Treaty of Shimonoseki

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The Shunpanrō hall where the Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed

The Treaty of Shimonoseki (Japanese: 下関条約, "Shimonoseki Jōyaku"), known as the Treaty of Maguan (T. Chinese: 馬關條約, S. Chinese: 马关条约;) in China, was signed at the Shunpanrō hall on April 17, 1895 between the Empire of Japan and the Qing Empire. The peace conference took place from March 20th to April 17, 1895.


The Treaty Terms

The Treaty ended the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) in favour of Japan, the clear victor. In the treaty China recognized the independence of Korea and renounced any claims to that country, ceded the Liaotung peninsula (the southern portion of Fengtian, modern Liaoning province), the islands of Taiwan (Formosa) and the Pescadores to Japan. China also paid Japan a war indemnity of 200 million Kuping taels, and opened various ports and rivers to international entry and trade.

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Shunpanrou interior

The Signatories and Diplomats

The treaty was drafted with John A. Foster, former American Secretary of State, advising the Qing Dynasty. It was signed by Count Ito Hirobumi and Viscount Mutsu Munemitsu for the Emperor of Japan and Li Hung-Chang and Li Ching-Fong on behalf of the Emperor of China. Before the treaty was signed, Li Hung-chang was attacked by a right-wing Japanese extremist on March 24th: he was fired at and wounded on his way back to his lodgings at Injoji temple. The public outcry aroused by the assassination attempt caused the Japanese to temper their demands and agree to a temporary armistice. The conference was temporarily adjourned and resumed on April 10th.

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Ito Hirobumi and Mutsu Munemitsu

Entry of The Imperialist Powers

The conditions imposed by Japan on China led to the Triple Intervention of Russia, France, and Germany, Imperial powers all active in China, with established enclaves and ports, just three days after its signing. They demanded that Japan withdraw its claim on the Liaodong peninsula (then (Liaotung)), concerned that Lshun, then called Port Arthur by Westerners, would fall under Japanese control. Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (an de jure Ally of France) and his imperial advisors, including his cousin-advisor-friend-rival Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, had designs on Port Arthur as Russia's long sought after 'ice-free' port'.

The Aftermath

Under threat of war, in November 1895, a reluctant, exhausted, and humiliated Japan ceded control of the territory and withdrew its de jure claim on the Liaotung peninsula in return for an increased war indemnity from China. The European powers were not concerned with any of the other conditions, or the 'free hand' Japan had been granted in Korea under the other terms of The Treaty of Shimonoseki. This humiliation is regarded by many Japanese historians as being a turning point in Japanese external affairs - from this point on, the nationalist, expansionist, and militants began to join ranks and steer Japan from a foreign policy based on economic hegemony toward outright Imperialism (landgrabs). In time the once peaceful and mercantile Japan, transformed by mimicking the rapacious high handed Western powers in the coming decades - in one of history's more delicious ironies - would adopt a reverse racism and eclipse its teachers in applied Imperialism and cultural disdain.

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The Shunpanrō in 2004

When Port Arthur was later granted to Russia by weak China as a concession (25 year lease) under pressure in 1898 along with other rights in Manchuria leading to the construction of the Southern Manchurian Railway- Russia got what the Tsar had been wanting all along in furtherence of her long cherished desires to become a global world power. She needed a ice-free port to achieve this, and she was tired of being balked by the Balance of Power politics in Europe wherein the Baltic Republics and their allies or the Ottoman Empire and their allies had repeatedly frustrated its fruition.

However, the omission of the geopolitical reality with respect to Korea and Japan was short-sighted of Russia with respect to her strategic goalsto get to and maintain a strong point in Port Arthur they would have to dominate and control additional hundreds of miles of Eastern Manchuria (the Fengtian province of Imperial China) up to Harbin: lands paralleling the whole Korean border that Japan had long considered part of its strategic Sphere of Influence. By leasing Liaodong and railway concessions, Russia crashed its Sphere of Influence squarely into Japan's.

This acted as a further goad to emerging Japanese anger at their disrespectful treatment by all the West. In the immediate fallout of the Triple Intervention Japanese popular resentment at Russia's deviousness and the perceived weakness of their own government caving in to foreign pressure led to riots in Tokyo which almost brought down the government, a strengthening of imperial and expansionist factions within Japan, and brought about the ensuing struggle with Russia for dominance in Korea and Manchuria leading eventually to the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 by a renewed and modernized Japanese military.


  • F.R. Sedwick, (R.F.A.), The Russo-Japanese War, 1909, The Macmillan Company, N.Y.
  • Colliers (Ed.), The Russo-Japanese War, 1904, P.F. Collier & Son, New York
  • Dennis and Peggy Warner, The Tide At Sunrise, 1974, Charterhouse, New York
  • William Henry Chamberlain, Japan Over Asia, 1937, Little, Brown, and Company, Boston
  • Pei-Kai Cehng and Michael Lestz (Eds.) The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection, 1999, W. W. Norton & Company, New York.

See also

External link

Template:Wikisourcede:Vertrag von Shimonoseki ja:下関条約 ru:Симоносекский договор zh:马关条约


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