Anglo-Japanese Alliance
The first was signed in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 at what is now the Lansdowne Club
Lansdowne Club
The Lansdowne Club is a London private club, which was established in 1935. It is located at 9 Fitzmaurice Place, near Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London, England....

, on January 30, 1902, by Lord Lansdowne
Henry Petty-FitzMaurice, 5th Marquess of Lansdowne
Henry Charles Keith Petty-Fitzmaurice, 5th Marquess of Lansdowne, KG, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, PC was a British politician and Irish peer who served successively as the fifth Governor General of Canada, Viceroy of India, Secretary of State for War, and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs...

 (British foreign secretary) and Hayashi Tadasu
Hayashi Tadasu
was a career diplomat and cabinet minister in Meiji period Japan. Baron Matsumoto Ryōjun, the onetime private physician to Tokugawa Yoshinobu and founder of the Imperial Japanese Army Medical Corps, was Hayashi’s brother.- Early life :...

 (Japanese minister in London). A diplomatic milestone for its ending of Britain's splendid isolation
Splendid isolation
Splendid Isolation was the foreign policy pursued by Britain during the late 19th century, under the Conservative premierships of Benjamin Disraeli and the Marquess of Salisbury. The term was actually coined by a Canadian politician to praise Britain's lack of involvement in European affairs...

, the alliance was renewed and extended in scope twice, in 1905 and 1911, before its demise in 1921. It officially terminated in 1923.

Motivations and reservations

The possibility of an alliance between Great Britain
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 and Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 had been canvassed since 1895, when Britain refused to join the triple intervention
Triple Intervention
The was a diplomatic intervention by Russia, Germany, and France on 23 April 1895 over the terms of the Treaty of Shimonoseki signed between Japan and Qing dynasty China that ended the First Sino-Japanese War.-Treaty of Shimonoseki:...

 of France
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

, Germany
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 and Russia
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 against the Japanese occupation of the Liaotung peninsula. While this single event was an unstable basis for an alliance, the case was strengthened by the support Britain had given Japan in its drive towards modernisation
In the social sciences, modernization or modernisation refers to a model of an evolutionary transition from a 'pre-modern' or 'traditional' to a 'modern' society. The teleology of modernization is described in social evolutionism theories, existing as a template that has been generally followed by...

 and their cooperative efforts to put down the Boxer Rebellion
Boxer Rebellion
The Boxer Rebellion, also called the Boxer Uprising by some historians or the Righteous Harmony Society Movement in northern China, was a proto-nationalist movement by the "Righteous Harmony Society" , or "Righteous Fists of Harmony" or "Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists" , in China between...

. Newspapers of both countries voiced support for such an alliance; in the UK, Francis Brinkley
Francis Brinkley
Francis Brinkley was an Irish newspaper owner, editor and scholar who resided in Meiji period Japan for over 40 years, where he was the author of numerous books on Japanese culture, art and architecture, and an English-Japanese Dictionary...

 of The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

and Edwin Arnold
Edwin Arnold
Sir Edwin Arnold CSI CIE was an English poet and journalist, who is most known for his work, The Light of Asia.-Biography:...

 of the Telegraph were the driving force behind such support, while in Japan the pro-alliance mood of politician Okuma Shigenobu
Okuma Shigenobu
Marquis ; was a statesman in the Empire of Japan and the 8th and 17th Prime Minister of Japan...

 stirred the Mainichi
Mainichi Shimbun
The is one of the major newspapers in Japan, published by .-History:The history of the Mainichi Shimbun begins with founding of two papers during the Meiji period. The Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun was founded first, in 1872. The Mainichi claims that it is the oldest existing Japanese daily newspaper...

and Yomiuri
Yomiuri Shimbun
The is a Japanese newspaper published in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and other major Japanese cities. It is one of the five national newspapers in Japan; the other four are the Asahi Shimbun, the Mainichi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, and the Sankei Shimbun...

newspapers into pro-alliance advocacy
Advocacy is a political process by an individual or a large group which normally aims to influence public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions; it may be motivated from moral, ethical or faith principles or simply to protect an...

. The 1894 Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce and Navigation
Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce and Navigation
The signed by Britain and Japan, on July 16, 1894, was a breakthrough agreement; it heralded the end of the unequal treaties and the system of extraterritoriality in Japan. The treaty came into force on July 17, 1899....

 had also paved the way for equal relations and the possibility of an alliance.

