Also called: Manchurian Campaign
Battle deaths: 151,831 
Published prior to 2013 | Altered: 2013-07-31 21:55:35
The Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) was a conflict that grew out of the rival imperialist ambitions of Imperial Russia and Japan in Manchuria and Korea. It resulted in a surprise victory for Japan, establishing Japan as a major world power.
Popular discontent in Russia following the defeat led to the Russian Revolution of 1905. The war ended with mediation by the United States. There was discontent among Japanese over the lack of territorial gains; this led to an erosion of good feelings towards the United States.
The defeat of Russia was met with shock both in the West and especially across Asia. That a non-Western country could defeat an established power in such a large military conflict was particularly inspiring to various anti-colonial independence movements around the world. After the conclusion of World War II, some Japanese historians would look back upon the war with nostalgia, especially those who have sought to portray Japan’s conduct in the first half of the century as one of leadership in a sustained effort to liberate oppressed Asian peoples and thereby downplay Japan’s own imperialistic ambitions throughout the period.
ORIGINS OF THE WAR
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, various Western countries were competing for influence, trade, and territory in East Asia and Japan struggled to be a modern great power. Japan’s location encouraged it to focus on Korea and northern China, putting it in competition mainly with its neighbor, Russia. The Japanese effort to occupy Korea led to the Sino-Japanese War, and Japan secured a peace in the Treaty of Shimonoseki (April 17, 1895) by which China abandoned its own claims to Korea, as well as ceding Taiwan and Lüshunkou (often called Port Arthur). However, three Western powers (Russia, Germany and France) by the Triple Intervention of April 23, 1895 applied pressure on Japan to give up Port Arthur, and the Russians later (in 1898) negotiated a 25-year lease of the naval base with China. Meanwhile, Russian soldiers occupied much of Manchuria, and Russia competed with Japan for influence in Korea.
Japan, after failing to negotiate a favorable agreement with Russia, which dragged its feet in 1903-04 about a staged withdrawal from Manchuria, decided to seek a military solution. Japan’s military had been recently modernized, and although it was not nearly as large as the Russian, it was more than adequate to face the forces that Russia had stationed in Asia at the beginning of the war. Japan severed relations on February 4, 1904, although war was not declared until after the beginning of hostilities on February 8th.
See Ian Nish, The Origins of the Russo-Japanese War, Longman, 1985 ISBN 0582491142