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Outbreak of World War I and Japan’s entry into the war

記事ID:0001820 更新日:2020年11月30日更新 印刷ページ表示 大きな文字で印刷ページ表示 <外部リンク>

Outbreak of World War I

In response to Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war on Serbia, Russia issued orders for the mobilization of the entire army and entered a state of war against Austria-Hungary. In this situation, Germany, which was allied with Austria-Hungary, declared war on Russia first and then on France. Great Britain, which had concluded the entente with France and Russia, initially hesitated to enter the war. But after confirming Germany’s invasion of neutral Belgium, and fearing that Germany would assume supremacy in Europe, Great Britain entered the war on August 4. And thus, the antagonism between the two countries in the Balkans eventually led to a major war involving European countries.

Italy, which was neutral at the opening of hostilities, declared war on Austria-Hungary in May 1915 and the United States entered the war in April 1917. The impact of the war rippled through many parts of the world, including in colonies of the major war participants. War victims reached enormous numbers never seen before. It is said that more than three million German and Austro-Hungarian soldiers were killed in World War I as well as many civilians. The huge number of soldiers mobilized and the massive use of modern weaponry culminated in unprecedented ravages of war.

Japan’s entry into World War I

As more and more European countries entered the war, Japan discussed whether it should do the same. Some raised voices of caution, but there were also voices in favor of expanding Japan’s interests by taking advantage of the situation. In a written recommendation to the second Shigenobu Okuma Cabinet, Kaoru Inoue, a senior statesman who argued for Japan’s entry into the war, insisted, “The major turbulence in Europe is providential help to our country’s national development in the Taisho period. Japan must immediaTely accept this divine grace with national unity.” In response to Great Britain’s entry into the war, the Okuma Cabinet approved a policy to join the war at the Cabinet meeting on August 7, 1914. In accordance with this policy, Japan issued an ultimatum to Germany on August 15 and the two countries entered a state of war on August 23. Japan sent its military forces to Qingdao, China, which was Germany’s base in Asia, and to the South Sea Islands.

Some 51,700 Japanese soldiers were sent to Qingdao where together with about 1,390 British soldiers they placed Qingdao under siege. Only about 5,000 German soldiers were stationed at Qingdao, and Vice Admiral Alfred Meyer-Waldeck, the naval commander, was prepared for defeat from the beginning. On October 31, the Japanese military launched an attack on Qingdao. At that time, the Austro-Hungarian cruiser Sms Kaiserin Elisabeth was stationed there and the crew fought alongside the German soldiers against the Japanese. The German and Austro-Hungarian troops, which were overwhelmingly inferior in military capability, surrendered on November 7. By that time, the Sms Kaiserin Elisabeth had fired all its shells and was scuttled. Some 210 German and Austro-Hungarian soldiers were killed in the battle at Qingdao and 4,689 were taken prisoner. These prisoners were sent to Japan.


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