Last Updated 17 Apr 2020

Why Did Korea Fall Victim To Japanese Imperialism History Essay

Category History, Imperialism
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This essay tries to lucubrate the causes which contributed to the autumn of Korea to Nipponese imperialism by foremost analyzing the development of Nipponese imperialism, and so looking into the competitions between Japan and its two major competitions, viz. China and Russia in their control over Korea.

In 1853, Japan was forced to open itself to the outside universe by the United States. It was so pressured by the imperialist powers to subscribe unequal pacts which granted aliens in Japan extraterritoriality and which imposed on Japan low duty rates. Reduced to the semi-colonial position, Japan all of a sudden realized that the universe was non a safe topographic point. In order to forestall being farther subjugated by the Western powers, the leaders of the Meiji authorities which was formed in 1868 after the ruin of the Tokugawa Shogunate, formulated a chauvinistic policy of fukoku kyA?hei ( rich state, strong military ) , qualifying Japan 's ends to catch up with the Western powers economically and to increase its military strength to guarantee its position as an independent state. The preparation of the policy initiated the development of Nipponese imperialism.

Development of Nipponese Imperialism

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There were several grounds for the development of Nipponese imperialism. First was the concern for its security and safety. Japan 's demand for security intensified as authorities leaders recognized the demand to beef up the defence of Japan against Russia and other Western powers. Bing cognizant of the advanced technological accomplishments and military high quality of the West, Japan had frights of invasion from Western states such as Russia. Furthermore, China was militarily and economically weak to the extent that Japan was concerned that China would fall in under the subjugation of the Western powers, which would hold profound negative impact on the security of Japan. Yamagata Aritomo, male parent of the modern Nipponese ground forces, who advocated demand of enlargement more out of security ground than of conquest ground, recommended that Japan non merely protect its ain sovereignty but besides its line of involvement, which meant that Japan should non merely guarantee the security in the fatherland, but besides need to widen its influence and control to the continent in order to guarantee its security. Control over Korea was hence a important component in protecting Japan against Western states because of the two states ' geographical proximity and Korea being surrounding with both China and Russia. That the Korea peninsular as a `` sticker pointed at Japan '' should non fall in hostile custodies was a chief end of Nipponese foreign policy.

The 2nd ground that Japan embarked on imperialism was the aspiration from the Western powers. Japan had been detecting and larning from the Western powers ' intense competitions and imperialistic acquisitions. From its acrimonious experience, Japan learned that imperialism would assist work more resources which could ease a state to develop faster. Fukuzawa Yukichi and other authors supported foreign expansionism. Japan subsequently applied what she learned from the Western powers to Korea in precisely the format that she was treated by the Western powers.

The 3rd ground that gave rise to Nipponese imperialism was Japan 's belief in its function of leading for Asia states. Many Nipponese leaders came to the belief that Japan had a `` manifest fate '' to liberate the Asiatic states from Western imperialistic powers and to take them to collective strength and prosperity. Some ultranationalist groups such as the Black Dragon Society, every bit good as some influential authors, became progressively popular. These groups and authors hold the positions that Japan should take the function of leading in Asia to throw out foreign powers. They believed that the Yamato race as posterities of the Sun goddess entitled the Japanese to such a function. In 1905, Japan 's triumph over Russia in the Russo-Japanese war made Japan the first Asiatic state to get the better of a Western power. This position farther bolstered Japan 's belief in its function to take Asia and tried to convert other Asiatic states that merely under the Nipponese leading would they stand a opportunity to throw out Western imperialism.

From the beginning of the Meiji Period in 1868, Japan sought to do the state an industrial and military power similar to that of the Western imperialist powers. The Meiji leaders ' desire to turn Japan into a ace state ( itto koku ) besides included the power and prestigiousness derived from foreign territorial ownerships. Therefore, it was inevitable that Japan would fall in the nine of the powers in demands for privileges and rights in other Asiatic states. However, the Meiji authorities realized that its military needed to be modernized and strengthened before it presented its demands to the Western powers. Although the Meiji oligarchs were restraint in the outward looks of imperialism in the early old ages of the Meiji period, this did non connote that they disagreed with the aims of foreign enlargement. They considered it necessary that focal point should be on modernisation and economic growing to catch up with Western industrial powers prior to taking any important stairss to spread out Japan 's influence in foreign affairs.

