Japanese torpedo boats

by Mitch on August 19, 2012 0 Comments

Kotaka was a torpedo boat of the Imperial Japanese Navy. She was ordered in 1885 from the shipbuilder Yarrows in London, Great Britain, where she was built in parts along Japanese specifications, and then assembled in Yokosuka Naval Arsenal, Japan.


She participated in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905). She was decommissioned on 1 April 1908, to become a training ship. She was retired on 1 March 1916, but again reactivated in 1917, ending her career in January 1927.


When launched in 1888, the Kotaka, at 203 tons, was the largest torpedo boat in the world, and "was the forerunner of torpedo-boat destroyers that appeared a decade later" (Kaigun, David C. Evans). She was armed with four 1-pounder (37 mm) quick-firing guns and six torpedo tubes. In the following years, the Imperial Japanese Navy equipped herself with much smaller torpedo boats of French design ...

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by Mitch on April 21, 2012 0 Comments

Heavily armored battleship Ting-yuen
"Battle of the Yellow Sea" by Korechika

The illusion of China's military and naval superiority was quickly dispelled by Japan's rapid thrust into Korea, Manchuria and China proper. Unlike the Sino-French War with its vacillations of policy on both sides, the Sino-Japanese War was dominated from the outset by Japan's systematic campaign that aimed at nothing less than the capture of Peking. The outcome starkly dramatized the failure of China's military preparations and the effectiveness of Japan's. Since 1868, Japan's army and navy building had both benefited from and contributed to modernizing change in other sectors of her society. By 1872, conscription had been introduced stimulating the further growth of national consciousness, while a centralized system of military and naval education sent officers abroad and established schools at home. In 1878, an independent general staff was created, and in 1883 ...

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Iwao Oyama, (1842–1916)

by Mitch on April 2, 2012 0 Comments

General Ōyama Iwao during the Russo-Japanese War

A Japanese soldier and hero of the Meiji period, Oyama was born into a samurai family and served in the Boshin War of 1868–1969, which overthrew the Tokugawa Shōgunate, and also in the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. In the interim he attended the École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr in France and witnessed France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War; he also studied foreign languages in Geneva and achieved fluency in Russian. After promotion to major general, Oyama was a key figure in the establishment of the Imperial Japanese Army that routed the Satsuma rebels. He commanded the Second Army in the Sino-Japanese War and captured Port Arthur and the fortress of Weihaiwei. Oyama was promoted to the rank of field marshal and, as chief of general staff in 1904, appealed successfully to the emperor for permission to go to war against Russia ...

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The Empire Loses Burma

by Mitch on January 12, 2012 0 Comments

Geography of Burma

Even American aid, in the shape of General “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell’s Chinese armies and General Claire Chennault’s “Flying Tigers,” could not stem the simultaneous Japanese advance in Burma. Once again the British retreat had all the characteristics of a rout. And as in Malaya, it had a fatal impact on the standing of the colonial power. The Governor, Sir Reginald Dorman-Smith, who had to leave behind his large collection of top hats, said that the British would never be able to hold up their heads in Burma again. For they could neither defend themselves against Japanese infiltration nor protect the civilian population from ground and airborne assault. Early in April 1942, for example, a heavy raid almost obliterated Mandalay. The first strike destroyed the Upper Burma Club, where a luncheon party was taking place. Bombs killed hundreds of people, blowing some of them into the ...

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CHRONOLOGY - China in the Era of Imperialism

by Mitch on January 2, 2012 0 Comments

Total Humiliation.

Whereas China had persevered in hiding behind the grandeur of its past, Japan had embraced the West, modernizing itself politically, militarily, and culturally. China’s humiliation at the hands of its newly imperialist neighbor is evident in this scene, where the differences in dress and body posture of the officials negotiating the treaty after the war reflect China’s disastrous 1895 defeat by the Japanese.

Lord Macartney’s mission to China 1793

Opium War 1839–1842

The Opium War (1839--1842) demonstrated the superiority of British firepower and military tactics (including the use of a shallow-draft steamboat that effectively harassed Chinese coastal defenses). British warships destroyed Chinese coastal and river forts and seized the offshore island of Chusan, not far from the mouth of the Yangtze River. When a British fleet sailed virtually unopposed up the Yangtze to Nanjing and cut off the supply of ‘‘tribute grain’’ from southern ...

