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    Howland, Douglas 2013. Law and Disciplinarity.


Sovereignty and the Laws of War: International Consequences of Japan's 1905 Victory over Russia


The Russo–Japanese War (1904–1905), recently commemorated with several international conference volumes, is identified by a majority of contributors as the first modern, global war. In making such a judgment, these scholars note its scale, its nationalism, its colonialism and geopolitical repercussions. What is surprising, however, is that no one has remarked on another significance: it was the first war in which both belligerents pledged to adhere to the international laws of war. In that regard, the Russo–Japanese War marks a culmination of the tireless international diplomacy to secure legal limitations on warfare in the nineteenth century. In 1904, both Russia and Japan justified their operations according to international law, for the benefit of an international audience who had five years earlier celebrated some progress with the signing of The Hague Conventions in 1899.

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Akira Iriye , “Japan's Drive to Great Power Status,” Cambridge History of Japan, vol. 5, The Nineteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 768

Anthony Carty , Philosophy of International Law (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007), ch. 4

Robert B. Valliant , “The Selling of Japan: Japanese Manipulation of Western Opinion, 1900–1905,” Monumenta Nipponica 29 (4)(1974): 415–38

Douglas Howland , “Japan's Civilized War: International Law as Diplomacy in the Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895),” Journal of the History of International Law 9 (2) (2007): 179201

Ellery C. Stowell , “Convention Relative to the Opening of Hostilities,” American Journal of International Law 2 (1) (1908): 52f

Paul Keal , “Just Backward Children: International Law and the Conquest of Non-European Peoples,” Australian Journal of International Affairs 49 (2) (November 1995): 191206

J. N. Westwood , Russia against Japan, 1904-05 (London: Macmillan, 1986), 137–51

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Law and History Review
  • ISSN: 0738-2480
  • EISSN: 1939-9022
  • URL: /core/journals/law-and-history-review
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