Treaty of Shimonoseki

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Treaty of Shimonoseki
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 下關條約
Simplified Chinese 下关条约
Japanese name
Kanji 下関条約
Kana Shimonoseki Jōyaku
Treaty of Bakan
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 馬關條約
Simplified Chinese 马关条约
Japanese name
Kanji 馬関条約
Kana Bakan Jōyaku
Japanese version of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, 17 April 1895. Japan China Peace Treaty 17 April 1895.jpg
Japanese version of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, 17 April 1895.
Independence Gate (front), Seoul, South Korea
A symbol of the end of Korea's tributary relationship with the Qing Empire Dokripmun.jpg
Independence Gate (front), Seoul, South Korea
A symbol of the end of Korea's tributary relationship with the Qing Empire

The Treaty of Shimonoseki(Japanese:下関条約, Hepburn:Shimonoseki Jōyaku), also known as Treaty of Bakan (馬關條約; Mǎguān Tiáoyuē) in China, was a treaty signed at the Shunpanrō hotel, Shimonoseki, Japan on 17 April 1895, between the Empire of Japan and the Qing dynasty, ending the First Sino-Japanese War. The peace conference took place from 20 March to 17 April 1895. This treaty followed and superseded the Sino-Japanese Friendship and Trade Treaty of 1871. [1] [2]

Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by about 128 million people, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language. It is a member of the Japonic language family, and its relation to other languages, such as Korean, is debated. Japanese has been grouped with language families such as Ainu, Austroasiatic, and the now-discredited Altaic, but none of these proposals has gained widespread acceptance.

Hepburn romanization is a system for the romanization of Japanese that uses the Latin alphabet to write the Japanese language. It is used by most foreigners learning to spell Japanese in the Latin alphabet and by the Japanese for romanizing personal names, geographical locations, and other information such as train tables, road signs, and official communications with foreign countries. Largely based on English writing conventions, consonants closely correspond to the English pronunciation and vowels approximate the Italian pronunciation.

Shimonoseki Core city in Chūgoku, Japan

Shimonoseki is a city located in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. Shimonoseki is the biggest city in Yamaguchi Prefecture. It is at the southwestern tip of Honshu, facing the Tsushima Strait and also Kitakyushu across the Kanmon Straits.


Treaty terms

The Shunpanro hall where the Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed Treaty of Shimonoseki.png
The Shunpanrō hall where the Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed
Penghu County in Taiwan Province, Republic of China

The Penghu or Pescadores Islands are an archipelago of 90 islands and islets in the Taiwan Strait. The largest city is Magong, located on the largest island, which is also named Magong. Covering an area of 141 square kilometers (54 sq mi), the archipelago collectively forms Penghu County of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and is the second smallest county, after Lienchiang.

Taiwan Country in East Asia

Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a state in East Asia. Neighbouring states include the People's Republic of China (PRC) to the west, Japan to the north-east, and the Philippines to the south. The island of Taiwan has an area of 35,808 square kilometres (13,826 sq mi), with mountain ranges dominating the eastern two thirds and plains in the western third, where its highly urbanised population is concentrated. Taipei is the capital and largest metropolitan area. Other major cities include Kaohsiung, Taichung, Tainan and Taoyuan. With 23.7 million inhabitants, Taiwan is among the most densely populated states, and is the most populous state and largest economy that is not a member of the United Nations (UN).

Liaodong Peninsula peninsula

The Liaodong Peninsula is a peninsula in Liaoning Province of Northeast China, historically known in the West as Southeastern Manchuria. Liaodong means "East of the Liao River"; referring to the Liao River which divided the Yan commanderies of Liaoxi and Liaodong during time of the Warring States period.

The treaty ended the First Sino-Japanese War of 18941895 as a clear victory for Japan. In this treaty, China recognized the independence of Korea and renounced any claims to that country. It also ceded the Liaodong Peninsula (then known to the Western press as Liaotung, modern day Dalian in the southern part of Liaoning province), and the islands of Formosa (Taiwan) and Penghu (also known as the Pescadores) to Japan. China also paid Japan a war indemnity of 200 million Kuping taels, payable over seven years, and the signing of a commercial treaty similar to ones previously signed by China with various western powers in the aftermath of the First and Second Opium Wars. This commercial treaty confirmed the opening of various ports and rivers to Japanese trade. As a result of the Treaty of Shimonoseki (1895), China recognized the "full and complete independence and autonomy" of Joseon. In the next year Yeongeunmun was demolished leaving its two stone pillars.

