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Japanese history textbooks have frequently been the centre of various textbook controversies, but these have generally been confined to modern history, and in particular Japan’s actions in relation to other nations in Asia during the Asia-Pacific War. But now, recent editions of an historical textbook appear to completely re-evaluate the reputations of important historical figures from pre-modern Japanese history, with some rising in prominence while others fade into obscurity. In the history textbooks that are currently being used in Japanese schools, Prince Shotoku’s achievements and actual existence are being brought into question, and the date in which the Kamakura Shogunate was established is no longer taken as 1192.
Still, there are also historical figures whose reputations have, conversely, improved as a result of historical research. Someone whose evaluation rose dramatically was the Edo Shogunate‘s 5th Shogun, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi. Isn’t the fact that he made peasants suffer a bigger issue that the fact that he reduced the number of stray dogs? I read this in some book, but it said that Tsunayoshi was a revolutionary figure who changed the murderous climate of the Warring States Period.
The thing is, in the Edo period the samurai will still going around slaughtering peasants without a care, just to test their new swords. Being kind to dogs is fine, but isn’t it a fact from documents of the time that Tsunayoshi prioritised animals when citizens were being oppressed?
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Why was it that with the Sengoku, the Japanese seem to like Nobunaga more than anyone else.
Cao Cao is demonized because he usurped power from the Han emperor and Liu Bei claims lineage to the Han emperor line so he is seen as the Chinese Jesus.
Oda Nobunaga was considered one of the most sensible rulers in Japanese history and it shows. I know I shouldnt bring this up but they are so concerned what happened a 1000 years ago when they cannot see,know or admit what happened 60 years ago?Sounds illogical. This is the glossary of Japanese history including the major terms, titles and events the casual (or brand-new) reader might find useful in understanding articles on the subject.
Gosanke - Three branches of the Tokugawa clan from which a shogun might be chosen if the main line became extinct.
Gosankyō - Three branches of the Tokugawa clan from which a shogun might be chosen if the main line became extinct.
Meiji Restoration - The 1867 restoration of the Emperor to being the true ruler of the country, in practice as well as name, and the downfall of the last shogunate. Minamoto - the Minamoto clan defeated the rival Taira clan in 1185, establishing the first long-running shogunate.
In 1904, the ambitions of two imperial powers generated enough friction that war seemed the only solution. Popular opinion in the West was that Russia with her large armies would annihilate the smaller Japanese forces, but most ministers in the Japanese government were confident in their highly professional army and navy. The arrogance of the Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, frustrated negotiations between the two empires, and the Japanese attacked, the Russians receiving a Declaration of War three hours later. Port Arthur, the only Pacific port that functioned all year round for the Russians took the first Japanese attack.
The Russians remained on the defensive until Admiral Makarov assumed command in March, and went on the offensive, building confidence as the Japanese repeatedly tried to seal the port off and neutralize it.
During the skirmishes and forays around Port Arthur, divisions from the 1st Imperial Japanese Army (hereafter referred to as the IJA) landed at Incheon, Korea in February with roughly 40,000 men, quickly advancing through and capturing Pyongyang on the 21st February (13 days after the first Japanese attack at Port Arthur). On April 21st (8 days after the death of Makarov), the Japanese began gathering intelligence of the Russian positions. At night on April 25th, the Japanese took the forward observation posts of the Russians who retreated after a short exchange of fire.
April 27th saw the attack begin in the early hours of the morning, with fog concealing the IJA assault.
The Japanese general, Koruki, had defeated his obstinate Russian counterpart with rapid efficiency and excellent use of engineers and modern technology, revealing the concentrated will and skill of the IJA in conjunction with excellent use of their Western training.