In the end, the common interest truly fueling the alliance was opposition to Russian expansion. Negotiations began when Russia began to move into China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. Nevertheless, both countries had their reservations. The UK was cautious of abandoning its policy of 'splendid isolation,' wary of antagonizing Russia, and unwilling to act on the treaty if Japan were to attack the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. There were factions in the Japanese government that still hoped for a compromise with Russia, including the highly powerful political figure Itō Hirobumi
Ito Hirobumi
Prince was a samurai of Chōshū domain, Japanese statesman, four time Prime Minister of Japan , genrō and Resident-General of Korea. Itō was assassinated by An Jung-geun, a Korean nationalist who was against the annexation of Korea by the Japanese Empire...

, who had served four terms as Prime Minister of Japan
Prime Minister of Japan
The is the head of government of Japan. He is appointed by the Emperor of Japan after being designated by the Diet from among its members, and must enjoy the confidence of the House of Representatives to remain in office...

. It was thought that friendship within Asia would be more amenable to the USA, which was uncomfortable with the rise of Japan as a power. Furthermore, the UK was unwilling to protect Japanese interests in Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

 and likewise the Japanese were unwilling to support Britain in India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...


Hayashi and Lord Lansdowne began their discussions in July 1901, and disputes over Korea and India delayed them until November. At this point, Itō Hirobumi requested a delay in negotiations in order to attempt a reconciliation with Russia. He was mostly unsuccessful, and Britain expressed concerns over duplicity on Japan's part, so Hayashi hurriedly re-entered negotiations in 1902.

Terms of the 1902 treaty

The treaty contained six articles:

Article 1
  • The High Contracting parties, having mutually recognized the independence of China and Korea, declare themselves to be entirely uninfluenced by aggressive tendencies in either country, having in view, however, their special interests, of which those of Great Britain relate principally to China, whilst Japan, in addition to the interests which she possesses in China, is interested in a peculiar degree, politically as well as commercially and industrially in Korea, the High Contracting parties recognize that it will be admissible for either of them to take such measures as may be indispensable in order to safeguard those interests if threatened either by the aggressive action of any other Power, or by disturbances arising in China or Korea, and necessitating the intervention of either of the High Contracting parties for the protection of the lives and properties of its subjects.

Article 2
  • Declaration of neutrality if either signatory becomes involved in war through Article 1.

Article 3
  • Promise of support if either signatory becomes involved in war with more than one Power.

Article 4
  • Signatories promise not to enter into separate agreements with other Powers to the prejudice of this alliance.

Article 5
  • The signatories promise to communicate frankly and fully with each other when any of the interests affected by this treaty are in jeopardy.

Article 6
  • Treaty to remain in force for five years and then at one years' notice, unless notice was given at the end of the fourth year.

Articles 2 and 3 were most crucial concerning war and mutual defence.

The treaty laid out an acknowledgement of Japanese interests in Korea without obligating the UK to help should a Russo-Japanese conflict arise on this account. Japan was not obligated to defend British interests in India
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...


Although written using careful and clear language, the two sides understood the Treaty slightly differently. The UK saw it as a gentle warning to Russia, while Japan was emboldened by it. From that point on, even those of a moderate stance refused to accept a compromise over the issue of Korea. Extremists saw it as an open invitation for imperial expansion.

Renewal in 1905 and 1911

The alliance was renewed and extended in scope twice, in 1905 and 1911. This was partly prompted by British suspicions about Japanese intentions in South Asia. Japan appeared to support Indian nationalism, tolerating visits by figures such as Rash Behari Bose
Rash Behari Bose
Rashbehari Bose was a revolutionary leader against the British Raj in India and was one of the key organisers of the Ghadar conspiracy and later, the Indian National Army.-Early life:...

. The July 1905 renegotiations allowed for Japanese support of British interests in India and British support for Japanese progress into Korea. By November of that year Korea was a Japanese protectorate, and in February 1906 Itō Hirobumi was posted as the Resident General to Seoul. At the renewal in 1911, Japanese diplomat Komura Jutarō
Komura Jutaro
was a statesman and diplomat in Meiji period Japan.-Biography:Komura was born to a lower-ranking samurai family in service of the Obi clan at Nichinan, Hyuga province . He attended the Daigaku Nankō...

 played a key role to restore Japan's tariff autonomy.