To catch up with the Western powers and shorten the procedure in the development of imperialism, Japan had to emulate the bing theoretical accounts from the Western powers. Japan had been rolling the way of its imperialism enlargement. In fact, the pick proved to be excessively much, and Japan tried to play for safety by aping both of the two major powers, Britain and Germany, and waiting to see in which way the battle would finally travel. Though it appeared to be prudent, the policy was dearly-won, for the creative activity of both a big ground forces and a big naval forces imposed an inordinate load on a less developed state like Japan. Therefore, Britain, the paramount Power of the twenty-four hours, seemed to be the obvious and surely the most popular paradigm. The similarities that both states are in place of a group of islands situated near to a Continental land-mass, implying a similar involvement in the balance of power, and the evident success of the British method of back uping a turning population by intensive industrialisation and abroad trade, convinced Japan that emulating the Britain theoretical account would function her ain best involvements. In add-on, since both Britain and Japan so felt threatened by the same competition, viz. Russia, a stronger bond besides grew up between the two states. In 1902, Britain, `` the Empire on which the Sun ne'er sets, '' entered into an confederation with Japan, `` the Empire of the Rising Sun. ''

However, the prevailing samurai leading in the Nipponese military tradition, instinctively regarded the ground forces as of greater importance, and was determined that its modernisation should followed the theoretical accounts of the taking military state in the West which, in 1868, was the Gallic. Indeed, and mostly for this ground, Gallic prestigiousness stood 2nd merely to that of Britain, in the eyes of the Meiji leading. However, the Swift and unexpected result of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 showed the Gallic military repute to be out of day of the month. To those Nipponeses who had most admired the Second Empire, it was a profound daze. With characteristic pragmatism, Japan began to look alternatively to the Germans, who had non merely defeated the Gallic but at the same clip had achieved national fusion under the Prussian monarchy in the new Reich of 1871. German 's public presentation was of exceeding involvement to Japan. Therefore, non merely did the Nipponese switch from Gallic to German developing for their ground forces, whose organisation was wholly remodelled in 1878, but by the 1880s were trusting to a great extent on German expertness in many other Fieldss as good, notably in medical specialty and industrial and commercial pattern.

While, on the one manus, the dramatic due east progress of Russian imperialism was showing a turning menace to the mainland instantly opposite the Nipponese islands. As the Russians turned their attending farther due souths in hunt of ice-free ports and, after building began on the Trans-Siberian Railway in 1891, the menace to Korea, and by deduction therefore to Japan itself, became acute. By necessity, Japan had to undertake the immediate job on the continent on its west alternatively of traveling South, which was wholly different from the historical British attack of avoiding Continental webs. Japan allowed herself to be drawn, through the peninsulas, of all time more closely into the personal businesss of the mainland.

Korea 's Traditional Relations with China and Japan

At the beginning of the 19th century Korea continued to bask the stable relationships with China and Japan as she had done for the past 160 old ages. With China, Korea maintained a liqueur relationship which was based on the Chinese claim of suzerainty over Korea. The authorities of Korea sent regular missions transporting testimonials to the emperor of China at least one time a twelvemonth, normally at the clip of the winter solstice, and irregular missions on other particular occasions, as an look of its entry to China. The Chinese authorities reciprocated by directing imperial missions on particular occasions such as the decease of an of import royal individual or the coronation of a new male monarch. With Japan, Korea had maintained contact on two degrees. Since the early 17th century, Korea had sent occasional communicating envoys to Edo transporting congratulatory messages on the accession of a new shogun. Their maps normally were largely ceremonial. Korea besides maintained a much closer relationship with the feudal feoff in the islands that lay across the Korean Strait between southwesterly Japan and the Korean peninsula. Poor in natural resources, Tsushima depended much on Korean trade for their support. The daimyo of Tsushima had long entered into a quasi tributary relationship with the Korean male monarch, which gave him the monopoly of Nipponese trade with Korea, and besides had served as a diplomatic mediator between the authoritiess in Edo and Seoul.

