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These proceedings precipitated hostilities.
Three Chinese warships, convoying a transport with twelve hundred
soldiers on board, met and opened fire on two Japanese cruisers. The
result was signal. One of the Chinese warships was captured, another
was so riddled with shot that she had to be beached and abandoned;
the third escaped in a dilapidated condition, and the transport,
refusing to surrender, was sent to the bottom. These things happened
on the 25th of July, 1894, and war was declared by each empire six
days subsequently.

The Japanese took the initiative. They despatched from Seoul a column
of troops and routed the Chinese entrenched at Asan, many of whom
fled northward to Pyong-yang, a town on the Tadong River, memorable
as the scene of a battle between a Chinese and a Japanese army in
1592. Pyong-yang offered great facilities for defence. The Chinese
massed there a force of seventeen thousand men, and made preparations
for a decisive contest, building parapets, mounting guns, and
strengthening the position by every device of modern warfare. Their
infantry had the advantage of being armed with repeating rifles, and
the configuration of the ground offered little cover for an attacking
army. Against this strong position the Japanese moved in two columns;
one marching northward from Seoul, the other striking westward from
Yuensan. Forty days elapsed before the Japanese forces came into
action, and one day's fighting sufficed to carry all the Chinese
positions, the attacking armies having only seven hundred casualties
and the defenders, six thousand.

The next day, September 17th, Japan achieved an equally conspicuous
success at sea. Fourteen Chinese warships and six torpedo-boats,
steering homeward after convoying a fleet of transports to the mouth
of the Yalu River, fell in with eleven Japanese war-vessels cruising
in the Yellow Sea. The Chinese squadron was not seeking an encounter.
Their commanding officer did not appear to appreciate the value of
sea-power. His fleet included two armoured battle-ships of over seven
thousand tons' displacement, whereas the Japanese had nothing
stronger than belted cruisers of four thousand. Therefore a little
enterprise on China's part might have severed Japan's maritime
communications and compelled her to evacuate Korea. The Chinese,
however, used their war-vessels as convoys only, keeping them
carefully in port when no such duty was to be performed. It is
evident that, as a matter of choice, they would have avoided the
battle of the Yalu, though when compelled to fight they fought
stoutly. After a sharp engagement, four of their vessels were sunk,
and the remainder steamed into Weihaiwei, their retreat being covered
by torpedo-boats.

By this victory the maritime route to China lay open to Japan. She
could now attack Talien, Port Arthur, and Weihaiwei, naval stations
on the Liaotung and Shantung peninsulas, where strong permanent
fortifications had been built under the direction of European
experts. These forts fell one by one before the assaults of the
Japanese troops as easily as the castle of Pyong-yang had fallen.
Only by the remains of the Chinese fleet at Weihaiwei was a stubborn
resistance made, under the command of Admiral Ting. But, after the
entire squadron of torpedo craft had been captured, and after three
of the largest Chinese ships had been sent to the bottom by Japanese
torpedoes, and one had met the same fate by gunfire, the remainder
surrendered, and their gallant commander, Admiral Ting, rejecting all
overtures from the Japanese, committed suicide.

The fall of Weihaiwei ended the war. It had lasted seven and a half
months, and during that time the Japanese had operated with five
columns aggregating 120,000 men. "One of these columns marched
northward from Seoul, won the battle of Pyong-yang, advanced to the
Yalu, forced its way into Manchuria, and moved towards Mukden by
Feng-hwang, fighting several minor engagements, and conducting the
greater part of its operations amid deep snow in midwinter. The
second column diverged westward from the Yalu, and, marching through
southern Manchuria, reached Haicheng, whence it advanced to the
capture of Niuchwang. The third landed on the Liaotung peninsula,
and, turning southward, carried Talien and Port Arthur by assault.
The fourth moved up the Liaotung peninsula, and, having seized
Kaiping, advanced against Niuchwang, where it joined hands with the
second column. The fifth crossed from Port Arthur to Weihaiwei, which
it captured." In all these operations the Japanese casualties
totalled 1005 killed and 4922 wounded; the deaths from disease
aggregated 16,866, and the monetary expenditure amounted to twenty
millions sterling, about $100,000,000. It had been almost universally
believed that, although Japan might have some success at the outset,
she would ultimately be shattered by impact with the enormous mass
and the overwhelming resources of China. Never was forecast more
signally contradicted by events.

