Sino-Japanese War; Japanese-Sino War (日清戦争)

Japanese-Sino War (Kogo war in Chinese, First Sino-Japanese war in English) is a war fought between the Empire of Japan and the Quing Dynasty over Korean Dynasties from July 1894 through April 1895. The war was formally named Meiji niju-shichi-hachinen sen-eki (military campaign in the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth years of the Meiji Period) in Japan.

Purpose and motive of the war
The imperial prescript of Empire of Japan advocates the cause to promote independence and reform of Korea and peace of the entire East. Some suggest, however, that Japan used this cause as a pretext for the war trying to achieve the purpose of putting Korea under control and expanding its own interests by making China give up its territory.

As western powers colonized Asian countries and Japan forced Korea to open the country to the world and intervene in it, Qing, as a result, was spurred into using this war to try to transform the conventional relationship between Qing and Korea based upon a concept of a family with the same origin into a modern suzerain-dependency relationship (suzerain-colony relationship) and keep Korea under control.

The Japanese-Sino War was a total war over Korea between Japan, aiming at the creation of a modern state after the Meiji Restoration, and China (the quing dynasty), in the process of modernization since the Western Affairs Movement in the 1860's. It is historically the first battle of a large-scale and long lasting war between Japan and china.

Historically, there were just a few wars among three countries that Japan was involved in, except for a defeat in Hakusonko (Battle of Baekgang) in the battle with Silla-Tang allied forces over the revival of Baekje during the three Kingdoms period (of Korean history) of ancient Korea, Genko (Mongol Invasions of Japan) by Yuan (Dynasty) and Goryeo under its control, and Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI's invasion of Korea. This is partly because the three countries have shared cultures, including kanji (Chinese characters), Confucianism, Buddhism, the ritsuryo system (a system of centralized government based on the ritsuryo code), which had been introduced into Japan through countries on the Korean Peninsula since the Kofun period (tumulus period). Another reason is the sovereign-vassal relationship with tributes between Chinese dynasties, great empires, and surrounding countries based on Sinocentrism and Suzerainty, that brought economic exchanges and a certain stability of diplomatic orders to East Asia.

Kokin established by the Joshin tribe in Manchuria change its name of the country into Qing and transferred the capital to Beijing in 1644. The dynasty soon established an international order in Asia with Qing as the center by joining northern and western remote regions as its provinces and had its vassal system with Nepal, Burma, Siam, and Vietnam in the south and Korea and Ryukyu Islands (although ryukyu had also a peerage relationship with Japan) in the east, and temporarily defined its northern border by concluding a treaty with the Russian Empire that had advanced into Siberia.

The Korean Dynasty was established when Seong-gye YI defeated Goryeo in 1392. In later years, the Dynasty, after having its vassal system with the Ming dynasty, adopted the doctrines of Zhu Xi; Neo-Confucianism as its state religion following Ming and conducted Kakyo/Keju (examinations for Chinese state bureaucrats) to form its bureaucratic centralized government. During this process, the yangban (traditional ruling class or nobles of dynastic Korea during the Joseon Dynasty) was established where bureaucrats who succeeded in Kakyo monopolized the bureaucratic positions by inheritance. When the Qing dynasty replaced the Ming dynasty, it forced the Korean dynasty to perform the courtesy of "nine kowtows" to strengthen the relationship under the vassal system.

Hideyoshi's invasion into Korea was a war of cruel aggression and a story of cruel acts as shown in his order to 'cut off the nose instead of the head' as a reminder passed down from generation to generation. The Tokugawa shogunate started trading again with the Korean dynasty by concluding the Giyu treaty with the So clan of Tsushima Island in 1609 and established a relationship of almost equality through mutual visits of Korean messengers and Japanese envoys. The Tokugawa shogunate did not have a Sakuho relationship with Qing dynasty and allowed limited trade. It also broke relations with western countries except for Holland by issuing a national seclusion order with an aim to put a complete ban on Christianity.

East Asia had been facing threats from Western powers since the middle of the 19th century. Although the Qing dynasty had allowed foreign trade only at Canton port, Britain (the British Empire) concluded the treaties of Nanjing (in 1482), Tianjin (in 1858), and Beijing (in 1860) after First Opium War and the Second Opium War in 1840 and 1857 to make Qing dynasty pay a large amount of reparations, cede Hong Kong and Kawloon island, open 11 ports including Shanghai, recognize consular jurisdiction, abandon tariff autonomy, grant one-sided most-favored-nation treatment, permit an envoy to stay in Beijing, and officially recognize and protect Christianity. The United States of America dispatched Commodore Perry of the East Indian squadron and other squadrons to Japan in 1853 and the following year, and concluded a Treaty of amity and commerce between the United States and Japan; The Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the United States and Japan followed by Treaty between the United States of America and the Empire of Japan under military threat. With these treaties, Japan was made to open five ports, grant consular jurisdiction, recognize one-sided most-favored-nation treatment, and abandon tariff autonomy (later with Britain, Russia, Holland, and France), and forced out of its 200 and several decades old national isolation of the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).

Japan conquered principle of excluding foreigners that emerged at the end of Edo period, and the Meiji Government had tackled the following issues since the Bushing War: the construction of a modern state through the introduction of western civilization; the revision of the unequal treaties that the bakufu signed, with western countries; the definition of the border with Russia that had been promoting southward expansion; and the restructing of diplomatic relations and definition of the territory with East Asian countries. Qing had also been introducing western technologies centering on military ones based on Chinese traditional culture; bureaucrats of the Han race including Zeng Guofan and Li Hung Chang promoted the Western Affairs Movement in an attempt to modernize China.

