A Global Anti-Western Moment? The Russo-Japanese War, Decolonization, and Asian Modernity

  • Cemil Aydin
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Transnational History Series book series (PMSTH)


The Russo-Japanese War in 1905 was interpreted throughout the world as the first victory of an Asian nation belonging to the yellow race against a major white and Christian Western empire.1 In fact, the world-historical significance of the Japanese victory over Russia was noted by a wide array of contemporary observers, writing in the immediate aftermath of the war.2 This interpretation of the Japanese military victory transformed the character of reformist thought, perceptions of the Western Civilization and the critiques of international order in the major centers of the non-Western world, from Egypt, Iran, and Turkey to India, Vietnam, and China.3 However, the celebration by Asian and African intellectuals of the Russo-Japanese War as a turning point in their critique of the Eurocentric world order was highly paradoxical. Japan fought the war with Russia over the control of Korea and Manchuria. It achieved its military victory partly due to the support it received from the Western superpower of the time, Great Britain, and partly due to the borrowing of huge sums of money from American banks. The Japanese elite was proud of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, which symbolized the civilized status of their nation.4


World Order Asian Nation Muslim World Western Modernity Japanese Model 
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© Sebastian Conrad and Dominic Sachsenmaier 2007

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  • Cemil Aydin

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