What can we find if we look at the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 from Kaizen Aspect?


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This website is not a result of study on primary sources of historical documents but just a summary of descriptions from various books.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 (日清戦争), and the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-45 as Japan-China War (日中戦争). 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 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 KaizenAspect

Reading books on the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 from kaizenaspect 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 at that time 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 kaizensto 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 kaizenon 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,
and misunderstanding of ‘War Business Model’ was formed.

Although the reason behind the Triple Intervention was Russia’s demand to acquire an ice-free sea port, the fundamental cause of the Intervention was Japan’s outrageously large demand on cession of Qing's land, compared with precedent cessions by European Great Powers.

In other words, the Triple Intervention was made because Japan’s insufficient knowledge on ‘market price level’ for conditions of peace treaty. In Japan, however, there has been almost no self-reproach for the outrageously large demand on cession against Qing.

At any rate, Japan obtained huge reparation and cession of Taiwan from Qing as a result of victory at the war. This result helped the Japanese people misunderstand the profitability of wars. The Japanese people became expectant for ‘war business model’ that the nation would acquire reparation and cession and individuals would get promotions in career, obtain decorations of medals, and receive a status of a lord by fighting and winning wars.

The war’s impact was greater than that of Russo-Japanese War.

Japan won the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 much easily than the Russo-Japanese War of ten-years later. The impact and the consequent change brought by the former war, however, was greater than those of the latter, especially in terms of international relations.

After Qing’s loss at the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, European Great Powers started scramble for concessions in full swing and divided spheres of influence in China’s main land. The impact of this war over China, Korea and Great Powers was more significant than that of the Russo-Japanese War.

The result of the war had impacted Japan as well in a boomerang movement. Seeing expanded activities by European Great Powers in the region, Japan felt less secured than before. As a result, the Japanese government dropped their long-held policy of maintaining military spending within the balanced finance of national government, and the military budget was greatly increased after the war. The heavy burden of the military spendingt had prevented Japanese capitalism from swift and healthy development.

Japan failed to achieve the main purpose of the war – influence to Korea.

Japan started the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 in an intention at least to expand Japanese influence over Korea by expelling Qing from that country, and to put Korea into a status of protectorate of Japan if possible. However, the discussion on how to achieve this purpose was insufficient within the Japanese government.

As a result, the Japanese government did not provide necessary support to the Japanese diplomats who were working to achieve the above purpose in Korea. Munemitsu Mutsu, Foreign Minister, hindered the effort by Kaoru Inoue, Japanese Minister to Korea, to achieve this main purpose successfully.

The consequence was an entire failure of Japan in the attempt to achieve the main purpose of the war. Japan could not make use of the victory at the war. Japan drove Korean royal court much more receptive to influence from Russia than it was before the war.


Contents of Japanese Pages of This Website

Japanese pages of this website contains following chapters.

- The age of imperialism
- Japan, Qing and Korea before the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95
- Japan’s preparation for the war
- Battles of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 (military history)
- Peace negotiation and the Treaty of Shimonoseki
- Korea – during and after the war
- The results of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95
- Books and other materials to understand the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95

The chapter of books and other materials to understand the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 contains introduction to more than 100 books and other materials which I have read to write this website. Most of them are books written in Japanese language, but some books and materials are translation from Chinese and Korean languages. Four English books are also among them. They are;

- S. C. M. Paine, The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, Cambridge University Press 2003
- Isabella Bird Bishop, Korea and Her Neighbours – A Narrative Travel, 1898
- Dugald Christie, Thirty Years in Moukden 1883-1913, 1914
- F. A. McKenzie, The Tragedy of Korea, 1908


Maps and Photos of the War

Japanese pages of this website shows many maps and photos of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95. Most of the maps, mainly shown in the pages of military history chapter, are created by myself by putting pieces of information in the Japanese army’s official war history book or in other scholars' books on Google or Yahoo maps or aerial photos.

Most of photos of the war are quoted from “Japan-Qing War Photo Book” published by Japanese army in 1895. This photo book is among Japan’s National Diet Library Digital Collections and open to public over internet .


The Japanese pages of this website was first published over internet on January 21, 2014, 120 years later from the Sino-Japanese war of 1894-95. Some revisions have been made since then. This English summary is added on April 6, 2017.

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