Diplomatic talks with korea

The Meiji Government tried to hand over a note informing the Korean government about the restoration of imperial rule. However, the Korean government refused to accept it saying that the note was written in a style that differed from the conventional one and containing words "皇" and "勅"--traditionally used only by Chinese emperors-- suggested that Japan was superior to Korea, and warning that Japan's modernization was based on "a presumed doctrine of excluding western threats." The bilateral talks did not progress for several years.

In Korea at this time, not King Gojong, still young, but his father Heungseon Daewongun held onto power trying to do away with tyranny and the old system established by his material relatives, the Kim clan of the Andong district.


In September 1871, the Japan-Qing Treaty of Friendship with trade regulations was signed by Li Hung Chang, Governor General of Zhili. This was an equal treaty that mutually authorized the exchange of envoys, the presence of the consular with restricted jurisdiction, opening of a port and commerce, and tariff rates based on an agreement. Article 2 of the treaty says, "If other countries impose an unequal demand upon or despise either country, both countries will mutually assist each other when informed of such an event on the basis of their friendly relations." Both countries, parties to the treaty, promised mutual assistance on the basis that both countries faced threats from the western powers.

Meanwhile, there remained bilateral territorial issues on the possession of the Ryukyu islands. The Ryukyu Kingdom was in a sakukfu relationship with the Ming Dynasty (that fell in 1644), and trade with East Asian countries flourished amongst the islands. After an invasion by the Shimazu clan of Satsuma Domain in 1609, the islands came under the rule of the Satsuma Domain with a secession of some territories. Since then, the islands had belonged to China and the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), who sought benefits from tribute trade with the Ming and Quing dynasties.

Ryukyu belonged to Kagoshima prefecture according to Haihan-chiken (new administration system to abolish feudal domains and establish prefectures) in July 1871, while the Ryukyu Domain was established and granted Sakuho Shosho (imperial edict, decree) recognizing peerage with the king of Ryukyu as the king of the domain in September 1872.
After these events, Ryukyu continued to be possessed by both Japan and China
Before that, the Meiji government did not resolve the incident of suicide of Ryukyu sailors whose ship had been wrecked and cast up on the coast of southern Taiwan in 1871, and several years had passed.

Seikanron (debate on the subjugation of Korea) and Meiji roku-nen no Seihen (Coups of 1873)
Late in the 18th century, Shihei HAYASHI of the Sendai Domain; had already advocated the way of maritime defense in his book titled Hkikoku heidan (a discussion on the maritime nations' soldiers). In the closing days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Nobuhiro SATO, an economist argued absolutism of nationalizing lands and finding ways into foreign countries, while Shoin YOSHIDA argued in his book titled yuin-roku (descriptions in prison) reclamation of Ezo and invasion for the control of such as the Kamchatkan Peninsula, Korea, Taiwan, and Manchuria. These claims did not by any means have a small influences on the Sonno Joi Movement (the movement advocating reverence for the Emperor and the expulsion of foreigners) and the policies of the government led by Saccho (the Satsuma and Choshu Domains) during the early Meiji period. The so-called Seikanron (debate on the subjugation of Korea) supporting military pressure to force Korea to open the country emerged in the Meiji government whose diplomatic talks with Korea did not show any progress.

In a cabinet meeting (of the so-called rusu seifu - government while heads were away) in June 1873, Taisuke ITAGAKI, Sangi (the Councilor), claimed to dispatch a battalion of Army to Korea to resolve the deadlock in negotiations, and Takamori SAIGO demanded that an envoy be dispathced and he be appointed as the envoy. Later Tomomi IWAKURA, when he returned home, reported the opposition to the dispatch of the envoy, to the throne, and their placing priority on domestic issues. The Emperor Meiji determined to hold over the dispatch, and Saigo and Itagaki, both Sangi, were forced to resign.
(See the sections on; Seikanron, Meiji roku-nen no Seihen (Coups of 1873), and Takamori SAIGO for more details.)
Okubo and other leaders, who held power after this event, also were not against Seikanron and the policy of executing military power in the Korean Peninsula after a breakdown in negotiations.

Behind this Seikanron there was dissatisfaction amongst the Shizoku (family or persons with samurai ancestors) who had lost their jobs as a result of Haihan-chiken in 1871. Revolts by Shizoku occurred one after another during a process that ended in the promulgation of a Conscription Ordinance in 1873 and a decree banning the wearing of swords in 1867, and Chitsuroku-shobun (Abolition Measure of Hereditary Stipend), and the Meiji government needed to turned their attention to the outside of Japan.

Taiwan expedition
In response to the murders of some Ryukyu sailors in 1871, politicians mainly from the Satsuma Domain strongly suggested the dispatch of troops to Taiwan. After resignation of supporters of Seikanron, the government led by Toshimichi OKUBO, Secretary of Interior, appointed Shigenobu OKUMA as chief secretary of Taiwan Banchi and Tsugumichi SAIGO, lieutenant general (army), as Totoku governor general of Taiwan in 1874 to prepare for the dispatch of troops. The military force consisted of two battalions: one was made up of soldiers of chindai (garrison in the Meiji era) and the other was formed by the former shizoku in Kyushu regions who had been recruited on the condition that they be granted permanent residence of occupied lands.