First Sino-Japanese War 1894–1895 war between the Qing dynasty and the Empire of Japan over influence in Joseon, fought chiefly in Joseon

The First Sino-Japanese War, also known as the Chino-Japanese War, was fought between China and Japan primarily over influence in Korea. After more than six months of unbroken successes by Japanese land and naval forces and the loss of the port of Weihaiwei, the Qing government sued for peace in February 1895.

Treaty Express agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law

A treaty is a formal written agreement entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an international agreement, protocol, covenant, convention, pact, or exchange of letters, among other terms. Regardless of terminology, all these instruments may be considered treaties subject to the same rules under international law.

Dalian Prefecture-level & Sub-provincial city in Liaoning, Peoples Republic of China

Dalian is a major city and seaport in the south of Liaoning Province, China. It is the southernmost city of the Liaodong Peninsula. Dalian is the province's second largest city and has sub-provincial administrative status. The Shandong Peninsula lies southwest across the Bohai Strait and Korea lies across the Yellow Sea to the east.

Shunpanro interior Shunpanrou interior.jpg
Shunpanrō interior

Value of the indemnity

Qing China's indemnity to Japan of 200 million silver kuping taels, or about 240,000,000 troy ounces (7,500 t). After the Triple intervention, they paid another 30 million taels for a total of over 276,000,000 troy ounces (8,600 t) silver, worth about $5 billion US Dollars in 2015. [lower-alpha 1]

Silver Chemical element with atomic number 47

Silver is a chemical element with the symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it exhibits the highest electrical conductivity, thermal conductivity, and reflectivity of any metal. The metal is found in the Earth's crust in the pure, free elemental form, as an alloy with gold and other metals, and in minerals such as argentite and chlorargyrite. Most silver is produced as a byproduct of copper, gold, lead, and zinc refining.

Tael, also known as the tahil and by other names, can refer to any one of several weight measures of the Far East. It usually refers to the Chinese tael, a part of the Chinese system of weights and currency.

The Treaty of Shimonoseki and Taiwan

During the summit between Japanese and Qing representatives in March and April 1895, Prime Minister Hirobumi Ito and Foreign Minister Munemitsu Mutsu were serious about reducing the power of Qing Dynasty on not only the Korean Peninsula but also the Taiwan islands. Moreover, Mutsu had already noticed its importance in order to expand Japanese military power towards South China and Southeast Asia. It was also the age of imperialism, so Japan wished to mimic what the Western nations were doing. Imperial Japan was seeking colonies and resources in the Korean Peninsula and Mainland China to compete with the presence of Western powers at that time. This was the way the Japanese leadership chose to illustrate how fast Imperial Japan had advanced compared to the West since the 1867 Meiji Restoration, and the extent it wanted to amend the unequal treaties that were held in the Far East by the Western powers.

Far East geographical term

The Far East is a geographical term in English that usually refers to East Asia, the Russian Far East, and Southeast Asia. South Asia is sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons. The term "Far East" came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 12th century, denoting the Far East as the "farthest" of the three "easts", beyond the Near East and the Middle East. Likewise, in Qing Dynasty of the 19th and early 20th centuries the term "Tàixī (泰西)" – i.e. anything further west than the Arab world – was used to refer to the Western countries.

At the peace conference between Imperial Japan and Qing Dynasty, Li Hongzhang and Li Jingfang, the ambassadors at the negotiation desk of Qing Dynasty, originally did not plan to cede Taiwan because they also realised Taiwan's great location for trading with the West. Therefore, even though the Qing had lost wars against Britain and France in the 19th century, the Qing Emperor was serious about keeping Taiwan under its rule, which began in 1683. On 20 March 1895, at Shunpanrō (春帆楼) in Shimonoseki in Japan, a one month long peace conference began.

Li Hongzhang Chinese politician, general and diplomat

Li Hongzhang, Marquess Suyi, was a Chinese politician, general and diplomat of the late Qing dynasty. He quelled several major rebellions and served in important positions in the Qing imperial court, including the Viceroy of Zhili, Huguang and Liangguang.

