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The other Occidental
States followed her example with more or less celerity, and the
foreign residents, now that nothing was to be gained by continuing
the struggle, showed clearly that they intended to bow gracefully to
the inevitable. The Japanese also took some conspicuous steps.

"An Imperial rescript declared in unequivocal terms that it was the
sovereign's policy and desire to abolish all distinctions between
natives and foreigners, and that, by fully carrying out the friendly
purpose of the treaties, his people would best consult his wishes,
maintain the character of the nation, and promote its prestige. The
premier and other ministers of State issued instructions to the
effect that the responsibility now devolved on the Government, and
the duty on the people, of enabling foreigners to reside confidently
and contentedly in every part of the country. Even the chief Buddhist
prelates addressed to the priests and parishioners of their dioceses
injunctions pointing out that freedom of conscience being now
guaranteed by the Constitution, men professing alien creeds must be
treated as courteously as the disciples of Buddhism and must enjoy
the same privileges."*

*Brinkley, article "Japan," Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition.

It may here be stated once for all that Japan's recovery of her
judicial autonomy has not been attended by any of the disastrous
results freely predicted at one time. Her laws are excellent, and her
judiciary is competent and just.

FIRST ANGLO-JAPANESE ALLIANCE

The second of the two incidents alluded to above was an alliance
between England and Japan, signed on January 30, 1902. The preamble
of this agreement--the first of its kind ever concluded between
England and an Oriental power--affirmed that the contracting parties
were solely actuated by a desire to preserve the status quo and the
general peace of the Far East; that they were both specially
interested in maintaining the independence and territorial integrity
of the empires of China and Korea, and in securing equal
opportunities in these countries for all nations; that they mutually
recognized it as admissible for either of the contracting parties to
take such measures as might be indispensable to safeguard these
interests against a threat of aggressive action by any other power,
or against disturbances in China or Korea, and that, if one of the
contracting parties became involved in war in defence of these
interests, the other should maintain strict neutrality and endeavour
to prevent any third power from joining in hostilities against its
ally. Finally, should a third power join in such hostilities, then
the other contracting party promised to come to the assistance of its
ally, to conduct the war in common, and to make peace by mutual
agreement only. The alliance was to hold good for five years from the
date of signature, but if either ally was engaged in war at such
time, the alliance was to continue until the conclusion of peace.

It is unnecessary to dwell upon the influence exerted by this compact
on the Russo-Japanese war. It kept the field clear for Japan and
guaranteed her against a repetition of such a combination as that
which must be regarded as the remote cause of the struggle.

THE EARLY PHASES OF THE WAR

Japan's great problem in crossing swords with Russia was to obtain a
safe avenue for her troops over the sea. Russia might at once have
gained an overwhelming advantage had she seized and controlled the
lines of communication between the Japanese islands and the continent
of Asia. Her strategists can scarcely have failed to appreciate that
fact, and would doubtless have acted accordingly had they obtained a
few months' leisure to mass an overwhelmingly strong fleet in the
seas of China and Japan. They had such a fleet actually in esse; for,
at the moment when war broke out, the Russian squadrons assembled in
the East, or en route thither, comprised no less than fifty-nine
fighting ships, mounting 1350 guns and manned by 18,000 men. But
these figures included the Mediterranean squadron which, surprised by
the outbreak of hostilities, abandoned its journey to the Pacific.
Obviously, Japan's wisest course was to anticipate the combination of
Russia's sea forces, and consciousness of that fact operated to
hasten the current of events.

Port Arthur, where the bulk of the Russian Pacific squadron lay, is
somewhat difficult of ingress and egress. On January 31, 1904, the
operation of extracting the ships and parading them outside was
commenced, being brought to a conclusion on February 3rd, whereafter
the squadron steamed out to sea, and, having made a short cruise off
the coast of the Shantung promontory, returned to its position on the
following day. The fleet taking part in this manoeuvre consisted of
twenty-six ships, and the whole Russian naval force then in eastern
Asia comprised seven battle-ships, four armoured cruisers, seven
protected cruisers, four gunboats, six sloops, twenty-five
destroyers, two mining transports, and fourteen first-class
torpedo-boats.

The Japanese, on their side, had six battle-ships, eight armoured
cruisers, thirteen protected cruisers, fourteen small cruisers,
nineteen destroyers, and eighty-five torpedo-boats. This enumeration
shows a numerical superiority on the Japanese side, but in fighting
capacity the two fleets were nearly equal. For, though the Russians
possessed seven battle-ships to six Japanese, the latter had better
gun-protection and greater weight of broadside fire than the former;
and though Japan could muster eight armoured cruisers against
Russia's four, the latter were supplemented by five protected
cruisers which ranked far above anything of the same class on the
Japanese side.

