When Japan acquired the Liaodong Peninsula from China after winning the Sino-Japanese War in the late 19th century, Russia intervened and occupied the entire peninsula through the Tripartite Intervention. It then started to fortify Port Arthur. The move infuriated Japan and prompted it to focus on military buildup in preparation for a war with Russia. Ten years from then, Japan’s military expenditure increased tenfold through the investments of over 700 million yen in the currency of that time.
Russia did not sit and do nothing. Third powers thought it was a matter of time before Russia and Japan started a war. The problem was Russia did not have enough time and it was much more difficult for Russia to deploy its troops to Manchuria than Japan due to geopolitical conditions. Russia had to put in more efforts than Japan. It understood the crisis it was in but did not act fast. Russia extremely underestimated Japan’s military power. “Japan’s military power is much weaker than the weakest in Europe. It is learning from the German military model but its achievements are so poor.”
Russia was relaxed and this was where corruption kicked in. Russia wasted astronomical amounts of money on the fortification of Port Arthur. It had excellent fleets but there were no proper training for the reason of cost savings. “We have the best sailors in the world. But they do not know how to fire a gun (because they are not trained),” said a commander of the Russian army.
Japan won the Russo-Japanese War by attacking the weaknesses of the old and slow empire. Japan emerged as an international powerhouse but made an error in using the lessons from the victory. It failed to reflect on the lessons of Russia’s defeat but was only proud of its victory. This, coupled with its excessive propaganda policy, the country got into self-hypnosis. For example, it praised that the dominant shock attack was an offensive maneuver that only the Japanese military can do in the world although they made enormous sacrifices. This delusion grew bigger for half a century, leading to a tragedy in the Pacific War.
Getting carried away by one’s victory and ignoring the defeated will surely hurt oneself one day. To gain another victory, one must respect its enemies and be strict with oneself. The problem is this attitude is not helpful for propaganda. Believing that instigation is the truth will blind one’s eyes and a blind sword will hurt an innocent person and eventually hurt oneself.