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INA - withdrawal from Imphal

by Mitch on December 28, 2011 0 Comments

INA and Japanese soldiers cheering after the joint forces captured a strategic spot in the Indo-Burma border, 1944.

Sugata Bose

On July 10, 1944, the Japanese informed Bose that their military position had become untenable and they had no option but to order a withdrawal from Imphal. Netaji and his followers gathered once more at Bahadur Shah’s tomb on the emperor’s death anniversary, which fell on July 11. Their solace on this somber occasion—in addition to a Bahadur Shah couplet about a warrior’s faith, composed after the collapse of the 1857 revolt—was a well-known verse from Lord Byron’s poem “The Giaour”: “Freedom’s battle once begun, bequeathed from bleeding sire to son, tho’ baffled oft, is e’er won.”


Short of food and medicines, the regiments of the INA’s first division were in desperate straits by early July. Naga Sundaram, a Tamil civilian ...

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Indian National Army Formed…

by Mitch on December 28, 2011 0 Comments

INA Commanders

Military parade of the INA at the Padang on 5 July 1943.

Sugata Bose

The first Indian National Army was formed on February 17, 1942, two days after the British surrendered to Japanese forces in Singapore. But it was in disarray by December. Bose possessed the stature, vision, and organizational ability to rekindle the spirit of anticolonial nationalism among the soldiers and weld them into an effective fighting force. If he was to achieve his dream of leading an army of liberation into India, however, he had to win a desperate race against time. Could he lead the Indian National Army into Calcutta, which he had left secretly in the dead of night on January 16–17, 1941? Bengal, his home province, was being devastated by a gigantic man-made famine just as he assumed leadership of the Azad Hind (“Free India”) movement in Southeast Asia. For years he ...

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The Japanese Empire as an Anomaly

by Mitch on November 7, 2011 1 Comment

Viscount Kodama Gentarō (16 March 1852 – 23 July 1906) was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army, and government minister during Meiji period Japan. He was instrumental in establishing the modern Imperial Japanese military.


Although the Japanese empire fit comfortably within the late nineteenth-century scramble for colonies and strategic position initiated in the West, certain factors distinguish Japan from its Western counterparts. Most fundamentally, as a former victim of Great Power imperialism, Japan’s rise in international status lagged behind that of the other industrial nations, and Japanese empire-building through 1914 remained an exercise in catch-up. Heavy reliance on Western models, and technical and material support was an important consequence of the particular timing of Japan’s emergence on the world stage, as was the intensely political and top-down quality of Japanese expansion. Japan remained primarily an agricultural economy until the eve of the Sino-Japanese War in 1894, whereas emigration ...

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by Mitch on May 4, 2011 0 Comments

Japanese reoccupation of Shandong during its 1937 invasion of China

Shandong Peninsula (156,008 square kilometers, or 60,235 square miles) borders the Yellow River, the Bohai Sea, and the Yellow Sea, making it northern China’s most prosperous coastal trade center, with excellent natural ports at Weihaiwei and Qingdao. Historically, Shandong was home to the Shang dynasty (1766–1122 B.C.E.), the earliest Chinese state, and was the birthplace of Confucius (ca. 551–479 B.C.E.), China’s most famous philosopher and teacher, as well as the fifth century B.C.E. Sun Wu (better known as Sunzi or ‘‘Master Sun’’), the author of the classic military treatise The Art of War.


Although Japan invaded Shandong during the Sino- Japanese War (1894–1895), Shandong was not part of the Shimonseki Peace Treaty ending that war. However, in the 1895 ‘‘Triple Intervention,’’ Germany, Russia, and France blocked Japan ...

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by Mitch on May 2, 2011 0 Comments

Japan participated in the great post–World War I (1914–1918) peace conferences in Paris in 1919 with three goals. Japan had declared war against Germany early in the war, and expected the resulting treaty to recognize Japan’s contribution. The Japanese delegation sought to take over German-held islands in the Pacific Ocean, to keep the German concession in Shandong, China that the Japanese army had seized during the war, and to secure approval for an amendment on racial equality among nations in the final Versailles Peace Treaty.


The so-called racial equality amendment challenged the comfortable European, Caucasian-controlled world. It aroused furious opposition from Australian Premier William H. Hughes. Hughes felt it threatened his clearly racist ‘‘white’’ Australia policy, and he worried at this early date about Japanese expansion in the Pacific. Hughes received support from Arthur Balfour and Robert Cecil and Dominion leaders who feared the amendment might threaten ...

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