Korea had suffered vastly at the custodies of these two neighbours. First by the Japanese who, under the hegemonic Toyotomi Hideyoshi, invaded Korea in the late 16th century. After the Manchu conquering of China in 1644, the opinion house of Yi Korea suffered much adversity at the custodies of the Manchus who suspected the Koreans of pro-Ming motivations. From these traumatic experiences, Korea developed alone policies of Sadae ( 'serving the great ' China ) and Gyorin ( 'neighborly dealingss ' with Japan ) that tried to keep good relationship with both China and Japan. The end of these relationships was to exclude all intercourse between Korea and China and Japan, except for formalistic ceremonial exchanges of minister plenipotentiary and limited trade conducted under close official supervising. In both relationships, even though the 1 with China was unequal in position and the other with Japan was equal, that the tributary missions to China and the communicating envoys to Japan were dispatched signified Korea 's desire to maintain these two neighbours at a safe distance. The two policies besides complemented one another: by subjecting themselves to China 's suzerain claim, the Koreans gained a defensive confederation against Japan ; on the other manus, the Gyorin relationship non merely enabled Korea to hold control on Nipponese seamans ' torment along its sea shores, but besides gave Korea a utile bargaining place against China as a buffer on the Chinese northeasterly frontier. The two policies had served Korea good in maintaining the two neighbours at bay.

With the enlargement of Western powers in the North East Asia, Japan became more concerned about the state of affairs in Korea. Out of the fright of Russian enlargement, the Nipponese adhered to a policy of prefering the independency of Korea and the constitution of diplomatic dealingss with the great powers as a possible agency of preventing any Russian aspirations to annex or busy the peninsula. In 1868 a particular Nipponese minister plenipotentiary was dispatched to Korea to inform the authorities of the Imperial Restoration that had taken topographic point in Japan and to discourse the constitution of diplomatic dealingss, but the Korean Court refused to cover with him. In the undermentioned twelvemonth two more Nipponese missions were besides rebuffed by the Korean Government. In 1872 another mission who was accompanied by two war vessels besides failed in an attempt to discourse a commercial pact. These apathetic reactions of the Korean Government greatly inflamed Nipponese public sentiment and some even called for war against the Korean. Soejima Taneomi, so interim Foreign Minister, was sent to inform the Chinese Government of Japan 's attitude and policy refering Korea. In Peking, the functionaries informed Soejima that, while Korea was a liege province, China was non responsible for the Korean internal personal businesss and the jobs of peace or war. Upon returning to Japan, Soejima urged his authorities to occupy and suppress Korea. But Emperor Meiji decided to settle the Korean job by peaceful agencies since Japan was non yet strong plenty to transport out expensive abroad wars. In 1875, a Nipponese committee was sent to Korea to negociate a pact of cordiality and commercialism. This clip the mission was instructed to use the house methods that had been so successfully employed by Perry and Harris against Japan before. At the same clip, Japan obtained confidences from China that no expostulation would be raised to diplomatic treatments provided the pact was restricted to the gap of Korea to commerce. Under the Nipponese force per unit area, Korea signed the Treaty of Kianghwa, which provided for the constitution of diplomatic dealingss, the gap of three ports, and exterritorial legal power over Nipponese subjects. One of the most important commissariats was Article I, which stipulated that Korea, `` being an independent State, enjoys the same crowned head rights as does Nippon. '' This proviso was the first measure in Japan 's program to detach Korea from the suzerainty of China.

