The First Sino Japanese War August 1, 1894 - April 17, 1895


Causes of the Sino Japanese War &The Tonghak Rebellion   Comparison of the Japanese and Chinese Forces   Battle of Pung-do sinking of the Kowshing - July 24,

1894 - Formal Declarations of War - Aug 1, 1894   Battle of Seonghwan - July 29, 1894   

Battle of Pyongyang - Sept 15, 1894   Battle of the Yalu - Sept 17, 1894

Invasion of China - Oct 24, 1894   Battle of Port Arthur - Port Arthur Massacre - Nov 21, 1894   

Battle of Wei Hai - Jan 20-Feb12, 1895   

Manchuria - Battle of Newchang Mar 4, 1895   Pescadores, Taiwan, Jiangsu - March 24-29   

Peace Negotiations -  April 17, 1895

  Map of the Sino Japanese War   Letters between Admiral Ito to Admiral Ding










 Overview of the Sino-Japanese War



Battle of Pyongyang


The First Sino-Japanese War was fought between Qing China and Meiji Japan officially from Aug 1, 1894 to April 17, 1895 ( fighting broke out on July 25, 1894 ) over control of Korea, which was a Chinese tribute state . Many foreign observers expected China to win, as its navy was stronger on paper with its ironclad battleships and the Chinese army was assumed to be massive. While China had modernized somewhat underthe Self Strengthening Movement, it could not match the rapid progress made in Japan under the Meiji Restoration.




Korea 1890s



The war started in the Seoul area of modern South Korea. Both China and Japan had the right to send troops to Korea under the Tientsin Convention of 1885. A rebellion broke out in Korea in 1894, known as the Tonghak Rebellion. Japan used this as a pretext to try to start a war with China in Korea,which China and Japan had been  ruling as a co-protectorate, with China playing the leading role. Soon, both China and Japan had troops in Korea, and this explosive situation soon led to conflict . Japan felt it was strong enough at this point to challenge China in a war over Korea.




Battle of the Yalu



After losing a minor battle at Seonghwan near Seoul, the main Chinese force concentrated in Pyongyang and was defeated, despite outnumbering the Japanese. The following naval Battle of the Yalu was one of the first modern naval battles in history with ironclad ships, quick-fire guns and torpedoes used. The Chinese lost five ships and retreatedto Port Arthur, then to Wei Hai, never to threaten the Japanese in the Yellow Sea again .


After the defeat in Pyongyang, there was no more Chinese resistance in Koreaand two Japanese armies invaded Manchuria, with Port Arthur, Newchang,Yinkou being taken . While taking Port Arthur, the Japanese found the mutilated remainsof Japanese prisoners and went on a frenzy of killing in Port Arthur in whichalmost all of the remaining Chinese population of the city was massacred, known asthe Port Arthur Massacre .The Beiyang Navy base at Wei Hai fell to the Japanese in early 1895 and the ships in theChinese Beiyang Fleet were sunk or captured, while the Japanese lost no major ships.



Battle of WeiHai





Watch The Battle of the Yalu River, a Chinese

movie about the Sino-Japanese War


In Manchuria, Qing forces under General Sung Qing battled furiously to recover Hai Cheng,even though the Japanese were outnumbered 60,000 to 25,000, they managed to hold the cityinflicting heavy loses.Japan was poised for a two prong attack on Beijing from Manchuria and Shandong , leading the Chinese to seek peace.



Li Hong-zhang, the viceroy of Chili (Hebei) drilled his armies in western techniques and stressed officer-soldier ties , Confucian values and tried to modernize the Chinese forces against the foreign menace .


The Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed on 17 April 17,1895. Chinarecognized the independence of Korea and ceded the strategicLiaodong Peninsula ( also called the ' Regent's Sword' in many books of the period ) with Port Arthur, Taiwan and the Pescadores(Peng Hu) Islands to Japan and was to pay an indemnity of 263,176,701 taels of silver (about 150 million U.S.dollars ) , most favored nation trade status and opening of Shashi, Chungking, Soochow and Hangzhou to Japanese trade. Japanese could move freely in the interior  and set up businesses.The Japanese war indemnity and loans to fiance the war of almost 120 million taelsto fiance the war were a large drain on the economy .


During the peace negotiations, there was an assassination attempt against Li Hong-zhang, the Chinese plenipotentiary and the Japanese emperor Meiji declared an unconditional armistice on March 29, 1895 Japanese guilt over this led the Japanese to accept more moderate concessions(they had wanted to occupy Shan-hai-kwan, Taku, and Tien-tsin (Tianjin) and some costal forts as well .




Russo-Japanese War monument at Port Arthur, site of a battle in the Sino-Japanese War as well . Shortly after the treaty was signed, Russia, France and Germany united under the TripleIntervention and threatened war with Japan if it did not withdraw from Port Arthur, which it did in the face of this triple threat. Shortly afterward, Russia occupied Port Arthur .



Japanese Sino Japanese War Medal



The major consequences of the war were that Japan was recognized as a rising world power, increased xenophobia in China leading to the Boxer Rebellion in 1899 and Korea becoming a colony of Japan .The success of the armed forces lead to increasing power of the militarists in Japan .


Estimates of Japanese killed very from 800 to almost 14,000 . Cholera killed more Japanese troops than battle, and Japanese troops brought the disease home, which killed and estimated 30,000.

Chinese losses are estimated to be 35,000 killed or wounded .



 An underwater archeological mission in the Yellow Sea has discovered one

 of four warships of the Chinese Beiyang Fleet sunk by the Japanese navy during the first Sino-Japanese War120 years ago. The 2,300-tonne warship, “Zhiyuan”, was lost in the battle at the Yellow Sea on September the 17th, 1894.



photos of old Chefoo (Yantai)





Wikipedia on the War


Tonghak Rebellion


Meiji Restoration


Taiping Rebellion


Korean History


Listen to an audiobook on the Battle of the Yalu



The China-Japan war compiled from Japanese,

Chinese and foreign sources (1896)



The war in the East : Japan, China, and Corea :

a complete history of the war (1895)



Pain's pyrotechnic spectacle, war between Japan and China



The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895:

Perceptions, Power, and Primacy

 by S. C. M. Paine



Yankee of the Yalu 

Story of the American naval adviser Philo McGiffin



Under the Dragon Flag

The adventures of James Allan, who smuggled

arms for the Chinese and witnessed the fall of Port Arthur.


Article on Japanese wood block prints of the war


Japanese wood blocks of the war for sale 



Other pre-dreadnaught wars


War of the Pacific


Spanish American War


War of the Triple Alliance


War of the Pacific



 model of the Ding Yuan



Qing Dynasty Flags




Flag of the

Imperial Japanese Navy

(旭 日旗 Kyokujitsu-ki)








Causes of the Sino Japanese War &

The Tonghak Rebellion