The Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 has been widely seen as an event of epochal significance. For the first time in modern history an established western great power was successfully challenged by an Asian nation. In its time, the Russo-Japanese conflict was recognized as introducing a new era of warfare. The military confrontation in East Asia foreshadowed the horrors of future wars and, what is even more important, turned out to be the prelude of cultural, ideological and racial clashes to come, the repercussions of which can be felt up to the present. Not only in retrospect, but also to contemporaries the Russo-Japanese War marked the beginning of a “clash of civilizations”.
100 years after the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War, this conference proposes to reassess crucial dimensions of this major turning point in the encounter of Asian and European civilizations. The conference aims at examining the significance and the legacy of the military conflict not only for Japan and Russia, but the whole of Asia.
A first section will focus on the reactions to the consequences of the war among the involved nations. Some of the questions to be raised will be: How did Russia react to its defeat and how did Russian perceptions of Japan and “Asia” change? What impact did the war have on domestic developments and the revolutionary movement within Russia? Raised to the level of a full-fledged “great power”, how did Japan’s self-image and foreign policy change?
The second section will analyze reactions among various Asians nations that were affected (and/or inspired?) by Japan’s victory. How did Korea perceive the new international environment? What was the impact on China and its place in a changing East Asian political order? To what extent did Japan become a model for Chinese modernization? How was the war and its outcome perceived in the colonized parts of Asia, such as India or the Philippines, or in the Muslim world, and how did it affect the national/Asian self-identity among those nations?