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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

With the exception of Port Arthur and Talien

contrary, the road could be

carried south of the river along the diameter of the semicircle, it would be a straight, and therefore a shorter, line, technically easier and economically better. To follow this diameter, however, would involve passing through Chinese territory, namely, Manchuria, and an excuse for soliciting China's permission was not in sight. In 1894, however, war broke out between Japan and China, and in its sequel Japan passed into possession of the southern littoral of Manchuria, which meant that Russia could never get nearer to the Pacific than Vladivostok, unless she swept Japan from her path. It is here, doubtless, that we must find Russia's true motive in inducing Germany and France to unite with her for the purpose of ousting Japan from Manchuria. The "notice to quit" gave for reasons that the tenure of the Manchurian littoral by Japan would menace the security of the Chinese capital, would render the independence of Korea illusory, and would constitute an obstacle to the peace of the Orient. Only one saving clause offered for Japan--to obtain from China a guarantee that no portion of Manchuria should thereafter be leased or ceded to a foreign State. But France warned the Tokyo Government that to press for such a guarantee would offend Russia, and Russia declared that, for her part, she entertained no design of trespassing in Manchuria. Thus, Japan had no choice but to surrender quietly the main fruits of her victory. She did so, and proceeded to double her army and treble her navy.

style="text-align: justify;">RUSSIA'S AND GERMANY'S REWARDS

As a recompense for the assistance nominally rendered to China in the above matter, Russia obtained permission in Peking to divert her trans-Asian railway from the huge bend of the Amur to the straight line through Manchuria. Neither Germany nor France received any immediate compensation. But three years later, by way of indemnity for the murder of two missionaries by a Chinese mob, Germany seized a portion of the province of Shantung, and forthwith Russia obtained a lease of the Liaotung peninsula, from which she had driven Japan in 1895. This act she followed by extorting from China permission to construct a branch of the trans-Asian railway from north to south, that is to say from Harbin through Mukden to Talien and Port Arthur. Russia's maritime aspirations had now assumed a radically altered phase. Hitherto her programme had been to push southward from Vladivostok along the coast of Korea, but she had now suddenly leaped Korea and found access to the Pacific by the Liaotung peninsula. Nothing was wanting to establish her as practical mistress of Manchuria except a plausible excuse for garrisoning the place. Such an excuse was furnished by the Boxer rising, in 1900. The conclusion of that complication found her in practical occupation of the whole region. But here her diplomacy fell somewhat from its usually high standard. Imagining that the Chinese could be persuaded, or intimidated, to any concession, she proposed a convention virtually recognizing her title to Manchuria.


Japan watched all these things with profound anxiety. If there were any reality in the dangers which Russia, Germany, and France had declared to be incidental to Japanese occupation of a part of Manchuria, the same dangers must be doubly incidental to Russian occupation of the whole of Manchuria. There were other considerations, also. The reasons already adduced show that the independence of Korea was an object of supreme solicitude to Japan. It was to establish that independence that she fought with China, in 1894, and the same motive led her after the war to annex the Manchurian littoral adjacent to Korea's northern frontier. If Russia came into possession of all Manchuria, her subsequent absorption of Korea would be almost inevitable. Manchuria is larger than France and the United Kingdom put together. The addition of such an immense area to Russia's East Asiatic dominions, together with its littoral on the Gulf of Pehchili and the Yellow Sea, would necessitate a corresponding expansion of her naval force in the Far East. With the exception of Port Arthur and Talien, however, the Manchurian coast does not offer any convenient naval base. It is only in the harbours of southern Korea that such bases can be found. In short, without Korea, Russia's East Asian extension would have been economically incomplete and strategically defective.

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