However, the government decided not to dispatch the troops, because Britain and the US expressed oppositions against it and the government remained rather neutral, and because Sangi Takayoshi KIDO expressed his opinion against Seikanron and resigned in opposition to the dispatch. Meanwhile, on May 2, Saigo allowed the expeditionary force to set sail from Nagasaki with additional authorization of Okubo, and, on July 1, the Japanese army occupied the southern region of Taiwan where the murder incident had occurred. The Japanese army burned down villages of indigenous people with 12 deaths of Japanese soldiers during the war. However, a total of more than 500 solders died of malaria and other diseases while they stayed there until the end of the year.

This is the first time for Japan to dispatch troops abroad in modern times, but the Quing dynasty immediately protested demanding the withdrawal of the troops. The Meiji Government, with the determination of starting a war with Quing after a breakdown in negotiations, gave Okubo full authority to 'decide on war or peace,' and in September, Okubo had talks in Beijing as a plenipotentiary. The negotiations floundered but, through the mediatiion of Britain, came to the conclusion that Qing would recognize the dispatch of the Japanese force as 'Gikyo (actions out of justice)' and pay 500,000 ryo (taes).

This put Japan in an advantageous position on the issue of the possession of Ryukyu and in the following year, 1875, the Meiji government ordered Ryukyu to abolish its sakuho and tribute relationship with Qing and use the era name of Meiji. This issue was not diplomatically resolved, because Ryukyu wanted to maintain ties with Quing and Quing protested a ban on tributes of Ryukyu to Qing. In addition, Qing started to sense danger with regard to Japan's desire to seize Qing's territory, which led Qing to construct its Northern fleet.

Ganghwa Island incident and the Japanese-Korea Treaty of Amity

After Daewongun fell from power in December 1873, the empress's family, the Min clan, took over political power. Opinions supporting commerce and civilization emerged within Korea. In June 1874, the Meiji Government resumed negotiations, which did not come to a conclusion. As a result the government dispatched the warships Unyo and Daini Teibo in 1875 and had them sound the sea to the coast of Korea aiming to gain an advantage by demonstrating its strength. On September 20 of the same year, an incident occurred: this Unyo approached Ganghwa Island, which was the stronghold base near the capital Hanseong, and fought for three days insisting that she had been fiired, then on 22nd, she attacked the gun batteries and seized Yeongjong Island.
(See sections of Ganghwa Island incident and Japanese-Korea Treaty of Amity for more details.)

The Meiji Government appointed Kiyotaka KURODA as a plenipotentiary in December and dispatched him to Korea with a fleet including three warships (gunboat diplomacy). As a result, a Japanese-Korea Treaty of Amity was signed in February 1876. With this treaty, Japan forced Korea to allow the Japanese envoy to reside in the capital, open Busan and other two ports, and authorize Japanese residents to trade. Although the treaty stated that "Korea is independent and has rights equal to Japan" in Article 1, but in effect was unequal according to Article 10 providing a one-sided consular jurisdiction in Article 10. Furthermore, Article 7 allowed Japan to obtain a right to make a survey of coasts along Korea, facilitating Japan's military advances including the circulation of warships.

In addition, the treaty provided for an "independent state," but did not completely deny suzerainty of China, because Qing had the conventional stance of "independence as a subject state"and was not involved in domestic and diplomatic affairs. As a side note, Korea-Qing Land and Commercial Sea Activity Treaty singed in 1882 explicitly expressed Qing's suzerainty.

Ryukyu Annexation

In 1879, the Meiji Government carried out the so-called Ryukyu annexation to abolish the Ryukyu domain and set up Okinawa prefecture and ordered the Ryukyu King Sho Tai to live in Tokyo. However, some Ryukyuans opposed to this order and submitted petitions to the Meiji government, or others sought Qing for assistance. The relationship between Japan and Qing worsened as Qing took active steps to recover the sakuho relationship. In 1880, negotiations were held in Beijing through the arbitration of ex-US President Ulysses Grant, who had a meeting with Emperor Meiji during his world tour and advised that both Japan and Qing compromise to prevent the intervention of western powers.

Japan proposed a plan during negotiations that the Okinawa main island would belong to Japan and the Yeyma islands and Miyako-jima island to China and that Japan-Qing Treaty of Friendship be revised with an additional clause to grant Japan a most-favored nation treatment (proposal for divisional rule over the islands and a revision to the treaty), and this proposal was once accepted. However, Qing whisked to maintain the sakufu relationship instead of possessing both islands changed its mind and requested Japan to return the islands to the Ryukyu Kingdom. Qing changed its mind upon hearing the opposition of the Ryukyuans to divisional rule over the islands; and as a result, the negotiation did not end in agreement. This breakdown in negotiations over the Ryukyu issue and the suspected ambition of Japan to rule Taiwan caused opinions supporting a hard-line policy against increase in Qing. As a result, the issue of territorial rights was left unresolved until the end of Japanese-Sino War in 1894.

Independence Party and Serving the Great Party

In Korea after the Ganghwa Island incident, confrontation escalated between the Enlightenment Party (Independence Party), the pro-Japanese group seeking radial westernization, and the Conservative Party (Serving the Great' Party), the pro-Qing group seeking gradual reforms. With this, conformation between Japan supporting the Enlightenment Party and China supporting the Conservative Party became prominent.