The alliance was announced on February 12, 1902. In response, Russia sought to form alliances with France and Germany, which Germany declined. On March 16, 1902, a mutual pact was signed between France and Russia. China and the United States were strongly opposed to the alliance. Nevertheless, the nature of the Anglo-Japanese alliance meant that France was unable to come to Russia's aid in the Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

 of 1904 as this would have meant going to war with Britain.

The alliance's provisions for mutual defense prompted Japan to enter World War I on the British side. Japan attacked the German
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 base at Tsingtao in 1914 and forced the Germans to surrender (see Siege of Tsingtao). Japanese officers aboard British warships were casualties at the Battle of Jutland
Battle of Jutland
The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle between the British Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet during the First World War. The battle was fought on 31 May and 1 June 1916 in the North Sea near Jutland, Denmark. It was the largest naval battle and the only...

 in 1916. In 1917, Japanese warships were sent to the Mediterranean
Mediterranean naval engagements during World War I
There was sporadic naval warfare in the Mediterranean during World War I between the Central Powers' navies of Austria-Hungary, Germany and the Ottoman Empire and the Allied navies of Italy, France, Greece, Japan, America and the British Empire....

 and assisted in the protection of allied shipping near Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

 from U-boat attacks; there is a memorial there to the sailors who fell. The Treaty also made possible the Japanese seizure of German possessions
German colonial empire
The German colonial empire was an overseas domain formed in the late 19th century as part of the German Empire. Short-lived colonial efforts by individual German states had occurred in preceding centuries, but Imperial Germany's colonial efforts began in 1884...

 in the Pacific north of the equator during WWI, a huge boon to Japan's imperial interests.

The alliance formed the basis for positive cultural exchange between Britain and Japan. Japanese educated in the UK were able to bring new technology to Japan, such as advances in ophthalmology
Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine that deals with the anatomy, physiology and diseases of the eye. An ophthalmologist is a specialist in medical and surgical eye problems...

. British artists of the time such as James McNeill Whistler
James McNeill Whistler
James Abbott McNeill Whistler was an American-born, British-based artist. Averse to sentimentality and moral allusion in painting, he was a leading proponent of the credo "art for art's sake". His famous signature for his paintings was in the shape of a stylized butterfly possessing a long stinger...

, Aubrey Beardsley
Aubrey Beardsley
Aubrey Vincent Beardsley was an English illustrator and author. His drawings, done in black ink and influenced by the style of Japanese woodcuts, emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic. He was a leading figure in the Aesthetic movement which also included Oscar Wilde and James A....

 and Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a Scottish architect, designer, watercolourist and artist. He was a designer in the Arts and Crafts movement and also the main representative of Art Nouveau in the United Kingdom. He had a considerable influence on European design...

 were heavily inspired by Japanese kimono
The is a Japanese traditional garment worn by men, women and children. The word "kimono", which literally means a "thing to wear" , has come to denote these full-length robes...

, swords, crafts
Japanese handicrafts
The many and varied traditional handicrafts of Japan are officially recognised and protected and, owing to the folk art movement, are much in demand. Some enjoy status as a meibutsu or regional specialty. Each craft demands a set of specialized skills...

 and architecture
Japanese architecture
' originated in prehistoric times with simple pit-houses and stores that were adapted to a hunter-gatherer population. Influence from Han Dynasty China via Korea saw the introduction of more complex grain stores and ceremonial burial chambers....



There remained strains on Anglo-Japanese relations during the years of the alliance. One such strain was the racial
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

 question. Although originally a German notion, the Japanese perceived that the British had been affected by idea of Yellow Peril
Yellow Peril
Yellow Peril was a colour metaphor for race that originated in the late nineteenth century with immigration of Chinese laborers to various Western countries, notably the United States, and later associated with the Japanese during the mid 20th century, due to Japanese military expansion.The term...

, on account of their recalcitrance in the face of Japanese imperial success. This issue returned at Versailles after WWI when the UK sided with the U.S. against Japan's request of the addition of a racial equality clause, proposed by Prince Kinmochi Saionji. The racial question was difficult for Britain because of its multi-ethnic empire.

Another limitation to the alliance was the economic relationship between Britain and Japan. Despite Japan's successful modernisation and growing military power, British banks continued to overestimate the risk involved in investments in Japan. Particularly insulting was the terms on which loans were issued to Japan, ranking them as equal to countries such as Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and China.

