August 1, 1894 – April 17, 1895

 Jiawu Zhanzheng 甲午戰爭   日清戦争 Nisshin senso


The First Sino Japanese War

August 1, 1894 - April 17, 1895




 Overview of the Sino-Japanese War



Battle of Pyongyang

 Woodblock print by Mizuno Toshikata .

The First Sino-Japanese War ( Jiawu Zhanzheng 甲午戰爭   

日清戦争 Nisshin senso ), August 1, 1894 – April 17, 1895 was fought

between Qing (  清朝 Qing Chao 1642 - 1912 ) China and Meiji

( Meiji-jidai 1868 - 1912 ) Japan officially from Aug 1, 1894 to April 17, 1895

( fighting broke out on July 25, 1894 ) over control of Korea, which was a Chinese

tribute state . Many foreign observers expected China to win, as its navy was

stronger on paper with its ironclad battleships and the Chinese army was

assumed to be massive. While China had modernized somewhat under the

Self Strengthening Movement, it could not match the rapid progress made in

Japan under the Meiji Restoration.


Qing Dynasty flag, known as the Yellow Dragon flag ( 黃龍旗 Huang Long Qi )

adopted in 1889 . It has a five clawed Azure Dragon , a symbol of imperial

power , on a field of yellow . The color yellow was associated with the emperor

and members of the royal family were the only ones allowed to wear this color .

The dragon is chasing a flaming pearl, a symbol  for wisdom, enlightenment,

good luck and prosperity.


The Rising Sun flag  ( 旭日旗 Kyokujitsu-ki ) used by Japanese forces in the war .

On May 15, 1870,  it was adopted as the war flag of the Imperial Japanese Army,

and on October 7, 1889, it was adopted as the naval ensign of the Imperial

Japanese Navy. The naval ensign is offset .



 Animated map of progress of the Sino Japanese War



Korea 1890s


Treaty of Tientsin , April 18,1885 . Signed between the Meiji period Empire of

Japan and Qing Dynasty to try to relieve tension in Korea after the failed

Kapsin coup of Dec 4, 1894 in Korea . The Convention effectively eliminated

China's claim to exclusive influence over Korea, and made Korea a

co-protectorate of both Japan and Qing.

The war started in the Seoul area of modern South Korea. Both China and

Japan had the right to send troops to Korea under the Tientsin Convention of

1885. A rebellion broke out in Korea in 1894, known as the Tonghak Rebellion.

Japan used this as a pretext to try to start a war with China in Korea,which China

and Japan had been  ruling as a co-protectorate, with China playing the leading

role. Soon, both China and Japan had troops in Korea, and this explosive

situation soon led to conflict . Japan felt it was strong enough at this point to

challenge China in a war over Korea.



 Short overview of the Sino Japanese War



Battle of the Yalu



 Trailer for 一八九四·甲午大海战  ( 2012 )

1894 : The Sino-Japanese War

 After working on the script for two decades with historians, director

 Feng Xiao Ning brings a major naval battle to the big screen with The Sino

Japanese War at Sea 1894. The big-budget war epic chronicles the efforts of the

 Qing Dynasty to modernize its navy and the important part it played in the first

 Sino-Japanese War . The film follows the journey of Deng Shichang

(played by Lu Yi), who was one of the first naval officers to receive training in

modern naval warfare in England. These soldiers also meet Ito Sukeyuki (Xia Yu),

who will end up fighting against Deng when war breaks out nearly 20 years later.

With a corrupt empress in power and a military with limitless funding, will Deng

and the rest of the Chinese fleet succeed in defending Chinese sovereignty?


 Scene from Naval Battle of Yellow Sea  1962

After losing a minor battle at Seonghwan near Cheonan, South Korea, the

main Chinese force concentrated in Pyongyang and was defeated, despite

outnumbering the Japanese. The following naval Battle of the Yalu was one of

the first modern naval battles in history with ironclad ships, quick-fire guns and

torpedoes used. The Chinese lost five ships and retreated to Port Arthur, then

to Wei Hai, never to threaten the Japanese in the Yellow Sea again .