THE FIRST NAVAL OPERATION

When the Russian ships returned on the 4th of February from their
cruise off the Shantung promontory, they took up their stations
outside Port Arthur, all the harbour lights and beacons being left in
position, and no special precaution being taken except that a patrol
of three torpedo-boats was sent out. Yet the Russians should have
appreciated the presence of danger. For, on the 6th of February,
Japan had broken off the negotiations in St. Petersburg, and had
given official information of her intention to take measures for
protecting her menaced interests. That signified war and nothing but
war, and the "Official Messenger" of the same evening published the
intimation, which was immediately communicated to Admiral Alexieff at
Port Arthur.

The Russian fleet was then divided into three squadrons. The largest
body lay off Port Arthur, and two very much smaller squadrons were
posted, one at Chemulpo on the west coast of Korea, and another at
Vladivostok. It is obvious that such division of the fleet on the eve
of hostilities should have been carefully avoided. The ships should
all have been held together with an extensive network of scouts so as
to enable them swiftly and strongly to fall upon any Japanese
transports carrying troops to the mainland, or to meet effectually
and crush any attempt of the Japanese squadrons to obtain command of
the sea.

On the night of February 8th-9th, three Japanese squadrons of
destroyers, aggregating ten vessels, steamed across a calm, moonlit
sea and delivered a torpedo attack on the Russian squadron at Port
Arthur, the result being that the battle-ships Retvisan and
Tsarevitch together with the cruiser Pallada were holed. These
battle-ships were the most powerful vessels in the Russian squadron,
and the Pallada was a first-class protected cruiser of 6630 tons'
displacement. The Japanese destroyers had left Sasebo on the 6th of
February and they returned thither uninjured, having materially
weakened the Russian fleet. On the day following this surprise,
Admiral Togo, the Japanese commander-in-chief, engaged the remains of
the Russian squadron with the heavy guns of his battle-ships at a
range of eight thousand yards, and succeeded in inflicting some
injury on the battle-ship Poltava, the protected cruisers Diana and
Askold, and a second-class cruiser Novik. The Russians ultimately
retreated towards the harbour with the intention of drawing the
Japanese under closer fire of the land batteries, but the Japanese
fleet declined to follow after them, and, instead, steamed away.
Three days later (February 11th) another disaster overtook the
Russians. The Yenisei, one of the two mining-transports included in
their fleet, struck a mine and sank so rapidly in Talien Bay that
ninety-six of her crew perished. The Japanese had no part at all in
this catastrophe. It was purely accidental.

THE CHEMULPO AFFAIR

While these things were happening at Port Arthur, a squadron of the
Japanese navy, under Admiral Uryu, escorted a number of transports to
Chemulpo, the port of the Korean capital, Seoul. There the Russian
protected cruiser Variag (6500 tons) together with the gunboat
Korietz and the transport Sungari were lying. It does not appear that
Admiral Uryu's prime object was to engage these Russian ships. But
Chemulpo having been chosen as the principal landing-place of the
Japanese army corps which was to operate in Korea, it was, of course,
imperative that the harbour should be cleared of Russian war-vessels.
On February 8th, the Russians at Chemulpo were surprised by a summons
from Admiral Uryu to leave the port or undergo bombardment at their
anchorage. The vessels stood out bravely to sea, and after an
engagement lasting thirty-five minutes at ranges varying from five to
ten thousand yards, they were so badly injured that they returned to
the port and were sunk by their own crews, together with the
transport Sungari. The moral effect of the destruction of these
vessels was incalculable.

DECLARATION OF WAR

On the 10th of February, the Czar and the Mikado respectively issued
declarations of war. The former laid stress upon Russia's pacific
intentions in proposing revision of the agreements already existing
between the two empires with regard to Korean affairs, and accused
the Japanese of making a sudden attack on the Russian squadron at
Port Arthur "without previously notifying that the rupture of
diplomatic relations implied the beginning of warlike action." The
Japanese declaration insisted that the integrity of Korea was a
matter of the gravest concern to Japan, inasmuch as the separate
existence of the former was essential to the safety of the latter,
and charged that "Russia, in disrespect of her solemn treaty pledges
to China and of her repeated assurances to other powers, was still in
occupation of Manchuria, had consolidated and strengthened her hold
upon those provinces, and was bent upon their final annexation." With
regard to Russia's accusation against Japan of drawing the sword
without due notice, a distinguished British publicist made the
following comment in the columns of The Times (London):

"Far from thinking the Japanese attack on the night of February 8th,
two full days after the announcement of the intention to take action,
was an exception to, or a deviation from, tradition and precedent, we
should rather count ourselves fortunate if our enemy, in the next
naval war we have to wage, does not strike two days before blazoning
forth his intention, instead of two days after.



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