Russia and Japan have fought before, and won decisively

Japan Russia Military History of Russo-Japanese War
Honor guards hold the flags of Russia and Japan during a ceremony in Tokyo May 30, 2019. A leaked letter from a whistleblower with Russia’s Federal Security Service recently revealed that Russia had planned to launch an August 2021 attack on Japan.

Russia could have seen a repeat of one of its “most humiliating” military defeats had the country gone ahead with its recently revealed plans to attack Japan last year.

A whistleblower from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) announced news week a leaked letter claiming that Russia was “preparing fairly seriously for a localized military conflict with Japan” in August 2021, just months before deciding to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine instead.

The attack plans could be related to a longstanding territorial dispute over the strategically important Kuril Islands, which are occupied by Russia but claimed by Japan.

Russia and Japan previously fought in what is now known as the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. The war was decisively won by the Japanese Empire and inflicted a then shocking defeat on the Russian Empire. The conflict was fought over the countries’ rival expansionist aspirations in China and Korea.

The war began after the rejection of a Japanese offer to confine its ambitions to Korea and allow Russia to take territory in China. On February 8, 1904, Japan launched a surprise attack on Port Arthur, territory in China that had been leased to Russia after previously being occupied by Japan.

Russia rejected an early Japanese proposal for a truce, mistakenly believing that its superior navy would eventually defeat Japan with ease. Russia lost a number of battles on land and at sea. The war finally ended with the signing of the Treaty of Portsmouth on September 5, 1905, brokered by US President Theodore Roosevelt.

There were up to 120,000 estimated Russian deaths and up to 86,000 Japanese deaths as a result of the Russo-Japanese War. Historians say Russia’s loss of war had a long-lasting impact on the world.

“Russia’s humiliating defeat in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 had profound repercussions,” according to a 2016 article published in the journal foreign policy analysis. “Domestic, it has accelerated revolutionary discontent in Russia and boosted Japan’s national image as a modern state.”

“Internationally, it has shattered longstanding beliefs in European military dominance, caused a significant loss of prestige for Russia, removed any doubts about Japan’s status as the youngest great power, and redefined the balance of power in the Far East,” it said.

Scholars believe the Russo-Japanese War also “set the stage” for World War I and World War II, with some referring to it as “World War Zero,” according to History.Com.

This month, Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov compared Russia’s loss in the Russo-Japanese War to the much more recent withdrawal of Russian soldiers from Kherson in Ukraine.

As part of the Soviet Union, Russia was among the Allied forces that defeated Imperial Japan and other Axis powers in World War II.

While the US military was dropping atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945, the Soviet Union separately invaded a Japanese-controlled area of ​​China and seized the Kuril Islands, which have been disputed ever since.

The FSB in August 2021 declassified information about the brutal torture of Soviet citizens by Japanese special services during World War II.

The FSB whistleblower suggested that this was part of an “information campaign against Japan” that could help prepare the Russians for the planned attack in 2021. Russia and Japan have fought before, and won decisively

Rick Schindler

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