Subject and Purpose of This Website
The subject of this website is the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95* which is modern Japan’s first war against a foreign country.
The main purpose of this website is to learn something from history by understanding the facts about the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 from books written by contemporary authors and by scholars of the field. In order to learn the things from history, this website always tries to analyze the facts from kaizen aspect.
This website is not a result of study on primary sources of historical documents but just a summary of descriptions from various books. In other words, this website is in the study level of university students, not in the level of scholars. The author of this website, myself, is not a professional scholar, but just a retired business person having an experience of studying history in a graduate school in the age of twenties.
The reason why I publish this website in spite of the level of study is because there is almost no books on the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 written from the similar aspect in Japan. There is no question about the absence of books from similar aspect, because the word kaizen is usually used only in the field of economic activities of private enterprises.
As a result of viewing the subject from kaizen aspect, I noticed several things that are not pointed out in the scholars’ books, or not among common understandings on the war by average Japanese people.
* In English language, the war is also called as the First Sino-Japanese War, and the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-45 is also called as the Second Sino-Japanese War. In Japan, however, the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 is called as Japan-Qing War, and the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-45 as Japan-China War. The two wars are not considered to be the first and the second ones between exactly the same two countries. This is the reason why I avoid the use of the term, the First Sino-Japanese War.
Why is the subject the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95?
“The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 is modern Japan’s first war against a foreign country, Qing dynasty of China, to compete power of influence to Korea. The victory at this war gave Japan a praise by Western Great Powers. Japan obtained not only reparation but also cession of land from Qing. Taiwan became the first colony of modern Japan. Liaodong Peninsula was also ceded to Japan but returned to Qing after the Triple Intervention by Russia, France and Germany.” --- I understand that the most of Japanese people have knowledge as such on this war. It is my guess, however, that Japanese people having knowledge deeper than above is very few.
In the case of the Russo-Japanese War that was fought 10 years after this war, or wars from the Manchurian Incident to the Pacific War in the Showa period, there are quite a few Japanese people who are heavyly interested in these wars and have deeper knowledge than common understanding. On the contrary, it seems most of the Japanese people are not so interested in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95.
I was among the most of the Japanese people until a few years ago when I had an occasion to read a book on the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95. I had a strong impression that the common understanding of the most of the Japanese people on this war was just a minor part of knowledge which is appropriate to be commonly possessed by the Japanese people, and I continued to read the books on this war since then.
How is Kaizen Method applied to History?
Application of kaizen method is a process of reviewing history in four key factors; situation, subjects for improvement or kaizen, means to achieve the kaizen, and aimed goal for the kaizen.
There is no situation that does not require any kaizen. The same thing is true for any historical situations as well. Choice of subjects for kaizen, however, is a matter of recognition of priority of things to be done for the situation. Was the subject taken up for kaizen is an appropriate choice for the historical situation? Weren’t there any other kaizen subject more important to be considered in the situation? Those are the questions to be worth asked from kaizen aspect to see history.
The next question to be asked is whether the means chosen for the kaizen subject was an appropriate choice or not. It can happen that the choice of the subject is appropriate but the means is not, or the choice is not inappropriate but not the best one judging from efficiency or side effects.
And then some more questions. Was the goal set appropriately for the kaizen subject? Was the goal deemed to be achieved as intended? If the goal was not deemed to be achieved, what were appropriate to have been done to really achieve the goal?
Most of history books contains historical facts abundantly but view the history from different aspects. This website makes use of the historical facts described in those books and applies kaizen method to review the history. Establishing historical facts is one of the most important procedures to review history from kaizen aspect.
Findings on the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 from Kaizen Aspect
Reading of books on the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 from kaizen aspect has led me to a conclusion that the following observations are not among common understandings by the most of the Japanese people on this war. Most of these matters are pointed out in some scholars’ books, but are not claimed aloud enough to be widely understood by the Japanese people.
Japan’s military forces made good preparations and many kaizens.
The primary reason of Japan’s victory over Qing was that the Japanese military forces were well prepared for the war. The military preparation for this war was conducted within the government's policy of retaining financial health unlike those for other wars of Japan. Because it was the first time for the modern Japanese military forces to massively fight outside the land of Japan, the Japanese forces encountered many new experiences, and they coped with the situations and conducted various kaizens to improve their performances in the field and the sea during the war.
However, because the war was mostly one-sided, there were things which were noticed as problems but were not seriously taken as the subjects for kaizen. Some of them, such as underestimation of importance of logistics for military operations, were never received apparent kaizen for the following 50 years, which became one of the reasons of loss of Japan in the World War II. Japanese army's official publication on the war history adopted an editorial policy of honor-of-the-army-first. This editorial policy also suppressed kaizen on the problems.
Japanese government’s purpose of war was not clear.
Before the war, cooperation with Qing for any issues in Korea had been the basic policy of the Japanese government for long years. When the Japanese government made a decision to send troops to Korea to suppress Tonghak Rebellion, Prime Minister Hirobumi Ito, and consequently the Japanese government, was thinking to use the troops within the range of cooperation with Qing, although some government members had an opinion to use the troops for the war with Qing. Ito's government, however, was forced to change their policy to open the war due to maneuvered diplomacy by Foreign Minister Munemitsu Mutsu and high pressure from domestic public opinion. Because the decision to open the war against Qing was made in such a circumstance, the government’s purpose of the war was not clear.
As a result of the victories in the Battle of Pyongyang and the Battle of Yalu, Japan drove Qing out of Korea. Japan, however, continued the war without ceasing. It can be said that the war purpose of Japan was changed substantially at this point, from ejection of Qing’s power of influence from Korea to acquisition of cession from Qing. This practical change of war purpose was possible because the war purpose was not clear from the beginning. Although the practical war purpose was changed at this point, there was no clear agreement within the Japanese government once again on how large cession they should obtain from Qing.
Japanese government demanded too much,