“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” —Proverbs 11:2
The Battle of Tsushima Ends,
May 29, 1905
he military history of the Far East had little resonance or study in the West prior to the 20th Century. Japan was not open to Western contact until the 1850s, and China remained a fabled but closed land to most Americans. Europeans had more success in trade with the East than the U.S. did, but “military history of the Orient” remained little known. In 1905, a sea-change in interest occurred with the Battle of Tsushima Straits, which is listed in the most significant battles of the 20th Century, and has taken its place in the top tier of important military engagements in history. This naval battle between Russia and Japan certainly played an important role in Japanese strategic thinking thirty-six years later in the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.
Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō on the bridge of the Battleship Mikasa
as the Battle of Tsushima commenced, May 27, 1905
In a brief war in 1894-95, Japan conquered Korea and the Liaotung Peninsula in China, including Port Arthur. The Europeans reacted swiftly and compelled the Japanese to give up their territorial conquest, an insult in an “honor-based” society, especially coming from Europeans who looked down on the Japanese as an inferior country with weird cultural ways and inbred hostility toward non-Japanese. Upon Japan’s acquiescence to the demands to cede the territory back to China, the Russians moved right in and extorted the rights to build the trans-Siberian railroad through Manchuria to Port Arthur, infuriating the Japanese. When the “Open Door” trade agreement was reached with China, Japan saw the opportunity to access the raw materials so abundant in Manchuria and without which, resource-poor Japan could not continue its industrial growth. Russia denied access and brought in troops to ensure their own control.
Wrecked Russian ships in Port Arthur after The Battle of Port Arthur, which took place February 8–9, 1904 and marked the commencement of the Russo-Japanese War