After the defeat in Pyongyang, there was no more Chinese resistance in Korea

and two Japanese armies invaded Manchuria, with Port Arthur, Newchang

( Yinkou, China ) being taken . While taking Port Arthur, the Japanese found the

mutilated remains of Japanese prisoners and went on a frenzy of killing in Port

Arthur in which almost all of the remaining Chinese population of the city was

massacred, known as the Port Arthur Massacre . The Beiyang Navy base at

Wei Hai fell to the Japanese in early 1895 and the ships of the Chinese Beiyang

Fleet were sunk or captured, while the Japanese lost no major ships.



Battle of WeiHai



In Manchuria, Qing forces under General Sung Qing battled furiously to recover

Hai Cheng, even though the Japanese were outnumbered 60,000 to 25,000,

they managed to hold the city inflicting heavy loses. Japan was poised for a two

prong attack on Beijing from Manchuria and Shandong , leading the Chinese to

seek peace.


Li Hong-zhang, the viceroy of Chili (Hebei) drilled his armies in western

techniques and stressed officer-soldier ties , Confucian values and tried to

modernize the Chinese forces against the foreign menace .


The Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed on 17 April 17,1895. China recognized

the independence of Korea and ceded the strategic Liaodong Peninsula

( also called the ' Regent's Sword' in many books of the period ) with Port Arthur

 ( Lüshunkou , Dalian )Taiwan and the Pescadores ( Peng Hu ) Islands to Japan

and was to pay an indemnity of 263,176,701 taels of silver (about 150 million

U.S.dollars ) , most favored nation trade status and opening of Shashi,

Chungking, Suzhou and Hangzhou to Japanese trade. Japanese could move

freely in the interior  and set up businesses. The Japanese war indemnity and

loans to fiance the war of almost 120 million taels to fiance the war were a large

drain on the economy .


During the peace negotiations, there was an assassination attempt against

Li Hongzhang, the Chinese plenipotentiary and the Japanese emperor Meiji

declared an unconditional armistice on March 29, 1895 Japanese lose of face

over this led the Japanese to accept more moderate concessions

(they had wanted to occupy Shanhaiguan , Taku , and Tien-tsin ( Tianjin )

and some costal forts as well .




Russo-Japanese War monument at Port Arthur, site of a battle in the

Sino-Japanese War as well . Shortly after the treaty was signed, Russia,

France and Germany united under the Triple Intervention and threatened war

with Japan if it did not withdraw from Port Arthur, which it did in the face of this

triple threat. Shortly afterward, Russia occupied Port Arthur .



The major consequences of the war were that Japan was recognized as a rising

world power, increased xenophobia in China leading to the Boxer Rebellion in

1899 and Korea becoming a colony of Japan . The success of the armed forces

lead to increasing power of the militarists in Japan .


Estimates of Japanese killed very from 800 to almost 14,000 . Cholera killed

more Japanese troops than battle, and Japanese troops brought the disease

home, which killed and estimated 30,000.

Chinese losses are estimated to be 35,000 killed or wounded .



 An underwater archeological mission in the Yellow Sea has discovered one

 of four warships of the Chinese Beiyang Fleet sunk by the Japanese navy

during the first Sino-Japanese War120 years ago. The 2,300-tonne warship,

“Zhiyuan”, was lost in the battle at the Yellow Sea on September the 17th, 1894.


Map of operations in the Sino-Japanese War .

Click to enlarge .


Large 1894 map of the seat of conflict

Click for larger image .


Books on the Sino Japanese War of 1894 - 1895


The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895:

Perceptions, Power, and Primacy

Arguably the first comprehensive treatment of the subject in English ever, this

work provides a political, diplomatic, cultural, and military survey of the dramatic

confrontation between Japan and China that overturned the entire balance of

power in the Far East .


Sino-Japanese Naval War 1894-1895

Maritime Series 

 Piotr Olender has produced a thorough study of the naval aspects of an

overlooked conflict that played an important role in shaping modern China.

