In 1895, Japan Crushed China in a War (And the Impact Is Still Felt to This Day)

    James Holmes

    Security, Asia

    We explain why. 

    To borrow from Carl von Clausewitz, armed conflict is a trial of resolve and arms waged through the medium of the latter—i.e., through the medium of physical force. Many are the instances in history when the weaker contender prevailed. That’s because one side typically wants its goals more than the other. Political leaders balk at hazarding the nation’s entire military in an all-out slugfest unless their political aims command surpassing value.

    “TOKYO, July 31, 1894—’For the foreseeable future,’ declares an American defense expert, ‘no rational Japanese naval planner could present a plan to defeat the Chinese navy, even in the Yellow Sea.’ Why say such a thing? Because it stands to reason. Japan has been a modern industrial nation only since the Meiji Restoration of 1868-1869. That’s under three decades.

    “And after centuries of self-imposed seclusion, Japan has no seafaring tradition to speak of. Its navy? Posh. The Imperial Japanese Navy got its start as an ironclad fleet only 25 years ago, when it took custody of the French-built ram Stonewall. CSS Stonewall was a hand-me-down from that notable naval power, the Confederate States of America.

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