November 21st 1894: Battle of Lushunkou
On this day in 1894, the Japanese won a decisive victory at the Battle of Lushunkou, marking a major moment in the First Sino-Japanese War. The war emerged from China and Japan’s rivalry over which nation would have supremacy in Korea, as the increasingly powerful Japan exerted growing influence over the Chinese client state. War broke out in August 1894, with the armies of Meiji Japan winning a series of early victories against Qing China, successfully pushing the Chinese across the Yalu River into Manchuria. They sought to strike another major blow against the enemy by taking the well-defended naval station of Lushunkou, Manchuria, which, if captured by the Japanese, would clear the path for an invasion of Beijing. The Japanese planned their attack on the port, seizing surrounding towns and using discarded plans of the city to prepare. When the Meiji army descended on the city on November 21st 1894, they found that the army officers had fled the previous night, and the Chinese defences fell under heavy fire within the day. As it became clear that the Japanese would win, the few soldiers left sought to blend into the civilian population, leading the Japanese to launch a house-to-house search, executing many of the city’s adult men. With around 4,000 Chinese killed, the event became known as the Port Arthur massacre, though this was largely the result of reporting in Western newspapers, which damaged Japan’s international reputation. The Battle of Lushunkou was a resounding military victory for the Japanese, who lost only 29 soldiers, and paved the way for peace negotiatons which would end the First Sino-Japanese War. The victory of the rapidly modernising state of Japan established the country as a major player on the world stage.