CONCLUSION OF PEACE

Li Hung-chang, viceroy of Pehchili, whose troops had been chiefly
engaged during the war, and who had been mainly responsible for the
diplomacy that had led up to it, was sent by China as plenipotentiary
to discuss terms of peace. The conference took place at Shimonoseki,
Japan being represented by Marquis (afterwards Prince) Ito, and on
the 17th of April, 1895, the treaty was signed. It recognized the
independence of Korea; ceded to Japan the littoral of Manchuria lying
south of a line drawn from the mouth of the river Anping to the
estuary of the Liao, together with the islands of Formosa and the
Pescadores; pledged China to pay an indemnity of two hundred million
taels; provided for the occupation of Weihaiwei by Japan pending
payment of that sum; secured the opening of four new places to
foreign trade and the right of foreigners to engage in manufacturing
enterprises in China, and provided for a treaty of commerce and amity
between the two empires, based on the lines of China's treaty with
Occidental powers.

FOREIGN INTERFERENCE

Scarcely was the ink dry upon this agreement when Russia, Germany,
and France presented a joint note to the Tokyo Government, urging
that the permanent occupation of the Manchurian littoral by Japan
would endanger peace. Japan had no choice but to bow to this mandate.
The Chinese campaign had exhausted her treasury as well as her
supplies of war material, and it would have been hopeless to oppose a
coalition of three great European powers. She showed no sign of
hesitation. On the very day of the ratified treaty's publication, the
Emperor of Japan issued a rescript, in which, after avowing his
devotion to the cause of peace, he "yielded to the dictates of
magnanimity, and accepted the advice of the three powers."

But although the Tokyo Government sought to soften the situation by
the grace of speedy acquiescence, the effect produced upon the nation
was profound. There was no difficulty in appreciating the motives of
Russia and France. It was natural that the former should object to
the propinquity of a warlike people like the Japanese, and it was
natural that France should remain true to her ally. But Germany's
case defied interpretation. She had no interest in the ownership of
Manchuria, and she professed herself a warm friend of Japan. It
seemed, therefore, that she had joined in snatching from the lips of
the Japanese the fruits of their victory simply for the sake of
establishing some shadowy title to Russia's good-will.

THE CHINESE CRISIS OF 1900

In the second half of the year 1900 an anti-foreign outbreak, known
as the "Boxer Rebellion," broke out in the province of Shantung, and,
spreading thence to Pehchili, produced a situation of imminent peril
for the foreign communities of Peking and Tientsin. No Western power
could intervene with sufficient promptness. Japan alone was within
easy reach of the commotion. But Japan held back. She had fully
fathomed the distrust with which the growth of her military strength
had inspired some European nations, and she appreciated the wisdom of
not seeming to grasp at an opportunity for armed display. In fact,
she awaited a clear mandate from Europe and America, and, on
receiving it, she rapidly sent a division (20,000 men) to Pehchili.
Tientsin was relieved first, and then a column of troops provided by
several powers, the Japanese in the van, marched to the succour of
Peking. In this campaign the Japanese greatly enhanced their
belligerent reputation as they fought under the eyes of competent
military critics. Moreover, after the relief of the legations in
Peking, they withdrew one-half of their forces, and they subsequently
cooperated heartily with Western powers in negotiating peace terms,
thus disarming the suspicions with which they had been regarded at
first.

WAR WITH RUSSIA

From the time (1895) when the three-power mandate dictated to Japan a
cardinal alteration of the Shimonoseki treaty, Japanese statesmen
concluded that their country must one day cross swords with Russia.
Not a few Occidental publicists shared that view, but the great
majority, arguing that the little Island Empire of the Far East would
never risk annihilation by such an encounter, believed that
forbearance sufficient to avert serious trouble would always be
forthcoming on Japan's side. Yet neither geographical nor historical
conditions warranted that confidence. The Sea of Japan, which, on the
east, washes the shores of the Japanese islands and on the west those
of Russia and Korea, has virtually only two routes communicating with
the Pacific Ocean. One is in the north, namely, the Tsugaru Strait;
the other is in the south, namely, the channel between the Korean
peninsula and the Japanese island of Kyushu. Tsugaru Strait is
practically under Japan's complete control; she can close it at any
moment with mines. But the channel between the Korean peninsula and
Kyushu has a width of 102 miles, and would therefore be a fine open
seaway were it free from islands. Midway in this channel, however,
lie the twin islands of Tsushima, and the space that separates them
from Japan is narrowed by another island, Iki.



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