Jingo Incident and Gapsin Coup

In Korea after Japanese-Korea Treaty of Amity was concluded, military system reform with Japanese support left many solders unemployed, and the remaining soldiers in the old-fashioned military force were not paid on time. Also rice exports to Japan due to trade after opening of the country caused soaring rice prices and food crisis and put people's lives under pressure.

In July 1882, the old-fashioned solders and civilians rose up in revolt in Hanseong and killed the Japanese military trainers of the newly formed "Byeolgigun (a modernized special military force)" and seized the Japanese legation. On the following day, the rioters attacked the government and the palace and killed the supreme leader (prime minister) and high ranking officials of the Min family. The legation was burnt down (because of fire set by the minister himself) and dozens of Japanese were killed (Jingo Incident).

Both Japanese and Qing sent their forces; the Japanese force was led by Yoshimoto HANABUSA, the minister to Korea, was also sent. On August 30, the Jemulpo Treaty was signed with Korea in which Korea promised to pay 50,000 yen for Japanese victims and 50,000 yen for damaged legation and compensation for dispatching Japanese forces and allowed a small-scale Japanese military presence in Hanseong.

After the incident, Qing began to get actively involved in the military and internal affairs of Korea by stationing its military force led by YUAN Shiva in Korea for military training and posting an adviser in the government.

In June 1884, half of Quing troops stationed in Korea returned because of a confrontation with France over Vietnam (Sino-French War). Japan in political regression after the incident made Shinichiro TAKEZOE return to his post as minister to Korea in Hanseong on October 30 and he proposed to give up an unpaid 400,000 yen required in the Jemulpo Treaty. The Enlightenment Party planed to use the support of the Japanese minister to overthrow the government led by Serving the Great Party. On December 4, the Enlightenment Party attacked leaders of Serving the Great Party in a banquet to celebrate the opening of the Postal Agency and six ministers in the palace, and inaugurated a new administration on the 5th. On 6th, however, this coup was aborted due to military intervention by the Qing. Also Japanese minister with a hundred and several tens of escorting soldiers entered the Korean palace at night on 4th on the pretext of protecting the king. This was an assistance to the Enlightenment Party and a serious interference in internal affairs.

Additionally, a conflict with the Quing continued in the palace, leading to deaths on both sides. This was the first armed conflict between Japan and china in modern times. The legation was completely burned down and more than thirty Japanese people died, provoking antipathy to Korea and China.

The Treaty of Tianjin and Military Expansion
Plenipotentiary Hirobumi ITO and Li Hung Chang signed the Treaty of Tianjin, which provided that both Japanese and Qing troops will withdraw from Korea within four months and hereafter give a prior notice in dispatching their troops, and call troops home as soon as things have calmed down. During the following ten years, no foreign troops stayed in Korea.

However, the Mieji government promoted the buildup of military forces. Aritomo YAMAGATA proposed building up the military forces by increasing the tax on cigarettes in August 1882, and Tomomi IWAKURA proposed to increase taxes to build up the Navy, setting up Qing as an imaginary enemy. The Army planned to double it's solders and the Navy planned to build 48 warships in eight years begining the following year. With these plans, the ratio of military expenditure to the total annual expenditure increased 17.4% in fiscal 1882 to more than 30% in fiscal 1890.

In addition, a Conscription Ordinance was revised in 1883 aiming at increasing soldiers by abolishing payment for substitutes to be exempt from conscription provided for in the exemption clause. In 1888, the conventional garrison --the system effective for claiming domestic conflicts-- was reorganized with the creation of six divisions and Guard Divisions to increase the ability to fight abroad. In 1889, the exemption clause was completely abolished.

In August 1866, when four fleets including the Dingyuan of the Qing North Sea Fleet arrived in port in Nagasaki, sailors that landed entered into conflict with the Japanese police force, resulting in deaths on both sides (two deaths on the Japanese side and six deaths on the Qing side) (Nagasaki incident)

Donghak Peasant Revolution

Since the two incidents that occurred in korea, Japan had promoted an economic presence, and Japanese exports amounted to more than 90% and Japanese imports accounted for 50% in Korean trade during the 1890's. The rural economy was becaming exhausted because of the soaring rice and soybean prices, exploitation of local officials and pressure to pay compensation.

In May 1894, the Tonghak Peasant Revolution led by Jeon Bong Jun --a member of the Tonghak religious community-- occurred in Korea, calling for improvement of the people's livelihood and prevention of invasions from Japan and Western countries. On May 31, Jeonju, the capital ofJeolla Province was occupied. On June 1, the Korean government asked Qing to dispatch troops and tried to pacify the armed peasants. On June 11, the government accepted the government reform plan proposed by the peasants, and the peasants withdrew to prevent military intervention by the Qing and Japan.

Qing informed Japan of the dispatch of the troops on June 7, and 900 soldiers landed at Asan on the 12th. The Japanese Hirobumi ITO cabinet had run out of policies during the fierce confrontation with the Diet (because the bill of the cabinet impeachment report to the throne was adopted on May 30) and tried to break the deadlock by resorting to an external hard-line policy. On June 2, the cabinet dissolved the house of Representatives and decided to send a mixed brigade consisting of 8,000 soldiers to Korea on the pretext of protecting Japanese residents in Korea. On June 5, Imperial headquarters was set up for the first time in history.

