Sino-Japanese Wars: The Battles Between China and Japan

There have been a lot of wars that the world has gone through for many years. Almost every country has its own fair share of war stories as to how certain nations fought and killed in order to survive and attain their independence. Among the many nations that participated in these wars is the country of Japan. The Land of the Sun fought many wars over the course of its history, with these wars affecting not just the culture but also the tradition of the Japanese people. These battles were fought due to a number of reasons and thankfully, these wars have ceased as of today. One of the many notable wars that Japan has gotten itself into is the Sino-Japanese Wars.

Summary of the Sino-Japanese War 1: Definition, Dates, and Causes

Ogata Gekkō [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Sino-Japanese Wars can be divided into two parts, with each occurring in different times. The First Sino-Japanese War occurred on the 1st of August in the year 1894 and lasted until the 17th of April in the year 1895. This was a battle between the Qing Dynasty of China and the Empire of Japan. These two great nations fought over the power of Korea. After at least six months of consecutive successes for the land and naval forces of Japan and the loss of the port of Weihaiwei, the Qing Dynasty eventually cried for peace on the month of February in the year 1895.

One of the many demonstrations of this war was the failure of the Qing Dynasty in its attempts for modernization in terms of military. This war also further demonstrated how the Qing Dynasty failed to defend itself against the threats to its sovereignty. This was highly apparent in comparison to the success of the Meiji Restoration in Japan. It was during this time that dominance within the regions of East Asia changed from China to Japan.

Due to China’s loss in this war, the prestige of the Qing Dynasty, as well as the conventional tradition of China, suffered not just outside its borders but within the country as well. Seen as a humiliating loss as Korea was considered a tributary state, there was a public outcry in China preceding the end of the war. The First Sino-Japanese War paved the way for the loss of China, which serves as the primary catalyst for a number of political cataclysms that were led by Sun Yat-sen and Kang Youwei. These events eventually culminated in the 1911 Xinhai Revolution.

The First Sino-Japanese War is more commonly known as the Japan-Qing War in Japan. On the other hand, this war is often referred to as the War of Jiawu in China. This name refers to the year 1894 under the traditional sexagenary system of years. On the other hand, as to where much of the First Sino-Japanese War occurred, it is often referred to as the Qing-Japan War in Korea.

Important Events During the First Sino-Japanese War: The First Battle From 1894 to 1895

Toshikata Mizuno [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There were various notable events that transpired during the First Sino-Japanese War. Prior to the actual war, such events included the end of the Donghak Rebellion on June 1894 and the failed attempt at remediation between the two nations by the British Ambassador of China a month later. The first of the many notable events was the Defeat of the Beiyang Fleet. On the 17th of September in the year 1894, warships of Japan came face-to-face with the bigger Beiyang Fleet from China off the mouth of the Yalu River. The Imperial Japanese Navy was able to destroy eight of the ten warships from China. This resulted to the assurance of Japan’s command over the Yellow Sea. On the other hand, 4,500 troops from China were able to land near the Yalu River. Known as the Battle of the Yalu River, this fight was the biggest naval engagement of the war. It was also considered as a major propaganda victory for Japan.

Another notable event during the war was the Invasion of Manchuria. The key people who have made the invasion possible were General Yamagata, General Nozu Michitsura, Lieutenant-General Katsura Taro, and Oyama Iwao. Through the Invasion of Manchuria, Japan was also able to lay siege to Lushunkou, which was considered a strategic port. The Japanese Imperial Army was also strategically composed of various divisions that helped in defeating China. It was on the 21st of November in the year 1894 that Japan was able to take over the city of Lushunkou, also known as Port Arthur. Suffering from minimal casualties, Kaipeng lost to the Japanese 1st Army Corps on the 10th of December in the year 1894.

Due to the continued successes of Japan in this war, the fleet of China naturally retreated behind the fortifications of Weihaiwei. Unfortunately for the Chinese, Japanese ground forces were already waiting for them by then. In coordination with the navy, the Japanese ground forces caught the Chinese fleet by surprise, having outflanked the harbor’s defenses. Known as the Battle of Weihaiwei, it was a siege that lasted 23 days. The major land and naval components occurred between the 20th of January and the 12th of February in the year 1895.

With the easing of the harsh winter conditions in the area, Weihaiwei fell on that fateful day. Troops from Japan further pursued northern China and Southern Manchuria. After just one month, the Japanese were already able to fortify posts that ruled over the sea approaches to Beijing. Despite this being the last major battle that the two nations fought, there were various skirmishes that followed. An example would be the Battle of Yinkou, which occurred on the 5th of March in the year 1895 outside the port town of Yingkou in Manchuria.

