1868

Japan’s foreign policy goals

  • The Emperor is a figurehead with little or no control over foreign policy

    • Aim of the Oligarchs: to rid Japan of the Unequal treaties

    • A search for security and removal of the western restriction on Japanese sovereignty

    • Foreign policy success hinged on success of domestic reform

Japan s policy in the 1860 s
Japan’s policy in the 1860’s

  • Attempts to invade Korea in 1863 were cancelled

  • This was partly responsible for the Satsuma rebellion in 1878

  • 1867 Japan creates a ‘situation’ in Japan , an example of ‘gunboat diplomacy’ whereby Korea is forced to sign the Treaty of Kanghwa – an unequal treaty

  • Attempt to take Taiwan fails.

  • Japan sent a mission to China in 1870 to secure an Unequal treaty, it failed but at least secured a treat y of friendship which placed Japan and China on an equal footing, diplomatic representation…etc

Japan and russia
Japan and Russia

  • In the 1870’s Japan begins a more assertive foreign policy albeit under the watchful eyes of western powers

  • Japan begins expansion to the North…beyond Hokkaido

  • To secure diplomatic recognition of the new northern border, in 1875 Japan signed a treaty with Russians. Japanese claims over Hokkaido accepted in return for abandonment of Japanese claims over Sakhalin

Conquest of taiwan
Conquest of Taiwan

  • Taiwan invaded in 1874 to punish Taiwanese fisherman for their attacks on Ryukyu Islands

  • Taiwan accepted suzerainty of China but also accepted to be as vassal of the Satsuma

  • In 1874 China recognized Japan’s claims to Taiwan and agreed to pay an indemnity

  • In 1879 Ryukyu islands annexed by Japan

Opening up of korea
“opening up of Korea”

  • Wanted to do to Korea what the US had done to Japan

  • Pretext: Korea attacks the crew of a Japanse survey boat

  • Gunboat despatched to establish normal diplomatic and trade relations

  • Korea chose negotiation over war and signed the Treaty of Kanghwa

    • Recognised Korea as an independent sovereignty

      • Diplomats exchanges

      • 3 Korean ports opened Pusan, Ichon and Wonsan

Policy in the 1880 1890
Policy in the 1880-1890

  • Japanese foreign policy becomes more aggressive

  • Japan sees Korea as its zone of expansion

  • It tries to minimize China’s influence on Korea

  • In 1882 it gets involved in Korea when the refoms of Kojong affect the army

  • 1884 Japan tries to engineer another coup but fails

  • In 1884 Japan signs the Convention of Tientsin or the Li-Ito convention

  • China maintains its troops in Korea, and the resident is Yuan Shih Kai

  • A foreign policy failure for Japan

What was japan s role in korea in the 1890 s
What was Japan’s role in Korea in the 1890’s

  • Japan seen as the role model for the reform faction

  • Japan chose to support this, Japans minister in Korea was involved

  • Japan deliberately chose to antagonise China

  • It was a way for the Japanese government to divert attention away from domestic tenisons

  • Russian presence in Manchuria also worried the Japanese

What role did the oligarchs play
What role did the Oligarchs play?

  • Yamagata felt Japan needed to play an assertive role

  • He saw Russia as the threat and not China

  • He saw in victory a chance to abrogate the Unequal treaties

  • Also it would prove to be a test for the new national army

Sino japanese war 1894 1895
Sino Japanese War 1894-1895

  • Korea the prize for Japan and China

  • Korea is also targeted by Russia who sees it an area to gain access to the Pacific Ocean

  • Murder of Kim Ok Kyun also raised tensions

  • Tonghak rebellion in Korea a factor that led the Chinese to take action to quell the rebellion

  • Japan protested and used this to attack China

  • China defeated on land and in the naval battle

Treaty of shimonoseki
Treaty of Shimonoseki

  • Ito in a hurry to negotiate

  • War had cost Japan financially

  • So Japan in a hurry to negotiate

  • Treaty in April 1895

    • Korea’s independence recognized by China

    • Formosa

    • Liaotung Peninsula of China

    • 80 m Yen as war indemnity

    • MFN status for Japan in China

What was the significance of the treaty
What was the significance of the treaty?

  • Marks the beginning of Japan’s dominance in East Asia and the beginning of the end of China’s dominance

  • Japan had clearly come of age.