On June 10, 400 squadrons of Japanese Navy, Land Forces, and the minister to Korea Keisuke OTORI entered Hanseong with a plan that a total of 4,000 solders of mixed brigades with the following troops would be stationed in the capital and the surrounding area. However the armed peasants had withdrawn, and the reason of the dispatch of Japanese troops based on Treaty of Tianjin had disappeared. Quing increased its troops, but did not move from Asan to enter the capital.

Preparing for the start of a war and the start of the Japanese-Sino War

After the Donghak Peasant Revolution the Korean government requested both Japan and Qing to withdraw their troops, but neither accepted. On June 15, the Ito cabinet decided on its policy in the cabinet meeting that both Japan and Qing would jointly reform the internal system of Korea and, if Qing refused, Japan would solely undertake the instructions, and Qing refused when informed of the decision. After the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce and Navigation was signed on July 16 as the result of negotiation over treaty revisions to do away with consular jurisdiction right, Minister Oshima gave notice to the Korean government requesting the withdrawal of Qing troops and the denunciation of Sino-Korean treaties with a response demanded within three days. The Korean government responded that it wanted both Japanese and Qing troops to withdraw, and early on July 23, two battalions of the fifth Army Division cut the telegraph wire in Hanseong and occupied the Korean Palace after a three hour attack. The purpose was to obtain justification for opening a war by pushing the Ming family out of the Korean government to get Daewongun to again hold power and request that Japan drive back the Qing army from Korea. Then the Battle of Pungdo broke out on July 25 and the Assan attack commenced on the 29th. War was declared on August 1st.

For reference, Emperor Meiji is said to have shown his anger by saying the following.
This was is not what I want.'
The ministers want it.'

War Declaration

The Japanese government explained to the people the outline of the cause for the war (Imperial Rescript of war declaration against Qing) as follows;

In principle, Korea is an independent country that opened the country and concluded a Japanese-Korea Treaty of Amity with Japan.'
However, Qing has intervened in the domestic affairs of Korea saying Korea is a tributary state, so Japan has dispatched troops for the cause of saving Korea.'
Japan, with an intention to remove conflicts eternally in Korea and maintain peace in the entire East, dispatched troops under the Jemulpo Treaty and proposed Quing to work together to do so.'
However, Qing refused it with various excuses.'
Japan advised Korea to carry out a reform to keep the country independent, and Korea accepted it.'
However, Qing prevented this and sent a large force and attacked Japanese warship off korea (Battle of Pungdo).'
China has a clear plot to deny Japan's responsibility for public safety, the independency of Korea, and the Treaty of Tianjin, hamper the rights and interests of Japan, and prevent peace in the East.'
Qing tried to achieve its inordinate ambition at the cost of peace.'
These situations have forced Japan to declare war.'
Japan intends to terminate the war as soon as possible to recover peace.'

Battle of Pungdo

On July 25, 1894, the first commando unit of the Imperial Japanese Navy (commander Kozo TSUBOI 'Yoshino (defense cruiser),' 'Naniwa (defense cruiser),' and 'Akitsushima (defense cruiser') encountered Qing warships 'Tsi yuen' and 'Guangyi' and started the war. Facing attacks from the Japanese army holding the upper hand, the Qing warships tried to escape.

The 'Yoshino' and 'Naniwa' immediately pursued the 'Tsi yuen.'
On the way, the warships encountered Qing warship 'Tsao-kiang' and a steamship 'Kowshing' (hoisting a British merchant ship flag). Kowshing' was transporting about Qing 1,100 soldiers to Incheon Metropolitan city to prepare for war. Under the order from the commander of the first commando unit, Heihachiro TOGO, the commanding officer of 'Naniwa' requested 'Kowshing' to stop for inspection after warning fire, but when Qing soldiers ignored, he torpedoed the steamship (Kowshing Incident). At this time, he rescored three British crews and took about fifty Qing prisoners.

There were no Japanese causalities nor damage at all on the Japanese side in the Battle of Pungdo. The Qing had 'Tsi yuen' severely damaged, the 'Tsao-kiang' seized by the 'Akitsushima,' and the 'Guangyi' destroyed.

For reference, Public opinion was heated to hear that the 'Kowshing' was attacked and sunk. However, public opinion cooled down because of the British stance in favor of Japan allowed the Times to carry opinions of experts of International Law, Doctors John Westlake and Thomas Erskine Holland, that Japan took measures following International law.

Seonghwan and Asan operations

On June 12, the Qing force landed at Asan. The number of solders reached 4,165 as of July 23.
On July 25, the Korean government requested Minister Keisuke OTORI to expel the Qing troops in Asan by force
On July 26, the ninth infantry Brigade (headed by major general Yoshimasa OSHIMA) was informed of the request. On July 29, the Japanese army attacked Qing troops staying in their stronghold. At 2 AM, a sudden attack of Qing soldiers killed Japanese soldiers including Naomi MATSUZAKI, Infantry Captain (the first war deaths on the Japanese side). At 7 AM, JIA the nineth brigade gained control of the enemy's camp in Seonghwan.

The Japanese side had 82 solders killed and injured in both operations, while the Qing troops had more than 500 casualties and threw down their arms and fled to Pyongyang.

