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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

The Japanese plenipotentiaries


"We

can recognize that Togo is great--great in the patience he exercised in the face of much provocation to enter upon the fight under conditions less favourable to the success of his cause; great in his determination to give decisive battle despite advice offered to him to resort to methods of evasion, subterfuge, and finesse; great in his use of not one but every means in his power to crush his enemy, and great, greatest perhaps of all, in his moderation after victory unparalleled in the annals of modern naval war.

"The attitude of the Japanese people in the presence of this epoch-making triumph is a sight for men and gods. They have the grand manner of the ancients, and their invariable attitude throughout the war, whether in the hour of victory or in that of disappointment, has been worthy of a great people. No noisy and vulgar clamour, no self-laudation, no triumph over a fallen enemy, but deep thankfulness, calm satisfaction, and reference of the cause of victory to the illustrious virtue of their Emperor."*

*The War in the Far East, by the Military Correspondent of "The Times."

The Japanese losses in the two-days' fighting were three torpedo-boats, and they had 116 killed and 538 wounded.

PEACE RESTORED

After the battles of Mukden and Tsushima, which were great enough to terminate the greatest war, the

Russians and the Japanese alike found themselves in a position which must either prelude another stupendous effort on both sides or be utilized to negotiate peace. Here the President of the United States of America intervened, and, on the 9th of June, 1905, the American minister in Tokyo and the ambassador in St. Petersburg, instructed from Washington, handed an identical note to the Japanese and the Russian Governments respectively, urging the two countries to approach each other direct. On the following day, Japan intimated her frank acquiescence, and Russia lost no time in taking a similar step. Two months nevertheless elapsed before the plenipotentiaries of the two powers met, on August 10th, at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Russia sent M. (afterwards Count) de Witte and Baron Rosen; Japan, Baron (afterwards Marquis) Komura, who had held the portfolio of Foreign Affairs throughout the war, and Mr. (afterwards Baron) Takahira. The Japanese statesmen well understood that much of the credit accruing to them for their successful conduct of the war must be forfeited in the sequel of the negotiations. For the people of Japan had accustomed themselves to expect that Russia would recoup a great part, if not the whole, of the expenses incurred by their country in the contest, whereas the ministry in Tokyo knew that to look for payment of indemnity by a great State whose territory has not been invaded effectively or its existence menaced must be futile.

Nevertheless, diplomacy required that this conviction should be concealed, and thus Russia carried to the conference a belief that the financial phase of the discussion would be crucial. Baron Komura's mandate was, however, that the only radically essential terms were those formulated by Japan prior to the war. She must insist on securing the ends for which she had fought, since she believed them to be indispensable to the peace of the Far East, but beyond that she would not go. The Japanese plenipotentiaries, therefore, judged it wise to submit their terms in the order of the real importance, leaving their Russian colleagues to imagine, as they probably would, that the converse method had been adopted, and that everything prefatory to questions of finance and territory was of minor consequence.


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