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Contemporaries Recognized Portsmouth Peace Treaty as a Victory for Russian Diplomacy

114 years ago, on September 5, 1905, Russia and Japan signed the Portsmouth Peace Treaty, which ended the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. It was decided to conduct the negotiations in the country, not involved in a military conflict. Therefore, a peace conference was held in Portsmouth (USA). The plenipotentiary delegation of Russia was headed by Sergey Witte, the Japanese - Jutaro Komura.

Japan considered itself a winner in the war and demanded the transfer of the right to lease the Liaodong Peninsula, the South Manchurian Railway, all of Sakhalin, recognition of its “freedom of action” in Korea, payment of indemnity, withdrawal of Russian troops from Manchuria, and restrictions on military Russian naval forces in the Far East with the issuance by Japan of Russian ships interned in neutral ports, granting fishing rights along the Russian coast. Many of these demands were immediately rejected by Russia and negotiations were on the verge of collapse. And then, being frightened by prospect of continuing the war, Japan had to abandon a number of claims.

According to the signed document, Russia ceded to Japan rental rights to the Liaodong Peninsula with Port Arthur and Dalniy, recognized Korea as a sphere of Japanese influence, but it also stipulated Japan’s commitment not to take measures affecting the sovereignty of Korea. The parties pledged to withdraw troops from Manchuria and not impede the trade of other countries there. It was planned not to take measures that impede freedom of navigation in the Laperouse and Tatarsky straits. On the issue of South-Caucasian Railway, the Russian delegation agreed to cede to Japan, but only with the approval of China, only that part of the road that was in the zone of its occupation, and only for commercial use. Sergey Witte succeeded in canceling the payment of indemnity by Russia, but at the same time had to make a territorial concession, giving Japan the southern part of Sakhalin. In addition, Russia allowed Japan the right to fish in its waters, agreed to conclude a fishing convention, and negotiated the establishment of trade relations between countries and the procedure for the exchange of prisoners of war.

Although the Portsmouth Peace Treaty worsened the situation of Russia in the Far East, on the whole, it was regarded by contemporaries as a victory for Russian diplomacy. Since the Russian army and navy did not capitulate, the country did not pay indemnities, and, therefore, did not lose the war. The Japanese public accepted the signing of a peace treaty on conditions such as humiliation, because of this there was a riot in Tokyo, Japanese imperialists demanded the resumption of the war and achieved the resignation of Komura. As for the tsarist government, the end of the state of war helped to cope with the revolution. European powers and the United States were also pleased with the conclusion of the treaty. 

Contemporaries Recognized Portsmouth Peace Treaty as a Victory for Russian Diplomacy

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