Building off the success of the attack at Yalu, the IJA drove the Russian forces back towards Port Arthur. Engagements such as the Battle of Nanshan (25th-26th May, 1904) saw the IJA press brutally against the Russians, acquiring their objectives at a high human cost. After Nanshan, a string of Japanese victories at Telissu (14th-15th June), Motien Pass (17th July), Ta-shih-chao (24th July), and Hsimucheng (31st July) led the IJA to squeeze the Russian fortifications at Port Arthur. August 10th saw the Russian pacific fleets attempt to break out from their enclosure in Port Arthur and link up with the cruiser force at the Russian port of Vladivostok, with news of the move reaching Vladivostok on the 14th. The longest and the most merciless of all the engagements in the Russo-Japanese War began on 7th August, 1904, with shelling of the Orphan Hills which would provide the Japanese with an excellent position for artillery fire and complete the encirclement of Port Arthur. Finally on the 9th August, the hills had both been secured after heavy fighting, the Japanese accruing almost 1300 casualties.
The Japanese general, Nogi, was taken aback by the overall uncoordinated structure of the Russian artillery, something he discovered when launching an aerial reconnaissance balloon on the 13th August. Such losses forced Nogi to switch the tactical nature of his mission from rapid-fire capture to siege. Two frontal assaults in October had been met with fierce resistance and pushed back, and another in November saw gains with serious loss of life for the Japanese. Mines exploded, bodies caught and torn apart on barbed wire and lay hanging as a grim testament to the Japanese cost. December 5th, it ended, the assaults were finally finished and the Japanese secured the heights, using the land-based artillery to open fire upon the exposed Russian Pacific Fleet which was virtually annihilated by the close naked fire.
The Russians capitulated after the loss of the Pacific Fleet and a series of mines being collapsed by Japanese sappers.


After Port Arthur, the Japanese had suffered huge losses to their manpower reserves, and were forced once more by the approach of the Baltic Fleet, as well as the effects of the winter and the overall survival of the Russian East Army, to gamble. Many paintings, articles, books, and stories have all been focused upon the Battle of Tsushima, an example of the brilliance of the Japanese navy under Admiral Togo, and so this will not delve in too deeply to the events of that battle, which was described at the time as the most important naval engagement since Trafalgar, and is studied by naval officers to this day.
The Russian Baltic Fleet was weakened by its epic journey of nearly 20,000 miles, with the bottoms of the ships being fouled by sea organisms which affected their speed. First contact between the two fleets occurred on the early morning of 27th May, 1905, encountering each other at Tsushima Strait. Subsequent night attacks and an early morning surrounding of the Russian fleet saw the Russians surrender to the victorious Japanese. Though ultimately the Russo-Japanese War was an astounding success for the Empire of the Rising Sun, it allowed for the Japanese to gain the most treacherous of all diseases: victory disease.
My interest in this war started a few years ago when I read an article about Tsushima and Togo in Military History Quarterly, and it had those incredible propaganda pictures from both sides, I really enjoy the artwork of that era and culture.
The Russian retreat had less to do with the superiority of Japanese arms than Russian leadership's inclinations and failures. When the Japanese arrived in Port Arthur they were astonished that the Russians had surrendered.
Even with the string of Russian defeats, the Japanese were on the verge of collapse by the end of the war.
While some point out that this edict led to a greater respect for all life, including human life, others are discontent with the reappraisal of a man previously known as a tyrant. Since the existence of Prince Shotoku, who entrusted the letter taken to Sui China to Ono, is doubted, it is probably that in future editions of the textbook his name might be erased altogether.
Plus even Toyotomi would hunt down fleeing warriors from defeated armies, so until around the time of Tsunayoshi, human lives were worth about the same as the animals around them.
The English translations of the book are of the edited versions, not the originals, so because of Neo-Confucian values we get bad Cao Cao and sagely Liu Bei. Examples include the Edo period machibugyō who administered the city during the Edo period. It was common in the Edo period for artists, writers, kabuki actors and others to take part in poetry circles and to take on pen-names under which they would compose poetry or create related works, such as haiga paintings. In Japan, ritsuryō was in effect during the late Asuka period, the Nara period and the early Heian period. The power players were Russia, seeking to expand their influence in the East, and Japan, coming out of the Meiji Restoration with Western military training and hungry for expansion as its population grew. This sneak attack was performed on the 8th of February at 2230 by Admiral Togo, referred to as ?the Nelson of the East? by Western journalists. However, in April after a successful attack on the Japanese, Makarov?s ship struck a Japanese mine on the return home, and sunk. After taking the port of Chinampo, the rest of the army was able to land by the end of March, and close to Russian controlled Manchuria. Using spies dressed as Korean fishermen, and bushes and millets to disguise artillery pieces and troop movements. The IJA engineers constructed 10 bridges to cross to the Russian positions, one purposely exposed to draw Russian battery fire, which it did.
