Significance of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05)

Economically (Nathalie)
  • 1904 Economic Depression because of the international slump and Russia could not sell the products of its industries, caused by Witte’s economic policies,
  • The Tsar decided to divert
  • n from the Economic and Social problems by going to war with Japan,
  • Russia also wanted to obtain an ice free port, something for which Russia had yearned for centuries, all its major ports being unusable in the winter months when they froze and making trade impossible.
  • The Russo-Japanese war exacerbated the economic and social plight of industrial workers and peasantry by creating shortages of goods and raising prices.
  • Russian economic activity in the Far East had a long history and both Japan and Russia were attempting to expand into the same power vacuum. (Definition of power vacuum: a term used to describe a region in which no state exercise effective control. Such areas are always liable to be occupied by expansionist powers.)
  • Witte wanted to go to war because it would expand Russia economically into the far east and he knew that this made conflict with Japan a very strong possibility
  • After the war russia paid no war indemnity, kept half of the island of Sakhalin, and retained its dominance in Manchuria.(Economically positive)
  • However the Treaty of Portsmouth marked a turning point in the foreign policy of Tsarist Russia. Russian interests in the Far East were not ended, but strict limitations were placed upon them. The result was that for the first time in nearly 25 years the foreign prestige of the Russian Empire depended mainly upon developments in Europe. (Economically negative)
  • The war caused shortages of food and fuel, high prices and unemployment

Socially (Teresa)
  • The Emancipation of the Serfs was a social change that made the peasants happy at first, but soon they realized that the redemption payments deprived them of any economic freedom because they didn’t make any money when they had to pay their landlords. A part of why the tsar decided to go to war to distract them from their problems within Russia.
  • A motive for the Russians to be in the war with Japan was to distract the Russians from the domestic problems that Russia had. So, the Russians were rallied into a patriotic struggle. When their country failed in the war, the people were even more unhappy than before.
  • The Interior Minister at the time said, “We need a small., victorious war to avert a revolution.” So, when they lost the war, there was more of a reason to revolt.
  • The incompetence of the government caused social unrest.
  • Russia’s bad performance in the Russo-Japanese War was one of the reasons why so much tension built up in Russia, ergo why there was such an open opposition to tsardom (1905 Revolution)
  • The final spark that set the people of Russia to revolt was Bloody Sunday, when the the tsar’s troops shot at a peaceful demonstration.

Political (Lydia)
  • Causes::
    • power-grab by both Russia and Japan
    • Japan lost patience with Russia because the Russians were interfering with land that the Japanese considered theirs
    • The war was meant to divert the nation’s attention from the economic depression.
      • however, this backfired in that the war ended up worsening the economic and social plight of the industrial workers
  • The Treaty of Portsmouth (August 1905):
    • Witte was able to negotiate light terms for a treaty - Russia didn’t have to pay war indemnity or give up a lot of it’s influence in Sakhalin and Manchuria
    • Marked a turning point for foreign policy
      • strict limitations emerged for foreign trade
      • the foreign influence of Russia was turned to the West instead of to the East
  • Military Figures Who Later Enter the Political Field:
    • Anton Denikin (1872-1947)
      • later led the White Army in south-east Russia
    • Lavr Kornilov (1870-1918)
      • appointed to command the Petrograd garrison (1917)
      • killed in action
    • Alexander Kolchak (1873-1920)
      • formed and commanded White forces in the Far East
      • headed the Provisional All-Russian Government based in Omsk (1918)
        • declared himself ‘Supreme Ruler’
      • executed by Bolsheviks
  • Consequences
    • anger over the Russo-Japanese war, coupled with the degrading conditions of the workers, led to a huge revolutionary outburst in 1905
      • this resulted in a series of reforms geared to placating and winning back those opposed to the tsar
    • defeats on land and at sea shocked the Russian public
      • the loss of Port Arthur in 1905
    • War caused shortages of food and fuel, high prices, and unemployment
    • End result was that there was a huge rise of discontent as the Tsar’s government was deemed incompetent
    • 1905 Revolution
      • the Russo-Japanese war was a major contributor to Bloody Sunday and subsequently the 1905 Revolution
    • Emergence of the Oktober Manifesto:
      • promised a duma, civil rights, right to form political parties, end to press censorship
  • Sources:
    • Communist Russia Under Lenin and Stalin
    • Europe Book Second Edition

Geo-Politically (Michiel)
  • Russia and Japan
    • Both powers were ambitious to expand their empires.
    • the Manchuria region and the Port Author had great geopolitical powers.
  • Port Author
    • was an important port in Eastern Russia.
    • Russia wanted to stay in control of this area, however Japan was stronger and took control of Port Author in January 1905.
    • surrender of Port Author led to charges of treason against the Russian commander, General Stoessel.
    • Russia’s hopes to win back Port Author had vanished when Russia failed to break through Japanese forces during the Battle of Mukden during February through March of 1905.
    • Port Author was “Ice-free” unlike Vladivostok which held limited value because it was closed in by ice three to four months a year, which would limit the amount of trade.
  • Manchuria
    • This region had high political and economic value because of the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway.
    • Taking control of this area would create large trading opportunities.
  • Soldiers
    • The Trans-Siberian railway had one single track and a 150km gap in the region of Lake Baikal,. Because of the railway and the geographical location where the Russo-Japanese was fought,Russia could only send 35,000 reinforcements per month.
    • Also, because of Political conflicts in the West of Russia, Russia kept their most reliable and experienced troops back home. Like stated above, Russia was geographically challenged during the Russo-Japanese.
    • Although the Japanese were able to send many more reinforcements to help fight, since their troops were closer to the battlefield than Russian troops.

Europe Book
    • Lynch
    • Communist Russia Under Lenin and Stalin

Arguing for great impact on 1905 Revolution (Nathalie)
  • People’s discontent with the government built up

  • The people saw the government as incompetent, especially after the lost war
  • Degradation of the working conditions
  • Bloody Sunday
Economic Depression -> people had no jobs, people were poor, high prices, food and fuel shortages

Arguing for small impact on 1905 Revolution (Teresa)

  • The problems that Russia had earlier, such as the discontent of the peasants about the redemption dues that they had to pay, were also things that caused the 1905 revolution.
  • The people saw the government as an incompetent one even before Russia lost to the Japanese.
  • The war was a way to divert to divert the people's attention from other problems, such as economic and social, which means that even though the war was unsuccessful and it made the people of Russia even more discontent, there were big problems before.