Japan forcefully acquired three major foreign territories between 1894 and 1910: Taiwan in 1895 after the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-5; Korea as a protectorate in 1905 after the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, then as a colony when unilaterally annexed by Japan in 1910; and the Kwantung Leased Territories in 1905 in southern Manchuria when Japan succeeded to Russia's leases after the Russo-Japanese War. This section of the essay summarizes briefly the imperialistic expansion of Japan during the period and the actions of the world's imperialist powers that influenced the course of Japan's actions.Korea occupied a strategically important geographic position just to the west of the southern part of Japan. For the two decades prior to the start of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-5, China and Japan quarreled over Korea's internal politics and Chinese influence in the country's government. Japan went to war with China over proposed administrative and financial reforms in Korea. As a result of the treaty after the Japanese victory, China recognized Korea's independence. Japan also received a large indemnity; acquired Taiwan and the Liaodong Peninsula in southern Manchuria; and obtained several other concessions from China.Soon after Japan and China signed the treaty to conclude the Sino-Japanese War, the Western imperialist powers made the first of several moves that would influence significantly Japan's ideas about future imperialistic expansion. Japan observed the Western powers' intense rivalries and imperialistic acquisitions.
Only six days after signing the treaty, Germany, Russia, and France forced Japan to surrender its claims on the Liaodong Peninsula, which became a bitter diplomatic defeat for Japan. In 1898, only three years later, Russia pushed into Manchuria and obtained a leasehold from China for the same peninsula Japan had been forced to relinquish. During the same year, the United States, which embarked on its overseas imperialistic expansion about the same time as Japan, annexed Hawaii and the Philippines. From 1895 to 1900, the imperialist powers of France, Germany, Russia, and England divided up China into spheres of influence, which included special railway and mining concessions, leased territory, and promises from China that comparable privileges would not be granted to other countries in a specified area. Between 1900 and 1905, Japan became a full-fledged member in the club of imperialist powers. In 1900, Japan showed its military prowess when 8,000 of its troops joined 9,000 soldiers from the Western powers to fight side by side to defeat the Boxer Rebellion in China. In 1902, Japan and Great Britain signed a mutual defense alliance, a document that in effect recognized Japan as one of the world's great powers. In 1904 and 1905, Japan and Russia went to war over their territorial and political disputes in Korea and southern Manchuria. After the destruction of the Russian fleet, Japan emerged from the Russo-Japanese War as one of the world's great military and political powers. The Portsmouth Treaty to end the war gave Japan control of Korea and the Kwantung Leased Territories. Japan stood as one of the world's powers with a colonial empire of its own.
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