Russia and Japan have fought before, and it was decisively won

Japan Russia Russo-Japanese War Military History
Guards of honor are pictured holding the flags of Russia and Japan at a ceremony in Tokyo on May 30, 2019. A leaked letter from a whistleblower at Russia’s Federal Security Service recently revealed that Russia was planning to launch an attack on Japan in August 2021.
KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

Russia could have relived one of its most “humiliating” military defeats had it followed through with recently revealed plans to attack Japan last year.

This was shared by a whistleblower from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). News Week a leaked letter claiming Russia was “preparing rather seriously for a local military conflict with Japan” in August 2021, just months before opting to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine instead.

The attack plans may have been related to a long-standing territorial dispute over the strategically important Kuril Islands, which are occupied by Russia but claimed by Japan.

Russia and Japan previously fought in what is now known as the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. The war was decisively won by the Empire of Japan, which was then a shock defeat for the Russian Empire. The conflict was fought over the rival expansionist ambitions of the countries of China and Korea.

The war started after the refusall of a Japanese offer to limit its ambitions to Korea while allowing Russia to take territory in China. On February 8, 1904, Japan launched a surprise attack on Port Arthur, an area in China leased to Russia after being previously occupied by Japan.

Russia discounted an early Japanese proposal for a ceasefire, mistakenly believing that its superior navy would eventually defeat Japan with ease. Russia subsequently lost a series of battles on land and sea. The war finally ended with the September 5, 1905, signing of the Treaty of Portsmouthwhich was brokered by US President Theodore Roosevelt.

There were up to 120,000 estimated Russian dead and as many as 86,000 Japanese dead as a result of the Russo-Japanese War. Historians say that Russia’s loss of the war had a long-lasting impact on the world.

“Russia’s humiliating defeat in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 had profound consequences,” states a 2016 paper published in the journal Foreign policy analysis. “Domestically, it has accelerated revolutionary discontent in Russia and strengthened Japan’s national image as a modern state.”

Internationally, it has shattered long-held beliefs in European military dominance, caused Russia a major loss of prestige, dispelled any doubts about Japan’s status as the newest superpower, and redefined the balance of power in the Far East.

Scholars believe that the Russo-Japanese War also “set the stage” for World Wars I and II, with some referring to it as “World War Zero”. according to to History.Com.

This month, Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov compared Russia’s loss in the Russo-Japanese War to the much more recent withdrawal of Russian soldiers from Kherson, Ukraine.

Russia, as part of the Soviet Union, was one of the Allied forces that defeated Imperial Japan and other Axis powers in World War II.

In August 1945, while the US military was dropping atomic bombs on Japan, the Soviet Union separately invaded a Japanese-controlled area of ​​China and captured the Kuril Islands, which have remained disputed ever since.

The FSB released information in August 2021 about the brutal torture of Soviet citizens by Japanese special services during World War II.

The FSB whistleblower suggested this was part of an “information campaign against Japan” that could be used to help prepare Russians for the planned attack in 2021.

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