At 0500 the Japanese artillery opened up on Russian positions, and within five hours, the Russians were in full retreat, Zasulitch refusing to leave his position as his troops faced lacerating blows from the Japanese howitzers. The Russian forces were restricted by their commands to operate on the defensive, using a series of delaying tactics to hold off the Japanese until reinforcements arrived from the Trans-Siberian railway.
The brave Japanese soldiers normally came upon withering fire from the Russians who fired from sandbag defences. The August 10th attempt was known as the Battle of the Yellow Sea, and saw the Russian fleet defeated (the commanding Russian Admiral, Vitgeft, was killed along with his staff when a Japanese shell landed a direct hit on the bridge). After an almost full day of artillery bombardment, the Japanese attacked late at night, their attacks faltering due to a combination of poor visibility, and heavy rain as well as a frontal assault by an enemy who used efficient spotlights, artillery screeching down upon the advancing IJA soldiers, many who drowned in the river crossing. The subsequent loss of the hills alarmed the Tsar enough to order the Admirals at Port Arthur and Vladivostok to link up (resulting in the Russian naval defeats at Yellow Sea and Ulsan).
Hoping to play on this, he began a full frontal assault on the heavily fortified positions at Port Arthur proper, with horrific results.
The IJA made good use of their engineers and sappers and worked tirelessly to undermine enemy fortifications, build bridges, construct trenches and tunnels set up mines.
From the 28th November to the 5th December, the assaults on the Russian positions were vicious and gruesome, the Russians making good use of grenades and machine guns, the hellish machines pouring forth endless waves of heated death, the fiery lead punching and ripping through the tightly packed Japanese assault teams, led by incredibly brave officers wielding swords and pistols.
The screams and cries of the soldiers on both sides would be lost in the ocean of cacophonic sound as artillery shells descended at furious speed upon their targets, blasting men apart, the fragments slicing through eyes, stomachs and groins to leave the hideous survivors to die in an agonizing slow death, squirming in the bloodied mud.
8,000 Japanese casualties alone occurred on the final day, with many thousands more sustained in the previous days. From February 20th till March 10th, the Japanese poured all their last available army forces into Mukden and proceed to envelop the Russians, who panicked and fled, effectively ending any Russian resistance for the rest of the war, as the final blow was about to be delivered to the Russian Empire, not from the IJA, but from the Imperial Japanese Navy. As well, the Russians had a variety of types of ships, using telegraphic communication devices that were not configured for their own use, with the Japanese use and maintaining their own equipment.
A fog cloaked the Russian fleet for a time, though the Japanese spotted lights in the distance and moved to investigate.
Two options were available to the Russians, either to charge ahead or set up a formal pitched battle. They had lost all of their battleships, many of their cruisers and destroyers while Japan only lost three torpedo boats. It gave up Port Arthur, Manchuria, any attempts to influence Korea, and had completely ruined the reputation of many generals and admirals.
Supremely confident in the strategy and tactics employed and ignoring many of the lessons to be learned from the frontal assaults, the Empire of Japan continued to believe in its invincibility, convinced that the determination of its troops were enough to win what the Empire demanded.


Proving once again Russia has never really respected her Navy throughout history, that and the prowess of the new kid on the block Japan and her British aided modernized navy. At Nanshan the Russian army stopped the Japanese advance cold and was slowly bleeding out the Japanese army until the Russian command inexplicably panicked and abandoned the position. He was ordered to leave the city, but instead disobeyed orders and proceeded to take command of the garrison with disastrous results. There were still ample supplies, not only of food and ammunition, but of such luxuries as caviar and champagne. It freed up Nogi's 3rd Army to force march its way across China in time for the decisive battle at Mukden.