Li Jingfang, also known as Li Ching-fong, was a Chinese statesman during the Qing dynasty. Being the nephew and adopted son of the late statesman Li Hongzhang, he served in his adoptive father's secretariat in his youth. In 1882, Li Jingfang obtained the second highest degree in the imperial examinations and subsequently obtained appointment in the Qing foreign service because of his knowledge of English. In 1886-89, he worked as a secretary to the Qing legation in London and in 1890-92 he served as the Qing minister to Japan. He is mostly known for having signed the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Shimonoseki in Li Hongzhang's stead in 1895. He also served as the Chinese Minister to London in 1909-1910.

At the first half of the conference, Ito and Li talked mainly about a cease-fire agreement, and during the second half of the conference, the contents of the peace treaty were discussed. Ito and Mutsu claimed that yielding the full sovereignty of Taiwan was an absolute condition and requested Li to hand over full sovereignty of Penghu Islands and the eastern portion of the bay of Liaodong Peninsula (Dalian). Li Hongzhang refused on the grounds that Taiwan had never been a battlefield during the first Sino-Japanese War between 1894 and 1895. By the final stage of the conference, while Li Hongzhang agreed to the transfer of full sovereignty of the Penghu islands and the eastern portion of the bay of Liaodong Peninsula to Imperial Japan, he still refused to hand over Taiwan. As Taiwan had been a province since 1885, Li stated, "Taiwan is already a province, and therefore not to be given away (臺灣已立一行省,不能送給他國)."

However, Imperial Japan was too strong for the Qing Dynasty to cope with, and eventually Li gave Taiwan up. On 17 April 1895, the peace treaty between Imperial Japan and the Qing Dynasty had been signed and was followed by the successful Japanese invasion of Taiwan. This had a huge impact on Taiwan, the turning over of the island to Imperial Japan marking the end of 200 years of Qing rule despite an attempt by Qing loyalists to prevent the annexation.

Signatories and diplomats

Signing of Treaty of Shimonoseki <<Ma Guan Tiao Yue >> Qian Zi Shi De Qing Jing .jpg
Signing of Treaty of Shimonoseki

The treaty was drafted with John W. Foster, former American Secretary of State, advising the Qing Empire. It was signed by Count Itō Hirobumi and Viscount Mutsu Munemitsu for the Emperor of Japan and Li Hongzhang and Li Jingfang on behalf of the Emperor of China. Before the treaty was signed, Li Hongzhang was attacked by a right-wing Japanese extremist on 24 March: 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 10 April.


Entry of the Western powers

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

Convention of retrocession of the Liaotung peninsula, 8 November 1895 Convention of retrocession of the Liatung Peninsula 8 November 1895.jpg
Convention of retrocession of the Liaotung peninsula, 8 November 1895

Under threat of war from three Western political powers, in November 1895, Japan a weaker emerging nation not yet perceived as even a regional power returned control of the territory and withdrew its de jure claim on the Liaotung peninsula in return for an increased war indemnity from China of 30 million Taels. At that time, 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 would prove to be a mistake, as Japan would end up occupying Korea by 1905 and expand into Russia's sphere of influence with the Russo-Japanese war, and then encroach upon Germany's port in Shandong during World War I. [3]

Within months after Japan re-ceded the Liaodong peninsula, Russia started construction on the peninsula and a railway to Harbin from Port Arthur, despite a protesting China. Eventually, Russia agreed to offer a diplomatic solution (See Kwantung Leased Territory) to the Chinese Empire, and agreed to a token lease of the region to save face, instead of annexing Manchuria outright, which was its effect. Within two years, Germany, France, and Great Britain had similarly taken advantage of the economic and political opportunities in the weak Chinese Empire, each taking control of significant local regions. Japan also took note of how the international community allowed the great powers to treat weaker nation states, and continued its remarkable measures to bootstrap itself into a modern industrial state and military power, with great success as it would demonstrate in the Russo-Japanese War less than a decade later. [4]

In Taiwan, pro-Qing officials and elements of the local gentry declared a Republic of Formosa in 1895, but failed to win international recognition.

In China, the Treaty was considered a national humiliation by the bureaucracy and greatly weakened support for the Qing dynasty. The previous decades of the Self-Strengthening Movement were considered to be a failure, and support grew for more radical changes in China's political and social systems which led to Hundred Days' Reform in 1898. When the latter movement failed due to resistance from the Manchu nobility, a series of uprisings culminated in the fall of the Qing dynasty itself in 1911.