Japan 's competition with China and Russia

From 1976 to 1894, Japan and China engaged in a series of struggle over the control of Korea. One some occasions the struggles were at the brink of war. These struggles resulted in Japan 's increasing and China 's diminishing influence in Korean personal businesss. Japan did non desire to travel to war with China because of deficiency of house strong belief that China could be defeated. During this period, Korea underwent an internal convulsion between the cabals of Tai Om Kun, who was pro-Chinese, and the Min Family. The Nipponese authorities was profoundly concerned in the state of affairs and feared that unless Korea were rapidly reformed and a stable authorities established, some powerful states such as Russia might take it as a stalking-horse for intercession. On July 23, 1882, Tai Om Kun encouraged a rabble of rebellious Korean military personnels to assail the Nipponese legateship and seized the King and Queen. The royal household managed to get away, and the Nipponese minster and his staff fought their manner to board a British vas and returned to Japan. The minster subsequently returned to Korea, accompanied by a force of 800 military personnels and 3 patrol cars. Offer to be a go-between, China besides sent war vessels and a force of 4,000 military personnels to Korea. The Chinese seized and took Tai Om Kun to China. Japan turned down the mediation offer and carried out direct dialogues with the Korean Government. An understanding was subsequently reached between Japan and Korea. The Korean authorities was forced to pay an insurance to Japan, to penalize the persons involved in the indignation, and to admit the right of Japan to post military forces in Korea. Despite the sign language of the Treaty of Kianghwa, China still considered Korea a dependent province of China. In September 1882, China concluded a commercial convention with Korea, repeating that Korea was still a tributary province of China. The Korean Government concluded this convention in a hope that China might be able to look into on the Nipponese incursion. In 1884, China involved in a war with France. In fright that a direct war with China at this clip might give other powers chances to step in in Korea, Japan wanted to hold a peaceable colony with China. A mission was so sent to Tientsin for direct treatments with China on the position of Korea. While the treatments were in advancement, the war between France and China came to an terminal to the advantage of China, which gave China a stronger place in the treatment. In April 1885, the two sides came to an understanding that both states would retreat military personnels from Korea, and that in the hereafter neither state would direct military personnels into Korea without advising the other in progress. The understanding was a farther measure on the Nipponese side in that it gave Japan the same right over Korea as that of China.

Despite of its success of upgrading its place equal to that of China, Japan was still concerned of its security in respects to Korea, whose geographical location and internal status still was a enticement to the powers such as Russia to hold a manus in. Japan believed that the failing of the Korean Government would finally ask for foreign intercession. The ideal method to cover with this potency was to manage the Korea internal personal businesss harmonizing to the Nipponese theoretical account, sooner done by Japan itself. Therefore, China was regarded as an obstruction. Merely when the Chinese influence was eradicated could Japan presume the place of primary influence over the Korean Government. On the other manus, China still attempted to derive complete control over Korea by reinstalling Tai Om Kun back to Korea and to blockade Japan at every chance.

The competition finally led to war. In 1893, the alleged Tong Hak Society ( Society of Eastern Learning ) broke out a rebellion against the maladministration of the Korean Government. In June1894, at the petition of the Korean King, China deployed a big figure of military personnels to Korea and informed Japan of the deployment harmonizing to the 1885 understanding between the two sides. In neglect of the Chinese presentment, Japan besides dispatched military personnels to Korea. However, by the clip both Chinese and Nipponese military personnels arrived, the rebellion had been brought under control by the Korean Government. The King requested the backdown of the Chinese and Nipponese military personnels, which was refused. Both sided insisted that the other withdrew foremost. On July 24, under the force per unit area from Japan, the Korean King authorized Japan to throw out the Chinese military personnels. On July 25, China and Japan went to war. The Chinese military personnels were no lucifer for the better trained and better equipped Nipponese military personnels. In September, Nipponese military personnels captured Pyongyang and began its thrust toward the Yalu River in chase of the crumpling Chinese military personnels. The Nipponese naval forces besides scored a decisive triumph at the conflict of the Yellow Sea. The Nipponese military personnels subsequently landed in southern Manchuria and on the Shandong peninsula. Fearing that farther opposition would ensue in an onslaught on its capital Peking, China consented to negociate peace. A pact was signed at Shimonoseki on April 17, 1895. Harmonizing to the pact, China had to pay a immense insurance to Japan, and to yield Taiwan, the Pescadores Islands and the Liaotung Peninsula. In the pact, China was forced to officially recognized Korea as a crowned head and independent province. However, merely six yearss after subscribing the pact, Germany, Russia, and France organized a tripower intercession to coerce Japan to reconstruct the Liaodong peninsula to China.

