Portsmouth, Treaty of 1905

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Portsmouth, Treaty of (1905)


the agreement that concluded the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–5. It was signed in Portsmouth, N.H., USA, on August 23 (September 5) for Russia by S. Iu. Vitte, chairman of the Committee of Ministers, and R. R. Rozen, envoy to the USA, and for Japan by J. Komura, minister of foreign affairs, and K. Takahira, ambassador to the USA.

The war was severely straining Japan’s resources. Therefore, in spite of military victories, from July 1904 the Japanese government repeatedly sought through the mediation of Great Britain, Germany, and the USA, to persuade Russia to negotiate. British, French and US diplomacy strove toward the same end, fearing that Russia was weakening and that Germany’s position in Europe and Japan’s in the Far East were becoming stronger. In April 1905, having secured the support of Great Britain, Japan appealed to the US president T. Roosevelt to act as an intermediary. The tsarist government had previously refused to make concessions. However, after the rout of the Russian squadron in the battle of Tsushima, the government needed to free its forces for the struggle against incipient revolution in Russia. Therefore, Roosevelt’s proposal for negotiations in Portsmouth was accepted. At the same time, Russia attempted to enlist Germany’s support through the Björkö Treaty.

The talks began on August 9 (21). Japan demanded the right to lease the Liaotung Peninsula, the South Manchurian Railway, and Sakhalin Island. In addition, Japan wanted recognition of its “freedom of action” in Korea; payment of an indemnity; and withdrawal of Russian troops from Manchuria. Japan also required the limitation of naval forces in the Far East, the surrender of Russian ships interned in neutral ports and the concession of fishing rights along the Russian coast. After an intense diplomatic struggle, Japan backed down on a number of its demands.

Under the Treaty of Portsmouth, Russia gave Japan lease rights for the Liaotung Peninsula with Lüshun (Port Arthur) and Dairen (Dalny), the South Manchurian Railway from Port Arthur to Ch’angch’un (K’uanch’engtsu), and the southern half of Sakhalin up to the 50th parallel. Russia recognized Korea as a Japanese sphere of influence; at the same time, a stipulation was made that Japan pledge not to interfere with Korean sovereignty. Russia agreed to conclude a fishing convention with Japan. The parties pledged to withdraw troops from Manchuria and not hinder trade there by other countries. It was stipulated that no actions would be taken to hinder freedom of navigation in the Soya (La Perouse) and Tatar straits. Japan pledged to operate the South Manchurian Railway only for commercial purposes and not to construct fortifications in Sakhalin. The terms of the Treaty of Portsmouth did not satisfy Japanese imperialist circles, which demanded resumption of the war and pressed for the resignation of Komura. Only after a long struggle in the ruling circle of Tokyo and St. Petersburg did both sides come to a decision to confirm the terms of the treaty. The conclusion of peace helped tsarism suppress the revolution.

In establishing diplomatic relations with Japan in 1925, the Soviet government recognized the Treaty of Portsmouth, with the stipulation that it did not bear political responsibility for the treaty. By occupying Manchuria in 1931, Japanese imperialism violated the treaty.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.