  • Japan was not yet in control but clearly a contender here

  • The other contender was Russia and Japan was not yet strong enough to deal with Russia

Great power politics by 1895
Great power politics by 1895

  • Russia was intervening in this region for political gain and GB was suspicious of Russia

  • GB ambiguous about Japan’s role here vis-a-vis Russia

  • USA was involved in the region too..Hawaii and the Philippines

  • Germany wanted an empire and was willing to grab lands in China and also because it wanted to weaken the newly formed Russia and French alliance against it

  • GB wanted to preserve the integrity of China as it had been there the longest and had investments in China

  • Japan wanted to be regarded as an equal of the great powers and also gain lands at the cost of a weak China

Impact of the treaty of shimonoseki in japan
Impact of the treaty of Shimonoseki in Japan

  • Japanese public were furious

  • Felt cheated and let down by its politicians

  • The public did not recognize that the war was a huge drain on Japan’s resources

  • This impact led to some instability in Japanese politics

The triple intervention
The Triple Intervention

  • By 1895 GB began to see Japan as a pawn against Russia

  • Russia did not want to see Japan in mainland China

  • IN this Russia had the support of other European powers. Each was uneasy at Japan’s power

  • Russia, France and Germany joined in the Triple Intervention a week after Shimonoseki had been signed

  • Japan had to give up the Liaotung Peninsula. It wanted Port Arthur but failed to keep it

  • Japan not strong enough to take on three powers

Impact of sino japanese war
Impact of Sino Japanese war

  • Despite Triple Intervention, Japan recognised as a rising power

  • The balance of power in East Asia began to shift

  • Russia and Japan now in China

  • Domestically TI sparked off a huge protest

  • They saw the TI as yet another humiliation

Impact of the boxer rebellion in china
Impact of the Boxer rebellion in China

  • Japan wanted to weaken China further, hence it encouraged the Hundred Days Reform in China and gave asylum to its leaders when the reform collapsed

  • Was willing to support western powers to quell the Boxer rebellion

  • This gave it the much needed recognition as an equal of the western powers

  • Alliance with GB

Japan comes of age
Japan comes of age

Phase 2 of Japan’s Foreign policy

The russo japanese war long term causes
The Russo Japanese War : Long Term Causes

  • Russian view that China would fall to the Russians

  • Russia would build its railway and Port Arthur would be its Pacific terminus

  • Russia preferred to have China and leave Korea to Japan

  • Japan especially Ito favoured peace with Japan and therefore compromise

  • Japan’s confused policy of this period a result of its tumultous politics

Russo japanese war short term
Russo Japanese war: Short term

  • Anger at Triple Intervention

  • Confirmation of Japanese rights over Korea

  • Nishi Rosen agreement only recognized Korea’s independence and non interference in Korea’s affairs

  • British occupation of Weihaiwei provided Japan with an ally

  • Increasingly Britain seen as an ally in its fight with Russia

Anglo japanese drift
Anglo Japanese drift

  • Drift towards an alliance with England

  • Britain recognizes Japan’s right to Taiwan in return for occupation of Weihaiwei

  • Also during this time US occupies Hawaii and thus stakes a claim as a Pacific power, Japan accepts this

  • Likewise Japan accepts American control of the Philippines

At the turn of the century
At the turn of the century….

  • In 1900 Russia acquire Masampo from Korea and this angered Japan

  • In the Boxer Rebellion, Japan deliberately supported England, in the hope that Russia alone could not do much mischief

  • Thus with Japanese meddling it was an allied force that led the fight against the Boxers

  • Germany wants Russia to be busy, so that French Russian alliance is weakened

  • GB does not want China to be partitioned

Domestic situation in japan
Domestic situation in Japan

  • Splits in the political parties

  • Okuma withdraws from Kenseito

  • New party called Kenseihonto is set up

  • Yamagata Aritomo becomes PM and there is a return to genro influence

  • Yamagata no friend of political parties and struggled to limit their influence

  • Key members of cabinet. from army and navy

  • Senior members of govt. to be selected by exam system

  • Yamagata marks the beginning of the patronage that is so typical of Japanese politics

Yamagata calculations
Yamagata calculations

  • Yamagata allinace with Kenseito worked

  • Patronage system helped to secure military defence budgets

  • Yamagata did this because he was certain that Russia was a major menace

  • Japan wanted rights to build railways in Korea more to prevent Russia from doing so