The triumph in the Sino-Japanese was of great significance to Japan 's route to imperialism. Besides winning a bridgehead on the mainland by keeping paramount influence on the Korean peninsula, the acquisition of Taiwan offered both an agriculturally rich sphere to Japan and a strategically of import island out of the southern seashore of China. The immense insurance fueled to speed up the enlargement of Nipponese industries. Most of import of all, Japan now stood up as a great power, recognized by the other great powers as every bit powerful. Japan became a fully fledged member in the nine of imperialist powers. In 1902, Japan and Britain entered a common defence confederation, which in consequence recognized Japan as one of the universe 's great powers.

However, Japan had another competition to cover with before it could to the full exert its power to run Korean personal businesss. With China holding eliminated from Korean personal businesss, Russia seized the chance to widen its influence on the peninsula. After several failed efforts to peacefully settle the struggles of their involvements in Korea and Manchuria, in February, 1904, Japan went to war with Russia. The war was a military catastrophe for Russia. The Nipponese ground forces moved from triumph to triumph in the conflict field. On May 27, the Nipponese navy virtually destructing the Russia fleet in the conflict of Tsushima. The two sides eventually agreed to negociate peace as the two sides were exhausted both militarily and economically by the war. A pact was signed on September 5, 1905. In the pact, Russia acknowledged Japan 's overriding political, military and economic involvements in Korea.

The Fall of Korea

Numerous understandings were exchanged between Japan and Korea during the last three decennaries of the nineteenth century and the first decennary of the twentieth century, which incrementally and jointly culminated to the 1910 appropriation pact in which Korea became a district of Japan. Of these understandings, the most of import 1s were those made in 1904 and 1905, which resulted in Korea going a associated state of Japan, and a 1907 understanding which placed the Korean internal personal businesss in the manus of Japan 's Resident-General.

In 1904, during the Russo-Japanese War, Korea became a quasi-protectorate of Japan. On 22 August 1904, Korea agreed to `` follow the advice '' of Japan sing `` betterments in disposal '' , while Japan agreed to guarantee `` the safety and rest of the Imperial House of Korea '' and vouch `` the independency and territorial unity '' of Korea.

After the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, Korea became a full associated state of Japan. In the understanding signed on 17 November 1905, Japan agreed to stand for Korea in its dealingss with other states and to protect `` the topics and involvements of Korea '' in other states. As Korea 's placeholder in foreign personal businesss, Japan would intercede all bing and future pacts between Korea and other states.

On 24 July 1907, Korea and Japan signed an understanding which gave the Resident-General the authorization to the full control of Korea 's domestic personal businesss.

On 22 August, 1910, the Emperor of Korea ceded his sovereignty over Korea to the Emperor of Japan. On 29 August, 1910, the ceding was announced to the universe at big and became lawfully effectual.

Japan 's logic of appropriation was simply following the enchiridion by John W. Foster, the former US Secretary of State who argued in a widely circulated reference before the National Geographic Society, in 1897, that the United States should annex Hawaii, other than make it associated state, in order to forestall it from falling into the custodies of a rival and possible enemy, viz. Japan. Foster 's statements were exactly what Japan had in head. A decennary subsequently, Japan decided that Korea should be an built-in portion of Japan, and non merely a associated state. In fact, it is dramatic that the tactics that Japan applied to open Korea was following precisely what the US had taught Japan in 1853.


Nipponese imperialism was different from its opposite number of the Western powers ' . Unlike imperialism of the Western powers whose major aims was economic, at the early phase of Japan 's imperialistic enlargement, security was the primary thrust. Therefore, Japan 's imperialistic enlargement at the early phase was instead prudent and less aggressive. Having experienced the resentment of being oppressed by the Western powers, Japan was sensitive in term of its ain security. Even though the unexpected economic additions from suppressing and from immense insurance, every bit good as the pride and prestigiousness were added to its drift at the ulterior phase of enlargements, security was still the taking concern. Japan believed that a weak authorities would take to foreign intercession. The autumn of Korea to the Western powers would jeopardize her ain security, so would the autumn of China and other Asiatic states. Since Asiatic states could non reform their authoritiess on their ain, it was necessary for Japan to presume the leading and take the duty to convey alterations to those states by usage of force. By making so, Japan could finally guarantee her ain security. The geographical importance with a weak authorities of Korea, and the concern of security of Japan and the sense of duty, were the causes that turned Korea victim of Nipponese imperialism.

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