This is the proof that these traitorous bastards are writing history that focuses on dogs instead of people! The two powers came into diplomatic struggles over issues involving Korea and Manchuria, both seeking to secure those lands to further their empires.
Despite excellent conditions for ambush, the attack yielded less then satisfactory results, though the largest Russian ship, the Tsesarevich, was disabled by determined Japanese gunnery. Makarov and many other officers and seamen were killed in the sinking, which resulted in a huge blow for Russian morale. The intelligence gathered by the Japanese was so admirable that there figures of the Russian strength were only off by a thousand, and on the Russian guns, off by a mere 2. A Siberian counterattack was made, but the regiment was brutally cut down by the torrential Japanese fire, and by noon, the Russians had collapsed from the intense pressure of the IJA. Still, the dominance of the Japanese artillery and the endless ferocity of the Japanese infantry assaults saw the Russians retreat and retreat, yielding significant casualties themselves, many captured. The effort at Vladivostok came to be called the Battle of Ulsan and also saw the Russian fleet there defeated.
The only success came at 174 Hill, which had been defended by a Russian veteran of Nanshan, Colonel Tretyakov. The Russian general, Stoessel spent most of his time complaining to the Tsar while the Japanese continued to labour around the clock. Those who survived the blast of mines and the shattering death of artillery took part in chaotic hand to hand fighting, bayonets slamming into bellies to spill out the hot guts upon the cold earth.
About 30,000 soldiers and sailors along with their officers surrendered, with Japan taking an overall loss of almost 58,000 casualties. The lights were from a Russian hospital ship, which the Japanese soon discovered and did not fire. The latter option was chosen, and this is where the individual skill of the Japanese sailor and the regimented training of the IJN came to the fore.
The negative results for the Russians are almost impossible to exaggerate, with the loss of experienced generals and admirals, the utter destruction of the Pacific and Baltic Fleets, the collapse of the army against a supposedly inferior force. These ideals, combined with growing American interests in the region, would lead the Empire of Japan into World War 2.
Stoessel, and his lackey, General Fok, the same man who had abandoned Nanshan, who surrendered Port Arthur to the Japanese without so much as consulting any of the other Russian officers.
The tens of thousands of Russian soldiers who walked out of Port Arthur were still in good condition and many purportedly wept at giving up the fight so soon. During the course of the war, Russia could never replace Makarov?s experience, skill and charisma. The Russian commander, Zasulitch, was duped by a series of skirmishes and stubbornly rejected advice from his commanders and left his left flank weak and exposed. The Battle of Yalu River was at a close, the Japanese attackers taking a 1000 casualties versus a combined casualty total for the Russians of roughly 2000.
With news that the Russian Baltic Fleet was on its way, the IJA at Port Arthur knew they had to secure victory as soon as possible. The raging rattle of the machine guns was unceasing, but the Japanese would not and could not quit, the gamble must pay off, the Empire had to be secured here against Russia. During the Siege of Port Arthur, the Japanese had faced off aggressive Russians outside of the Port at Liaoyang (25th August-3rd September), Shaho (5th-15th October) and Sandepu (26th-27th January). Practised veteran sailors launched endless barrages against the Russians, who quickly faced crushing casualties. Revolution sparked off as the war had revealed the corruption and bloated pride of the Tsar’s administration. Suicide allowed a samurai to keep his honor because it was considered dishonorable for a samurai to be killed by others. After such a loss, the Russians were even more reluctant to pursue the Japanese out into open waters, costing them in the long term. Facing pressure from political opponents back home and other generals at Port Arthur, Nogi geared up his forces for another massive assault, this time at Hill 203.
Quickly using their telegraphs, the Japanese captains informed Togo of the situation, who prepared the fleet for battle. Japan’s risks had paid off, expanding its empire and building its international prestige. Both theories lead to military policy in World War One, and the abject failure of Russia turned its prime ally, Germany, against it.



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