Japan s foreign policy calculations
Japan’s foreign policy calculations

  • Aid to Allied efforts to deal with Boxers in China to prevent anti Japan coalition

  • Japan was clearly planning empire and power

  • China and its plight did not figure in Japan’s calculations

  • Japanese felt that they must have recognition from Western powers

  • US and GB Open Door Policy not popular with Japan because it did not get much indemnity payment

Manchuria 1900 1905
Manchuria 1900-1905

  • Russians had manoeuvred themselves into Northern Manchuria and occupied it

  • This annoyed the Japanese who wanted to contain Russia

  • However in Japan the party politics intervened

  • Yamagata afraid that Ito would negotiate with Russia in return for Korea

  • Also Japan afraid that once the Railway was built Russia too strong for Japan to fight

  • Also Japan saw GB as an ally

  • So Japan now protested the treaty with China, Russia backed down

Anglo japanese alliance
Anglo Japanese Alliance

  • Japan capitalised on growing Russianand British tensions

  • In London negotiations were opened

  • The treaty that followed was that each was to remain neutral in the event of a fight, but if two or more were involved then the alliance would work

  • Marked the end of unequal treaties

  • Recognition of Japan’s military and naval prowess

  • Recogniton of Japanese imperial aims

  • Japan now has great power status

Anglo japanese alliance marius b jansen
Anglo Japanese Alliance: Marius B Jansen

  • Became the mainstay of Japanese diplomacy for 20 years

  • Recognition of Japan on the international stage

  • Gave Japan the security to engage in serious negotiations with Russia and stand up to them

  • Russians underestimated Japan, the genrofavoured caution while the younger generation wanted action

  • In 1904 Japan attacked…the horrors of the war are dwarfed by the scale of WW 1

Countdown to war
Countdown to war

  • In 1903 Russia refused to withdraw troops from Manchuria

  • Japan makes a Korea-Manchuria exchange offer

  • Russia’s railway now complete, next plan to connect Vladivostok with Seoul

  • Russia then proposed a division of Korea along 39th parallel

  • Russia meantime continued to fortify Manchuria and placed battleships in port of Niuchuang

  • Russia occupies Mukden

  • Japan tries to negotiate by offering Yalu river as a boundary between Japan and Russian interests

Why was japan able to defeat russia
Why was Japan able to defeat Russia?

  • Japan had to placate UK and US who wanted no division of China

  • Russia was not expecting Japan to fight back

  • Japan attacked Port Arthur

  • China remained neutral

  • Mukden fell to Japan

  • Japanese leaders aware that they could not sustain a long drawn out war

  • Japan sealed the war with the defeat of the Russian Baltic fleet in the Battle of the Tsushima Straits


The treaty of portsmouth
The treaty of Portsmouth

  • Theodore Roosevelt of USA keen to negotiate peace

  • Japan financially exhauated but did not want to have that revealed

  • The treaty consolidated Japanese influence on the Asian continent

  • Russia recognizes Japanese influence in Korea

  • Japan received southern Sakhalin, Liaotung peninsula, and the raliway line between Mukden and Port Arthur

  • Japan came of age. This was a sigificant and decisive victory for Japan

The annexation of korea
The annexation of Korea

  • 1905 Ito negotiated with the Korean court for a protectorate

  • Japanese took charge of Korea’s diplomatic efforts

  • Japanese advisors despatched to Korea

  • Japanese settlers poured into Korea too

Assessment of japan s foreign policy peter duus
Assessment of Japan’s Foreign Policy ( Peter Duus)

  • Sino Japanese war marked the position of the Emperor as the country’s paramount military leader

  • In 1904 too , the Emperor played a visible role as war leader

  • Military victory first over China and Russia fed a new surge of national pride

  • Feeling that ‘Japan’ had joined the ranks of the civilized


  • Japanese attitudes towards its neighbours changed too…arrogance towards China and Korea

  • Japanese began to disavow Chinese heritage

  • However, failure of massive gains in the treaty of Portsmouth angered the Japanese and this led to serious rioting

  • Growing feeling in Japan was in a positions to help its backward neighbours

John benson and takao matsumura japan 1868 1945 from isolation to occupation
John Benson and Takao Matsumura:Japan 1868-1945From Isolation to Occupation

  • The treaty marked Japan as a regional power and as a major player

  • The establishment of formal empire had begun with the process of acquiring Taiwan,

    Acquisition of Southern Sakhalin and finally a protectorate over Taiwan