Fro reference, there is a story that a private second class solder of the 21st regiment, Kohei KIGUCHI, never let his signal bugle fall from his lips when killed during battle on the outside of Anseong.

Pyongyang Operation

The Qing troops concentrated 12,000 solders in Pyongyang in August. On September 15, the Japanese army started to attack them. Colonel Tadashi Satoh, the commander of the 18th infantry regiment of the Japanese army (in the pioneer days of the Army) engaged in an assault and was shot in his left leg, suffering serious injury, resulting in an amputation. At 4:40 in the afternoon on the same day, the Qing troop raised a flag of surrender and promised to open the castle the following day. However, the Qing broke the promise and tried to flee. At night of the same day, the Japanese troops entered the castle.

Battle of Yalu River

When Japanese and Qing warships met on the Yellow Sea, a the battle started with an attack by the 'Dingyuan' at 12:50 on September 17th. The Japanese force consisted of the flagship 'Matsushima' led by Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet Lieutenant General Yuko ITO and another eight warships as well as the flagship 'Yoshino' led by the commander of the first commando unit Major General Kozo TSUBOI and other four warships, while the Qing consisted of the'Dingyuan' and the 'Chen Yuen' led by Adminaral Jyosho TEI and other 14 torpedo boats.
Japanese squadrons attacked and sunk the 'Chaoyong,' 'Zhiyuan,' and 'King Yuen' and another five ships, did serious or half damaged the 'Yangwei' and 'Kwan Chia.'
Four warships were seriously or half damaged with war deaths including Petty office third class Torajiro MIURA, who was admired as a brave seaman.

The victory of Japan in this naval battle forced Qing squadrons to be confined in Weihaiwei, bringing naval supremacy to Japan.

Oryokuko Operation

At dawn on October 25, the first main force led by Aritomo YAMAGATA started a river crossing operation. The Qing solders scared of the enormous power of the Japanese troops rushed to escape, and as the result, the Japanese troops brought Jiuliancheng under their control without bloodshed. With this victory of the operation, the Japanese force occupied the territory of Qing for the first time.

War for capture in Lushun

On October 24, the second force led by General Iwao OYAMA landed at Jinzhou. On November 6, the Japanese force seized the castle of Jinzhou. On November 21, 15,000 Japanese troops attacked less than 13,000 Qing troops. The morale of Qing solders were so weak that the Lushun Fortress fell only in a day.

The casualties on the Japanese side were fourty deaths, 241 injuries, and seven missing persons, while 4,500 died and 600 were held as prisoner on the Qing side.

The assault itself had no issues to be criticized but a problem occurred during the occupation.
"The Times" (dated on November 28, 1894) and "New York World" (dated on December 12, 1894) reported, 'Japanese troops massacred non military personnel, women, and children for four days after Lushun fell.'
Opinions are divided on whether it was a massacre or not and, if so, how many people were killed, but Nagao ARIGA who was there in service and saw or heard what happened suggested that civilians were involved in the battle. This incident is known as the Port Authur Massacre.

This incident had a great diplomatic influence. This incident occurred while negotiations to redress an unequal treaty between Japan and the USA were underway. After this incident, there were growing opinions that it was still too soon to revise the treaty in the US upper House for a while, bringing Japan to a crisis over important diplomatic issues.
This put Japan in a position to force Munemitsu MUTSU to make an excuse in 'Newyork World.'

Recurring uprising of Armed peasants in Tonghak

Since the Japanese troops conquered the royal palace, there had been anti-Japanese resistance in Korea -- cuts of electric cables for military use, attack of logistics on bases, and capture and the murder of Japanese solders, and so forth. On October 9, 1894, armed peasants in Tonghak led by Jeon Bong Jun regarded the invading Japanese troops as the second army of Hideyoshi and rose against it. Although Daewongun requested Minister Otori not to send troops to suppress the peasant army, Japan dispatched a military unit (the 19th independent infantry battalion) in early November and the won Gongju battle started late November, ousting the peasant army to the south. Extremely cautious about a military intervention by Russia, Japan drove the armed peasants to Haenam and further to Chindo island to annihilate them totally out of fear of the expansion of armed peasant in the north. A total of more than 130,000 farmers are estimated to have joined the armed peasants.

Weihaiwei Operation

On January 20, 1885, the Japanese Army landed at Rongcheng bay. Second General Yasuzumi ODERA, who led the eleventh infantry brigade died while on march.
On February 2, the Japanese Army conquered Weihaiwei

At 3:20 AM on February 5, the Japanese torpedo boat squadrons invaded Weihaiwei port and totally destroyed the Chinese Dingyuan, and attacked and sunk three warships including the 'Liaoyuan' and 'Weiyuan.'
On February 9, they attacked and sunk the 'Chingyuan,' and 'Dingyuan' was forced to sink by herself. On February 12, Commodore Ding Ruchang solicited Japan to save lives of solders and committed suicide. ITO, commander-in-chief, did not seize the merchant vessel and treated his body as courteously as possible. He also followed the last desire of Commodore Ding Ruchang and saved the lives of solders. This was unprecedented. This episode was spread all over the world as an example for military man. What he and Hikonojo KAMIMURA, a Commodore in Russo-Japanese War did was described as examples of fair play spirit in textbooks of Navies around the world.