Demise of the treaty

The alliance was viewed as an obstacle already at the Paris peace conference of 1919-1920. On July 8, 1920, the two governments issued a joint statement to the effect that the alliance treaty "is not entirely consistent with the letter of that Covenant (of the League of Nations), which both Governments earnestly desire to respect".

The demise of the alliance was signaled by the 1921 Imperial Conference
1921 Imperial Conference
The Imperial Conference of 1921 met in London.At that meeting Canadian Prime Minister Meighen pushed the United Kingdom not to renew the Anglo-Japanese alliance. The opposite side Australia argued to renew it....

, in which leaders from throughout the British Commonwealth convened to determine a unified international policy. One of the major issues of the conference was the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. The conference began with all but Canadian Prime Minister Arthur Meighen
Arthur Meighen
Arthur Meighen, PC, QC was a Canadian lawyer and politician. He served two terms as the ninth Prime Minister of Canada: from July 10, 1920 to December 29, 1921; and from June 29 to September 25, 1926. He was the first Prime Minister born after Confederation, and the only one to represent a riding...

 supporting the immediate renewal of an alliance with Japan. The prevailing hope was for a continuance of the alliance with the Pacific power, which could potentially provide security for Commonwealth interests in the area. The Australians feared that it could not fend off any advancements from the Japanese navy, and desired a continuance to build up naval resources for a possible future conflict with the fear that an alliance with the United States in a state of post-war isolationism
Isolationism is the policy or doctrine of isolating one's country from the affairs of other nations by declining to enter into alliances, foreign economic commitments, international agreements, etc., seeking to devote the entire efforts of one's country to its own advancement and remain at peace by...

 would provide little protection.

Meighen, fearing that a conflict could develop between Japan and the United States, demanded the Commonwealth to remove itself from the treaty to avoid being forced into a war between the two nations. The rest of the delegates agreed that it was best to court America and try to find a solution that the American government would find suitable, but only Meighen called for the complete abrogation of the treaty. The American government feared that the renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance would create a Japanese dominated market in the Pacific, and close China off from American trade. These fears were elevated by the news media in America and Canada, which reported alleged secret anti-American clauses in the treaty, and advised the public to support abrogation.

The press, combined with Meighen's convincing argument of Canadian fears that Japan would attack Commonwealth assets in China, caused the Imperial Conference to shelve the alliance. The Conference communicated their desire to consider leaving the alliance to the League of Nations, which stated that the alliance would continue, as originally stated with the leaving party giving the other a twelve month notice of their intentions.

The Commonwealth had decided to sacrifice its alliance with Japan in favor of good will with the United States, yet it desired to prevent the expected alliance between Japan and either Germany or Russia from coming into being. Commonwealth delegates convinced America to invite several nations to Washington to participate in talks regarding Pacific and Far East policies, specifically naval disarmament. Japan came to the Washington Naval Conference
Washington Naval Conference
The Washington Naval Conference also called the Washington Arms Conference, was a military conference called by President Warren G. Harding and held in Washington from 12 November 1921 to 6 February 1922. Conducted outside the auspices of the League of Nations, it was attended by nine nations...

 with a deep mistrust of Britain, feeling that London no longer wanted what was best for Japan.

Despite the growing rift, Japan joined the conference in hopes of avoiding a war with the United States. The Pacific powers of the United States, Japan, France, and Great Britain would sign the Four-Power Treaty
Four-Power Treaty
The ' was a treaty signed by the United States, Great Britain, France and Japan at the Washington Naval Conference on 13 December 1921. It was partly a follow-on to the Lansing-Ishii Treaty, signed between the U.S...

, and adding on various other countries such as China to create the Nine-Power Treaty
Nine-Power Treaty
The ' or Nine Power Agreement(Chinese:九國公約) was a treaty affirming the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China as per the Open Door Policy, signed by all of the attendees to the Washington Naval Conference on 6 February 1922....

. The Four Powers Treaty would provide a minimal structure for the expectations of international relations in the Pacific, as well as a loose alliance without any commitment to armed alliances. The Four Powers Treaty at the Washington Conference made the Anglo-Japanese Alliance defunct in December, 1921; however, it would not officially terminate until all parties ratified the treaty on August 17, 1923.

At that time, the Alliance was officially terminated, as per Article IV in the Anglo-Japanese Alliance Treaties of 1902 and 1911. The distrust between the Commonwealth and Japan, as well as the manner in which the Anglo-Japanese Alliance concluded are credited by many scholars, as being leading causes to Japan's involvement in World War Two.

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