How Did Two Major Conflicts, The Sino Japanese War (1894 1895) And The Russo Japanese War A Decade Later, Influence Western Perceptions Of Japan And Asia?

2288 words - 10 pages

6) How did two major conflicts, the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and the Russo-Japanese War a decade later, influence Western perceptions of Japan and Asia?
The Sino-Japanese War from 1894-1895 and the Russo-Japanese War a decade later were monumental events in the history of Asia and its ripples were felt in the Western world. In the Sino-Japanese War, the Western world witnessed the fruits of Meiji Japan’s modernization program, its modern military, routed the Chinese hitherto the dominant Asian power. Japan’s victory defeat of Russia became a significant milestone in modern history, marking the first major modern conflict where an Asian nation had defeated an European power. As such, ...view middle of the document...

With the West holding such views it was unsurprising that Chinese defeat radically changed Western perception of Japan’s position in East Asia, acknowledging that Japan was now the main Asiatic power it had to deal with.
Beyond finally being recognized as an Asian power, victory over a much larger empire aided by its modern military led to growing recognition of Japan’s new status as a modern industrialized nation of the twentieth century. Besides defeating the Qing, to the Japanese the war was also a battle for the Western world’s opinion to demonstrate that it had become a modern nation by Western standards. The Japanese ran a propaganda campaign in the Western press throughout the hostilities. This was done through regular press releases of Japanese victories using modern military strategies and equipment and its treatment of Chinese prisoners in line with international convention in contrast to widespread use of torture by the Chinese. The results of both theatres of war was a success to Japan, the Western press began referring to it as a great power and one belonging to the select club of the so-called "civilized nations". The clearest evidence of this change in perception of Japan’s position is demonstrated in the creation of the 1902 Anglo-Japanese alliance, Britain’s only alliance from the end of the Napoleonic Wars until World War I. This landmark alliance with the world power of the time confirmed Japan’s inclusion into the ranks of the Imperial powers.Had Japan not emerged victorious in the war, it was likely that the British would have refrained from such a significant alliance.
As a consequence of Japan’s meteoric rise, the Western nations began to realize that they were not insulated from events in Asia. The Sino-Japanese War swiftly altered the Western view that all important world events were a result of decisions made in the capitals of Europe to the realization that the Far East was no longer peripheral to European affairs but now an integral part. For the first time, Western militaries spared no effort in drawing lessons from a purely Asian war; ‘the Battle of Yalu was seen as a testing ground for state-of-the-art European technology’. The lessons learnt would be put into practice by the European belligerents during World War I. The West no longer saw the transfer of knowledge as one way traffic from Europe to Asia but started to realize the possibility of learning from the Asians. Having observed the Battle of Yalu and the techniques of modern warfare used by the Japanese, a French journalist realizing that politics was fast becoming global, proclaimed that the battle marked the beginning of a new era where Europe would “soon without a doubt have to take Asia into account”.
The war also highlighted the beginning of a fundamental shift in Western perceptions towards non-Western societies. Towards the close of the nineteenth century, ‘European confidence in the superiority of Western civilization and belief in their...

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