Peace treaty

Since the war, Britain undertook mediation for a peace treaty. In January 1985, Qing also sent an envoy to Japan to conclude a peace treaty. At this time, however, Japan did not accept the conditions, because it aimed at the complete occupation of the Liaodong Peninsula as a precondition of a post-war domain. Since late March, 1895, a peace conference was held in Shimonoseki City through the intermediation of the USA, with full authority being given to Hirobumi ITO and Munemitsu MUTSU on the Japanese side and to Hung Chang LI on the Qing side.

Aiming to seize Taiwan this time, Japan sent an infantry brigade to the Penghu islands west of Taiwan island on March 23rd to create a precondition for the Japanese troops to occupy it. Leaders in the Japanese government such as Matsukata, Mutsu, and Ito expressed their opinion in their papers on the aim and necessity for Japan to occupy Taiwan based on its expansion to the Maly Peninsula and the South Sea Island or as a base in the future to conquer territory on the Chinese continent since 1894: for example 'Strategy for occupation of Taiwan by attacking Weihaiwei' (Ito), and 'A measure to pacify the Taiwan Island' (Mutsu).

However, Li Hung Chang given full authority argued strongly that the Japanese troops had not entered the main island of Taiwan and thus Japan's request for the cessation of Taiwan was not reasonable. On March 24, an incident occurred in which Hung Chang LI was shot by a Japanese thug. This incident led to an agreement on a cease-fire on March 30. Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed on April 17, and the ratification was exchanged in Yantai, Qing on May 8.

The outline of the treat is as follows.

Qing recognized the independence of Korea and, as a consequence, the payment of tribute and the performance of ceremonies and formalities by Korea to China, that are in derogation of such independence and autonomy, shall wholly cease for the future.

Qing cedes Liaodong Peninsula, Taiwan, Penghu islands to Japan.

Qing agrees to pay to Japan as a war indemnity the sum of 200 million Kuping taels (Silver Tael: about 300 million yen) in gold.

Qing signs Sino-Japanese Treaty of Commerce and Navigation similar to ones previously signed by China with various western powers.

Quing opens other four ports, ie, Shashih, Chongqing, Suchow, and Hangchow.

Japanese are allowed to engage in all kinds of manufacturing industries in the areas of the open markets and ports.

The conditions of articles 5 and 6 were what Britain had requested, but didn't obtained yet. Japan acted as if it had represented Britain. The most-favored-nation treatment forced China to approve other powers of similar conditions, which allowed not only Japan, but also Britain and other western powers to expand economically and divide the territory of Qing later among them.

This caused the vassal relationship between China and Korea came to come to an end. Subsequently Japan made its way to creating the Korean Dynasty (The Korean Empire) a protected state and Annexation of Korea in 1910 through conclusions of treaties many times after complicated negotiations.

Triple Intervention

In those days Russia aiming at expansion into Manchuria (north east of China) strongly opposed Japan's acquisition of the Liaodong Peninsula. On April 23, Russia, France, and Germany apply diplomatic pressure on the Japan government for return of the territory to China (Triple intervention) in exchange. The Japanese government reluctantly agreed to the intervention, as it had no power to militarily resist the three major European powers. In exchange for the return, Japan obtained 30,000,000 Kuping taels from Qing. Japan then regarded Russia a hypothetical enemy and, out of the 360,000,000 yen indemnity and its interest obtained from Qing, Japan spent 30% (79,000,000 yen) in compensation for military expenditures for the Sino-Japanese war (222,470,000 yen) and on its military build-up for a possible large-scale war (200,000,000 yen). Japan also spent the indemnity to increase its national strengths and external expansions, such as the construction of Yahata Iron Factory, expansion of the railways, and communication industries, and colonial management of Taiwan.

After the war Western powers took the opportunity of weakening Qing to start divisions in China. Russians obtained leased territory of Lushun and Dalian City, France obtained Kwangchowan leased territory, and Britain held the Kawloon Peninsula and Weihaiwei.

War, the invasion of Taiwan (Itsumi War)

Japan's cession of Taiwan under the Treaty of Shimonoseki came as a surprise to the people living in Taiwan. They were encouraged by the triple intervention and founded "Republic of Formosa" on May 25 with the Qing dynasty as a suzerain and Tang Ching-sung who had been dispatched as a xunfu, as governor. Japan, after exchanging ratification, appointed Naval Captain Sukenori KABAYAMA as governor of Taiwan, and dispatched the Imperial Guards led by Imperial Prince Kitashirakawanomiya Yoshihisa to Taiwan. On May 29, when the Imperial Guards landed in the northern part of Taiwan, Governor Tang and other leaders escaped from the island, but the government of the Republic of Formosa appointed Liu Yongfu, a hero in Sino-French War, as commander in chief and took the responsibility for resistance after the fall of Taipei.
Obstinate resistance mainly by local people (mainly by Kao-shan Tribe) continued in Tainan,

Governor Kabayama requested the government to send reinforcements, and the second division led by Maresuke NOGI (later the third governor in Taiwan) was dispatched from Liaodong Peninsula. The troops comprising of more than two divisions were assigned the duty of conquering Taiwan. The Japanese troops not only faced armed resistance of the local people but also suffered dysentery, malaria, and beriberi. By mid-August more than a half of the Japanese solders had these diseases. The conquering operation finally ended in late November, but Japan did not dissolved the Imperial headquarters until April 1896. This war to conquer Taiwa ended leaving 164Japanese war deaths and 4,642 deaths, including Imperial Prince Kitashirakawanomiya Yoshihisa, caused by diseases like malaria, out of 50,000 solders in motion, while about 14,000 Chinese solders and local people died.

