Treaty of Portsmouth (ポーツマス条約)

Treaty of Portsmouth refers to a peace treaty of the Russo-Japanese War. It is also called the Russo-Japanese Peace Treaty. At 15:47 on September 5, 1905, at the Portsmouth navy dock yard in the state of Maine near Portsmouth, New Hampshire, U.S., the treaty was signed between Jutaro KOMURA, the Japanese plenipotentiary, and Sergei Witte, his Russian counterpart, mediated by the President of the United States of America, Theodore Roosevelt. The conference where the contents of the treaty were discussed (from August 10 of the same year) is called Russo-Japanese Peace Conference, Portsmouth Conference or Portsmouth Peace Conference.

History of Negotiations

Realizing that its national resources had reached the limit and, hence, it could not continue with the war any longer, Japan, which had been keeping the advantageous position all through the Russo-Japanese War, requested the U.S.A., which had at that time comparable power to the great world powers, the U.K. and France, and was eager to enhance its international status, to mediate the negotiation between them.

Russia initially took a vigorous attitude, insisting the following opinions, and it hindered the negotiation process. "Russia only lost in some minor battles but as a whole has not been defeated." "We will still keep fighting." However, the process finally saw progress when Japan, which could not carry on with the war any more, made a concession and the U.S.A., which was keen to conclude the negotiation successfully, persuaded Russia into settlement by the minimum requirements of not answering a war reparation at all. Japan gained the victory barely through difficult diplomatic dealings.

Although it acquired the railway and lease for the territory in South Manchuria and exclusive authority over the Korean Empire, Japan failed to obtain the war reparation it had counted on to cover its war-time military expenditures of 2 billion yen, equivalent of four times its national budget. The failure led to riots, such as Hibiya Incendiary Incident, by some Japanese nationals who had endured severe suppression and poverty due to increasing taxes during the war time.

In addition, Theodore Roosevelt won Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for his successful mediation of the treaty.

Summary of Treaty of Portsmouth

Japan shall be accepted to have the right of predominance in the Korean Peninsula.

Russia shall permanently transfer the sounthern part of Sakhalin, from the northern latitude of 50 degrees, to Japan.

Russia shall transfer the leases of the South Manchuria branch line between Lushun-Changchun of Chinese Eastern Railway and the coal mine of an attached place to Japan.

Russia shall transfer the lease of the Kwantung Leased Territory (the Liaodong Peninsula southernmost end part including Lushun and Dalian City) to Japan.

Russia shall grant Japanese people the fishery right in the coast of Primorskii Krai, located in the far east of Russia.