Some forty years before China and Japan entered into a cataclysmic war that

led directly to Pearl Harbor, the government in Tokyo made its ambitions on the

Asian continent clear when it challenged the Qing Dynasty. Olender provides an

extensively researched, fully illustrated study of clash at sea, including a detailed

description of each of the warships of the opposing sides.


Kenkenroku: A Diplomatic Record of the

Sino-Japanese War, 1894-95

 Mutsu Munemitsu has presented a memoir of all the political dealings

surrounding this war with startling frankness and openness. He talks about

how Japan needed an excuse to go to war with China, and that the Korean crisis

was just that. A lively narrative which is essential reading for any historian of

this era.


Heroic Japan : a history of the war

between China & Japan 

 Eastlake, F. Warrington; Yamada Yoshiaki  1897

read online

The Japan-China War: on the regent's sword :

Kinchow, Port Arthur, and Talienwan 1895

 The regent's sword is an old name for the lower end of

the Liaodong Peninsula  .

read online


The war in the East :

Japan, China, and Corea 

  White, Trumbull,  1895


read online

The Japan-China war :

the naval battle of Haiyang

( Yalu )

 Ogawa, Kazumasa  1895


read online


Massacres In Manchuria:

Sino-Japanese War Prints 1894-5

 The first Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 was Japan's first modern war, and

their first military action overseas for over 300 years. One notable result of this

conflict was a huge burst in popularity for senso-e ("war pictures"), a genre of

ukiyo-e which first evolved as a mutation of musha-e ("warrior pictures") with the

need in the 1870s to document the contemporary conflicts which had raged in

Japan as a result of the Meiji Restoration, in particular the Seinan War of 1877.


Dozens of artists, from the celebrated to the obscure, added to the mass of

images which circulated as the Sino-Japanese War progressed (an estimated

3,000 prints were created in just 10 months). Most of the scenes depicted were

based on news reports sent back from the front, with artists rushing to replicate

events as quickly as possible. The triptych, with its almost cinematic visual scope,

was the preferred format for depicting such scenes of turmoil and carnage.

Whilst there is a huge range in quality between the prints made by various artists,

the very best senso-e of the Sino-Japnese War remain among the finest in

ukiyo-e, providing a bold, if brief, resurrection for an art form which was in danger

of dying out due to the advent of new imaging technologies.


Massacres In Manchuria features over 200 rare and exceptional Japanese

woodblock prints of war. The artists featured in the book include Kiyochika,

Gekko, Toshihide, Toshikata, Nobukazu, Chikanobu, Ginko, and numerous

others - a list of many of the most outstanding ukiyo-e artists of the late Meiji

period, each of whom used their immense artistic talent and imagination to

brilliantly illuminate contemporary conflict as it unfurled.

photos of old

Chefoo (Yantai)


Yankee of the Yalu 

Story of the American naval adviser Philo McGiffin ( 1860 -1897 )

 in the Qing navy . He serveg as an executive officer aboard the

Chinese battleship Chen Yuen during the Battle of Yalu River .

Under the Dragon Flag

The adventures of James Allan, who smuggled

arms for the Chinese and witnessed the fall of Port Arthur.

 Read Under the Dragon Flag online .




Causes of the Sino Japanese War &The Tonghak Rebellion  


 Comparison of the Japanese and Chinese Forces


  Battle of Pung-do sinking of the Kowshing -

July 24, 1894


1894 - Formal Declarations of War

Aug 1, 1894


  Battle of Seonghwan

July 29, 1894   


Battle of Pyongyang

Sept 15, 1894  


 Battle of the Yalu

Sept 17, 1894


Invasion of China

Oct 24, 1894  


 Battle of Port Arthur - Port Arthur Massacre

Nov 21, 1894   


Battle of Wei Hai

Jan 20-Feb12, 1895   


Manchuria - Battle of Newchang

Mar 4, 1895


  Pescadores, Taiwan, Jiangsu

March 24-29   


Peace Negotiations

April 17, 1895


  Map of the Sino Japanese War


  Letters between Admiral Ito to Admiral Ding








Causes of the Sino Japanese War &

The Tonghak Rebellion


 ©  Thomas Zimmerman  2008