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(From The Yomiuri Shimbun/Daily Yomiuri)
INSIGHTS INTO THE WORLD/ 2 post-Meiji events watersheds for Japan
Yasuhiro Nakasone Special to The Yomiuri Shimbun
This year marks the centennial of the end of the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. On May 27 a century ago, Japan scored a great victory in the Battle of Tsushima. Indeed, the victory turned out to be a watershed for our country in the years following the Meiji era (1868-1912).
In the naval showdown, which is better known in Japan as the Battle of the Sea of Japan, only four of the Russian Baltic Fleet's 38 vessels managed to reach Vladivostok, their destination in the Russian Far East. The other Russian warships were sunk or captured, with some of them being scuttled. As a result, a total of 5,046 Russians died in battle and 6,106 others were taken prisoner. In contrast, Japan suffered only 116 casualties with only three torpedo boats lost. It was an overwhelming victory for Japan.
At the time, while Japan made every effort to win the war under its own initiative, it was indebted to Britain and the United States for the victory. In 1902, it concluded the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Alliance. For his part, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt in particular backed Japan, offering to mediate between Japan and Russia, with the result that the Treaty of Portsmouth was negotiated and signed by Japan and Russia in Portsmouth, N.H.
However, Japan's relations with the United States and Britain were subsequently strained as Washington became wary of Japan's advancement and pursued a foreign policy, in tandem with …