This Day in International Law–April 17

By: Laurence Cromp-Lapierre |

April 17, 1895: China’s defeat at the hands of Japan

The Empire of Japan and the Qing Dynasty signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki, also referred to as the Treaty of Maguan, on April 17, 1895 in Shimonoseki . The treaty ended the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, and signified a clear victory for Japan. This war, which took place between August 1, 1894 and April 17, 1895, was primarily over the control of Korea. Namely, Japan wanted to end China’s influence over Korea. Through Article 1 of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, China acknowledged the full and complete independence and autonomy of Korea and renounced any claims to that country. According to the terms of the treaty, China also had to cede several parts of its territory to Japan, such as the Liaodong Peninsula and the islands of Formosa (known today as Taiwan) and Penghu (also referred to as the Pescadores).

This treaty caused a stir on the international stage. Indeed, the treaty expressly provided that China had to cede the Liaodong Peninsula, including the harbor city of Port Arthur, to Japan. As soon as the terms of the treaty became public, Russia, concerned about this acquisition, convinced France and Germany to participate in a diplomatic intervention (also known as the Tripartite Intervention). This intervention was aimed to force Japan to retrocede one of the conquered territories, the Liaodong Peninsula, to China. Because of the military superiority of those three countries, Japan had to adhere to the intervention and reluctantly withdrew its forces from the Peninsula in exchange of a 30 million kuping taels (450 million yen) indemnity. The Tripartite Intervention, and Japan’s reaction to it, were one of the causes leading to the Russo-Japanese War.

Laurence Cromp-Lapierre is an L.L.M. Candidate at Berkeley Law. She is a student contributor for Travaux.

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