Known as the Treaty of Shimonoseki, this peace agreement was signed on the 17th of April in the year 1895. The Qing Dynasty surrendered the Liaodong Peninsula, Taiwan, and Penghu Islands to Japan. However, the Triple Intervention made up of France, Germany, and Russia kicked Japan out of the Liaodong Peninsula. Nonetheless, China also gave recognitions to the total independence of Korea. A part of this treaty also stated that the Qing Dynasty had to pay Japan a total of 200 million taels of silver to be considered as war reparations. A commercial treaty was also signed by the Qing government that permits ships from Japan to make operations on the Yangtze River. It also allowed Japanese ships to open four more ports on the river that would enable the Japanese foreign trade and also to operate manufacturing factories in treaty ports.

Summary of the Sino-Japanese War 2: Definition, Dates, and Causes

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Following the First Sino-Japanese War was the Second Sino-Japanese War. This war began on the 7th of July in the year 1937 and lasted until the 9th of September in the year 1945. It was a battle fought between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. The catalyst to this war was the Marco Polo Bridge Incident that occurred in the year 1937. It was when a dispute between Chinese troops and Japanese troops became heated and further escalated into a battle. This conflict went nowhere else but up after that. After eight years, the war ceased with the Empire of Japan surrendering to the United Nations allies of World War II on the 2nd of September in the year 1945.

The Republic of China was able to fight the Empire of Japan with some help from both the United States and the Soviet Union. Following the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor in the year 1941, the war combined with other conflicts of the Second World War as a primary sector called the China Burma India Theater. Many believe that the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War in the year 1937 was also the start of World War II. In fact, the Second Sino-Japanese War was the biggest Asian war that occurred in the 20th century. The majority of the military and civilian casualties during the Pacific War can be attributed to the Second Sino-Japanese War. Between 10 and 25 million Chinese civilians as well as more than 4 million Japanese and Chinese military personnel died from famine, violence, and other causes that were related to war.

The cause of the Second Sino-Japanese War was a Japanese imperialist policy that had been incorporated for decades. This policy was to expand the influence of Japan both politically and militarily for the country to gain access to raw material reserves, labor, and food. However, much stress was put on this policy during the period just after the First World War. Leftists pursued collective suffrage and far better rights for workers and laborers. On the other hand, Japanese production began getting affected by the continued increase of textile production from mills in China. Furthermore, a huge slowdown in terms of exports was brought about by the Depression.

These many factors became contributions to militant nationalism. This, in turn, culminated in a militarist fascist faction to rise to power. The said faction reached its peak when it was led by the Hideki Tojo cabinet of the Imperial Rule Assistance Association, an organization that was under the edict from Emperor Hirohito. Come the year 1931, the Mukden Incident was among the primary causes of the invasion of Manchuria by Japan. China lost in this fight, which in turn led to Japan being able to create a new puppet state known as Manchukuo.

Important Events During Second Sino-Japanese War: The Second Battle From 1937 to 1945

By Migita Toshihide [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Japanese had continuing successes in the beginning. Japan was able to capture not just Shanghai but also the Chinese capital of Nanking in the year 1937. As the Chinese continued to lose to Japan along with failing to defeat the Japanese in the Battle of Wuhan, the central government of China decided to relocate to Chongqing, which is located in the Chinese interior. By two years, China became victorious in Changsha and Guangxi. The battle also came to a stalemate when the lines of communications of Japan were already far too deep into the Chinese interior.

Furthermore, Japan also failed to defeat the communist forces of China in Shaanxi. This was because these forces forged a campaign of not just sabotage but also guerrilla warfare against the Japanese invaders. Hence, despite the fact that Japan was able to win and rule the big cities, its forces proved to be insufficient when it came to controlling the vast countryside of China.

While the Japanese continued to occupy a certain portion of Chinese territory, the Empire of Japan eventually surrendered to Allied forces after the atomic bombing of both Nagasaki and Hiroshima. This was also following the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, which was initially held by Japan. As punishment due to the aggression of Japan during the war, the Allies of World War II came to the conclusion of restoring all the territories to China, which was annexed by Japan. Furthermore, Japan was also expelled from the Korean Peninsula. Also, as a result, China became among the Big Four Allies during the war. Furthermore, China was also recognized as one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

There were definitely a lot of sad as well as success stories that can be derived from the two Sino-Japanese Wars. Much can be said about which nation had the right to rule over which land. However, if anyone could learn anything from the wars that have transpired over the years, it is that violence can never truly solve anything. While there were many nations that emerged victorious after years of battle, the sad truth is that these nations also lost countless lives. These lives include not just the soldiers who were willing to fight the battle for their country but also innocent lives that were somehow seen as sacrifices for the greater good.

Fortunately, these wars have already ceased after so many years. There are also various articles written about these wars that are being studied in universities to examine the causes and effects of these wars. Presently, Japan is a land of not just peace but also of modernization. The nation continues to grow and flourish as it welcomes not just people of Japanese heritage but also people of other descent. Japan recognizes the important of peace and harmony not just among its fellow nations but also among its citizens. Truly, that is what makes a nation great: a country that recognizes its past mistakes and learning from it.