The Triple Intervention is regarded by many Japanese historians as being a crucial historic turning point in Japanese foreign affairs from this point on, the nationalist, expansionist, and militant elements began to join ranks and steer Japan from a foreign policy based mainly on economic hegemony toward outright imperialism a case of the coerced turning increasingly to coercion.

The Shunpanro in 2004 Shunpanrou.jpg
The Shunpanrō in 2004

Both the Republic of China, now controlling Taiwan, and the People's Republic of China, now controlling mainland China consider that the provisions of the treaty transferring Taiwan to Japan to have been reversed by the Instrument of Surrender of Japan. Additionally, it is alleged that on 28 April 1952 the contents of the Treaty of Shimonoseki treaty were formally nullified through what is commonly known as the Treaty of Taipei with the Republic of China. However, Ng (1972) argues that only those provisions of the 1895 treaty which had not yet been fulfilled in their entirety could be subject to nullification. The cession provision which had already been carried out was no longer existent and, therefore, could no longer be subjected to nullification. In support of this reasoning, Ng points to the reparations provision of Article IV of the 1895 treaty, as well as additional reparations provisions from earlier Sino-Japanese agreements & treaties. These were all regarded as "fulfilled provisions" and not subject to later nullification or cancellation. [5] The People's Republic of China does not recognize the Treaty of Taipei.

Prelude to war

Russia wasted little time after the Triple Intervention to move men and materials down into the Liaodong to start building a railroad from both ends Port Arthur and Harbin, as it already had railway construction in progress across northern Inner Manchuria to shorten the rail route to Russia's principal Pacific Ocean naval base at Vladivostok, a port closed by ice four months of each year. Russia also improved the port facilities at Port Arthur and founded a commercial town nearby at Dalniy (modern-day Dalian, which now encompasses Port Arthur in its jurisdiction), before inking the lease of the territory.

When the de facto governance of Port Arthur and the Liaodong peninsula was granted de jure to Russia by China along with an increase in other rights she had obtained in Manchuria (especially those in Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces) the construction of the 550 mile Southern spurline of the Manchurian Railway was redoubled. Russia finally seemed to have gotten what the Russian Empire had been wanting in its quest to become a global power since the reign of Peter the Great. This ice-free natural harbor of Port Arthur/Lüshun would serve to make Russia a great sea as well as the largest land power. Russia needed this ice-free port to achieve world power status as it was tired of being blocked by the balance of power politics in Europe (The Ottoman Empire and its allies had repeatedly frustrated Russian power fruition).

However, the omission of the geopolitical reality in ignoring the free hand Japan had been granted by the Treaty (of Shimonoseki) with respect to Korea and Taiwan was short-sighted of Russia with respect to its strategic goals; to get to and maintain a strong point in Port Arthur Russia would have to dominate and control many additional hundreds of miles of Eastern Manchuria (the Fengtian province of Imperial China, modern Jilin and Heilongjiang) up to Harbin. Japan had long considered the lands paralleling the whole Korean border as 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 its own government caving in to foreign pressure led to riots in Tokyo. The disturbance almost brought down the government, as well as a strengthening of imperial and expansionist factions within Japan. The Russian spear into the sphere also brought about the ensuing struggle with Russia for dominance in Korea and Manchuria. These events eventually led to the Russo-Japanese War of 19041905 by a renewed and modernized Japanese military, which led to a major defeat for Russia that marked the beginning of the end for the Romanov dynasty. [6]

See also


  1. Assuming $18/oz, in 2015.

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  1. Frank W. Ikle, "The Triple Intervention. Japan's Lesson in the Diplomacy of Imperialism." Monumenta Nipponica 22.1/2 (1967): 122-130. online
  2. Marius B. Jansen, Japan and China: From War to Peace, 1894-1972 (1975) pp 17-29, 66-77.
  3. Urs Matthias Zachmann, "Imperialism in a Nutshell: Conflict and the “Concert of Powers” in the Tripartite Intervention, 1895." Japanstudien 17.1 (2006): 57-82.
  4. Tien-fong Cheng, A History of Sino-Russian Relations (1957) pp 55-78
  5. Ng, Yuzin Chiautong (1972). Historical and Legal Aspects of the International Status of Taiwan (Formosa) (2nd ed.). Tokyo: World United Formosans for Independence. LCCN   74165355 . Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  6. John W. Steinberg, et al., eds. The Russo-Japanese War in Global Perspective: World War Zero(2005).