With the resistance continuing, power was transferred to a civilian government in April 1896, but the governorship was occupied only by military personnel. Japanese governance over Taiwan, in effect, took on the aspect of military control.

Chronological Table

In 1894
May: The Korean government requested Qing dynasty to suppress the Donghak Peasant Revolution (the Tonghak Uprising). May 31: The ITO cabinet faced a crisis of being overthrown, because a bill on the cabinet impeachment report to the throne was adopted in the House of Representatives. June 2: A dispatch of Japanese troops to Korea was decided upon the pretext of protecting Japanese living in Korea.
The House of Representatives was dissolved

June 5: Imperial headquarters was set up to start dispatching soldiers to Korea. July 16: Anglo-Japanese treaty (the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce and Navigation) was finally revised. July 20: The final notice calling for the Korean government to demand the withdrawal of the Qing troops. July 23: Combined fleets set sail from Sasebo to win command of the west coast of Lushun.

July 23: The Japanese army enters Seoul and puts the Korean royal palace under control.

July 25: Battle of Pungdo (Kowshing incident)
August 1: Japan and Qing declare war on each other. August 26: Japan applies pressure on Korea to have a pro-Japanese government set up and have a policy to work with Japan in take measures against Qing.

September 15: The Imperial headquarters is relocated to Hiroshima, because Emperor Meiji; Meiji moved there to command the war (Hiroshima Imperial headquarters).

In 1895
March: Japan conquered the total Liaodong Peninsula
April 17: A peace treaty was concluded (Treaty of Shimonoseki)
April 23: the Triple Intervention forced to Japan to return the Liaodong Peninsula.


In those days, beriberi was a disease of unknown etiology. However, few died of beriberi in the Navy because it had obtain the result of a comparative study demonstrating that eating barley is effective in preventing beriberi and they adopted barley rice.
(Nevertheless the diet during a voyage was short of vitamins, and the number of patients having beriberi significantly grew.)
(For reference, it wasn't until 1952 that beriberi was eradicated.)
The army was skeptical about reforming food for solders (keaping barley rice) like the Navy did. Tadanori ISHIGURO responsible for the entire system of the Army of the Imperial headquarters (surgeon general of Medical department of Ministry of Army) and one of directors of army surgeons, Ogai MORI and other surgeons were strongly opposed to supplying barley rice; suggesting that reevaluation in view of medical achievements and beriberi Ogai MORI) lacks scientific evidence. Consequently, the number of the patients rapidly increased particularly in the battle to suppress Taiwan after the Sino-Japanese with another cause that beriberi is prone to occur at high temperatures. About 40,000 solders suffered from the disease and thousands of solders died of the disease. The deaths from the disease outnumbered those who died in battle--a few hundred solders--(although the number differed from material to material).

In addition, the transportation capacity of the troops is not high so, that war supplies were often delayed. For example, a division under Division head Nozu often staved off hunger by eating black millets or unpolished rice that people in lower stratums would not have eaten in Japan.


The Japanese Army in those days did not have proper equipment for winter and did not know how to combat cold in areas of intense cold. Consequently, many solders suffered from frostbite during battles in winter, significantly reducing military power. Based on this lesson, study of cold weather protection gear and winter time training began, after the Sino-Japanese war. The Death March of the Hakkoda Mountains Incident occurred during such training as preparation for a possible attack by Russia.


Although the Sino-Japanese War was called the First Sino-Japanese War abroad, this was in effect historically the second battle between the Japanese troops and Chinese troops. The first battle was the Bunroku-Keicho War (Mongol invasion of Japan was usually regarded as a war against he Mongolian Empire.

The Sino-Japanse war, Russo-Japanese War, World War On1 started in 1884, 1904, and 1914, respectively--the years that end in "four." Also some call these 3 decades as "years of death," because these wars broke out every ten years.

When Japan beat China in 1895, the Treaty of Shimonoseki was concluded in which Japan had Korea recognize the independence and autonomy of Korea. Being no longer a state subject to China, Korea performed a reform in 1897: 'the name of the country' was changed into 'Korea,' Gojong acceded to the throne, and the Korean Empire was founded. At this time 'Yeongeunmun' and the Samjeondo Monument that is dubbed as 'disgrace gate' were destroyed and 'Independence Gate' was errected to celebrate its independence.

Both Japan and Qing had promoted importing weapons from European nations for fear of military threats of those countries. However, individual troops (each domain in Japan) imported weapons according to its own standard. Consequently different types made in different nations were mixed, hindering the proper supply of ammunition and maintenance of weapons. In 1880, Tsuneyoshi MURATA of theJapanese Army succeeded in developing the first Japanese-made rifle. The Army named it the Murata rifle and they replaced conventional ones in the entire Army. Improvements were made to the rifles, which were provided to the entire Army. At the time of the Sino-Japanese war, not all the solders carried the latest types of Murataju rifle. Ammunition and major components were compatible with both new and old Murata guns, making mass production of ammunition and more efficient supplies possible.

On August 1, 1896, after the end of the war, two types of specials stamps were issued in two types each for two sen and three sen.